An Exciting Start

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With the beginning of the legislative session underway, I wanted to give you an update on all that is happening in Albany. It has been an exciting time, as already the NYS legislature has passed historic legislation that will impact my constituents and millions of New Yorkers statewide. 

I am pleased to have been assigned to five important committees: Health, Banks, Energy, Real Property Taxation, and Cities. These committees will give me a preeminent voice in crafting legislation and pushing forward ideas that are pertinent to the people of the 90th Assembly District.

Meanwhile, in an era of unified Democratic government, I am proud to be a member of one of the most productive legislatures in New York State history, helping push through much-needed reforms that legislators have been trying to codify for decades.  

On my first full day of the session, I supported a marathon of voting reform legislation that modernizes an arcane and exclusive voting system. These reforms will promote greater transparency in our campaign finance system, greater efficiency in the administration of our elections, and will expand New Yorkers' voting rights by allowing them to vote up to nine days early. Since then we also have passed theGender Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) -- which prohibits employers and housing providers from discriminating against people based on gender identity or expression -- as well as a ban on harmful conversion therapy.

On Tuesday, the legislature passed the Reproductive Health Act, moving abortion out of the state’s Penal Code and ensuring that women's reproductive health will be treated as healthcare, not as a crime.  We also passed the Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act, requiring insurers cover the cost of contraception without any out-of-pocket costs to the insured.  In an era where women’s healthcare is under attack at the federal level, and the future of Roe v. Wade in question, these reforms are more crucial than ever.

Wednesday we passed the DREAM Act, making eligible for college tuition assistance undocumented immigrants who have attended at least two years of high school in New York, and have either graduated or earned an equivalency diploma. This assistance will give these students -- many of whom were brought to United States as young children -- the opportunity to become even more productive and contributing members of society. 

Finally, as a lifelong educator, I was very gratified to see Wednesday's passage of Annual Professional Performance Review reform legislation. No longer will the state require that teacher ratings be linked to test scores, giving the local school districts the freedom to set their own standards based on what they deem is important for the education of our children. A real win for our teachers and our students.

Next we need to address the inequitable school funding formula that shortchanges 27,000 students in Yonkers. This issue is a priority for me, and I will continue to fight until important changes are made in how our schools are funded, including the building of new schools. Our children deserve better.  

So while a lot has been accomplished, there is still much to do. I will continue to keep you informed of important developments, and I also hope you will come to me and my staff with any questions or concerns you have.  We are here to serve my constituents and the people of this state. 

Thank you for your ongoing support and friendship.  I look forward to continuing our work together.