2016 Legislative Agenda
NOW-NYC continues to break barriers for women and girls by advocating for new laws and policies. We have succeeded in many fields, from repealing the statute of limitations on rape to ensuring full-time mothers are treated fairly in divorce. Our commitment is to be a voice for women at City Hall and in our State’s capitol, championing critical legislation to end gender discrimination at work and in the courts, advance pay equity, ensure reproductive rights, and make our criminal justice system more accountable.
New York City
In New York City, 40% of single mothers and their children live in poverty; the poverty rate for women age 65 and over is one in five, almost double the national rate; the number of rapes has increased by 57% since 2009, and full-time working women in the metropolitan area face a 15% wage gap. Dismantling the barriers that exist for women is at the crux of reducing our city’s growing economic divide, a central promise of the incoming administration and one that has a clear mandate from New York voters.
New York State
End the “Tampon Tax” in New York (A.7555)
American women pay upwards of $70-100 per year on feminine hygiene products, amounting to over $3,000 throughout the course of a lifetime of menstruating years. This act will exempt essential feminine hygiene products from sales and use taxes.
Sponsor: Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal
Assembly: Passed 3/15/16
Senate: Passed 5/25/16
Victory! Governor Cuomo agreed to sign!
End Child Marriage (A.8563)
4,000 children were married in New York State between 2000-2010. This bill will close the loopholes allowing the marriage of children as young as 14 to adults.
Sponsor: Assemblymember Amy Paulin
Assembly: Introduced 01/06/16
Referred to Judiciary 01/06/16
Equal Pay Disclosure With Respect to State Contracts (A.8487A/S.6059A)
This bill would require companies that want to bid on contracts with New York State to submit equal pay reports as a condition to winning a bid. The equal pay reports will use the same nine occupational categories that are used in federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission forms (EEO-1). Small businesses (those with fewer than 100 employees) will be exempted from this requirement.
Assembly: 1/25/16 Amended and Recommitted to Governmental Operations
Senate: 1/21/15 Amended and Recommitted to Finance
Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act (CCCA) (A.8135B/S.6013A)
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, which effectively reduced access to insurance coverage for birth control, New York State is aiming to protect the coverage we already have and improve future access.
The CCCA will:
(1) Require state-governed health insurance companies to cover all forms of FDA approved contraception without co-pays (as already required by the Affordable Care Act). Women should have access to whichever form of birth control is best for them.
(2) Allow women to obtain emergency contraception at a pharmacy through a non-patient specific prescription and mandate that insurance companies cover it. Whether they can afford the out- of-pocket costs or not, all women should have timely access to emergency contraception.
(3) Make it easier for women to fill their birth control prescription. The CCCA will increase the amount of oral contraceptives a woman can access at one time from a three to twelve month supply. Expanding access and requiring fewer visits to the pharmacy will make it easier for women to maintain a consistent birth control plan and avoid unintended pregnancy.
(4) Expand contraceptive coverage for men, by covering condoms if prescribed and sterilization (neither of which is included in current New York State Insurance law). Fair and effective health policy for contraception access should address the needs of both men and women.
Take Action: Here’s How
Assembly: Passed 1/25/16
Senate: Referred to Insurance 1/25/16
Transparency on Contraceptive Coverage for Employees (A.5143A/S.3151A)
Relates to employee notification of contraceptive coverage.
This legislation will ensure that women are notified of any changes to the contraceptive coverage they are provided through their employer-based health insurance plan, and women seeking employment are easily able to obtain information about any restrictions on the contraceptive coverage offered in their potential employee health insurance plan. The proposed legislation is a response to the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. The legislation will require employers who intend to use the Hobby Lobby exemption to provide 90 days notice to employees before implementing any changes, restrictions, or termination of contraceptive coverage. The employer must also notify employee representatives, the Department of Labor, the Department of Financial Services, and the Attorney General. Additionally, this bill requires employers to inform job-seekers about any restrictions on contraceptive coverage.
Learn More: Bill
Assembly: Advanced To Third Reading Cal.769 05/25/2016
Senate: Referred to Labor 1/6/2016
New York State Paid Family Leave Insurance Act (A.3870A/S.3004A)
PFLI (Paid Family Leave Insurance) will provide workers in New York state with up to 12 weeks of paid leave a year to bond with a new child, care for a seriously ill family member, or address issues arising from a family member’s military service. This bill will not only better accommodate working families, but also provide meaningful financial security and protection. Although existing legislation exists, which guarantees 12 weeks of unpaid leave to many workers to care for a relative, many New Yorkers cannot afford to take unpaid time from work. PFLI will allow New Yorkers to remain in the workforce and still receive an income while caring for their relatives. In a new development, Governor Cuomo has proposed his own plan to provide all private sector workers with 12 weeks of job protected paid family leave. This demonstrates that paid leave is a priority in our state, and we will work to ensure the strongest paid family leave policy–one that will make a concrete difference for low-income workers.
Assembly: Passed 2/1/2016
Senate: Passed 4/4/2016
Reproductive Services Act (A.6221/S.4432)
An act to amend the public health law, in relation to reproductive services.
The Reproductive Services Act would safeguard women’s reproductive health, which would place the protections of Roe v. Wade squarely into New York State law. This legislation would ensure every woman’s fundamental right to make private medical decisions with her doctor and would protect both a woman’s health and life throughout pregnancy. Current law in New York State makes abortion legal by carving out exceptions in the criminal law, and fails to affirmatively guarantee abortion as a legal right in accordance with Roe v. Wade. As a result, women’s health is unnecessarily being put at risk. In this increasingly hostile climate to women’s health and reproductive rights, New York State should not rely solely on federal law to ensure women’s access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare. Now more than ever, it is important to keep New York State strong for women’s rights, by enshrining the protections of Roe v. Wade into New York State law.
Assembly: Passed 06/07/2016
Senate: Referred to Health 06/07/2016
Boss Bill (A.1142a/S.2709a)
Protecting Individual Reproductive Health Decision Making
This legislation, introduced by Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, would close a loophole in New York’s current workplace anti-discrimination laws to ensure women are not discriminated against for their personal reproductive health choices and to protect their privacy. This “Boss Bill” is a response to the over 100 federal lawsuits by employers trying to avoid the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate, including the pill and IUDs, without co-pays or deductibles. Clarifying this law will make sure that employers cannot deny employees birth control coverage under insurance plans.
Assembly: Passed 06/07/2016
Senate: Referred to Insurance 06/07/2016
Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) (A.4558A/S.61A)
The GENDA will outlaw discrimination in New York State based on gender identity or expression and protect transgender men and women from discriminatory practices. This bill will add “gender identity and expression” to the New York State Human Rights Law which already protect individuals from discrimination on the basis of age, race, creed, national origin, sexual orientation, sex and other categories in the areas of employment, housing, public accommodations, education and credit. GENDA will close the gap on protecting key civil rights of transgender individuals.
Assembly: Ordered to Third Reading Cal.183 06/97/2016
Senate: Returned to Senate 06/07/2016
Note: While Governor Cuomo introduced regulations through executive order that unequivocally bans harassment and discrimination against transgender people, NOW still supports the passage of the GENDA bill to make sure that this is enshrined in New York State law.
Child Victims Act (A.2872A/S.63A)
The Child Victims Act will eliminate the statute of limitations for filing a case of childhood sexual abuse. Under current law, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse must report the claim within a 5 year window of turning 18. By abolishing the statute of limitations predators and their protectors will be held responsible for crimes and victims who were unfairly denied their day in court will have an opportunity to seek justice The Child Victims Act will help to better advocate for child victims of sexual abuse, prevent the silencing of victims, and allow victims more time to feel comfortable pursuing legal action against predators.
Assembly: Referred to Codes 1/6/2016
Senate: Referred to Codes: 1/6/2016
Equal Pay for Comparable Worth for State Employees (A.437/S.3249A)
This legislation seeks to comply with the federal equal pay act of 1963 by implementing a state policy of compensating employees in state service equally for work of comparable value by eliminating wage inequality in job titles having been segregated by sex, race or national origin. It would require the president of the civil service commission to report annually to the legislature and the governor on those segregated titles for which wage disparity exists. It would also mandate that the governor appropriate monies to ensure wage disparities are corrected. New York State supports women’s equality, and it should commit to lead by example by working to eliminate pay disparities that exist between different jobs requiring similar levels of skill.
Learn more: Bill
Assembly: 1/6/2016 Ordered to Third Reading Cal.32
Senate: 1/21/2016 Amended and Recommitted to Civil Service and Pensions
Establishing Fairness in Divorce (S.2345)
This bill would amend the domestic relations law to ensure that more economically vulnerable spouses (in most cases, women) are able to secure consistent, fair, and predictable post-divorce maintenance awards. The last update to the state’s divorce law was in 2010, and more reforms are needed to fairly account for the wide variety of contributions both spouses make to advance the economic status of a family. Clarifying the law will reduce unnecessary litigation while also helping those who are unable to afford representation to cover their costs.
Sponsor: State Senator Hassell-Thompson
Senate: Referred to Judiciary 1/6/2016
The Intern Protection Act (H.R. 2034)
The Intern Protection Act (H.R. 2034) aims to extend certain rights to interns that they are not currently entitled to, including freedom from employment discrimination, job security due to pregnancy, and protection against workplace sexual harassment.
Sponsor: Grace Meng
Learn More: Bill
House: 11/16/2015 Referred to the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections
The Teach Safe Relationships Act (HR3141/S.355)
The Teach Safe Relationships Act aims to address relationship violence and sexual assault, by amending the Elementary and Secondary Schools Act to include “safe relationship behavior” as a part of comprehensive sex education. The bill will also authorize a grant program, so secondary schools can educate staff and administration on providing age appropriate educational curricula for students on safe relationship behavior. The Teach Safe Relationships Act builds on the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act to develop and implement policies in middle and high schools focused on dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, and sex trafficking. Relationship violence and sexual assault are major problems facing our nation. The Department of Justice reported that more than 290,000 Americans are victims of sexual assault each year, and the highest rates of violence by an intimate partner are experienced by women age 16 to 24. Safe relationship behavior education teaches students how to identify and prevent physical and emotional relationship abuse, including teen dating violence, domestic abuse, sexual violence, and sexual harassment. Safe relationship behavior education also addresses consent and emotional health and well-being in relationships.
Senate: 2/3/2015 Referred to Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
House: 11/16/2015 Referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce’s Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education
The Campus Accountability & Safety Act (S.590/ H.R.1310)
The Campus Accountability & Safety Act will protect students and boost accountability and transparency at colleges and universities. This legislation was crafted with input from survivors of sexual assault, students, colleges and universities, law enforcement and advocates. CASA will establish new campus resources, support services, guarantee minimum training standards for school staff. Additionally, the legislation will enforce transparency requirements so that students, parents, and officials can remain informed as to how respective campuses address these issues. CASA will call for a uniform disciplinary process within public and private campuses nationwide. Lastly, this legislation will mandate that colleges and universities enforce Title IX penalties. Current federal laws enable colleges and universities to sweep forcible sex offenses under the rug, instead of protecting survivors and holding perpetrators accountable. Ninety-five colleges and universities are presently under federal investigation by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights for alleged violations of Title IX and the mishandling of sexual violence cases.
Senate: 7/29/2015 Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Hearings held.
House: 4/29/2015 Referred to the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training
The Paycheck Fairness Act would make it tougher for employers to get away with pay discrimination, prevent retaliation against employees trying to find out if they are being fairly paid, put gender-based pay discrimination on par with pay discrimination based on race or ethnicity in terms of damages that can be collected, and improve the ability of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to enforce the law. Currently, women make—on average—seventy-seven cents for every dollar a white, non-Hispanic man makes, leading them to lose out on an average of $431,000 over the course of a lifetime. These numbers matter, especially since women are either the primary or sole source of income in 40% of all U.S. households with children. Closing the wage gap would have a measurable impact on the quality of life of women and families, reducing the poverty rate of female headed households by 50% percent and two parent households by 25% percent. The Paycheck Fairness Act would make critical and necessary updates to strengthen the 50-year-old Equal Pay Act, putting us on the path to genuinely closing the wage gap women face.
Senate: 3/25/2015 Referred to Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
House: 11/16/2015 Referred to Subcommittee on Workforce Protections
Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (H.R.2654/S.1512)
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would fix our anti-discrimination laws to ensure that pregnant workers are protected from this type of unfair treatment. Pregnant women should not have to choose between their job and a healthy pregnancy. 75% of women in the workforce will be pregnant at some point, yet many pregnant women are forced to take unpaid leave, or are even fired, after requesting a modest accommodation like a chair or an extra bathroom break. Often, workers who have a temporary injury are treated better than a pregnant woman. The law would simply level the playing field, by requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnancy related conditions–unless doing so would create an undue hardship on the employer. Most importantly, women’s jobs would be protected at the time when they need them most.
Senate: 6/4/2015 Referred to Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
House: 11/16/2015 Referred to Subcommittee on Workforce Protections
Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (H.R.1439/S.786)
The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act would provide a nation-wide medical and family paid leave insurance program. This would—for the first time in our history—create paid maternity leave and allow adults time off from work to care for ill children and relatives. Currently, America is the last remaining industrialized nation that does not mandate paid maternity or sick leave for its workers. As a result, only twelve percent of the American workforce has paid family leave, and under forty percent get paid personal medical leave from their employers. For women in the workplace, the statistics are even worse, with fifty-percent of working women being unable to take time off to care for an ill child. The program would be incredibly affordable, requiring only an additional $1.38 contribution per week from middle-income women in order to become a reality. The benefits of doing so would be broad, and far-reaching. Providing increased economic stability for individuals and families, improving the health of children, seniors, and sick adults, and strengthening the national economy, are just some of the benefits of the proposed legislation.
Senate: 3/18/2015 Referred to Committee on Finance
House: 3/18/2015 Referred to House Committee on Ways and Means
EACH Woman Act: Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (H.R.2972)
The EACH Woman Act would ensure that all women are able to access insurance coverage for abortion, including women who are covered by Medicaid. The 1976 Hyde Amendment made federal funding for abortion illegal except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the woman. This leaves any woman with government-funded health insurance without access to abortion care. The Hyde Amendment is an unjust penalty that specifically creates obstacles for low-income women–especially those living in poverty–who are in need of reproductive healthcare services. The EACH Woman Act would repeal the Hyde Amendment,ensuring access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare for all women, regardless of their income level or source of their insurance coverage.
Sponsored by: Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA)
House: Referred to Subcommittee on Health 7/10/2015
Women’s Health Protection Act (H.R. 448/S. 217)
The Women’s Health Protection Act would prohibit states from imposing targeted restrictions on abortion that are not imposed on other forms of medical care. It would help overturn restrictive abortion laws that have been passed in recent years across the country including special ambulatory surgical standards, hospital admitting privileges, unnecessary waiting periods, and forced ultrasounds.
House: 1/23/15 Referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Health
Senate: 1/21/15 Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee
It’s easy to forget, but important to do: Please thank your leaders who are co-sponsoring pro-women’s rights legislation, so they know just how much support is behind their efforts. You should also ask your other reps to get on board. It’s easy! Call, email, write, or tweet.
Be sure to include the following in your message:
(1) Your name and neighborhood
(2) The bill name and number, and a
(3) Short and simple message about why this legislation matters to you.
Be sure to include @NOW_NYC if you send a tweet, or forward a copy of your message to firstname.lastname@example.org!
New York City: Find My City Council Member
Senator Gillibrand (212) 688-6262, @SenGillibrand, Email
Senator Schumer: (212) 486-4430, @SenSchumer, Email
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