Speaker Heastie Statement on Assembly Majority's Agenda: The Legislation We Have Championed for Years is Finally Within Reach

Today, my colleagues and I in the Assembly Majority opened the 2019 Legislative Session, and while we are confident this year will bring real change for New Yorkers, many of the ideas that have recently taken center stage have long been priorities in the People's House.

New York is a trailblazer for the nation on so many issues that have been nurtured and developed by the hard work of the Assembly Majority. For years, we fought for a higher minimum wage because we believe that no one who works a full-time job should live in poverty. In 2016, our persistence paid off with legislation to deliver annual incremental statewide wage increases. That same year, we made paid family leave a reality for every hardworking New Yorker.

At times, we have had to fight tough battles to keep New York from falling behind. In 2017, our loud voices helped correct an injustice facing our youth by raising the age of adult criminal responsibility – just one of the many criminal justice reforms we have passed numerous times.

Year after year, we fought tooth and nail for each of these victories, and still countless pieces of progressive legislation were stalled in the Republican controlled Senate. But this past November, voters gave Democrats their largest majority in the State Senate in a century. They too want to move New York forward.

With our new partners in the Senate, we will take swift action to deliver the progressive legislation we have long sought for New York families. The list is long and ambitious:

  • I am confident we will finally enshrine the Reproductive Health Act into law, along with other measures to protect women's reproductive health. And we will make sure every New Yorker has access to quality affordable health care.
  • Together, we will once and for all deliver comprehensive criminal justice reform to establish a more equitable system for all New Yorkers. Measures like “Kalief's Law” to ensure a speedy trial, reforming our bail system, and ending the use of solitary confinement will take center stage in the coming legislative session.
  • We must break down barriers to higher education by passing the New York State DREAM Act to ensure our immigrant youth have access to the resources they need to make meaningful contributions to our state.
  • We will ensure that our state clearly and undeniably protects transgender New Yorkers from hate crimes and discrimination.
  • We will make sure every New Yorker can make their voice heard by expanding voter access.
  • We will make the Child Victims Act the law of the land so survivors of childhood sexual abuse will finally have their day in court.
  • We will protect the future of this beautiful state by passing the Climate and Community Protection Act.

My colleagues and I look forward to collaborating with Senate Democrats to address a myriad of other issues facing the state. Together, we must find common sense solutions to protect New Yorkers from gun violence. We must address equitable funding for our neediest schools, and continue to ensure higher education is affordable for all New Yorkers.

New Yorkers need adequate housing, reliable transportation and good jobs. Hardworking families need affordable child care. With our partners in the Senate, we must tackle the tough issues like finding sustainable funding for the MTA and meeting the needs of our upstate transit systems. We will not forget that our upstate communities need economic development and job creation. We will work together to make our families first agenda a reality.

The Assembly Majority is a body of progressive leaders. Our ideas have long been bold and visionary. We look forward to working with our partners in the new Senate Majority to make them a reality.