Assemblymember Grace Lee Leads Historic Legislative Session for New York’s Asian American Communities

Albany, NY – On Wednesday, June 21st, 2023, Assemblymember Grace Lee completed her first legislative session in the New York State Assembly, marking the end of a historic six months that saw a number of important bills passed to support New York’s AAPI community, including a historic first-in-the-nation bill to make Lunar New Year a statewide public school holiday.

As the representative of Lower Manhattan’s Chinatown in the New York State Assembly and the Co-Chair of the Assembly’s Asian Pacific American Task Force, Assemblymember Lee fought throughout this year’s session to prioritize New York’s rapidly growing AAPI community and address the unique challenges they are facing, including the unprecedented recent rise in anti-Asian hate.

This work began with the passage of New York State’s 2023-2024 budget, where Assemblymember Lee led the effort to secure a historic $30 million in funding for New York’s AAPI community - the most funding this group has ever received in a state budget. This funding will be used to support over 100 AAPI-serving nonprofits and will provide culturally-competent, language-accessible services to AAPI communities across the state. 

Assemblymember Lee also played a pivotal role in passing legislation to recognize major AAPI holidays in New York. Assemblymember Lee worked with Assemblymember William Colton and Senator Brian Kavanagh to pass historic, first-in-the-nation legislation (A7768) to make Lunar New Year a statewide school holiday in New York, bringing recognition to the most important annual holiday in Asian culture and to the millions of New Yorkers who celebrate it each year. Assemblymember Lee also worked with Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar to pass a bill (A7769) to make Diwali a public school holiday in New York City. These bills will promote inclusion and help educate New Yorkers on Asian American heritage.

Assemblymember Lee also co-sponsored and passed a bill (A3301A) to establish a state AAPI Commission to develop policies and coordinate programs to improve the overall well-being of New York’s AAPI community. This commission will ensure New York meets its commitment to support and protect Asian Americans.

While this legislative session was marked by a number of landmark victories, Assemblymember Lee acknowledges that there is more work to be done for New York’s AAPI community. In the upcoming months, she will continue to push legislation to support AAPI New Yorkers, including her bill with Senator John Liu to include Asian American history in public school curriculums in New York State (A6579) and her bill with Senator Brad Hoylman to protect Asian Americans and other minority groups from online hate by requiring social media companies to publicly disclose how they moderate harmful content on their platforms (A6789).

“As the fastest growing demographic and one that is facing a steep rise in anti-Asian hate and violence, New York’s Asian American communities began the year with an overwhelming need for support. But we also had unprecedented representation, with the largest number of AAPI legislators in New York’s history. During the past six months, I have worked as Co-Chair of the Assembly’s Asian Pacific American Task Force to turn this representation into action and support the AAPI community in its moment of need,” said Assemblymember Grace Lee. “I am so proud to have delivered resources during this year’s session that will strengthen AAPI communities and help AAPI New Yorkers celebrate their heritage. We have secured record funding for AAPI-serving nonprofits throughout the state, achieved recognition for two of the largest holidays in Asian American communities, and established an AAPI Commission to oversee new policies to improve the lives of AAPI New Yorkers. While there is much more work to be done to make New York a safe, healthy, and equitable home for our community, these are significant achievements we can be proud of. Now, we will begin preparations for next year’s legislative session, where I will continue fighting for AAPI New Yorkers.”