November 26, 2018, New York, NY
The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (“WBASNY”) set WBASNY’s Legislative Priorities for the new legislative term on November 17, 2018, in Syracuse New York. WBASNY’s Board of Directors voted to support the following five (5) legislative priorities:
- Equal Rights Amendment, which would amend the New York State Constitution by ensuring that equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex. Although WBASNY recognizes that an amendment to the State Constitution requires legislative support for two consecutive, two-year legislative terms, it is vitally important to begin this process. According to WBASNY President Greta Kolcon, “A true democracy requires that women and men must have equal rights, including constitutional protection of fundamental rights. Constitutional recognition of women’s rights is decades overdue, if not a full century overdue.”
- Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act (CCCA), formerly S. 6013A A.8136B, which would protect and strengthen New Yorkers’ access to free contraception under the Affordable Care Act, including ensuring access to a full year supply of contraception. Several states, including California and Illinois, have already adopted similar laws to protect birth control coverage.
- Reproductive Health Act, formerly A.1748 / S.2796, which would remove abortion from the criminal penal code and move it to the public health law, ensuring that health care professionals can provide women with appropriate health care without fear of criminal consequences. It would also further align New York law with federal constitutional law.
- Pay Equity Legislation, including legislation prohibiting employers from inquiring about the salary history of job candidates, because a salary offer based upon prior history can perpetuate a systemic gender pay gap. Certain local jurisdictions, such as New York City and Westchester County, have passed local laws, but a statewide prohibition similar to those already in place in California, The District of Columbia, Massachusetts, and Puerto Rico is necessary and would create a consistent standard for employers throughout New York.
- Improved Regulation of Sexual Trafficking. Human trafficking continues to impact New York State. According to New York State Division of Criminal Justice Service, “Human trafficking is a difficult crime to detect, largely because victims are hidden from public view and the means used by traffickers are many times subtle.”  WBASNY continues to support legislation improving methods of stopping human trafficking and addressing the needs of victims of sexual trafficking.
WBASNY also recently voted to support legislation to expand the power of Family Court Judges to issue orders of protection for child victims of abuse in the home for a longer duration than currently allowed.