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Policy Matters December 2014


Greetings and Happy Holidays!  We are happy to be reaching out to you to share several of the policy initiatives we have been working on lately, and are getting excited about the issues we plan to champion in 2015!

Here are some highlights we've been working on: 

Child Care

HOT OFF THE PRESSES!  Just as we were finalizing this edition, we received word that Governor Cuomo signed one of our priority child care bills into law!  You may recall a few years ago, there was a crisis in Erie County in which parents lost their child care assistance with only a few days’ notice.  This abrupt loss of assistance, which plunged many low income working families into chaos, caused Buffalo Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes to introduce this critical legislation to change the law to provide more notice to families.  Along with our child care colleagues, we are thrilled, as this new law will give families more time to address the financial impact of the loss, and hopefully secure safe, stable child care for their kids.


As we continue to monitor the issues affecting unaccompanied migrant youth coming into New York State, we are pleased to announce our participation in the newly formed New York Immigrant Assistance Consortium!  This new initiative brings together civil legal services providers, non-profits, state and local governments, lawyers and other advocates, and will enable stakeholders to work together to help New York immigrants fully access federal administrative relief.  We are happy to be a part of this effort and we will keep you posted about future developments.

Civil Rights

#dogfordevyn  This is the trending hashtag for our client, Devyn Pereira.  There has been a groundswell of support for Devyn, since her school district has refused to provide a handler to help communicate with her life saving service dog, Hannah, who helps her ambulate and detect oncoming seizures.  It’s been exciting to see several lawmakers, including Rochester Assemblymember Joe Morelle, come out publicly in support of her cause.  We are working behind the scenes, trying to figure out a way to “make the law work" better for Devyn and others who are in similar situations.  Please be sure to like Devyn’s Facebook page so you can receive up to date information as the movement continues. 

#blacklivesmatter  As you know, the tragic deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City, have sparked a national conversation about race, police/community relations and justice for everyone.  Here at Empire Justice Center, we issued a statement, letting the world know that we stand in solidarity with those who are affected by these events.


Over in the health care world, our team has been on the move these past few weeks!  Our Ambassadors for Coverage program has been doing an amazing job, linking consumers with health care coverage.  As 2015 draws close, the New York State Department of Health (NYSODH) is partnering with CVS pharmacies across the state to provide space for the Ambassadors to connect with hard-to-reach consumers, and provide valuable information about the NYS Health Marketplace.  Here’s how you can find a location near you today. 

Cross Cutting Issues

In the last few weeks, we’ve seen some monumental strides in access to health care for the LGBT community.  Recently Governor Cuomo announced new proposed regulations that will include transgender health care services under the Medicaid program.  If implemented, hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery would be covered for individuals who have referrals from medical professionals.  Additionally, surgery would be covered for people who are at least 18 or 21 years old, subject to certain conditions.  This is a great step forward for providing health care to all New Yorkers!

Happy Holidays...

Last but certainly not least, we are poised to release a new report about the foreclosure crisis in Monroe County in early 2015, along with our 2015 statewide legislative agenda- so please be on the lookout for it. As always, we invite you to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and on our website!

Wishing you and yours a happy and joyous holiday season!

Until next time...

Empire Justice Center's Policy Team


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