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Policy Matters September 2013


Dear Friends,

We hope you are enjoying the last few days of summer, and are looking forward to a beautiful, crisp (and productive) fall!  Folks here at Empire Justice are getting back into the swing of things, including developing our policy priorities for the coming year and planning our annual organizational retreat.  This month we’ll share with you some of what happened during Policy Matters’ August break.

Our work yielded some really great news in July and August.

  • We are so happy to report that, at the end of July, Governor Cuomo signed the Shadow Docket bill, one of our top legislative priorities.  The law has since gone into effect, so no additional homeowners at risk of foreclosure should fall into the shadow docket/abyssHere’s a new article analyzing this law.
  • Last month, the Nassau County Executive, Ed Mangano, signed two executive orders to expand language access for limited-English proficient (LEP) residents.  We are proud to have worked closely with our fellow advocates on Long Island, including the Long Island Language Advocates Coalition (LILAC), who persuaded County Executive Mangano to sign these orders.  Together, they are intended to guarantee translation and interpretation services to all LEP residents in their interactions with county government.
  • Also on Long Island last month, a federal court judge appointed a special master to oversee Nassau County’s public assistance programs to address violations of application processing deadlines, which were originally raised in 2010, when Empire Justice, along with the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, brought suit on behalf of applicants whose applications were delayed.  This appointment of the special master is important because, as our Linda Hassberg noted in the article linked above, "We're dealing with the most needy people in the county…for them to have to wait to get medical care, to get food, to be able to pay rent . . . is unfair.  The time limits were imposed for a reason."
  • Finally, we are pleased to see that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has heard some of our suggestions about gathering discrimination and other detailed data in its complaints database.  In a recent proposal to streamline approvals to updates in its complaints database, the CFPB justified the inclusion of “sensitive questions,” like those about possible discrimination, by saying that the agency is charged with enforcing federal laws that ensure nondiscriminatory access to credit.  Thanks to our coalition partners at Americans for Financial Reform (AFR) for their crucial role in making this happen.

We have to say, its incredibly gratifying when we see our efforts bringing about shifts in policy at the state, local and federal level that will have a positive impact on the lives of underserved New Yorkers!

In addition to these accomplishments, we also continued to work on the following:

That’s all for now! Stay tuned for our policy priorities for 2014 - we’ll start sharing them with you in upcoming issues, along with tons of other exciting activities!  In the meantime, keep an eye on our website and Facebook page where we’ll update you as information becomes available.

Kristin and the Empire Justice Policy Team