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Policy Matters September 2015: Ready, Set, GO!


We’re back!  Summer is almost over, and now it’s the start of our favorite season of the year – Budget Season!  Since the last edition of Policy Matters, the Policy Team has been busy around the state, marching, posting, writing, publishing, researching, advocating, training, commenting, digging in and getting ready for what’s to come, working to make the law work for ALL New Yorkers

Here’s some of what we’ve been up to…


A crucial health bill would have aligned prescriber prevails procedures in Medicaid managed care with fee for service Medicaid, allowing the judgement of someone’s treating physician to determine the best prescription medication for them.  It was passed by both houses of the legislature, and hit the Governor’s desk.  Despite our best efforts (and an incredible 426 responses to our Action Alert from people like you), the legislation was, unfortunately, vetoed. But we expect it to pop up again in the 2016 Legislative session!

Public Assistance

Just last week, Saima Akhtar went before the joint Senate Committees on Social Services and Children & Families, testifying on the urgent need to increase the shelter and fuel for heating allowances to realistic, modern levels.  There hasn’t been an increase in the fuel for heating allowance in 28 years!  She also talked about the need for increased funding for child care - new federal regulations will require providers to spend more money, but with no increase in funding.  Approximately 21,000 children around the state may lose their child care slots.


The CFPB published a complaint narrative database.  Ellie Pepper walks us through what this means for New Yorkers.

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BIG NEWS: It’s always thrilling to release a report.  It’s even better when we release TWO reports in a short time.  Barb van Kerkhove and Ruhi Maker shepherded the release of reports focused on mortgage lending disparities for both Rochester and Long Island.  CONGRATS to BARB, RUHI, and the ENTIRE TEAM!


Reena Arora wrote a blog on the SWEAT bill, legislation that would hold employers accountable when it’s found they didn’t pay their workers fairly.  There’s still work to be done, and this bill is sure to be on our list of priorities for the coming legislative session.

LGBT Rights

The New York State Education Department issued guidance for schools to foster safe learning environments for transgender and gender non-conforming students.  We were incredibly proud to participate in the process, along with the Empire State Pride Agenda and the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Language Access

The Long Island Language Advocates Coalition (LILAC), along with other advocates, released a report, Language Access Denied: Ed Mangano’s Broken Promise to Nassau County, and held an action to call attention to the Nassau County Executive’s failure to implement Executive Orders 67 and 72.  After two years, it’s time for Ed Mangano to live up to the promise he made to the 130,000 residents of Nassau County who consider themselves limited English proficient.

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Domestic Violence

Remember that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month in New York.  “Shine a Light on Domestic Violence” by going purple with us!


The Americans with Disabilities Act turned 25 on July 26th.

Did you know that the Social Security program turned 80 on August 14th?

Also, HUD turned 50 on September 9th.

And the TANF program - Temporary Assistance for Needy Families – turned 19 on August 22nd.  As Liz Schott at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities puts it, “TANF serves few poor families with children and hasn’t provided an effective safety net that could give poor children an opportunity to succeed in school and life.”  There is definitely room for improvement.

Foreclosure prevention attorneys in our Rochester office held firm with their client, Dave.


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Cheryl Keshner, our tireless language access advocate on Long Island, was deeply honored to be named SEPA Mujer’s Advocate of the Year.

We published updated SNAP budget worksheets.

And finally, Susan Antos was at the Court of Appeals on September 16th, arguing the Carver case before the highest court in the state– did you know that public assistance is a debt?

That’s it for now! 

The Policy Team at Empire Justice Center

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