Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Trafficking legislation signals new approach to Women's Equality Agenda

Posted By on Tue, Mar 17, 2015 at 10:19 AM

For the past two years, Governor Andrew Cuomo's 10-point Women's Equality Agenda has existed in a sort of suspended animation. Senate Republicans would only pass nine of the 10 points, since the last one would have put the abortion rights guaranteed in Roe v. Wade into state law. And Assembly Democrats insisted on passing all 10 points as a single measure.

So, in simple terms, nine of the 10 points were never contested. Those measures deal with pay equity for women, human trafficking, sexual harassment, and protections for victims of domestic violence.

The Republican-controlled State Senate passed those nine non-controversial measures earlier this year. And now it appears that the Assembly is going to start breaking the measures apart; leaders appear to realize that for the next two years, at least, there's little likelihood that the Senate will pass the abortion provision.

Yesterday, the Assembly passed a package of six bills around human trafficking — one of them, the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act — had been part of the Women's Equality Agenda. The Senate has already passed the act, so the bill heads to the governor's desk.

But the way that the legislation passed shows how the Assembly may proceed with some of the other WEA planks, which the chamber's leaders say that they will advance. The Albany Times Union reports that Democrats won't pass bills that match Senate legislation, but instead "will look to strengthen individual pieces by passing new bills."

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