Though we’ve been quiet we have not been sitting around. We’ve met or talked with senior Cuomo administration officials over the summer and have also begun circulating a simplified but clean bill for consideration in 2019.
We’re also watching the upcoming midterm elections, and one of our core partners has helped in putting together a database and description of things to watch for in New York. For some of you, this may be basic information. For others, it may be helpful to understand what changes may be coming in the coming months and what to expect with legislators and legislation in 2019.
The New York State Senate
The Senate has 63 members. The chamber is currently a Democratic majority, 32-31, but one Democrat, Simcha Felder, caucused with Republicans last session and allowed the Republicans to retain majority control . All Senate seats are up for election on November 6, though 16 seats are unopposed. Control of the New York Senate is being hotly contested and most predictions have it “leaning” toward a switch to Democratic control as a result of upcoming elections. Ultimately, however, the party controlling the Senate may not control OBC legislation. For that, you have to look to the governor’s office and whether it sees adoptee rights legislation—particularly an unrestricted right to an original birth certificate—as a legislative priority. That is what we are actively working on behind the scenes, thanks in great part to Annette and Barb’s efforts.
Senator Andrew Lanza is running unopposed for his senate seat. He has been supportive of prior clean OBC bills and works closely with Assembly Member David Weprin on this issue.
New York State Assembly
The New York Assembly has 150 members. The chamber is solidly controlled by Democrats, currently 107-42. All 150 seats are up for election on November 6, though 41 seats are unopposed. Fifteen seats will be filled by new legislators. Assembly Member Weprin, the primary sponsor of our endorsed OBC legislation, is unopposed this election cycle.
Who’s Staying, Who’s Going
While Governor Andrew Cuomo is running for his third term, he is widely expected to win. His administration has been solidly behind changing the OBC law, and we are the only coalition working in New York as well as the only adoptee rights organization working with senior Cuomo administrative officials. We continue to work with the administration toward enactment of a new law in the coming session.
Former Assembly Members James Skoufis and Dean Murray, reliable supporters of clean legislation, will each be leaving the Assembly and are running for a state Senate seat. Tony Avella, who is a staunch supporter of adoptee rights in the Senate, lost his primary race for reelection but has recently mounted an independent bid to retain his current seat. We wish our prior supporters the best of luck in the upcoming elections, and we’ll be back to update you on how things look after Tuesday. Remember, adoptee rights legislation does not break on party lines. It is a true bipartisan issue, so ask candidates about their positions on this issue.