Legislature passes GENDA, election reforms 

The state Senate, for the first time, has voted on and passed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, which would extend state anti-discrimination protections on things such as housing and employment to transgender people.  The Assembly passed the bill today as well, marking the 11th time it has voted it through.

The bill will now head to Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has promised to sign it.

Neither chamber has posted the voting roll yet, but Rochester area Democratic Assembly members Harry Bronson and Jamie Romeo co-sponsored the GENDA bill and  voted in support of it.

In floor remarks, Bronson cast the legislation as a continuation of the state and country's progress toward equal rights for all people, one that started when the Founding Fathers drafted the US Constitution.

"Creating a world that is more just, and more equal, and more free than the one we are born into is the defining element of the American Experiment," Bronson said.

The Assembly and Senate also voted to pass legislation banning conversion therapy for minors this morning.

GENDA is the second big-ticket item that the state Legislature has acted on this session. Monday night, the Assembly and Senate passed a package of election reforms that have been pursued by good government groups and some lawmakers for many years. Governor Andrew Cuomo, who's delivering his State of the State and budget addresses this afternoon, is expected to sign the bills.

Among the legislation passed Monday night were bills that would:
  • Consolidate state and federal primaries into one day;
  • Allow 16- and 17-year-olds to "pre-register" to vote — including when they sign up for a driver's license — before they are voting age;
  • Require the state Board of Elections to automatically transfer people's voter registration to their new address when they move;
  • Begin the process of amending the state constitution to allow same-day voter registration and to allow voting by mail without citing a reason;
  • Close a loophole that allows individuals and corporations to skirt campaign contribution limits by using limited liability corporations (LLC's). For example, some developers create LLC's for each of their projects and were able to direct separate campaign contributions through several of them. The legislation sets an aggregate limit of $5,000 for all LLC's controlled by one person or company.
Cuomo has said he'll include more voting and campaign-finance measures in his budget. But Monday's actions were lauded by good-government and voting-rights groups.

"Since the 1960’s the state League has fought for comprehensive voting reforms," the New York State League of Women Voters said in a statement. "We are proud to be a part of this historic event and we applaud the New York State Assembly and Senate for finally passing these reforms."

This is a developing story and the post will be updated throughout the day.

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