Back to All Migrated Pages

The 2010 NY State Legislative Session: A Civil Libertarian’s View

A letter from NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman

Despite the dysfunction, the never-ending budget process and the bitter aftertaste of last summer’s coup, the 2010 legislative session turned out to be the most successful in a generation

Here’s a taste of all that we’ve accomplished this year:

  • The Dignity for All Students Act: The Dignity for All Students Act, sponsored by Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell and Senator Tom Duane, prevents bullying in schools through training, mediation and counseling. Thanks to the thousands of faxes that you sent and the coordinated effort of more than 100 organizations advocating for the bill, the Legislature, after a decade of stalling, finally acted to protect our children.
  • Family Health Care Decisions Act: The Family Health Care Decisions Act, sponsored by Assemblymember Dick Gottfried and Senator Tom Duane, empowers family members, spouses, domestic partners and close friends to make major medical decisions for incapacitated loved ones in the absence of a formal proxy (think: Terri Schiavo). The NYCLU supported this bill for more than a decade, and now it finally passed.
  • Stop-and-Frisk Database: The stop-and-frisk bill, sponsored by Assemblymember Hakeem Jeffries and Senator Eric Adams, prohibits the NYPD from keeping an electronic suspect database of the hundreds of thousands of innocent individuals stopped and released by police each year. And as I said in an excellent Bob Herbert piece, this bill “send[s] the message, loud and clear, that whatever pass the Police Department has gotten from city government on these policies, the state is being much more attentive.”
  • The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights: The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, sponsored by Assemblymember Keith Wright and Senator Diane Savino, makes New York the first state to provide domestic workers basic labor protections. We should be proud to be part of this ground-breaking legislation!
  • The Census Adjustment Act: This bill, sponsored by Assemblymember Hakeem Jeffries and Senator Eric Schneiderman, ends a legislative redistricting practice that counted incarcerated people, who cannot vote, as residents of their prison district rather than their home district, where they will likely return upon release. This practice gave New Yorkers who live near prisons disproportionate representation in Albany, threatening the principle of one person, one vote.
  • Civil Remedies for Hate Crimes: This is yet another bill that the NYCLU has supported for years that finally passed. This bill, sponsored by Assemblymember RoAnn Destito and Senator Kevin Parker, allows victims of hate crimes to sue and collect monetary damages from their assailants.
  • Syringe Access: Sterile syringe access, the most effective method of preventing the spread of HIV among injection drug users, was legalized in New York in the early 1990s. However, possession of syringes remained illegal, deterring drug users from state-licensed syringe exchange programs. The syringe access bill, sponsored by Assemblymember Dick Gottfried and Senator Tom Duane, decriminalizes the lawful possession of syringes.
  • Funeral/Bereavement Leave for Same-Sex Committed Partners: This bill, sponsored by Assemblymember Deborah Glick and Senator Velmanette Montgomery, requires employers who offer employees funeral/bereavement leave do so for same-sex couples. Like the Family Health Care Decisions Act, this bill extends a right traditionally associated with marriage to a broader group of people.

But We Have More to Do Next Year…

While this legislative session was a huge success, we supported several bills that did not pass both houses. These include:

  • A bill that would prohibit prosecutors from using the possession of three or more condoms as evidence of prostitution.
  • Bills that would impose certain privacy protections on video surveillance cameras.
  • The Reproductive Health Act, which would ensure that women in New York have access to abortion regardless of what happens in the federal courts and legislature.
  • A bill that extends certain labor protections to farm workers.
  • A bill that prohibits health care professionals from participating in torture.
  • A bill that takes a preventive, educational approach to “sexting.”

We’ve made significant progress in our fight for a just and fair New York and we couldn’t have done it without you. By telling your elected officials that you support the civil liberties agenda, we’ve made history together this year.

Thank you for all that you do,

Donna Lieberman,
Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union

As bold as the spirit of New York, we are the NYCLU.
© 2024 New York
Civil Liberties Union