As I do each and every year on your "Day of Action," let me offer you my personal gratitude for taking the time to come to Albany and to speak for all of this state's women, children and young parents who are unable to be here to advocate for family planning services.
As always, it is good to see my friend, your President and CEO, Tracey Brooks.
I'm sure she is tired of me saying this, but Tracey received some of her best training as an employee of the Assembly, so I can tell you first hand what a talented, intelligent, and compassionate leader she is, and a true champion of social justice as well.
I hope that you appreciate hers leadership as much as I do. Tracey, we are delighted to be working with you and with your exceptional team again this year.
Speaking of an exceptional team, let me offer a special greeting to the many leaders who are here from Planned Parenthood.
My colleagues and I have a profound respect for you and for the many doctors, nurses and health-care professionals who provide family planning and reproductive health services to those who would not otherwise afford them.
At a time when so much hostility is coming out of Washington and being directed at reproductive services, you are providing a safe haven for vulnerable young women and for this reason, we consider you heroes.
This is why you see my Assembly Majority colleagues and I attending your Day of Action every year, and this is why we advocate for family planning support in every budget.
For as long as I am Speaker of the Assembly, for as long as the People's House is guided by influential leaders such as Assembly Members Denny Farrell, Ron Canestrari, Dick Gottfried, Deborah Glick, Michelle Titus and Ellen Jaffee, to name but a few …
New York will continue to be a state that trusts women.
New York will continue to be a state that ensures a woman's right to control her own personal and private reproductive health decisions.
New York will continue to be a state in which health policy is driven by doctors, not doctrine.
As you know, the Assembly Majority passed the legislation creating the Health Benefits Exchange, recognizing its importance in ensuring access to health care for more New Yorkers, especially women and children.
We continue to believe that our young people need medically accurate, age-appropriate sex education, and not simply lectures on abstinence.
We will continue to stand with family planning and reproductive health service providers. We will continue to believe in you.
Now, before I let you go, let me take a moment to congratulate the New York Coalition Against Sexual Assault on 25 years of outstanding work.
Last year, we passed legislation to ensure that sex-crime victims are treated with sensitivity by law enforcement and by our courts, as well as legislation to extend the life of the interagency task force on human trafficking.
Both bills were enacted into law.
Over the years, the Assembly Majority has advanced a series of measures to strengthen the laws intended to protect children and families from sexual predators.
We look forward to working with the Coalition again this year, to enhance the state's efforts to prevent these heinous crimes and to ensure that government responds to victims with all of the respect, sensitivity and resources that we can.
In closing, let me thank you again for being here.
As Tracey Brooks will attest, my door - and the doors of my Assembly Majority colleagues - are always open to you.
For now, please make the most of this, your Day of Action and know that you always have friends and supporters in the Assembly Majority.