Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick (R,C,I-Smithtown) joined Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb and members of the Assembly Minority Conference this week at a press conference calling on Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to bring up the provisions of the Women’s Equality Act for a vote as individual bills. Eight of the original 10 provisions were passed on Monday in the state Senate.
“There is overwhelming support for the majority of the bills in this package, and there is no just cause to deny the bills the opportunity to stand on their own merits, individually, and be debated and voted on,” said Fitzpatrick. “Whether you agree or disagree with each provision of the act, it is an impediment of our democratic process to deny these bills the opportunity to be voted on. Moreover, the people of our state should be able to count on their government to protect them, and the majority of these bills would do just that: protect the women and children of our state from unspeakable crimes, including human trafficking and domestic violence. These bills should be voted on immediately.”
Nine planks of the Women’s Equality Act have been passed as individual, stand-alone bills by the state Senate in both the 2013 and 2014 legislative sessions. Last year, the legislative session culminated with widespread and bipartisan support for the bills being voted on individually to avoid lawmakers’ conflicts over the more controversial provisions, such as those relating to abortion. In fact, even members of the Assembly Majority pleaded with the Speaker to allow for passage of the measures related to workplace sexual harassment prevention, increasing protections for victims of domestic violence, and creating the crime of human trafficking. Despite this, the 2014 session ended without movement on any of the bills in the Assembly.