New York State Assembly, Albany, New York 12248

NYS seal
A Report on the
2001 Legislative Session from the


Sheldon Silver, Speaker square Joan Millman, Chair square April 2002

Joan L. Millman Joan L. Millman

Assembly Task Force on Women’s Issues

Hon. Joan L. Millman, Chair
Hon. Vivian Cook square Hon. Sam Hoyt
Hon. Rhoda S. Jacobs square Hon. Naomi Matusow
Hon. Catherine T. Nolan square Hon. Scott M. Stringer

Agency Building 4, 13th Floor
Albany, New York 12248

An Update on Women’s Issues

Again in 2001, the Assembly’s Task Force on Women’s Issues initiated and supported a wide range of measures addressing the concerns of women and their families - from improving health care, child care, education, and job creation, to making our neighborhoods safer. This newsletter reports on our progress in key areas during the 2001 legislative session.

In the aftermath of the tragic events of last September 11th, we have refocused on the importance of our democratic values, our communities and our families. In this, my first year as Chair of the Task Force, I have welcomed the opportunity to listen to women and advocate for their concerns. In particular, this year we have examined the opportunities and issues facing women in non-traditional occupations, holding a Roundtable discussion in Brooklyn on this topic in May, 2001.

The Task Force on Women’s Issues will continue its efforts to ensure that women have an active voice in the legislative process - building a bright future for each of us and our families. We look forward to working with you toward that goal in 2002, and encourage you to contact us with your comments, questions, or concerns.

Educating Our Children
...For a Bright Future


square   Universal Pre-Kindergarten Program
The Assembly approved a bill (A.4308-Lafayette) that would make five-year-olds eligible to attend summer pre-kindergarten programs. Under the bill, school districts that offer pre-K programs during the summer months could accept five-year-olds who would be kindergarten students in the fall.

square   Transportation of Students
A law was enacted (Chapter 70 of the Laws of 2001-A.5091-Acampora) requiring school districts to return students who are on a school-sponsored field trip or activity to the point of departure. If there are circumstances that prevent this, a representative of the school district will remain with the student until the parent or legal guardian is contacted. An additional related law (Chapter 510-A.9439-Acampora) would allow a parent or legal guardian to choose an alternative form of transportation for a student, if the district receives a written notice.

square   Summer Employment
The Assembly approved a bill that would establish a summer employment program for young New Yorkers between the ages of 14 and 21 with an emphasis on targeting 14 and 15 year olds. The bill (A.8372-Scarborough) calls on the state labor commissioner to develop a statewide summer youth employment program, administered by local governments to fill employment positions in municipal parks, recreational facilities and other community projects. This bill died in the Senate.

square   Child Care Assistance
This new law (Chapter 569 of the Laws of 2001-A.8709A-Green) provides child day care assistance to families who experience a short break in employment. Under the law, child care would continue without interruption for those eligible families who are committed to working towards self sufficiency, but experience a short break in their employment.

Keeping Women and Their Families Healthy

Women’s Health

Early in 2001, the Assembly passed legislation aimed at improving access to vital health services for New York State women. To encourage early detection and prevention of health and medical conditions affecting women, the Assembly package included measures requiring health insurers to provide coverage for the screening and treatment of osteoporosis and removing deductibles or co-payments for mammography screenings and cervical cytology screening (A.2006-Glick); requiring insurance coverage for annual mammography screenings for all women more than 40 years old (A.2004-Carrozza); requiring all health insurance policies that provide prescription drug coverage to include contraceptives (A.2002-John); and extending health insurance coverage for mammography and cervical cytology screening to multi-state policies (A.2006-Glick). Although a joint Assembly-Senate conference committee was formed to resolve differences in bills passed by each house, no agreement was reached as of the end of the 2001 legislative session.

The Assembly also passed legislation that would require the state Departments of Environmental Conservation and Health to establish a cancer mapping system that would identify incidents of cancer by region and proximity to facilities that may involve materials responsible for producing these incidences (A.404A-Brodsky). The Assembly also passed legislation to provide funds for the mapping of breast cancer incidents from the Breast Cancer Research and Education Fund and to amend the Pesticide Registry Law to improve the way data is collected (A.5189-Englebright). The bills died in the Senate.

For the third year, the Assembly passed legislation (A.2003-Silver) expanding health insurance coverage to include diagnostic testing and treatment for infertility. Among procedures included for insurance coverage under the bill are drug therapy, artificial insemination and in-vitro fertilization. While both the Assembly and Senate have passed separate infertility bills in the past, the Senate as of the end of 2001 had refused to allow for the use of a conference committee to work out the differences.

Family Health

Afraid of being denied insurance coverage based on the results of genetic testing, many people are avoiding such testing altogether, and are therefore not receiving important information about prevention and early detection. The Assembly again in 2001 passed two bills (A.3329-Sweeney and A.1063-Morelle) which would protect consumers from denial or cancellation of insurance coverage based on the results of genetic testing. Although neither bill passed the Senate, they represent an important step in protecting health insurance coverage for all New Yorkers.

Cigarette smoking is up among teens of both sexes. About 30% of high school girls smoke, and because nicotine is addictive, many will have formed a life-long habit. Nearly all women who smoke started as teens. In 2001 the Assembly approved a bill (A.1057A-Luster) to restrict tobacco product retail displays to protect minors. The bill was also passed by the Senate and signed into law as Chapter 568 of the Laws of 2001.

The Assembly passed two bills during the past session aimed at reforming managed care: Health Plan Compliance legislation (A.4416B-Grannis) which would ensure HMO adherence to consumer protections already in place, and the Continuity of Care bill (A.5880-Kaufman) which would ensure that seriously ill patients can continue treatment with their providers of choice. Unfortunately, the Senate did not address any of these measures.

The Senate and the Assembly passed legislation (A.4772A -Pheffer; Chapter 562 of the Laws of 2001) to protect consumers from the potential health hazards of body piercing and tattooing, among them AIDS and hepatitis. The law establishes requirements for sterility and hygiene, and institutes a two-year permit requirement for the operation of a body piercing or tattooing business.

Promoting Equality and Recognition of Women

square   Gender Neutrality of the State Constitution
The voter referendum to amend the State Constitution to make it gender neutral passed in the November 2001 general election. New York State now joins six other states that have gender neutral constitutions, reflecting women’s equality in society. Changes to the State Constitution include changing words such as mankind to humankind and replacing the pronoun "he" with "he or she."

square   Honoring Women
The Assembly overwhelmingly passed a bill to honor several New York women who left a distinguished legacy of achievement and public service that greatly benefited New York State and the nation. Under the bill (A.2039A-John) the Agency buildings One, Two, Three and Four of the Empire State Plaza in Albany would be named after four prominent New York women: Susan B. Anthony, Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini, Harriet Tubman and Eleanor Roosevelt. Another Assembly bill (A.4090-Eve) would designate March 10 as a public holiday to be known as Harriet Tubman Day, in recognition of Tubman’s achievements in establishing the "Underground Railroad" in the mid-19th century to secure the freedom of blacks escaping slavery. The two bills did not pass the Senate in 2001.

Providing Economic Security for Families

Pay Equity

Equal pay has been the law since 1963, yet women today earn a meager 74 cents for every dollar earned by men. If New York is to build the high quality, productive 21st century workforce we need to prosper in the new millennium, it is crucial that all employees are guaranteed the basic right of wages determined by their ability, skills, training and experience — not their gender. With that in mind, legislation was passed by the Assembly again in 2001 to ensure that women’s wages no longer lag behind men’s for work of equal or comparable worth. The Assembly bills would establish a constitutional amendment providing comparable worth wage protection (A.290-Christensen) and require employers to pay comparable wages for comparable work (A.5416-DiNapoli, A.7432-Nolan, A.236-Grannis, and A.7012-Stringer). In addition, the package includes legislation making it easier to challenge pay discrimination by allowing complaints to the Division of Human Rights to be filed as class actions (A.97-Christensen) and a resolution (A.R.530-Millman) urging Congress to enact legislation eliminating wage discrimination nationwide.

Child Support

Chapter 68 of the Laws of 2001 (A.7923-Weinstein) extends for two years provisions relating to the enforcement of child and combined child and spousal support orders by the state Department of Taxation and Finance. Since 1997, this initiative has boosted child support collections by more than $128 million. Chapter 72 (A.7924-Weinstein) extends for two years provisions relating to the enforcement of child support through the suspension of driving privileges.

Preserving Privacy

The Assembly sponsored legislation, signed into law by the Governor as Chapter 578 of the Laws of 2001 (A.2358B-Sweeney), requiring all state agencies to adopt Internet privacy protection policies to ensure that information of a personal and confidential nature is private and accessible by designated recipients only. The Assembly also approved legislation to protect consumers from identity theft. The bill (A.4939B-Pheffer) would create the crime of identity theft and establish penalties for those who obtain another individual’s personal information and use that identity to commit fraud or other unlawful acts. This bill did not pass the Senate in 2001.

Protecting Homeowners

The Assembly passed legislation (A.7828A-Greene) that would give New Yorkers the strongest homeowner protections in the nation to stem the rise in consumer complaints against "predatory" lenders. The bill seeks to protect consumers from the exorbitant costs and threats of foreclosure that characterize predatory loans. These high-cost loans are made on one-to-three-family homes and carry either an annual percentage rate that is 5% or more above the U.S. Treasury interest rate, or have points and fees that exceed 5% of the total loan amount. The bill was not passed by the Senate during the 2001 legislative session.

To assist citizens in their ability to afford low to moderately priced housing in New York State, Chapter 529 of the Laws of 2001 (A.5992-Sweeney) gives localities the option to allow for a partial real property tax exemption for first-time homebuyers. In order to qualify for the exemption neither the homeowner nor their spouse shall have owned a primary residential property, a vacation home or an investment home during the three year period prior to the purchase of the primary residential property. Additional qualifications include a purchase price limitation and a household income limitation.

Nursing Mothers

This bill (A.7200-Destito) would require employers to allow employees who are breast feeding to take paid or unpaid leave time to express breast milk. Under the bill, reasonable leave time must be given for up to one year following childbirth. The bill would require employers to provide a room or other private location in close proximity to the work area for mothers. The bill also prohibits employers from discriminating against mothers who wish to express breast milk while at work.

Minimum Wage Increase

Again in 2001, as part of the Assembly’s effort to put more money into the pockets of our state’s hard-working men and women, the Assembly passed a bill to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.75 (A.5132-Nolan). The Senate failed to act on this measure.

photo Panel members at the Assembly Roundtable on Women in Non-Traditional Occupations, held May 3, 2001, included Martha Baker, Angela Boone, Eva Cramer, Ojeda Hall-Phillips, Sara Horowitz, Florence Jackson, Deborah Kaplan, Francine Moccio, C. Claiborne Ray, Patricia Rockwell, Sarah Safford, Nona Smith, Elly Spicer, and Patricia Williams.

Ensuring Our Families’ Safety


Curbing Domestic Violence

The Assembly and Senate passed, and the Governor signed into law a number of measures to protect and support domestic violence victims. Chapter 236 of the Laws of 2001 (A.7751A-Weinstein) incorporates safeguards into the state’s judicial procedures so that the court process does not itself become a source of risk for alleged victims of family violence. The law provides for the confidentiality of addresses or other identifying information in family court and matrimonial proceedings where disclosure of such information would pose an unreasonable risk to the health or safety of a party or child. Chapter 340 (A.8916A-Carrozza) allows domestic violence victims to go to family court at night to get protection from their abusers by allowing family courts operating in the evening to issue protection orders without the alleged abuser present. Domestic violence victims are especially in need of assistance that will help minimize their economic dependence on their abusers. Chapter 362 (A.8706A-Glick) expands food assistance program (food stamp) eligibility to victims of domestic violence. Chapter 384 (A.7248-Weinstein) strengthens safeguards for victims of domestic violence by ensuring the court’s careful consideration of whether to issue a permanent order of protection upon conviction of any crime or violation between spouses and child or between members of the same family or household, where a temporary order of protection was issued.

In addition to the new laws noted above, again in 2001 the Assembly advanced a number of bills to protect the victims of domestic violence. One bill (A.3257-Tokasz) would ensure the privacy and safety needs of domestic violence victims by limiting access to voter registration information. Another bill (A.7745-Weinstein) would add to the period of an order of protection the time the abuser is incarcerated for a family offense misdemeanor or felony. Because domestic violence victims may miss work in order to appear in court, a bill was passed in the Assembly to prohibit employers from discriminating against them because of such absence (A.2544-Nolan). Another bill (A.7747-Weinstein) prevents landlords from evicting tenants who are forced to flee their rent-controlled home to escape domestic violence. None of these bills passed the Senate in 2001.

Crime Victims

A new law, Chapter 62 of the Laws of 2001 (A.9278-Destito), would make funds of a convicted person available to crime victims, enhancing the ability of crime victims to receive compensation for injuries and expenses that result from criminal acts. The law enables crime victims to initiate a lawsuit under the "Son of Sam Law" to recover money and property received by or on behalf of a convicted person from virtually any source.

The Assembly advanced legislation in 2001, not passed by the Senate, to improve the services provided by the Crime Victims Board, which helps victims put their lives back together. The bills would require that a health-care professional experienced in treating and counseling crime victims be included on the Crime Victims Board (A.5567-DiNapoli) and establish a victims’ assistance education program (A.1721-Sidikman). In addition, a new law (Chapter 359 of the Laws of 2001-A.4516-Mayersohn) requires the Crime Victims Board to extend the deadline by which a crime victim must file a claim for compensation in cases where the victim had no knowledge about the compensation program.

Child Custody

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act was passed into law as Chapter 386 of the Laws of 2001 (A.4203-Weinstein). The law brings greater certainty to custody disputes where the parents live in different states or countries. It provides an effective way to obtain and enforce orders of custody and visitation across state lines, and does this in a manner that ensures that the safety of the children is paramount and that victims of domestic violence and child abuse are protected.

Sexual Discrimination Banned

The Assembly passed a comprehensive anti-discrimination bill that would prohibit discrimination based on an individual’s sexual preference (A.1971-Sanders). Under the bill, sexual discrimination would be banned in the workplace, education, housing and on financial credit applications. The bill would continue society’s vigorous pursuit for equal treatment for all and also would help dispel the climate of fear in which some New Yorkers are forced to live. The Senate did not pass this bill during the 2001 legislative session.

Gun Violence Prevention

Firearms are the fourth leading cause of accidental deaths among children 5 to 14 years of age and the third leading cause of accidental deaths among 15 to 24 year olds. Between 1990 and 1994 in New York State, there were a total of 6,627 hospitalizations of children age 19 and under due to firearm injury, and 1,734 deaths of children age 19 and under. As part of an ongoing effort to protect the people of our state from the terrible tragedies of gun violence, the Assembly passed three bills: A.854-Lentol, suspending gun licenses for individuals found under the influence of alcohol or drugs while possessing a loaded gun in public or in a motor vehicle; A.833-Lentol, banning the possession and use of real guns that are designed to look like toy guns; and A.5363B-Weisenberg, the Children’s Weapon Accident Prevention Act, requiring the safe storage of firearms. These bills did not pass the Senate in 2001.

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