Tag Archives: domestic violence

NYS Advances Domestic Violence Task Force Recommendations to Overhaul, reimagine System to Empower Survivors In Light of Covid-19 Challenges

Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa has issued a report to Governor Cuomo outlining the COVID-19 Domestic Violence Task Force’s initial recommendations to reimagine New York’s approach to services for domestic violence survivors. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa has issued a report to Governor Cuomo outlining the COVID-19 Domestic Violence Task Force’s initial recommendations to reimagine New York’s approach to services for domestic violence survivors. Governor Cuomo has accepted these recommendations in full and is directing the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, along with other sister agencies of the Office of Children and Family Services, the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the Office of Victim Services, the Division of Criminal Justice Services and the Department of Health, to use these recommendations to update and improve domestic violence services in New York State.

The recommendations identified by the Task Force recognize that the needs of domestic violence survivors vary greatly and there are different tools needed to allow each survivor maximum control over their situation including: mobile advocacy, flexible funding and housing choice. The recommendations offered by the Task Force are ready to be quickly implemented, cutting red tape and prioritizing cultural competency to better meet survivors where they are, give them what they need and set a foundation for continued innovation. The Task Force’s full report is available here.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a drastic increase in the number of reported domestic violence cases in the state, leaving many survivors trapped at home with their abusers without access to help or resources,” Governor Cuomo said. “New York has been working to modernize our systems and the way we deliver services to survivors, and the recommendations made by the task force will help address this alarming spike in domestic violence incidents while building our systems and processes back better than they were before. I thank all the task force members for their work on this issue and for their dedication to ending domestic and gender based violence.”

“Domestic violence has been a pervasive problem in our society, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the situation and exposed the limitations of our traditional systems and methods,” Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor and Chair of the New York State Council on Women and Girls, said.”Since the uptick in domestic violence incidents during the pandemic, New York has taken aggressive actions to find new and innovative solutions to safely reach domestic violence survivors and provide critical, life-saving services. These recommendations build on our efforts and will help to transform and reimagine the way we provide services by giving survivors of domestic violence choice in their future and control of their decisions.”

 Recommendation One: Using New Technologies to Reach More Survivors

The Task Force recommends that the Governor direct the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence to partner with national technical assistance providers to enhance knowledge around the use of technology to reach more survivors, including those in traditionally underserved populations and young people who may be impacted by intimate partner violence. 

The Task Force also recommends that state agencies support programs in purchasing mobile devices and supporting technological infrastructure with federal funding related to the pandemic.

The Task Force also recommends that OPDV permanently incorporate a chat and text component into the functionality of the NYS Domestic and Sexual Violence Hotline.

Recommendation Two: Providing Flexible Funding to Meet the Diverse Needs of Survivors

The Task Force recommends that state agencies provide funding for local programs that can be used to support survivors’ safety, housing stability, transportation or other needs. In tandem with the mobile advocacy strategy, the state should allow programs to use funds to conduct community-based mobile advocacy, with an emphasis on housing stability, economic empowerment, and safety planning, to enable survivors to remain safe and stably housed in the community, if possible. Support provided by local programs should have more flexible parameters, should meet survivors’ needs as quickly as possible and should be available until the survivor feels safe. Further, the state should continue its commitment to partnering with the philanthropic and advocacy community, collaborating to leverage support, fill in the gaps where existing funds fall short and foster further innovation.

Recommendation Three: Providing More Housing Navigation Services

The Task Force recommends that state agencies connect providers to diverse housing-related funding streams to support a housing navigator system. Navigators will work with survivors to help them access available resources and support for housing beyond shelter and work with domestic violence advocates to help them better understand and assist with their clients’ needs around housing.

Additionally, domestic violence programs should designate a portion of one staff member’s salary to be used for housing navigation services, and community-based resources should incorporate this information into their resource database in order to fully support those victims. The role of the housing navigator would be to “bridge the gap” between domestic violence services and housing providers in order to ensure that the housing needs of domestic violence survivors are met.

Recommendation Four: Removing the Requirement that Domestic Violence Victims File a Police Report in Order to Access Victims of Crime Act Funding

The Task Force recommends that the Governor issue an executive order to remove the requirement that domestic violence victims file a police report in order to access the Victims of Crime Act funding. Many domestic violence survivors may be unable or unwilling to file a police report against their abuser, and expanding access to this funding while the state of emergency remains in effect will allow survivors to navigate the COVID-19 crisis with crucial financial support to seek safety.

Recommendation Five: Addressing the Needs of Black, Indigenous and People of Color Survivors of Gender-Based Violence

The Task Force recommends that the Council on Women and Girls establish a standing committee to prioritize and coordinate the creation of culturally competent service delivery designed to address the needs of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) survivors of gender-based violence. The committee will operate under a shared understanding of the impact of systemic racism on BIPOC survivors, and apply an intersectional lens to also consider sexuality, gender identity, age, disability, immigration status, and other identities and experiences in its work. The committee should meet bi-monthly to create an action plan for implementing these elements of service delivery across agencies, including comprehensive prevention strategies, improved language access and culturally competent outreach.

The Task Force also recommends that the state launch a paid and earned media campaign to promote prevention in a culturally competent way and reach specific populations across New York State.

Recommendation Six: Normalizing Domestic Violence Screening During Tele-Health Visits

The Task Force recommends that the Governor direct OPDV and the Department of Health to create guidelines for best practices in identifying and responding to intimate partner violence via tele-health. DOH and the Department of Financial Services should explore the rapid deployment of Medicaid (and commercial) payment mechanisms for intimate partner violence screening and response through telehealth, and OPDV should develop and provide training, technical assistance and appropriate literature to healthcare providers to encourage safe screening for domestic violence and appropriate responses when domestic violence is suspected or identified during tele-health visits.

Recommendation Seven: Coordinating a Program to Promote the Need for Representation of Immigrant Victims

The Task Force recommends that the Governor direct OPDV to coordinate a program with the New York State Bar Association and other bar associations and legal services providers to facilitate training and promote the need for representation of immigrant victims by large law firms through their pro bono programs.

Recommendation Eight: Launching a Public Awareness Campaign to Highlight Financial Abuse

The Task Force recommends that OPDV expands the functions of its existing text and chat line to serve as a conduit to address the various forms of financial abuse experienced by domestic violence survivors.

The Task Force also recommends the establishment of a pilot project with local domestic service providers to identify victims whose credit has been ruined as a result of their abuse and work to repair and rebuild their financial standing.

Recommendation Nine: Launching a New Prevention Initiative Specifically Directed at Educating Men About Domestic Violence

The Task Force recommends that OPDV exercises its oversight authority for abusive partner interventions programs in New York State and directs it to launch a new prevention initiative specifically directed at men, emphasizing the connection between domestic violence and harm to children.

Recommendation Ten: Setting the Stage for Future Progress

The recommendations offered in this report represent just a small fraction of the many ideas and best practices offered by the members of the Task Force over the course of their work. Among the long-term strategies to be further explored are policies around court innovation, ways to address the connection between child abuse and domestic violence, robust prevention programs, and more comprehensive data collection practices. While the Task Force will no longer formally convene, its members have generously offered to continue serving as resources for the state as it develops these long-term plans.

About the New York State COVID-19 Domestic Violence Task Force

In the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, data reported by law enforcement and domestic violence service providers pointed to an increase in domestic violence, with the New York State Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline recording a 33 percent increase in calls for April 2020 compared to April 2019, and shelter occupancy rates upstate rising to 78 percent in April 2020, versus 59 percent in April 2019.

Since the pandemic began and the NYS PAUSE order went into effect, the state’s Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and all relevant state agencies have been working diligently to reach domestic violence survivors and connect them with information about services and support. OPDV also implemented a new, confidential text line and chat program for survivors across the state. The creation of the Task Force built on that work, convening 27 experienced and knowledgeable advocates, service providers and thought leaders from across the country to meet virtually, share their expertise and create written proposals.

Members of the COVID-19 Domestic Violence Task Force include:

  • Scott Berkowitz – Founder and President, Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN)
  • Alejandra Y. Castillo, Esq. – CEO, YWCA USA
  • Karma Cottman – Executive Director, Ujima, Inc: The National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community
  • Nathaniel M. Fields – President and CEO, Urban Resource Institute (URI)
  • Ruth M. Glenn – President and CEO, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV)
  • Peg Hacskaylo – Founder and CEO, National Alliance for Safe Housing (NASH)
  • Jim Henderson – Probation and Domestic Violence Expert, Battered Women’s Justice Project
  • Grace Huang, JD – Policy Director, Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence
  • Tandra R. LaGrone – Executive Director, In Our Own Voices
  • Cindi Leive – Senior Fellow, USC-Annenberg School of Journalism and Communications
  • Tonya Lovelace, MA – CEO, Women of Color Network Inc (WOCN)
  • David Mandel – Executive Director, Safe & Together Institute
  • Karol V. Mason – President, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
  • Joan S. Meier – Professor of Law, George Washington University Law School and Director, National Family Violence Law Center at GW
  • Connie Neal – Executive Director, New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NYSCADV)
  • Ana L. Oliveira – President and CEO, The New York Women’s Foundation
  • Leslye Orloff – Director, National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project at American University Washington College of Law
  • Farzana Safiullah – CEO, National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRCDV)
  • Lynn Hecht Schafran, JD – Legal Director and Director, National Judicial Education Program at Legal Momentum, The Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund
  • Lucy Rain Simpson – Executive Director, National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC)
  • Joe Torre – Co-Founder and Chairman, The Safe at Home Foundation and Special Advisor to Major League Baseball (MLB)
  • Patricia Tototzintle – CEO, Casa de Esperanza/National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Community
  • Deborah D. Tucker, MPA – President, National Center on Domestic & Sexual Violence (NCDSV)
  • Deborah J. Vagins – President and CEO, National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV)
  • Troy Vincent – Executive Vice President of Football Operations, NFL and National Advocate to End Domestic Violence
  • Carole Warshaw, M.D. – Director, National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health
  • Joanne Zannoni – Executive Director, New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NYSCASA)

In Face of COVID-19, NYS Enhances Domestic Violence Services, Expands Testing, Expedites Absentee Voting & Vows to Come Out of Crisis Better

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo: “It makes no sense to me to tell people you have to put your life at risk, violate social distancing to come out to vote.” Cuomo is instructing the Board of Elections to automatically send out a postage paid application for an absentee ballot (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

In the face of a dangerous uptick of domestic violence incidents, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the immediate modernization of the state’s domestic violence hotline with a new text program and confidential online service to aid victims of abuse and provide potential lifesaving ways to get help. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the necessary social distancing guidelines, domestic violence victims are even more vulnerable and unsafe while isolated at home without being able to get away from their abuser and there has been a reported uptick in the number of domestic violence cases in the state. Calls to the state’s domestic violence hotline are up 30 percent in April compared to last year and calls increased 18 percent from February to March 2020. State Police also report domestic violence incident calls were up 15 percent in March compared to last year.

For many victims, making a phone call to get help or accessing services may be impossible because their abuser can easily monitor their calls. The new text program and confidential online service will make it easier for these victims in isolation to contact the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and get the help they need.

New Yorkers seeking help can text 844-997-2121 or chat with a professional on the new confidential website at www.opdv.ny.gov. The text and online services will be staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with OPDV staff who are experts in the area of domestic violence.

“New Yorkers are living through an unimaginably stressful period and we’re seeing signs that domestic violence is on the rise as victims are stuck at home with their abusers and unable to access the help they need,” Governor Cuomo said.”We’ve been working with state agencies to help address this issue and provide more resources, and this new text program and confidential online service will help make it easier for victims to get the help they need and get out of potentially dangerous situations.”

“The reality is that abuse victims are often closely surveilled by their abuser,” Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor and Chair of the New York State Council on Women and Girls, said. “In New York, no one should be at risk because they can’t find a way to make their need for help known.  The text and online confidential service programs we are rolling out today will provide additional and better methods for victims of domestic violence to get the help and intervention they need when they need it.”

Since NYS on PAUSE went into effect, OPDV and many state agency partners have been working diligently to pursue strategies for putting safety information in front of victims in places that such information would not normally be available, including on social media accounts of public utilities or tax/finance.  Additionally, major efforts have been underway to get safety flyers with the Hotline number hung up in essential retailers, such as grocery stores, pharmacies and home repair stores, among others.

Such social services, though, would be in jeopardy because of the extraordinary financial crisis that New York State, with the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country and the world, is experiencing. The Governor outlined the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the state. New York State revenues are estimated to decline by $13.3 billion – or 14 percent – from the Executive Budget forecast. Additionally, the revenues are estimated to decline by $61 billion over the financial plan period of FY 2021 to FY 2024.

New York State faces extraordinary costs to address the coronavirus pandemic at the same time revenues have come to a virtual halt. That is forcing Governor Cuomo to contemplate what cuts could be made.

“New York State was not, quote, unquote, in trouble before this happened,” Cuomo said. “New York State was very, very strong before this happened. Our economy was growing. It was growing at a very high rate. Our government spending has been at record lows. The spending increases. Our taxes today are lower than the day I took office….

“And then this economic tsunami hits and you shut down all the businesses, everybody stays home, they’re not getting a paycheck. They feel economic anxiety. The consequence to the state is the revenue projections are way down. What do we do about it?”

 But despite passing nearly $3 trillion in economic stimulus virtually all of it going to businesses, Senate Majority Leader, Republican Mitch McConnell said he has no intention of bailing out “blue states.” States, he said, should go bankrupt, instead.

Cuomo, during his press briefing, said that states are not allowed to declare bankruptcy – that would require McConnell to pass a law and for Trump to sign it.

“It’s a really dumb idea. People are trying to talk about bringing the economy back, reopen, we have to get the economy moving again. And then rather than provide financial aid to the states that got hit by this economic tsunami through no fault of their own, the suggestion was made, states should declare bankruptcy. A few problems with that premise. Forget the morality of it and the ethics of it and the absurdity of it and the meanness of it. Legally, a state can’t declare bankruptcy. You would need a federal law allowing states to declare bankruptcy. So to the Senate that proposed it, I say pass a law allowing states to declare bankruptcy. I dare you. And let the President sign that bill that says, ‘I give the states the legal ability to declare bankruptcy.’

“You want to send a signal to the markets that this nation is in real trouble? You want to send an international message that the economy is in turmoil? Do that, allow states to declare bankruptcy legally because you passed the bill. It will be the first time in our nation’s history that that happened. I dare you to do that. And then we’ll see how many states actually take you up on it. I know I wouldn’t. But if you believe what you said, and you have the courage of conviction because you’re a man of your word, pass that bill if you weren’t just playing politics. We’ll see how long it takes him to do it.”

Meanwhile, the Governor is addressing voting. “We still have elections in the midst of all this chaos. We have seen elections held where we had people on lines for a long period of time. It makes no sense to me to tell people you have to put your life at risk, violate social distancing to come out to vote. So, we passed an executive order that said you can vote by absentee. Today, I’m asking the Board of Elections to send every New York voter what’s called a – automatically receives a postage paid application for a ballot. If you want to vote, we should send you a ballot so you can vote, so you don’t have to come out and get in a line.

“Then looking ahead, more testing. We’re making great progress on that. New York State is doing more testing than any state in the country right now. New York State is doing more tests than any country per capita on the globe right now. That is what will educate our moving forward. Watch the spread of the virus. It’s getting warmer, more people are going to be coming out of their homes. That’s going to happen naturally. Watch that spread. Testing gives you those numbers on an ongoing basis. Maintain social distancing. Also, plan on a reopening and not just reopening what was.”

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo: “We will reopen and rebuild – not what was, but better and smarter.” (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Cuomo stressed, as he has done in the past, that coming out of this “horrific experience” should be “a period of growth. It should be a period of reflection. If we’re smart and we use it that way, there are lessons to learn here if we’re smart and we have the courage to look in the mirror. We went through 9/11. We were smarter for it. We went through World War II. We were the better for it. We went through Superstorm Sandy. We learned, we grew and we were the better for it. We should do the same thing here. People have totally changed their lifestyle. What have we learned? How can we have a better health care system that can actually handle public health emergencies? How do we have a better transportation system? How do we have a smarter telemedicine system? How do we use technology and education better? Why do some children have to go to a parking lot to get Wi-Fi to do their homework? How do we learn from this and how do we grow?”

“And let New York lead the way because we’re New York tough. But New York tough, when they say we’re tough, yeah, we’re tough, but we think tough incorporates being smart and being disciplined and being unified and being loving.”

Virus Entered New York Through Europe

“People are also talking about a second wave, potential of a second wave. People are talking about potential for the virus to come back in the fall which means the game is not over which means the game could be just at halftime so let’s make sure we’re learning the lessons of what has happened thus far and let’s make sure we are being truthful with ourselves. Not that we are deceiving anyone else but let’s be truthful with ourselves. I don’t think we’re deceiving anyone else but let’s make sure we’re not deceiving ourselves. What has happened, what should we learn from as far as what has happened thus far so we make sure we don’t make the same mistakes again and let’s do that now.

“This was our first global pandemic. Welcome. There had been people who talked about global pandemics before. Bill Gates had talked about the potential of a global pandemic during the Obama Administration. They talked about being prepared for a global pandemic but it was almost always an academic exercise, what if, what if, what if. Once it happens, once it actualizes for people, then it’s different. Then people get it. We now know that a global pandemic is not just a text-book exercise, not just a table-top exercise. It can happen. When it happens, it’s devastating. Let’s just learn from what happened on the first one. Let’s just get the basic lesson of what happened on the first one.

“Last November, December, we knew that China had a virus outbreak. You can read about it in the newspapers. Everybody knew. January 26, we know we had the first confirmed case in Seattle, Washington and California. February 2nd, the president ordered a travel ban from china. March 1st, we have the first confirmed case in the State of New York. By March 19th, New York State is totally closed down. No state moved faster from first case to closedown than the State of New York. March 16, we have a full travel ban from Europe.

“Researchers now find, and they report in some newspapers, the virus was spreading wildly in Italy in February. And there was an outbreak, massive outbreak in Italy in February. Researchers now say there were likely 28,000 cases in the United States in February, including 10,000 cases in the State of New York. And, the coronavirus that came to New York did not come from China. It came from Europe.

“When you look at the number of flights that came from Europe to New York, the New York metropolitan area, New York and New Jersey, during January, February up to the closedown, 13,000 flights bringing 2.2 million people.

“So November, December, you have the outbreak in China, everybody knows. January, February, flights are coming from Europe, people are also coming from China in January, until the China closedown. And the flights continue to come from Europe until the Europe shutdown. 2.2 million people come to New York and come to New Jersey. We acted two months after the China outbreak. When you look back, does anyone think the virus was still in China, waiting for us to act, two months later? We all talk about the global economy, and how fast people move, and how mobile we are. How can you expect that when you act two months after the outbreak in China, the virus was only in China, waiting for us to act? The horse had already left the barn by the time we moved.

“Research now says, knowing the number of flights coming to New York from Italy, it was like watching a horrible train wreck in slow motion. Those are the flights that were coming from Italy and from Europe, January and February. We closed the front door, with the China travel ban, which was right, even in retrospect it was right. But we left the back door open, because the virus had left China by the time we did the China travel ban. That’s what the researchers are now saying, with 28,000 cases in the United States, 10,000 in New York.

“So, what is the lesson? An outbreak anywhere is an outbreak everywhere. When you see November and December, an outbreak in China, just assume the next day it’s in the United States. When they say it’s in China, just assume that virus got on a plane that night and flew to New York or flew to Newark airport, and it’s now in New York. That has to be the operating mentality. Because you don’t know that the virus didn’t get on a plane. All you need is one person to get on that plane in China and come to New York. The way this virus transfers, that’s all you need. And you can’t assume two months later the virus is still going to be sitting on a park bench in China waiting for you to get there. That is the lesson. And again, why do we need to learn the lesson? Because they’re talking about this happening again with this virus where it could mutate in China, and get on a plane, and come right back. Or the next virus, or the next pandemic.“

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NYS Governor Signs Legislation Removing Guns from Domestic Abusers; Seeks to Extend Background Check Waiting Period to 10 Days

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signs legislation removing guns from domestic abusers and seeks legislation to extend the background check waiting period from three to 10 days. “In a time when gun violence continues to relentlessly torment communities across the country while our federal government refuses to act, New York must lead the charge to end this epidemic once and for all.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor also Announces Legislation to Extend Background Check Waiting Period from Three Days to 10 Days

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation to remove guns from domestic abusers and close a loophole in state law that will ensure domestic abusers are required to surrender all firearms, not just handguns. The Governor also announced he is advancing new legislation to extend the waiting period for individuals who are not immediately approved to purchase a firearm through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System from three days to 10 days.

“In a time when gun violence continues to relentlessly torment communities across the country while our federal government refuses to act, New York must lead the charge to end this epidemic once and for all,” Governor Cuomo said. “With this legislation, we can sever the undeniable connection between domestic abuse and deadly gun violence, and continue to build upon the strongest gun laws in the nation.”

“My mother dedicated her life to helping victims of domestic violence and our family started a home to help these survivors,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.“We’ve seen firsthand the fear created when a gun is present in the home of an abuser. This new law today is a dramatic step forward eliminating the vulnerability of these women and their children. While the federal government fails to address the issue of gun violence, we continue to fight to keep guns out of the hands of those who could devastate our communities and our residents.”

Removing Guns from Domestic Abusers

Previously, New York law narrowly prohibited the possession of firearms for individuals either convicted of a felony or a limited number of misdemeanor “serious” offenses, excluding many misdemeanor offenses that are undeniably serious. This bill (S.8121 Phillips/A10272 O’Donnell), which the Governor signed in ceremony today, expands the list of “serious” crimes that require the loss of a gun license and the surrender of all firearms to ensure no domestic abuser in New York retains the ability to possess a firearm once convicted of a disturbing crime.

In addition, this legislation will preclude any individual wanted for a felony or other serious offense from obtaining or renewing a firearm license. Under previous New York law, despite being subject to an arrest warrant, an individual was still legally eligible to obtain a firearm license even as police worked to locate and detain them. This change ensures that the law enforcement who are actively seeking to arrest a wanted individual, as well as innocent bystanders, are not needlessly endangered by a wanted individual who has been able to obtain new firearms.

Extending the Waiting Period

Governor Cuomo has introduced legislation to establish a 10-day waiting period for individuals who are not immediately approved to purchase a firearm through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Current federal law requires gun dealers to conduct the NICS background check on a potential purchaser prior to selling a firearm, which immediately provides the dealer with one of three possible notifications. These notifications include “proceed”, “denied”, or “delayed”. In the case of a “delayed” response, the dealer must wait three days before the sale is eligible to go through, even though the FBI continues to investigate these individuals past the three-day timeframe. Oftentimes, by the time it has been determined that the potential purchaser was, in fact, ineligible, the individual has already been sold the firearm upon completion of the three-day waiting period. Extending the waiting period to ten days would allow sufficient time to complete the expanded background check and builds on legislative efforts to ensure that only those eligible to own a firearm are able to do so.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said, “Today, New York continues its inspirational leadership in addressing the gun violence epidemic by enacting legislation that recognizes the deadly connection between intimate partner abuse and the tragedy of gun violence. Yet, while New York leads, Republicans in Congress refuse to act. As gun violence and domestic abuse exact a daily toll of horror and heartbreak in communities across the country, saving lives and protecting families shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Democrats know that there is a commonsense, bipartisan path forward and we will continue to press for progress on this critical issue.”

Congressman Jerrold Nadler said, “I am proud to stand with Governor Cuomo as he signs legislation to remove all guns from domestic abusers. These measures will close dangerous loopholes in our gun laws and enhance public safety. There is simply no reason why one who has committed an act of domestic violence should maintain ownership of a firearm. Since the Republican Congress has failed to address the national epidemic of gun violence, I commend Governor Cuomo’s leadership in working to enact reasonable gun safety legislation that will protect New Yorkers.”

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney said, “We know that individuals with a history of domestic violence are five times more likely to murder an intimate partner when a firearm is in the house. This bill, to remove guns from domestic abusers, is just commonsense. I was proud to stand with Governor Cuomo today as he signed this important bill that will save lives into law.”

Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez said, “Gun violence is a plague on our nation and our city that too often shatters lives. The steps being announced today will help keep firearms away from those who should never have access to them. We must do more and Congress must act at the federal level. Nonetheless this effort is a good start and shows New York is leading the way to tackle this horrible problem.”

“Domestic violence affects all communities,” Congressman Adriano Espaillat said. “ commend Governor Cuomo on today’s announcement to remove guns from domestic abusers and close a loophole in New York to ensure domestic abusers are required to surrender all firearms. Domestic violence impacts each of our communities, and today we are standing united with victims, survivors and families of domestic abuse to say enough is enough. I vow to continue my work in Congress to end domestic abuse and violence. Today’s landmark legislation is a historic step in our efforts to protect the victims of domestic violence and help keep individuals and our communities safe.”

Connie Neal, Executive Director of the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence said, “The connections between domestic violence and gun violence cannot be clearer. We applaud Governor Cuomo and the members of the New York State Legislature who voted to take a strong stand to remove firearms from domestic violence offenders. The urgency to act was irrefutable, and New York has now made a significant step forward in preventing domestic violence homicides. Because of Governor Cuomo’s leadership, we will now have a strong safeguard in place for protecting countless New Yorkers.”

Kris Brown, Co-President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said“The numbers are very clear. Abused women are five times more likely to be killed if their abuser owns a firearm, and domestic violence assaults involving a gun are far more likely to end in death. By requiring domestic abusers to surrender their firearms, Governor Cuomo closed a glaring loophole in state law. I applaud the Governor’s action, as his advocacy for common sense gun laws will help save the lives of vulnerable people all across our state and prevent family fire.”

“As our nation grapples with how to confront the spread of gun violence, we are proud to work and live in a State who has such a leader on this issue: Governor Cuomo,” said Amy Barasch, Executive Director of Her Justice. “At Her Justice, where we provide free legal assistance to thousands of victims of partner violence every year, we know all too well how dangerous guns are in the context of abuse in the home. This new legislation will ensure guns are taken out of the hands of more convicted domestic abusers. Thank you, Governor, for moving us forward.”

Cicely Fields, Domestic and Gun Violence Survivor said, “As a domestic violence survivor, I am a living testimony to why the signing of this bill today is so important. I know firsthand the connection between domestic violence and gun violence is undeniable, as my abuser was able to possess a firearm that injured me within inches of my life. The wound may have healed, but I will still be physically damaged for the rest of my life and my four children, who rely on me for support, will continue to suffer due to the actions of this domestic abuser. I thank Governor Cuomo for ensuring the passage of this law.”

June Rubin, Volunteer Co-Leader for the New York Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America said, “Today we took another important step towards protecting New Yorkers from gun violence. While this is a meaningful day, we know this legislation is just one of many steps needed to prevent future acts of gun violence. We look forward to working with lawmakers and Governor Cuomo on future steps such as the passage of lifesaving Extreme Risk Protection Order legislation.”

“Under previous law, where people convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor were able keep their firearms, the lives of both their victims and the general public were unnecessarily put at risk,” Rebecca Fischer, Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence said. “Thanks to Governor Cuomo, this legislation ensures that everyone convicted of a domestic violence crime is held to the same standard, guaranteeing that these dangerous individuals will lose their gun license and their firearms. This is common sense legislation that was long overdue, and we applaud the Governor for seeing it through.”

“Domestic violence victims are five times more likely to be killed when their abuser owns a firearm,” Senator Elaine Phillips said. “I thank the Governor for signing this legislation into state law, which requires the removal of firearms from individuals convicted of domestic violence. This commonsense legislation keeps firearms out of the hands of those who are convicted of domestic violence, closes the gap in federal law, protects women, men and children from their abusers and will prevent further tragedies.”

Senator Diane Savino said, “This legislation continues our work to strengthen New York State’s nation-leading gun laws. We are closing a loophole that allowed people convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor to keep their firearms, and by doing so we are further protecting the victims of domestic violence across this state. No one should have to live in fear of their abusers, and thanks to working with Governor Cuomo on this legislation, we are helping to ensure that they no longer have to.”

Under Governor Cuomo, New York has passed the strongest gun control laws in the nation and with the passing of this legislation, New York’s gun laws have been further strengthened to ensure that the well-known link between domestic abuse and deadly gun violence can be eliminated. In nine of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in United States history, including Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, the shooter had an existing record of committing violence against women, threatening violence against women, or harassing or disparaging women. In addition, when an abusive partner is permitted to access firearms, the risk that the other partner will be killed increases fivefold. In 2016, firearms were used in 35 domestic homicides in New York.

In addition to continued progressive improvements to New York’s gun legislation, Governor Cuomo led the creation of the “States for Gun Safety” coalition in February of this year to combat the gun violence epidemic in the face of continued federal inaction. Together with New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, New York State entered into an agreement to trace and intercept illegal guns, better share information on individuals prohibited from buying or owning firearms, and create the first-in-the-nation regional gun violence research consortium. Massachusetts, Delaware, and Puerto Rico have also joined the coalition, which now represents over 35 million Americans.

See Bill Here and Memo Here

New Yorkers Need to Demand State Legislators Support Cuomo’s Women’s Agenda

New York State Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul addresses the Council on Women and Girls Regional Forum at Long Island University: “The torch has now been passed to us. Our job is not just to pass it along, but to make sure it glows even brighter, so we look back 100 years from now, and can say, yes, we made a difference in lives in a profound way © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

New York State, the birthplace of women’s rights, is pushing for a second round of legislation to address persistent and institutional gender inequity. The state legislature needs to hear from advocates before the April 1 budget deadline.

It is laudable that these initiatives – in categories of Health, Safety, Workplace, Girls, and Family being forcefully advanced by Governor Cuomo – came after months of information gathering, listening tours, and the formation of regional Women’s Councils, coordinated by the governor’s Director of Women’s Affairs, Kelli Owens. Just having such a position is notable.

As Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, a singular champion of women’s rights in New York State, said in her remarks that opened the Council on Women and Girls Regional Forum at Long Island University on March 1,The genesis for the Council of Women and Girls came because of Washington – on the day the president said ‘We don’t need to be concerned’ and abolished the [Obama-era] Commission on Women and Girls, our governor, as in so many cases [climate action, environmental protection, gun control], stepped up to fill void created by Washington.”

Trump has moved aggressively to roll back gains women have made: restoring being a woman as a “pre-condition” for medical insurance, overturning the mandate that insurance companies provide contraception without co-pays, attacking Title X funding for health clinics including Planned Parenthood, advocating for legislation to curtail access to abortion.

Unless Congress takes action, the Violence Against Women Act will run out of funding in September. This landmark piece of legislation is a life-saver. Since its original passage, domestic violence cases are down by more than 65% nationally. If Congress’ “action” on reauthorizing CHIP is an indication, the Republican-controlled Congress will likely let this lapse as well, even as they cut billions of dollars for programs that directly affect women and families.

New York State – which Cuomo never fails to point out has been a progressive leader for the nation, a status he has worked to reclaim – has made some important gains during his administration, including aggressively pushing for economic development opportunities for Minority & Women-owned Enterprises, for wider access to pre-K programs, gun control, access to health care and guarantee for women’s reproductive rights.

In this second round of legislation and policies – notably several of which need to be adopted by the State Legislature before the April 1 deadline for adopting the budget – he is going after sexual harassment, pay equity, domestic violence, expanding access to child care, educational opportunities, job training and business investment.

New York has been celebrating the centennial of Women’s Suffrage since 1917, the year the state on its own gave women the right to vote, three years before the nation adopted the 19th Amendment.

But despite New York’s progressive policies, New York women still earn less than men for the same work: white women 89c, African American 66c, Hispanic women 54 c in New York, “and we’re the good state, where people are better off. Does that not tell you we have a long way to go?” Hochul said.

“We are convening forums around the state, to drill down why this is happening – part is institutional, cultural, part is that women don’t have childcare but want to continue on a career track, have talent, brilliance, but are primarily responsible for making sure kids are okay and there is not enough child care.” Also parental leave, not just for a newborn or adoption, but when a child or parent gets sick.

“You should be proud your state recognizes this challenge – we now have the most generous paid family leave policy – to relieve the stress of possibly losing a job when you are home with a new baby.”

“It’s about economic empowerment: getting more girls into STEM education and careers. It’s about safety and security – domestic violence” – something that has been crystallized in the Trump White House, notably with the tolerance of a credibly accused wife-beater as Trump’s secretary.

Budget initiatives (see details at https://www.ny.gov/2018-womens-opportunity-agenda-new-york/womens-opportunity-agenda-proposals) include:

Health initiatives: passing Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act codifying access to contraception; codifying Roe v. Wade into state law and constitution to insure health care professionals can provide these crucial services without fear of criminal penalty; mandating insurance coverage and insuring access to IVF and fertility services; combat maternal depression and establish a maternal mortality review board (NY ranks 30th in maternal mortality); add experts in women’s health and health disparities to the State Board of Medicine.

Safety: pass the Equal Rights Amendment to add sex as a protected class; remove firearms from domestic abusers; combat sextortion and revenge porn; extend storage timeline for forensic rape kits at hospitals (from 30 days to at least five years, or when the victim turns 19); advance legislation to amend the Human Rights Law to protect all public school students from discrimination.

Workplace: combat sexual harassment in the workplace; call on NYS Common Retirement Fund to invest in companies with women and minority leadership; reauthorize the State’s Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise Program; close the gender wage gap; support women returning to or advancing in the workforce with job training and placement services; invest $20 million in Women-Owned Businesses;  encourage more use of flexible work schedules.

Girls: expand access to computer science and engineering (STEM); launch “If You Can See It You Can Be It,” a day for girls to see what is possible; create K-12 learning module on healthy relationships; legislation requiring school districts to provide free menstrual products, in restrooms, for girls in grades 6 through 12.

Family: invest $25 million to expand pre-K and after-school programs; increase state funding by $7 million  to provide working families with affordable child care; continue enhanced Child Care Tax Credit for working families; establish a new Child Care Availability Task Force.

“All these areas converge,” Colleen Merlo, Executive Director, Long Island Against Domestic Violence, said. “Gender equality cannot be achieved unless we address all these buckets….We see that women lose time at work because of domestic violence, so if we don’t create safety at home, they are losing time at work, so are not advancing, not getting equal pay or promotion – all are interconnected with safety.”

It’s also about making it easier to vote, adding early voting (which NYS doesn’t yet have), so women who work and care for children aren’t shut out of casting a ballot – part of Cuomo’s “Democracy Agenda.”

“The torch has now been passed to us,” Hochul stated. “Our job is not just to pass it along, but to make sure it glows even brighter, so we look back 100 years from now, and can say, yes, we made a difference in lives in a profound way, that we spoke up for people without voices.”

What to do? First: contact state representatives to urge them to vote on the budget and legislation bolstering the Women’s Agenda. Planned Parenthood of Nassau County, among others, is mounting a lobbying day in Albany on March 13, to join Cecile Richards, President of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and more than 1,000 activists from across New York State, to advocate for pro-reproductive health legislation.

Call and write representatives, yes. March, yes, Protest, yes. Spread the word with social media, yes. Vote, absolutely.

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© 2018 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin