Assembly takes on voter reform ... again


The Assembly is wasting no time getting election reform on the table as Speaker Carl Heastie and other members of his chamber — including Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz — are pushing forward a number of bills designed to reform what Heastie has called an “antiquated electoral process.”

The bills already in front of the Assembly is expected to, at the very least, set a nine-day early voting period — including two full weekends.

Also up for votes is an easing of restrictions on who can cast absentee ballots, as well as allow people to register to vote on Election Day. Those two measures, however, would require a state constitutional amendment (and likely wouldn’t be on the ballot until November 2021).

Dinowitz has introduced a bill that would automatically transfer someone’s voter’s registration when they move within New York State. Right now, anyone who moves out of their current county or out of New York City must update their registration ahead of existing deadlines.

“Moving is already a hassle, we should not make New Yorkers jump through additional hoops in order to vote in their new residence,” Dinowitz said, in a release. “My bill eliminates one of those hoops by automatically transferring their voter enrollment and registration to their new home when they move within the state.”

Other measures include pre-registration for future voters who have reached 16 years old, and a restriction on limited liability corporations when it comes to campaign finance. The law would require disclosure of the LLC’s owners to help track if those owners are staying within campaign fundraising limits.

“I am proud that we will once again pass these reforms to expand access to our democratic process and make our electoral system more transparent,” Heastie said, in a release. “I look forward to seeing these bills finally make it through the senate and be signed into law in New York State.”


Stopping border wall?

If U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat gets his way, if President Trump wants to build a border wall between the United States and Mexico, he’ll have to go through Congress first.

Espaillat has joined Texas Democrat Vicente Gonzalez to introduce a bill they have dubbed “This Land is Our Land Act.” If signed into law, the bill would prohibit the U.S. Department of Homeland Security or the U.S. Department of Defense from constructing any new border barriers — including walls or fences — on federal land. It also would prevent the White House from using eminent domain to force existing land owners along the border to give up property to make room for Trump’s proposed wall.

“Since his inauguration, President Trump has subjected Congress, federal employees, and most importantly the American people to uncertainty and harm in pursuit of an unnecessary wall along the southern border,” Espaillat said, in a release. “The president’s wall is nothing more than an ill-conceived campaign tactic and a colossal waste of taxpayer dollars.”

There’s not too much optimism that such a bill would make it through the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate, let alone earn Trump’s signature. Espaillat and Gonzalez introduced the bill soon after the 2019 partial government shutdown over Trump’s demand for billions toward his border wall became the longest shutdown in history.


Bipartisan gun bill

U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel has co-sponsored a bill he says has bipartisan support that would require background checks on nearly every gun sale or transfer.

H.R. 8 was unveiled by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week.