LEGISLATIVE AGENDA

House votes for election reform, Senate ignores it

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The U.S. House of Representatives passed what some are describing as a “sweeping” voting rights bill designed to change how elections are conducted nationwide.

The For the People Act, also known as H.R. 1, would, among other things, make Election Day a national holiday for federal employees, allow automatic voting registration, champion a 6-to-1 matching system for small donations under $200 for both congressional and presidential candidates, and require political action committees to disclose those who donate more than $10,000.

“Following our victory last November, Democrats knew one of the first things we had to do in the House was restore the public faith,” U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel said, in a release. “Under the GOP, our constitutional duties were abdicated, outside interests ran roughshod, voting rights were under constant attack, and policy was seemingly passed to better corporations, not people.

“Clearly our political system is not meeting the needs of the American people. Too many view themselves as shut out of the process, or have been discouraged by the millions of dollars of corporate interest money flooding our system. Far too many people still face barriers to participation.”

But as the Working Families Party pointed out in a recent fundraising mailer, the chances any of these election reforms being implemented on the national level is practically nil. Republican leadership in the U.S. Senate won’t even allow a companion bill to hit the floor for a vote.

 

Lawmakers want to toughen gun storage laws

New York’s Assembly and senate have passed legislation they say will create stronger regulations for the safe storage of firearms, and the appearances of imitation weapons to prevent unintentional gun violence.

Senate Bill S.2450A sets penalties for anyone who has a child younger than 16 in the home and doesn’t properly store any firearm, or render it incapable of being fired by using an appropriate gun-locking device.

Both the senate — led by Liz Krueger of Manhattan — and the Assembly passed the bill March 4, and is awaiting delivery to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his signature.

A second bill, S.35 from another Manhattan senator, Brad Hoylman, would require that imitation weapons be entirely brightly colored, or constructed entirely of transparent or translucent materials. Although the senate has passed that bill, the Assembly is still taking a close look at the legislation.

“There are too many accidental deaths from a child getting hold of a poorly stored gun or a child having a toy that looks like the real thing,” state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi said, in a release. “There is no reason not to do everything we can to prevent such tragedies.”

 

Espaillat strikes back at Jared Kushner

Finding words he can put together to spell “JARED” probably wasn’t easy for U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat, but he found a way to do it. As a result, he introduced into Congress what he’s called the Judgment and Responsibility in Executing Determinations for Security Clearance Act, or the JARED Security Act of 2019.

The bill would make it harder for anyone in the White House to gain security clearance if they failed to earn it through regular vetting.

The proposed law comes after published reports that President Trump granted security clearance to his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, after failing to obtain it through traditional means.

Espaillat accused Kushner of failing to disclose hundreds of foreign contacts and ties to Russian banks.

Even if such a bill were to pass the House, it’s doubtful it will even get a vote in the Senate, let alone ever pick up the signature of Trump.

Kushner is married to the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump.

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