News Releases

2019 End-of-Session Round-Up

Date posted: June 24, 2019
Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany watches the Assembly debate on the Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act from the chamber’s gallery June 19, 2019.
(Franchesca Caputo/The Evangelist)

The New York State Legislature wrapped up the 2019 session in the early morning hours of June 21. The session was among the most active in memory, as the new Democratic majority in the state Senate, joined with the Democratic Assembly majority and the Democratic Governor to take on many issues that had previously been staunchly opposed by Republicans. Below is a synopsis of major issues tracked by the Catholic Conference and their outcome.

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Statement on Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act

Date posted: June 19, 2019
woman harvesting carrots in a field

Following is a statement of Richard E. Barnes, executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference, on the passage of the Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act:

“The Bishops of New York State are grateful and relieved that after more than two decades of advocacy, the legislature has passed a version of the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act. For too long, farmworkers have been treated unjustly under the labor laws which protect workers in every other area and industry.

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Statement on Appointment of Bishop-Elect Douglas Lucia to the Diocese of Syracuse

Date posted: June 4, 2019

Following is a statement of Richard E. Barnes, executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference, on Pope Francis’ selection of Bishop-elect Douglas J. Lucia as the 11th Bishop of the Diocese of Syracuse, succeeding Bishop Robert J. Cunningham:

“On behalf of the Catholic Conference staff, I congratulate Bishop-elect Lucia. We are so grateful to our Holy Father for this inspired appointment to the Diocese of Syracuse. Bishop-elect Lucia has been a beloved priest in the Diocese of Ogdensburg, and has had occasion to work at times with members of the Conference staff in a variety of capacities. His intellect, kindness and warmth have always made an impression, and all of us are looking to forward to getting to know him better and to work more directly with him as he joins the ranks of the New York State episcopacy.

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Transporting children with special education needs

Date posted:

Memorandum of Support

 Re: A.1686 Pheffer Amato / S.4168 Addabbo
In relation to providing transportation for children with handicapping conditions 

The above-referenced legislation amends paragraph d of subdivision 4 of section 4402 of the Education Law to clarify that transportation up to 50 miles is to be provided for children with special education needs based on the program / services / setting available to such children at the private school they attend as opposed to the more limited range of services and/or inappropriate program or setting that would otherwise be provided them. 

The New York State Catholic Conference supports this legislation. 

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Statement on “Born Alive” Hostile Amendment in State Senate

Date posted: May 16, 2019

During the State Senate session May 13, Senator Pamela Helming (R-Geneva) introduced a hostile amendment to restore legal protections to born-alive abortion survivors. Sadly, the amendment was defeated in a show-of-hands vote along party lines. The amendment attempted to rectify a portion of the radical “Reproductive Health Act” passed in January, which removed such protections for fully-formed babies in the womb and infants who survive late-term abortion. 

The scale of New York’s abortion expansion shocked the country and began a national conversation about the horror of infanticide and the extreme agenda of the pro-abortion movement. Yet a motion to correct this heinous overreach and to restore protections to born children went down to defeat when the Democratic majority was presented with an opportunity to rectify this portion of the law.

It defies common sense and public opinion. We continue to pray for a change of heart among elected officials who support such a radical assault on the sacredness and dignity of human life.


Catholic Charities official testifies at farmworker hearing

Date posted: May 6, 2019

Shannon Kelly, chief operating officer of Catholic Charities of Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster testified in support of the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act on May 2 at a legislative hearing held in Loch Sheldrake in Sullivan County. The hearing was one of three regional hearings being held around the state on the controversial legislation, the others being on Long Island and in Western New York. The NYS Catholic Conference has supported the farmworker rights bill through its more than two decades of consideration by the state legislature.

“We must ensure that farmworkers are treated humanely and with dignity, in the same way we work to ensure other workers of our state are treated,” Kelly said. “This is not about putting farmworkers ahead of farms. You can’t support the farmworkers without supporting the farms, and vice versa. Both depend on and need the other.”

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Judge rules in favor of plaintiffs who challenged State Ed plan to have public schools evaluate private schools

Date posted: April 18, 2019

In a decision dated yesterday and received this morning, New York State Supreme Court Judge Christina L. Ryba granted full relief to plaintiffs (including the NYS Council of Catholic School Superintendents) who had challenged new State Education Department guidance mandating that local public school districts visit and evaluate all private schools. The guidance was challenged in three separate lawsuits (one by Jewish organizations and schools; another by the NYS Association of Independent Schools, as well as individual schools; and a third by the Catholic school superintendents and individual schools). All three challenges were consolidated in oral arguments, which were heard on April 15. Judge Ryba issued her order two days later, striking down the new guidance as null and void.

Judge Ryba found that the “guidance” actually amounted to mandatory “rules,” which were not implemented in compliance with the State Administrative Procedures Act.

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Catholic Conference, Catholic Charities Call on SCOTUS to Reject Citizenship Question in Census

Date posted: April 8, 2019
Photo by Josh Sobel on Unsplash

The New York State Catholic Conference, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, and Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, are calling on the United States Supreme Court to uphold a lower court ruling blocking a proposed question on citizenship from appearing on the 2020 U.S. Census. 

The Catholic entities, joining with other religious and secular human services organizations, filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief supporting a lawsuit brought by New York and several other states and entities against the United States Department of Commerce. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case April 23 following a favorable decision for the plaintiffs in federal district court in the Southern District of New York in January, which the government has appealed. 

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Statement on Human Services COLA

Date posted: March 13, 2019
Catholic Charities and other human services sector employees are a critical link in the social safety net.
(Photo courtesy Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany)

The New York State Catholic Conference and the Council of Catholic Charities Directors are grateful that the New York State Senate and Assembly both included in their one-house budget resolutions a 2.9 percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) for the state’s human services sector.

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Letter to NYS Senate regarding commercial surrogacy

Date posted: March 6, 2019

Printable PDF

 Dear Senator: 

The proposed Executive Budget contains a policy proposal unrelated to the state’s finances which repeals New York’s longstanding prohibition on commercial reproductive surrogacy. The language, misleadingly named the “Child-Parent Security Act,” is included in the Public Protection and General Government Article VII legislation (S.1505-A/A.2005-A), Part QQ, beginning on page 200. We strongly oppose this language and urge that it be excluded from the final 2019-2020 SFY Budget. 

Currently, New York Domestic Relations Law declares surrogacy contracts contrary to public policy, void, and unenforceable. Vendors who assist in arranging such contracts are liable for up to a civil penalty of $10,000 and forfeiture of the fee received in brokering the contract; a second violation constitutes a felony. This policy was signed into law in 1992 by then-Governor Mario M. Cuomo, with broad bipartisan support. 

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