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2019 End-of-Session Round-Up

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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Catholic Conference statement on the death of JJ Hanson

James “JJ” Hanson, an outspoken advocate for patients rights and against physician-assisted suicide, died of brain cancer today at the age of 36. Mr. Hanson, a Hudson Valley resident, retired Marine and a one-time member of the administration of former Gov. David A. Paterson, leaves behind his wife, Kristen, and two young sons, James and Lucas. More


Take Heart!

by Kathleen M. Gallagher

On Monday, May 23, the members of the Assembly Health Committee voted to release a dangerous physician-assisted suicide bill, A.10059/S.7579. Many opponents of assisted suicide were deeply disappointed, even discouraged. And rightly so – it was a step in the wrong direction for our state.

But do not lose heart! There were actually some very encouraging signs in this vote. First and foremost, the bill got through the committee by only the narrowest of margins; just one more vote would have kept the bill in committee. That does not happen often in a committee that is purposefully stacked with anti-life votes.

Second, six Democratic members of the Assembly (yes, six!), five of whom are self-described “pro-choneedleice” members, voted against the bill. Their votes demonstrate to their Democratic colleagues that this issue is not a liberal litmus test – one can be a self-described “progressive” and be deeply concerned about the vulnerable populations who will be harmed by this legislation. More than a few committee members – of both political parties — spoke of the unacceptable risks to the elderly, the isolated and people with disabilities that would come from legalizing assisted suicide.

Finally, the bill did not move to the Assembly floor for a vote; it was simply sent to another committee, the Assembly Codes Committee, and no votes have been scheduled there. Nor are any votes scheduled in any Senate committees. The 2016 State Legislative Session is scheduled to conclude on June 16, and we are hopeful that this legislation will perish at that time, at least until next year, when we anticipate the battle will be rejoined.

Please continue to pray for a Culture of Life, and continue to educate others — including your own elected officials —  about the risks of legalizing physician-assisted suicide. Excellent resources can be found here and here.


Bishops Statement on Upcoming Election

A statement from the Catholic Bishops of New York State on the need for Catholics to inform their conscience on the issues and vote in the upcoming election November 2.
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‘Our Cherished Right, Our Solemn Duty’: A Statement of the Bishops of NYS

A statement on voting and political responsibility by the Catholic Bishops of New York State.
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