League of Women Voters of the RivertownsPO Box 142, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY 10706
LWV NYS Capitol Beat Weekly Wrap-Up
- LWVR Annual Meeting
- Legislation on Trafficking
- Legislative Action
- Defend Democracy
- Legislative Procedures
- Support for the New York Health Act
- LWVR Leaders Urge NYHA Passage
Please join our membership along with our two outstanding student attendees to the 2017 Students Inside Albany program.
Eric Schmid, a Junior at Ossining High School, is an Eagle Scout, has worked at the Ossining Public Library, and volunteered at a soup kitchen and Midnight Run.
“While learning about the local, federal, and world governmental organizations, I attended a school board meeting. It gave me a new found appreciation of the board members for heir hard work and dedication to our community.”
Katelin Penner, a Junior at Hastings High School, has extensive volunteer experience; she has tutored 6th-grade geography student and was the student volunteer mentor for the Special Education Department. At school, she sings in the chorus and Madrigal Choir and is a member of the Varsity Academic challenge Team. She was a counselor at Riverarts Day Camp.
“I feel that if I were selected, this experience would help me acquire the knowledge necessary to prepare me to vote and promote action in the 2018 Midterm Elections.”
Child Trafficking in Westchester County: Taking Action
By Charlene Weigel
Camp. Summer jobs. Typical family conversations this time of the year. What about child trafficking? Attendees at a recent event sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the Rivertowns were surprised to learn of a linkage between these three topics. Alison Boak, Executive Director of the International Organization for Adolescents (IOFA), discussed child trafficking in Westchester County in her presentation “Taking Action: Human Trafficking in the Rivertowns and Beyond.”
Boak, speaking as part of the League’s Hot Topics Breakfast series, highlighted local cases of child trafficking. Teenagers from Mexico, recruited by New York sleep away camps, were abused and forced to work long, unpaid hours. Joseph Yannai of Pound Ridge was convicted of sexually abusing young women whom he had lured to work on a book project. An example that struck home with several attendees was that of children or teens selling candy or magazines door-to-door for a “school project” who cannot name the local school that they attend. These cases are not isolated. Per the National Human Trafficking Hotline and the Polaris Project, there were 327 cases of human trafficking (labor and sexual) in New York State in 2016 alone.
Boak educated attendees to identify minors who may be trafficked. Clues include significant school absences, fear of an employer or family member, a child who is not allowed to socialize with other children or to leave the home, or a child who is always sleepy or unable to rest. These and other signs may be subtle, but repeated observations could raise questions in the minds of informed observers.
Spotting a trafficker can be more difficult. Boak described traffickers as family members, employers, coaches, virtually anyone. Traffickers often recruit vulnerable minors by showing attention, appearing to care for the child with promises of friendship and love. Traffickers may target minors in public places, especially those alone late at night, or, even more commonly, online via social media.
Boak urged attendees to take action if they encounter a situation of potential trafficking. She emphasized that 911 is the appropriate call if a child is in immediate danger. More likely, though, someone may observe a non-acute situation that raises suspicions. Attendees put two numbers into their cell phone to take action: (800) 342-3720 (NY State Child Abuse and Maltreatment Hotline) and (888) 373-7888 (National Human Trafficking Hotline).
Boak highlighted the work of the Westchester County Anti-Trafficking Task Force. In addition to IOFA, Task Force members include the Pound Ridge Police Department, My Sister’s Place, the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, and the US Attorney’s Office (Southern District of New York). Boak encouraged attendees to ask their local police departments to join the Task Force. Participating police forces receive specialized training in best practices for approaching and assisting suspected victims of child trafficking. Attendees received a summary of three proposed bills on human trafficking sponsored by New York State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin with guidance on how to support passage of the legislation. Boak ended her presentation with a simple but compelling call-to-action, “Do Something!”
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On December 10th, the LWVR met to come to a consensus on updates to NYS legislative procedures.
Here is some helpful background information to familiarize you with the questions that were considered.
The Rivertowns League reached consensus on the following items:
Term Lengths for State Legislators
The consensus was for staggered 2-4-4 terms for both Assembly Members and Senators. A system with legislators who serve one two-year term and two four-year terms every ten years is considered a 2-4-4 term system.
Legislative Leadership and Committee Chairs
There was a consensus for restrictions on leadership and committee chair positions. As it can take time to develop expertise, 8-10 years seemed like a reasonable limit for a committee chair and there would be allowances to assume other titles. Entrenched leadership can produce corruption and stagnation and chill the development of new talent to move up the ranks. There was agreement that no limit should be imposed on the number of positions allowed in each chamber.
Allowances for Leadership Positions, or “LULUs”
A metric should be developed to define which committees deserve stipends as some committees accomplish meaningful work while others appear to exist to “make work”.
There was a consensus that no limit should be imposed on outside income but all income (including campaign contributions) should be publicly traceable and enforced by an independent ethics board. Legislators should recuse themselves if a conflict presents itself. All compensation should weigh in the cost of living in different areas of the state.