ALAA is a strong advocate for the issues and legislation that would benefit our clients. Below is some of the selected legislation we are supporting:
New York City Council
- Right to Counsel in Housing Court Intro 214-A – Proposed Int. No. 214-A would require the Office of Civil Justice to establish a program for the provision of legal counsel for low-income tenants who are subject to eviction, ejectment or foreclosure proceedings. The bill requires the coordinator of the Office of Civil Justice, to (i) identify organizations eligible to provide legal services for eligible individuals, (ii) develop a plan for providing such legal services, (iii) establish procedures for the monitoring such provision, and (iv) annually review the performance of the providers. Proposed Int. No. 214-A further ensures the designation of a legal organization(s) to expeditiously be assigned to represent an eligible individual upon request from (i) the eligible individual, (ii) a judge or administrative judge or (iii) a designated organization. Finally, Prop. Int. 214-A requires the coordinator of the Office of Civil Justice to provide each designated organization with fair compensation to promote high quality representation.
- Right to Know Act Intros 182 & 541 – The Right To Know Act is a legislative package that aims to protect the civil and human rights of New Yorkers while promoting communication, transparency and accountability in everyday interactions between the NYPD and the public. New Yorkers want to live in a safe city where the police treat all residents with dignity and respect, and where police are not considered to be above the law.
New York State Legislature
- Home Stability Support – A new statewide rent supplement for families and individuals who are eligible for public assistance benefits and Are facing eviction, homelessness, or loss of housing due to domestic violence or hazardous living conditions.
- Early Voting in New York State A.08582-B/S.03813-C – In 2017, advocates for early voting request that Governor Cuomo, the Assembly, and Senate come together to enact early voting in New York through the 2017 budget by the April 1st deadline. We request that sufficient funding be budgeted for county government to fully implement the new system, allowing all 62 counties in New York be entitled to reimbursement for their actual expenses related to early voting up to $50,000 for each county.
- Loan Forgiveness for Indigent Legal Services Attorneys A. 6709 & A 6712 – The proposed legislation would also increase the number of years of qualified service for which attorneys would be eligible for this program from six years to seven. This would allow for a lifetime maximum of $38,500 in state assistance to attorneys, a small but significant contribution to the burden of educational debt carried by these attorneys.
- Securing Wages Earned Against Theft (“SWEAT”) A.0628/S.0579 – Wage theft is rampant in New York, but exploitative employers too often hide or transfer their assets to avoid paying wages they have stolen from their employees. Even when workers win a court-awarded judgment, they are unlikely to collect the money owed to them. This “SWEAT” Bill will update New York law and bring it into line with other states that provide workers with legal tools to ensure their employers will pay them once they are awarded a judgment.
- Knife Rights’ Gravity Knife and Switchblade Reform Bill S.6483-A/A.9042-A – Every year The Legal Aid Society represents thousands of low-income, working New Yorkers who are arrested for possessing common folding knives. Our clients are construction workers, electricians, custodians, stagehands, handymen and chefs who often struggle to keep pace with the cost of living in NYC. They use knives to make low-paying, physically demanding work more manageable. Their knives are sold at major retailers like Home Depot, Walmart, Lowes, Ace Hardware, Sports Authority, Dicks Sporting Goods and Paragon Sports. The knives are designed to be used for work, not for use as weapons. NYPD treats common folding knives as gravity knives because of a loophole in the 1958 gravity knife law. That loophole has resulted in an explosion of arrests of low-income, working New Yorkers. Relying on NYPD arrest data from 2003 until 2013, the Village Voice estimates that tens of thousands of people have been arrested under the law.