My Child Marriage Bill Was Signed Into Law

I am proud to announce that my  bill (A.5524-B/S.4407-B) raising the minimum age to marry to age 17 was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo in a Tuesday-afternoon ceremony in the Red Room of the New York State Capitol. The law prohibits the marriage of minors under the age of 17 and strengthens the process to obtain court approval for marriage of minors at least 17 but under 18 years of age.

I am thrilled that the Governor has taken this historic step and signed the bill into law. His unwavering support went a long way toward getting this done. Children who are 14 and 15 years old should be worrying about their schoolwork and spending time with their friends, not whether they have to get married. Girls marrying much older men are being abused physically, mentally and emotionally.  Marriage at such a young age destroys the lives of young girls. I am relieved we have changed this outdated law so that we can end this intolerable practice.

Senator Andrew Lanza, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, and I were on hand for the signing.  Sonia Ossorio, president of the National Organization for Women of New York and a staunch advocate for the bill, was in attendance as was Safia Mahjebin, who had become the poster child for ending child marriage in New York.  Mahjebin has courageously spoken out about her own experience as a young woman from a traditional community in which girls are pressured and threatened to comply with the practice and are often subjected to abuse if they resist their parents’ demands. Keerthana Nimmala and Jenise Ogle from Sanctuary for Families, advocate for victims of domestic violence, sex trafficking, and related forms of gender violence, and a tireless proponent of the legislation, also attended.

“With the signing today of the law banning child marriage, New York State has taken an important step forward to end a human rights violation,” said Hon. Judy Harris Kluger, Executive Director of Sanctuary for Families. “Sanctuary for Families has seen firsthand that young girls who are forced to marry are more likely to suffer domestic violence and are much less likely to complete their education.  We thank Governor Cuomo, Assemblywoman Paulin and Senator Lanza for their leadership and for standing with us against gender inequality and child exploitation. Marriage is now a milestone of adulthood, not childhood.” 

The minimum age to marry in New York State under previous law was fourteen. A 14-or 15-year old could marry with parental consent and court approval while a 16- or 17-year old could marry with parental consent. Prior law enabled children to be forced into marriage by their parents who brought their children before the court or the court clerk to provide their “consent”. In reality, the consent was a sham as the parents had forced their child to marry, threatening the child with ostracism, beatings or death if the child refused.

According to Fraidy Reiss, executive director and founder of Unchained At Last, nearly 4,000 minors were married in New York between 2000 and 2010 and more than 84 percent of those children were minor girls married to adult men. Unchained At Last is the only nonprofit in the U.S. dedicated to helping women and girls leave or avoid arranged/forced marriages. 

“This is an important first step toward ending the human rights abuse of child marriage in New York State,” Reiss said. “I applaud Assemblywoman Paulin for her leadership.”

The court approval process to authorize the marriage of 14- and 15-year olds under prior law did not provide adequate protections against abuse or fraud by the parents or guardians to force a child to marry.  The newly signed law strengthens the court process which will now apply to marriages of persons who are between 17- and 18-years old.  The new law requires, among other things, the appointment of an attorney for the child who has received training in domestic violence that includes a component on forced marriage, as well as requires the court to hold an in camera interview, separately with each minor party, and make specific written findings.  The law also provides that if the court approves the marriage, each minor party will have all the rights of an adult, including the right to enter into a contract, except for specific constitutional and statutory age requirements. 

“New York has recognized child marriage as a human rights violation,” Ossorio said. “We urge the rest of the country to follow suit.”

Putting An End To Child Marriage In New York

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed my child marriage bill into law today. I couldn’t be prouder. This is the culmination of a great deal of work on the part of so many people. From the Governor, to the advocates, to my fellow legislators. I would like to thank everyone who helped make this very important piece of legislation become a law. No longer will children be forced into marriage in New York State.

Heading Towards Summer In The 88th Assembly District

Dear friends and neighbors,

Summer officially begins as we head into the last full weekend of June. The cities, towns and villages of the 88th Assembly District have plenty of movies, music, presentations and more to help make the weekend more enjoyable.

Here’s a closer look at some of the events that are taking place in the 88th. Have a good weekend and remember that if you have an event that you’d like me to include in the coming weeks, send the information to Paulina@NYAssembly.gov.

THURSDAY

  • The White Plains Noon Day Concert Series continues at Renaissance Plaza (Main Street and Mamaroneck Avenue) from noon-2 p.m. Ivan Polanco will perform this week. Visit cityofwhiteplains.com for more information.
  • The Westchester County Department of Senior Programs and Services will host a guidance program on county services for seniors at the Scarsdale Library (54 Olmstead Road, Scarsdale) from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Visit scarsdalelibrary.org for more information.
  • The White Plains BID will host the “Summer SoulSTICE Concert from 5-9 p.m. at Church and Main Streets as a way to celebrate the longest day of the year. The New Review and Shayna Steele are scheduled to perform. There will be food, drinks and more. The concert will be held rain or shine. Visit wpbid.com for more information.
  • The New Rochelle Opera will present “The Merry Widow” at The Ursuline School (1354 North Avenue, New Rochelle) at 8 p.m. There will also be shows on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and on Sunday at 3 p.m. Visit nropera.org for more information.
  • Monroe College and the New Rochelle Police Department will host “Coffee With A Cop” from 10 a.m.-noon at The Barnes & Noble Café (33 Lecount Place, New Rochelle). Join friends and neighbors for a casual conversation with members of the city’s police force. Visit newrochellenny.com for more information.
  • The Westchester County Mobile Passport Program will be at Bronxville Village Hall (200 Pondfield Road, Bronxville) from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Visit villageofbronxville.com for more information.
  • The Scarsdale Library (54 Olmstead Road, Scarsdale) will present “Build a Better World” as it kicks off its 2017 Summer Reading Program at 1 p.m. Visit scarsdalelibrary.org for more information.

FRIDAY

  • The New Rochelle Down to Earth Farmer’s Market will take place at Huguenot Park at the corner of North Avenue and Eastchester Road at 8:30 a.m. and will stay open until 2:30 p.m. There will be produce, baked goods, cheese and more. New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson will be on hand for a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Visit downtoearthmarkets.com for more information.
  • The Scarsdale Recreation Department will host its first of three “Parties in the Park” at Chase Park (32 Chase Road, Scarsdale) from 6-8 p.m. There will be live music and other entertainment. Visit scarsdale.com for more information.
  • The Westchester Reform Temple (255 Mamaroneck Road, Scarsdale) will host “Baby Boomer’s Sha-Ba-Baque” following summer services. There will be a barbeque dinner, wine and more. Visit wrtemple.org for more information.
  • Almost Queen will perform at The White Plains Performing Arts Center (11 City Place, White Plains) at 8 p.m. Almost Queen is considered one of the most authentic Queen shows performing today. Visit wppac.com for more information.
  • The Westchester County pools and beaches open full-time for the summer. They include Croton Point, Playland and Glen Island beaches; Playland, Saxon Woods, Tibbetts Brook and Willson’s Woods pools. Visit westchestergov.com for more information.
  • Bob Stewart and The Jazz Men will perform at Alvin & Friends Restaurant (14 Memorial Highway, New Rochelle) from 8:00-11 p.m. Visit alvinandfriendsrestaurant.com for more information.

    Cool Out With The New Rochelle Cops

  • Beth-El Synagogue Center (1324 North Avenue, New Rochelle) will host “Kabbalat Pride Shabbat” at 6 p.m. Alyx Bernstein, a storyteller from Mosaic of Westchester, will speak. Visit bethelnr.org for more information.
  • The New Rochelle Police Force will host “Cool Out With The Cops” from 6-8 p.m. at The Barnes & Noble Café (33 Lecount Place, New Rochelle). Meet and greet the New Rochelle police officers and members of The P.A.C.T Unit. Visit newrochelleny.com for more information.
  • The Scarsdale Library (54 Olmstead Road, Scarsdale) will show “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dreamhouse, with Cary Grant, as part of its “Afternoon Movies For Adults” Series at 1:45 p.m. Visit scarsdalelibrary.org for more information.
  • The Eastchester Public Library (11 Oakridge Place, Eastchester) will show “Silence”, with Liam Neeson, as part of its EPL Film Series at 1:30 p.m. Visit eastchesterlibrary.org for more information.
  • The Pelham Library (530 Colonial Avenue, Pelham) will kick off its summer reading program with a performance by “Bash the Trash” from 3:30-5 p.m. Visit pelhamlibrary.org for more information.

 SATURDAY

  • The New Rochelle Grand Market Downtown will take place at 1 Library Plaza at 9 a.m. The market, which will remain open until 2 p.m., will feature fresh produce, baked goods, honey, crafts and more. Visit newrochelledowntown.com for more information.
  • The Bronxville Farmer’s Market will take place at Stone Place at Paxton Avenue from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Visit bronxvilleframersmarket.com for more information.
  • The New Rochelle Police Foundation Benefit will take place from 6-10 p.m. at the home of Anthony and Carmen Paolercio (56 Wildcliff Road, New Rochelle). Contact Barbara Cabrera at 914-573-9115 for more information.
  • Sarah Lawrence College (1 Mead Way, Bronxville) will host The 4th Annual Publish and Promote Your Book Conference from 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Visit sarahlawrence.edu for more information.
  • New York State will allow free fishing on Saturday and Sunday in any of the state’s fresh or marine waters for anyone without a license. Visit dec.ny.gov/outdoor/89821.html for more information.
  • The Leslie Pintchik Trio will perform at Alvin & Friends Restaurant (14 Memorial Highway, New Rochelle) from 7:30-11 p.m. Visit alvinandfriendsrestaurant.com for more information.
  • The New Rochelle Library (1 Library Plaza, New Rochelle) will host its “Summer Reading Kick-off Celebration” at 11 a.m. Visit nrpl.org for more information.

 SUNDAY

  • Bicycle Sunday will take place on the Bronx River Parkway from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. between the Westchester County Center in White Plains and Scarsdale Road in Yonkers. The 13.1 mile loop will be open to bikers and clo

    Janifer Lighten

    sed to car traffic. Visit westchestergov.com for more information.

  • The Tuckahoe Farmer’s Market will take place in Depot Square. The market is open every Sunday through the end of November from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Visit tuckahoe.com for more information.
  • The Eastchester Farmer’s Market will take place in the parking lot of Country Markets of Westchester (344 White Plains Road, Eastchester) from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. The Farmer’s Market will run through mid-October. Visit facebook.com/EastchesterFarmersMarket for more information.
  • The Dedication of the New Rochelle Boys and Girls Club Janifer Lighten Teen Learning Center Reception and Naming Ceremony will take place from noon-2 p.m. at The Remington Clubhouse (116 Guion Place, New Rochelle). Visit bgcnr.org for more information.
  • The Scarsdale Teen Center (862 Scarsdale Avenue, Scarsdale) and The American Red Cross will offer a babysitting training program from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Visit scarsdaleteencenter.org for more information.

 Please visit www.burbio.com/lists/district-88-events for more information about these and other area events.

My Bill Prohibiting The Falsification Of School Records Heading To The Governor

I am pleased to announce that A.2093-B/S.5273-A, legislation she authored, has passed the New York State Senate and Assembly and will be sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo to be signed into law.

The bill would prohibit unauthorized and false alterations and tampering of any official student records, files, or data maintained by the school or college. Official records maintained by the school or college include identifying data, grades, records of attendance, records of student achievement, assessment results, disciplinary records, and individual education programs.

We must preserve the integrity of a student’s records. Information in these records is provided to colleges and considered as part of the admissions process. Falsifying such records creates a fraudulent representation of the student, and can either hurt their chances of acceptance or give the student with an unfair advantage over other applicants.

Tuckahoe middle-schooler Jack Doherty provided the genesis for this bill. He tied for second place in Paulin’s 2016 “There Ought To Be A Law” contest for proposing legislation that would protect a student’s records from tampering and alteration.

Patrick Gallivan (S-59) sponsored the bill in the Senate.

My Public Bathroom Access Bill Passes The Senate And Is Sent To The Governor

ALBANY – Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-88) is pleased to announce that A.1982/S.3295, legislation she authored, has passed the New York State Senate and Assembly and will be sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo to be signed into law.

The bill would amend the public health law by making employee-only restrooms in places of business open to those in the general public who have an eligible medical condition such as Crohn’s disease orulcerative colitis that requires immediate access to a restroom.

Ally Bain, a teenage girl in Illinois who suffers from Crohn’s disease, was the inspiration for this law in Illinois and 14 other states. Bain had a humiliating experience in which she was denied access to an employee-only bathroom when she was in need of one and no public bathroom was available. A resident of Paulin’s district initially brought this issue to her attention.

“Stories like Ally’s are heartbreaking,” Paulin said. “No one should be forced to endure such a humiliating situation simply because they have a medical condition over which they have no control. This legislation creates a compassionate system for those suffering from gastrointestinal diseases who can be in need of a restroom at any given moment.”

It is estimated that over 600,000 Americans suffer from Crohn’s disease alone, which is an ongoing disorder of the gastro-intestinal tract. It causes swelling of the intestines, creating pain and diarrhea. People who suffer from such diseases often need urgent and sudden access to a toilet facility.  This legislation would not create any additional costs to businesses as they are not required to alter their toilet facility. Also, a business would not be required to provide access to their toilet facility when another facility is immediately accessible to the requesting person.

Kemp Hannon (R-6) sponsored the bill in the Senate.

My Bill Regarding Forwarding Reports Of Child Abuse Between Authorized Agencies Is Passed By The New York State Senate

I am proud to announce that A.2965/S.4172, legislation I authored, was passed by the New York State Senate on Thursday and will be sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo to be signed into law. The New York State Assembly passed the bill on May 24.

The legislation amends current social services law in relation to forwarding reports of abuse. The bill requires reports of suspected child abuse or maltreatment of a child be provided to the social services district charged with the care, custody or guardianship of such child when the child has been placed in a home under the care, custody or guardianship of an authorized agency which is not in the social services district that placed the child.

The care and custody of a child may be transferred by a social services district to an authorized agency and the child placed in foster care.  There is no requirement that the authorized agency charged with the care and custody of the child and the child’s foster home be located in the same social services district that transferred the care and custody of the child.

Problems arise, however, when the foster home is the subject of a report of child abuse or maltreatment and the foster home is not located in the social services district that placed the child in the foster home. There is no mechanism under current law that requires notice of such report to be provided to the placing social services district. Absent information that the foster home may be the subject of a report of child abuse or maltreatment, the placing social services district may continue to place children in the care and custody of that foster home.

We must close gaps in communication between and among authorized agencies and social service districts responsible for the safety and welfare of our children. Placing agencies must be informed of reports of suspected abuse or maltreatment involving homes in which they have placed children so that they do not unwittingly place additional children in a situation that risks subjecting them to further abuse or maltreatment.

Patrick Gallivan (R-59) sponsored the bill in the Senate.

 

 

My Bill Responding To Jewish Community Centers Being Targeted Is Passed By The NYS Assembly

I am proud to announce that A.7198-A/S.5512-A, legislation I authored as a response to bomb threats targeting Jewish community centers across the nation earlier this year, was passed by the New York State Assembly on Thursday.

The bill would amend the penal law to include community centers in the definition of a “public place” as it relates to bomb threats and other offenses against public order.  Paulin was spurred into action after bomb threats in February forced evacuations of two community centers in Westchester, including the JCC of Mid-Westchester of which she and her family are members.  About 200 people were evacuated from the JCC of Mid-Westchester, including 100 children who attend the center’s early childhood program.

There have been more than 100 bomb threats called in to Jewish community centers nationwide since the beginning of 2017, actions that coincide with the recent dramatic rise in anti-Semitic crime.

The series of bomb threats not only disrupted everyday activities and put strains on tight-knit communities, but also created questions about the role of government in addressing and stanching these threats of violence.

Protecting our residents is my highest priority. The increase in hate crimes has shaken communities across the state and most recently here at home, the JCC of Mid-Westchester, where my kids went to nursery school.  We must use every means possible, including legislation, to thwart acts of hatred everywhere.

Patrick Gallivan (R-59) sponsored the Senate.