Working On Taxes As Part Of My 2018 Legislative Agenda

will soon introduce a package of bills aimed at helping mitigate the harm that the new federal tax laws will cause for many New Yorkers.

The provision to cap the amount of the state and local tax deduction at $10,000 disproportionately affects residents in areas of the state with high property taxes, like Westchester– which has the highest property taxes in the nation. These residents will now face an increase in federal and possibly state income taxes on top of those steep property tax bills. According to ATTOM data solutions, 73 percent of Westchester homeowners pay more than $10,000 in property taxes.

The first bill, which I announced two weeks ago, would allow New York residents to itemize their New York State tax return even if they do not itemize their federal returns. The categories of itemized deductions used at the federal level are also used for the New York State personal income tax.

According to a July 2017 report from The Office of the State Comptroller, without legislation to change the State tax law, eliminating deductions at the federal level would eliminate them at the state level and potentially increase taxpayers’ state income-tax burden. This legislation would ensure that taxpayers will still be able to itemize on their New York return, preventing them from facing a higher New York tax bill.

The second bill would establish a two-pronged approach. The first portion of my new legislation would establish a dollar-for-dollar state income tax credit for charitable donations made to foundations that support state-funded institutions, such as the State University of New York. 

The second portion of my legislation would allow a taxpayer to receive a credit on their property or school taxes for donations made to local foundations working alongside school districts and municipalities. Some examples of these types of foundations that already exist are The Pelham Education Fund or the Scarsdale Schools Education Foundation.

Since charitable gifts remain deductible on federal taxes, taxpayers would be able to receive a federal deduction to help offset the loss of the state and local tax deduction.

We must do everything we can to lessen the damage that the new federal tax law will cause for so many New Yorkers.  I have fielded dozens of calls from constituents about the new tax law and many people are considering moving, because the cost to stay here will be too high. We cannot allow that to happen.

This legislation would enable taxpayers to make up for some of the losses they will experience under the disastrous federal tax law, while maintaining the revenue that the State and local school districts receive.

 

Looking To Help New York Residents With Their New Tax Burdens

I will soon introduce legislation to help mitigate the harm that the new federal tax laws will cause for many New Yorkers, particularly residents of Westchester.

The provision to cap the amount of the state and local tax deduction at $10,000 disproportionately affects New York. Many residents in areas of the state with high property taxes, like Westchester– which has the highest property taxes in the nation, will now face an increase in federal and possibly state income taxes on top of those steep property tax bills. According to ATTOM data solutions, 73 percent of Westchester homeowners pay more than $10,000 in property taxes.

At the suggestion of a constituent, I will be introducing legislation that would allow New York residents to itemize their New York State tax return even if they do not itemize their federal returns. The categories of itemized deductions used at the federal level are also used for the New York State personal income tax.  

The new federal tax bill is an assault on New York and my constituents. We must take action to change the tax law in New York to make sure that we do not also see an increase in our state taxes as a result of this disastrous federal law. Allowing people to keep itemized deductions on our state returns regardless of how we fill out our federal returns, is one step we can take to prevent this.

I have already heard from constituents who are considering moving out of New York unless something is done to help mitigate the harm the federal bill will cause them. Without these changes, many people simply cannot afford to stay.

Currently, New York State tax law only allows taxpayers to itemize their state returns if they have itemized their federal returns. Nearly 30 percent of New Yorkers who currently itemize their deductions claim the real estate deduction. The $10,000 cap on the deduction for state and local taxes will mean that far fewer New Yorkers will itemize their federal returns and instead opt to take the standard deduction.

According to a July 2017 report from The Office of the State Comptroller, without legislation to change the State tax law, eliminating deductions at the federal level would eliminate them at the state level and potentially increase taxpayers’ state income-tax burden. This legislation would ensure that taxpayers will still be able to itemize on their New York return, preventing them from facing a higher New York tax bill.

Thank You Governor Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke this morning about prioritizing my domestic violence gun bill. I am very grateful for his interest in this issue. I issued the following statement as a response.

While we lead in New York with some of the strictest gun laws in the nation and the lowest firearm homicide rates, domestic violence victims in our state are still in grave danger because legal protections for their safety come up short.

Here in New York, a gray area in between state and federal laws allows some convicted domestic violence offenders to retain access to firearms. While federal law stipulates that someone found guilty of a misdemeanor domestic abuse charge cannot possess any firearms, state law is not consistent.

In other words, a person who is found guilty of a crime that results in him not being able to buy or own a gun under federal law can keep the one he already possessed under New York law.

My legislation would outline an unambiguous legal procedure, provide uniformity in the courts, and ensure that abusers cannot keep the guns they are prohibited from possessing.

As a result of the most recent shootings in California, Las Vegas and Texas, we have come to face the fact that no New Yorker is safe from the lethal rage of an armed domestic abuser, even those with no relationship to his victims.

We must work together to find ways to combat domestic violence and reduce the danger that perpetrators pose to victims and communities alike by enacting common-sense solutions that will save lives.

I want to thank Governor Cuomo for prioritizing my legislation and working towards protecting all New Yorkers from the epidemic of gun violence.

My FOIL Bill Has Been Signed Into Law

I am proud to announce that A.2750-A/S.2392-A, legislation I authored, was signed into law today by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The law will award attorney’s fees to a prevailing party who has gone to court to challenge an agency’s refusal to provide records requested under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). The time and cost involved in these court proceedings can be staggering for individuals, and may deter them from pursing legal action to compel agencies to provide the records. This bill would encourage agencies to comply with FOIL in order to avoid potentially paying the attorney’s fees for prevailing individuals who challenge the agency in court.

Very often, the time and effort involved in getting a FOIL request fulfilled is trying enough. A person petitioning an agency through FOIL shouldn’t have the added expense of a lengthy court proceeding as well.

This law establishes a two-tiered approach. In court cases where an agency failed to respond to a person’s request for records or appeal within the allowable time, the court may require the agency to pay for a person’s attorney’s fees if the person prevails in court. In cases where an agency denied an individual’s request for records and the court finds that there was no reasonable basis for the denial, the court must order the agency to pay the individual’s attorney’s fees if that individual prevails in court.

The Committee on Open Government recommended this two-tiered approach in its 2016 annual report.

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

Wow! What A Weekend In The 88th Assembly District

Dear friends and neighbors,

We’ve arrived at the last weekend in April and I can’t believe how much there is to do and see in the cities, towns and villages of the 88th Assembly District. There are movies, music, shows, discussions, galas and much, much more on tap.

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 you’d like me to include in the coming weeks, send the information to Paulina@NYAssembly.gov.

THURSDAY

  • The Bereavement Center of Westchester (670 White Plains Road, Suite 213, Scarsdale) will hold the first of three workshops designed for adults who wish to express their feelings about loved ones they have lost through writing. “Healing Words – The Power of Positive Writing” will run from 7-8:30 p.m. with subsequent meetings on May 4 and May 11. Contact PDiscenza@lawrencehealth.org or call 914-787-6158 for more information.
  • The Westchester County Federation of Women’s Club, which includes clubs in Scarsdale, Bronxville and White Plains, will host its annual spring conference luncheon and Woman of the Year presentation at The Davenport Mansion on the Sound (400 Davenport Avenue, New Rochelle) at noon. Visit bronxvillewomensclub.org for more information.
  • Paul Tramontozzi of KBK Wealth Management will host “Quality of Life: MIT Age Lab and You” at 5 p.m. at Gramatan Village (85 Pondfield Road, Bronxville). He will discuss optimizing retirement. Visit gramatanvillage.org for more information.
  • Concordia College (171 White Plains Road, Bronxville) will host WOW The Women of Worth from 3:30-5 p.m. at the Schoenfeld Gym. There will be dancing, raffles, food and more. Visit concordia-ny.edu for more information.
  • The Concordia College New York Student Art Exhibition opening reception will take place at 7 p.m. at the OSilas Gallery. Visit concordia-ny-edu for more information.
  • ArtsWeschester (31 Mamaroneck Avenue, White Plains) will present “$aving Bansky”, a film about an art collector’s attempts to save a Bansky painting from destruction at 7 p.m. Visit artswestchester.org for more information.
  • ArtsWeschester (31 Mamaroneck Avenue, White Plains) will present “Wall Writers: Graffiti in its Innocence”, a film narrated by Roger Waters about graffiti writers of the late 60s and early 70s, at 7 p.m. Visit artswestchester.org for more information.
  • Atelier 811 Gallery (811 North Broadway, White Plains) will host an exhibition featuring photographer Joseph Squillante from 11:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and then through May 25. Squillante specializes in scenes of the Hudson River. Visit artswestchester.org for more information.
  • The Junior League of Bronxville will hosts a Trends & Treasures Fashion Show at The Bronxville Field Club (40 Locust lane, Bronxville) at 7:30 p.m. Visit jlbronxville.org for more information.
  • The Ambassadors For Successful Aging Senior Services Navigator program will host a Kickoff For the Aging Network event at The Westchester County Center in White Plains from 9 a.m.-noon. The program will provide insight as to how seniors can maintain their independence. Visit countycenter.biz for more information.
  • The Pelham Library (530 Colonial Avenue, Pelham) will present “Demystifying Healthcare and Medicare for Seniors” from 6:15-9 p.m. Visit pelhamlibrary.org for more information.
  • Poet Alex Dmitrov will host “Ritual, Magic & The Coasts: The San Francisco Renaissance & New York School Poets” at Sarah Lawrence College (1 Mead Way, Bronxville) from 2-3 p.m. Visit sarahlawrence.edu for more information.
  • Faso Foli, a West-African drumming ensemble, will perform at Sarah Lawrence College (1 Mead Way, Bronxville) from 5-6 p.m. Visit sarahlawrence.edu for more information.
  • CJ Cullens Tavern (77 Pelham Road, New Rochelle) will host a free comedy night at 8:30 p.m. Call 914-740-7106 for more information.

 FRIDAY

  • The Westchester Community College (75 Grasslands Road, Valhalla) Friday Night Film Series continues a presentation of the French film “Mustang” at 7:45 p.m. It’s the story of Lale, a young Turkish girl, and her four sisters, each of whom are being suppressed by their family after an innocent encounter with a group of boys. Call Bob Bruckenthal at 914-723-3186 for more information.
  • The Westchester Reformed Temple (255 Mamaroneck Road, Scarsdale) will host Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman as part of the Morgan & Marjorie Miller Scholar-in-Residence Lecture Series for a three-day event focusing on Judaism in the 21st Friday’s program is scheduled to begin at 7:45 p.m. The program will continue Saturday (10:30 a.m.) and Sunday (10:45 a.m.). Visit www.wrtemple.org for more information.
  • The Pelham Children’s Theater Company will present Peter Pan, Jr. at Pelham High School (575 Colonial Avenue, Pelham) at 8 p.m. and again Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Visit pelhamchildrenstheater.com for more information.
  • Guy Eshed, the principal flutist from the Israeli Philharmonic, will coach students at The Hoff-Barthelson Music School (25 School Lane, Scarsdale) from 7-9 p.m. The public is invited to watch the session and listen to the music. Visit hbms.org for more information.
  • The Victor LaGamma Trio will return to Alvin & Friends Restaurant (14 Memorial Highway, New Rochelle) to perform between 7-11 p.m. Visit alvinandfriendsrestaurant.com for more information.
  • The Junior League of Bronxville will host a Home Show at The Bronxville Field Club (40 Locust Lane, Bronxville) from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. There will be a series of 20-minute workshops from local experts on home-related trends. Visit http://www.jorg for more information.
  • Operation Prom will take place at The Westchester County Center in White Plains from 1-4 p.m. and again on Saturday (10 a.m.-4 p.m.) and Sunday (Noon- 2p.m.). Operation Prom helps thousands of students from across the country attend their prom at little or no cost. Visit operationprom.org for more information.
  • Chris Merwin will play the Japanese Shakuhachi flute at the Scarsdale Library (54 Olmstead Road, Scarsdale) from 2-3 p.m. Merwin is classically trained on the end-blown bamboo flute. Visit scarsdalelibrary.org for more information.
  • The Scarsdale Woman’s Club (37 Drake Road, Scarsdale) will hold a free Arbor Day celebration at 1 p.m. Certified ISA arborist Mike McGowan will host a discussion and demonstration. Visit scarsdalewomansclub.org for more information.
  • Students for Refugees will host “The Refugee Experience” from 2:30-4:30 p.m. at Scarsdale High School (2 Brewster Road School District Entrance). Syrian student Ahed Festuk, Chris George, the director of IRIS, and Mary Refling, co-founder of The Westchester Refugee Task Force, are scheduled to speak. Contact Maggie Favretti at mfavretti@scarsdaleschools.org for more information.
  • The Eastchester Public Library (11 Oakridge Place, Eastchester) will host a four-day book sale beginning at 9:30 a.m. Visit eastchesterlibrary.org for more information.
  • The Pieces of Hope Event & Fifth Annual Autism Awareness Walk will take place at The United Preschool (456 North Street, White Plains) at 10:30 a.m. Contact Joan Colangelo at colangelo@cpwestchester.org for more information.
  • The Church of St. Pius X (91 Secor Road, Scarsdale) will host “An Evening of Broadway”, featuring Scarsdale High graduate Maria Failla, at 8 p.m. St. Pius X music director David Schmidt and special guests Gillian Hassert and Kyle Torrence are also scheduled to perform. Acclaimed composer Georgia Stitt will accompany on the keyboard. Visit stpiusxchurch.com for more information.
  • Senior Pastor Dr. Allen Paul Weaver and the Choice Men’s Ministry of the Bethesda Baptist Church (71 Lincoln Avenue, New Rochelle) will host a Brotherhood Weekend from Friday through Sunday. An all-male worship service will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday and will be led by Dr. Calvin Sampson, Sr., the pastor of the Shiloh Baptist Church in Manhattan. There will be a health fair on Saturday at 10 a.m. and on Sunday at 9:30 a.m. Bishop Roderick Caesar, Jr. of the Bethel Gospel Tabernacle in Queens will speak. Visit bethesdabaptistny.org for more information.

 SATURDAY

  • I will be hosting The Pelham Women of Distinction Awards Ceremony at The Daronco Town House (20 Fifth Avenue, Pelham) from 4-6 p.m. as part of a Women’s History Month celebration. Visit amypaulin.com for more information.
  • Celebrate Arbor Day as the Village of Scarsdale and the Friends of the Scarsdale Parks will host a “Community Planting Day” from 10 a.m.- 4p.m. along the South Fox Meadow Brook, which is part of the Bronx River watershed. Planting will take place in the Brewster Road-Harwood Wetland. Volunteers will meet in the Scarsdale High gravel parking lot. Registration is required. Visit scarsdale.com/recreation for more information.
  • Scarsdale Synagogue Temples Tremont and Emanu-El will host their annual fundraiser at The Scarsdale Golf Club (1 Clubway, Hartsdale) from 7-11 p.m. There will be dinner, dancing and more. Visit sstte.org for more information.
  • The Westchester County Mobile Shredder will be in Tuckahoe at the Lake Avenue Commuter Lot from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Visit westchestergov.com/recycling for more information.
  • The Reformed Church of Bronxville (180 Pondfield Road, Bronxville) will host the “Spring Clothing Closet Sale” from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. There will be new and used clothing, books, records, CDCs and more. Visit reformedchurch.org for more information.
  • The Bronxville Rotary Club will host its Annual Dinner and Auction at The Siwanoy Country Club (351 Pondfield Road, Bronxville) at 6 p.m. This year’s honoree is Bronxville schools superintendent Dr. David Quattrone. Contact Doris Benson (dwbenson1@verison.net) for more information.
  • The Ukranian Folk Art Festival will take place at The Pelham Art Center (155 Fifth Avenue, Pelham) from 1:30-3:30 p.m. There will be a concert of Ukrainian regional folk village-style polyphony featuring the Ukrainian Village Voices. Visit pelhamartcenter.org for more information.

    Ukrainian Village Voices

  • ArtsWeschester (31 Mamaroneck Avenue, White Plains) will present “Meet The Mural Kings”, a documentary about legendary muralists and graffiti artists at 7 p.m. Visit artswestchester.org for more information.
  • ArtsWestchester and Bloomingdale’s (175 Bloomingdale Road, White Plains) will team up for “From the Streets to Bloomingdale’s”, a shopping day to benefit ArtsWestchester and its education programs, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Visit artswestchester.org for more information.
  • The Junior League of Central Westchester will host its 70th Years Big Night Out Anniversary Gala at The Sunningdale Country Club (300 Underhill Road, Scarsdale)at 7 p.m. Past JLCW president Janice Starr and Susan Fox, the president and CEO of White Plains Hospital, will be honored. Visit jlcentralwestchester.org for more information.
  • The Westchester Salsa Festival will take place at The Westchester County Center in White Plains at 8 p.m. Visit countycenter.biz for more information.
  • Acclaimed voice actor Alan Sklar will perform a dramatic reading of Lawrence Block’s “Hilliard’s Ceremony” at the Bronxville Library (201 Pondfield Road, Bronxville) at 3 p.m. Visit bronxvillelibrary.org for more information.
  • The Scarsdale Library (54 Olmstead Road, Scarsdale) will present “Demystifying Healthcare and Medicare for Seniors” from 9:15 a.m.-noon. Visit scarsdalelibrary.org for more information.
  • The White Plains Vintage Market will be at The Ebersole Ice Rink (110 Lake Street, White Plains) in Delfino Park from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., rain or shine. There will be vintage, glassware, clothing, furniture and more for sale. The Market will also be open on Sunday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Visit cityofwhiteplains.com for more information.
  • Master of Fine Arts in Dance students Grant Jacoby, Nathalie Jonas, Tim Merkley, Jenna Moomaw, and Alaina Wilson will perform at Sarah Lawrence College’s Performing Arts Center Bessie Schonberg Dance Studio (1 Mead Way, Bronxville) from 7:30-9.m. Visit sarahlawrence.edu for more information.

 SUNDAY

  • The Scarsdale Forum Speaker Series will continue at the Scarsdale Woman’s Club (37 Drake Road, Scarsdale) at 3 p.m. when Linda Leavitt, the former editor of The Scarsdale Inquirer, will host “My Favorite Stories”. Visit scarsdaleforum.com for more information.
  • The Picture House (175 Wolfs Lane, Pelham) will host The 2017 Future Filmmakers Festival, which will highlight the filmmaking talents of Westchester teens, at 2:30 p.m. Visit thepicturehouse.org for more information.
  • The College of New Rochelle (29 Castle Place, New Rochelle) will host its annual “Strawberry Festival” from noon-5 p.m. There will be games, food, music and, of course, strawberries. Visit cnr.edu for more information.
  • The Scarsdale Teen Center will host a fundraising event at Barry’s Boot Camp at The Golden Horseshoe Mall (1142 Wilmot Road, Scarsdale) from 1-2 p.m. This one-hour workout class is for participants 15 years and older. Visit thecenter862.com for more information.
  • Jon Manasse, the principal clarinetist of the American Ballet Theater Orchestra, will coach the students of the Hoff-Barthelson Music School at The Scarsdale Library (54 Olmstead Road, Scarsdale) from 2-4 p.m. The public is invited. Visit hbms.org for more information.
  • The Sound Shore Chorale will perform at Iona College’s Arrigoni Center (48 Mayflower Avenue, New Rochelle) from 3-5 p.m. They will be perfroming Vivaldi’s Gloria. Visit soundshorechorale.org for more information.
  • The New Rochelle Greek Orthodox Church’s Holy Trinity Dance Troupe will perform at the New Rochelle Library (1 Library Plaza, New Rochelle) at 3 p.m. The group will perform traditional dances from the Greek Islands and the mainland. Visit nrpl.org for more information.
  • The Town of Greenburgh will host its first annual Motorcycle Safety Event in the Dannon Parking Lot (100 Hillside Avenue, White Plains) across from the Greenburgh Town Hall from noon-4 p.m. The Greenburgh police, Empire Harley Davidson, Hudson Valley Suzuki Kawasaki, Triumph of Westchester and many more groups will be on hand for demonstrations and discussions. The rain date is May 7. Visit greenburghny.com for more information.
  • The Hudson Valley Region of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Club will host the 14th annual Chavayrim Kol Yisrael Awards Luncheon at Shaarei Tikvah (46 Fox Meadow Road, Scarsdale) at 1 p.m. Visit bethelnr.org for more information.
  • The New Westchester Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Benjamin Niemczyk, will perform at The Memorial United Methodist Church (250 Bryant Avenue, White Plains) at 3 p.m. The Symphony will perform Brahms Symphony 1, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 and Elgar’s cello concerto. Visit newsymphony.org for more information.
  • The Bronxville Library (201 Pondfield Road, Bronxville) will present “An All Bronxville a Cappella Showcase” from 3-5

    Yung-Chiu Wang

    p.m. SHA! Cappella, Bronxville High School’s only a cappella group, SLC Majors, an all-part group from Sarah Lawrence College, Treble in Paradise, an all-female alto and soprano group, and Vocal Minority, Sarah Lawrence College’s only all-male group, are scheduled to perform. Visit bronxvillelibrary.org for more information.

  • The Sarah Lawrence College (1 Mead Way, Bronxville) Mayfair will take place from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. There will be bounce houses, obstacles courses, pony rides, food and more. Visit sarahlawrence.edu for more information.
  • The Sarah Lawrence Chamber Music Program will present “Wall-to-Wall Chamber Music”, a concert at the school’s Performing Arts Center Reisinger Auditorium from 4-6 p.m. Visit sarahlawrence.edu for more information.
  • Taiwanese-born concert pianist Yung-Chiu Wang will perform Bach’s monumental Goldberg Variations at the Scarsdale Congregational Church (1 Heathcote Road, Scarsdale) at 3 p.m. as part of the SCC Concert Series. Visit scc-ucc.org for more information.
  • The Daughters of Liberty’s Legacy will sponsor a trolley tour of historic White Plains. The Purdy House in White Plains and the Miller House in North White Plains are among the locations on the tour. Visit doll1776.com/events.html for more information.

For information about these and other events in our area, please visit http://www.burbio.com/lists/district-88-events.

 

Women’s March On Washington

I will be leading a contingent of constituents to Washington D.C. on Jan. 21 to participate in The Women’s March on Washington, where we will join an expected crowd of several hundred thousand participants from around the country. I have chartered three buses as a free courtesy to my constituents. The buses, which will carry 165 people, are scheduled to leave at 5 a.m. from the Vernon Hills Shopping Center on White Plains Road in Scarsdale and return by 10 p.m. that evening.

The purpose of the march, also dubbed as “The Gathering for Justice”, is to bring diverse groups together to use their collective voices to express that hard-fought rights for marginalized communities should not and cannot be rolled back. Organizers of the Women’s March, who began as a proactive grassroots activist effort to protect women’s rights, affirm that the event is not an anti-Trump administration protest. The demonstration has evolved to include those concerned about social justice and human rights issues ranging from race, ethnicity, gender, religion, immigration and healthcare.ww

I have spent my life, both personally and professionally, working to secure equal and fair treatment for all people, not just women,” Paulin said. “We are hoping that this march will serve as a reminder that as a democracy, we are one people, linked together by the intersection of our communities and we must stand up for and support one another. In order to be a great nation, must all be safe, secure and empowered.

Gloria Steinem and Harry Belafonte have been named honorary co-chairs of the march. Planned Parenthood, the National Organization for Women (NOW), the NAACP, Amnesty International and Human Rights Campaign are among those who have aligned themselves as partners, while a handful of New York-based groups, including New York State Nurses Association and Unite Women New York, have also joined the cause.

Those interested in participating can call my office (914-723-1115) for more information.

Continuing The Fight Against Sex Trafficking In New York

Here is a press release that we sent out today regarding the latest piece of legislation I introduced to help combat sex trafficking in New York State.

AMY PAULIN INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO COMBAT SEX TRAFFICKING OF MINORS; BILL GARNERS SUPPORT FROM MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY CYRUS VANCE

         New York Lags Behind 46 States and Federal Government in Criminalizing the Trafficking of Children

ALBANY – Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-88) is proud to announce that she has introduced legislation (A09453) that would eliminate the requirement to prove force, fraud or coercion in prosecutions for sex trafficking in New York.

Under federal law, a person is guilty of sex trafficking if he or she profits from prostitution using force, fraud or coercion, or when the person induced to perform the act is under 18. Accordingly, a prosecutor would not need to articulate or prove force, fraud or coercion to prosecute a trafficker who exploits a child under 18. The federal government and 46 other states recognize that any child under the age of 18 who engages in commercial sex is a victim of sex trafficking and any person who promotes and benefits from exploiting such child is a sex trafficker.

Under New York law, however, the prosecution must prove that a person used force, fraud or coercion to find such person guilty of sex trafficking, even if the victim is a child under 18.

“By removing the requirement to prove force, we will be able to deal more aggressively with sex traffickers in New York,” Paulin said. “A person under the age of 18 is a child and a prosecutor should not have to prove that the child was forced into committing these horrific actions. A child doesn’t have the capacity to consent to engage in a sexual act. Why would we require proof that he or she was forced into the act?”

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., whose office has prosecuted several high-profile cases involving forcible sex trafficking, has voiced his strong support for Paulin’s legislation, citing multiple prosecutions that would have benefited from this new legislation. Damon Hayes was recently convicted in Manhattan of running a sex trafficking operation around Super Bowl weekend in January 2014 consisting of two women and a 15-year-old child that Hayes recruited from Florida. Even though the 15-year-old was too young to legally engage in sexual activity with grown men, Manhattan prosecutors had to prove that she was forced to do so by the defendant under the threat of violence to secure the conviction.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance

Vance also cited the prosecution of Froilan Rosado for running a prostitution ring with 10 teenagers, ranging in age from 15-18, and trafficking an 18-year-old woman into that ring. Even though Rosado was prostituting minors, many of whom were so young that they could not legally consent to sexual activity with adults, the DA’s Office could only convict Rosado of trafficking the 18-year-old, because evidence showed that he forced her to engage in sexual acts through physical violence and threats. With this new legislation, by proving Rosado prostituted women under the age of 18-years-old, prosecutors would have also proved that he trafficked them – and would not have needed to additionally prove force, fraud, or coercion.

“Those who profit off of children’s bodies are not merely pimps, but traffickers – period,” Vance said. “Teens and children, particularly those too young to consent to sexual activity cannot consent to being raped just because there is money exchanged. I urge the Senate and Assembly to pass this important, common-sense legislation sponsored by Assembly Member Paulin and Senator [Andrew] Lanza, which reflects the same understanding as our long-standing statutory rape laws: children do not have the legal, emotional, or psychological capacity to consent to sexual activity with adults.

“That does not change when there is an exchange of money. It is far past time that child victims in New York State have the same protections already provided by federal law and 46 states across the country.”