Republican Senator Elaine Phillips has to be voted out. As my New York State Senator, she tries to cozy up to both sides of the aisle while hiding behind Republican majority control. She is not the women’s rights advocate she professes to be. She does not support gun reform nor does she protect child abuse victims. She fails her youngest constituents by voting against stricter gun safety regulations and supporting the diversion of funding from public schools towards for-profit charter schools.
On June 6, when Phillips had the chance to be the deciding vote for landmark women’s rights legislation, she walked out of State Senate chambers, effectively killing these bills. The first bill, the Reproductive Health Act (RHA), would have written Roe vs. Wade into state law. The second bill, the Comprehensive Contraceptive Care Act (CCCA), if enacted, would have required health insurance companies to include coverage of all FDA-approved contraceptive options, as well as contraceptive counseling and services. Phillips even co-sponsored this bill, a clever strategy to present herself as a supporter but in reality, this was just a tactic to placate both sides of the aisle, knowing full well that she would never really vote for the bill to pass.
Both women’s rights bills have major support among New York voters, yet have been repeatedly blocked from becoming law by the state senate Republican majority since they refuse to bring these bills to the floor for a vote and continuously work to kill variations of these bills in committee.
I spoke to Phillips in her office last January when I visited with Planned Parenthood. I told her about my personal traumatic devastation of having to end a much-wanted pregnancy due to medical reasons in 2014. She acknowledged she was pro-choice and seemed sympathetic so I had become cautiously optimistic that she would vote to protect women’s rights.
After the recent Oct. 18 public debate in Manhasset, I confronted Phillips and asked her to set the record straight about the June vote. She said that June 6 was just a regular day in Albany and nothing special was going on. She claims she had no knowledge of the RHA or CCCA being voted on that day, but an official Senate video posted to YouTube shows Senator Liz Krueger of Manhattan delivering a five-minute speech on the senate floor outlining the importance of the RHA/CCCA and explaining the reason why Senate Democrats were attaching a hostile amendment to another bill (S.299) as their only way to get the RHA/CCCA voted on. I spoke with Senator Krueger’s staff, whose office confirmed the sequence of events that day and detailed how Phillips torpedoed the RHA, as well as the CCCA, unbelievably the very own bill she co-sponsored. To know that she purposefully voted against the RHA and walked out on a vote to pass her CCCA is a disgrace.
For these reasons, I will be voting for Democrat candidate Anna Kaplan on Nov. 6 for state senator in the Seventh District. The district is the one most likely to change hands in this upcoming election because there are 25,000 more registered Democrats and because Phillips only won by a 3,000 vote margin in 2016. I need voters in my area to realize the enormity of their single vote. By flipping the state senate to Democrat, New York could become a beacon of hope for the rest of the country as other states could look to us as we pass legislation on progressive priorities like the women’s rights agenda, gun safety measures, campaign finance/voting/ethics/criminal justice reforms, an expansion of a free public college tuition program, continuation of 2 percent caps on state spending and property tax increases and new money for workforce training.