Milestones Achieved in Anti-Discrimination Laws, Health and Ethics Legislation and Criminal Justice reform
Erie County, NY – County Legislator April Baskin, elected Majority Leader in her first term, has had 14 months of accomplishments, racking up five local laws in addition to ensuring that parks, libraries and community organizations received the funding they deserve, and has worked hard to earn the Legislature’s backing for change in our local criminal justice system.
Baskin, chosen by members of the Legislature’s Democratic majority in both 2018 and 2019 as their caucus leader, described the adopted legislation as “having substantial impact on the lives of Erie County residents and govern-ment operations.”
The new local laws include the 2018 Fair Housing Law, “one of the toughest in the nation,” Baskin noted, “that surpasses State protections by shielding source of income, family status and gender identity from landlord discrimination.” The revised county Apprentice Law, “will ensure more opportunities for residents to be included in the trade workforce. Contractors with the county who train apprentices in specific trades through mandatory training programs must now demonstrate a graduation rate of 30% or higher to maintain their contracts.”
Additionally, under Baskin’s leadership, the Democrats delivered a Public Health Law protecting residents from the dangers of second-hand smoke, and a Conversion Therapy Ban to stop the discredited practice of so-called “sexual identity therapy” that targets minors.
“We also adopted a tough new Ethics Law to hold local elected officials accountable,” said Baskin. “There must be transparent accounting of finances and conflicts of interest, and there will be strict new fines for any violations. “
Baskin points to her sponsorship of the local bail reform campaign that has earned the support of elected officials and community leaders, including NFL Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas. “We are now the only county in New York that has taken an official legislative stance on eliminating cash bail for minor offenses. But that is just the begin-ning of scrutiny on local criminal justice. Working with the community and prisoners’ rights activists, we created enough pressure for the NYS Attorney General to open an investigation into the homicide of former detainee India Cummings. And by working with the Buffalo School Board and the Erie County Department of Social Services, I was able to propose the now-adopted policy that eliminates the shackling of youth during Family Court proceedings.”
Fourteen months ago, I was new, but my fellow Legislators took a leap of faith and trusted me with the leadership position that is responsible for turning proposals into actions,” said Legislator Baskin. “Getting it done for the people is my commitment. Working with my colleagues, building relationships with the Legislature’s Chair and Minority Leader, and ensuring that community groups are heard and supported is all part of the job. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished so far, but it’s only the beginning; I’m always looking forward to what can be accomplished next.”
In addition to her role as Majority Leader, Baskin serves as Chair of the Legislature’s Public Safety Committee and serves on the Minority and Women Business Enterprise, Economic Development, and Energy & Environment committees.