The Partnership for the Public Good in Buffalo is hailing accomplishments in the recently-ended State Legislature session. But as it updates its Community Agenda, Partnership leaders say they'll continue pushing for more progress on the ten items which make up that agenda.
At the top of its agenda, which can be reviewed online, is the protection and expansion of voting rights. This year, New York State passed voting reforms including the introduction of early voting, moving party enrolment deadlines from eleven months to four months before an election, and giving teenagers a chance to sign up early so that they're ready to vote upon turning 18 years old.
"Starting next year, New York will allow pre-registration of 16- and 17-year-olds, so our young people can pre-register to vote," said Partnership for Public Good executive director Andrea Ó Súilleabháin. "When they turn 18, that will automatically be brought to full registration by the Board of Elections. We hope that will make it easier for young adults to engage and become long-term voters."
For the second part of 2019, the Partnership will focus on local implementation of early voting. The Erie County Board of Elections, Ó Súilleabháin noted, has submitted 37 early voting sites to the state including ten in the City of Buffalo. The PPG is recommending two additional sites be submitted in the city's East Side to encourage more turnout in places where poverty is higher.
The PPG is also vowing to continue pushing for automatic voter registration, in which the individual would opt out of voting rather than opting in, and restoring voting rights for people on parole.
Also on the PPG's agenda is expanding community policing and alternatives to arrest, forming a complete count committee for the 2020 U.S. Census, investment in the Fruit Belt Community Land Trust, securing child care subsidies for income-eligible people in workforce training or education, creating a good food purchasing program for Buffalo Public Schools, ensuring protections for communities more vulnerable to pollution and climate change, improving access to public transportation, improving and broadening language access, and preventing childhood lead exposure.
Among the accomplishments welcomed by the PPG in the latter category are increased proactive housing inspections in Erie County, increased landlord rental registrations and increased regulations and education concerning home renovations.
"We expect significant announcements in the weeks ahead on rental housing inspections and landlord licensing," said Orlando Dixon, a civic educator with the PPG. "Together with our partners, we've continued to engage local residents who are renters, parents, healthcare workers and more to link lead exposure prevention to a broader set of child, family and school wellness issues."