ALBANY — As Republicans gavel the state Senate into session on Wednesday, they will do so with more female legislators in their ranks than ever before.
Seven of the chamber’s 31 Republicans are women — a higher number than in the chamber’s Democratic conference. The turnabout is the result of the retirement of Democratic Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson, the decision of Sen. Marisol Alcantara to caucus with the chamber’s Independent Democratic Conference and the election of Republicans Elaine Phillips and Pam Helming.
Sen. Cathy Young, an Olean Republican who chairs the Senate’s finance committee and has led its political arm since 2013, said she was “excited” by the result. She said it has been her goal to recruit more female candidates for office — a head-on offensive against Democratic efforts, through the Women’s Equality Party that Gov. Andrew Cuomo created, to use gender issues to drive up turnout.
“The war on women is a bogus, contrived and ridiculous political stunt,” Young told POLITICO New York. “Our conference has led the way on so many women’s issues that positively affect the lives of women and those that we love.”
Young said she was proud of the GOP conference’s action on a set of women’s issues, including increases in public school aid, stronger equal-pay protections and bills to crack down on human trafficking.
“We also will focus on things that women care about, such as creating jobs for women and their families, funding education so their children get the best education possible,” Young said. “It’s great to get perspective [from] women who know what women go through every day and can give that different bent on policy issues.”
Democrats, steeled by the election of Donald Trump and the possibility that his eventual nominee to the Supreme Court could overturn abortion rights cases, are pushing to update New York’s abortion laws.
Young said the purpose of previous abortion bills touted by Cuomo and Democrats “actually was to codify partial birth abortion and late-term abortion.” Asked about newer versions of the bill, which last year drew support from Republican Sen. John Bonacic, Young said, “that I don’t believe will be an issue moving forward for our conference.”
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By JIMMY VIELKIND 01/04/17