NY State Senator Expelled due to Domestic Abuse Charges
The New York state Senate voted 53 to 8 yesterday to expel Senator Hiram Monserrate (D) because of misdemeanor assault charges. In December 2008, Monserrate was videotaped dragging his girlfriend, Karla Giraldo, through their apartment building's lobby after he cut her face with broken glass. He avoided felony assault charges in the incident, which would have caused an automatic expulsion from the state Senate.
"The Senate cannot turn a blind eye to an act of domestic violence, a crime for which the state of New York has a zero-tolerance policy, and an attempt to evade responsibility for such a crime through dishonesty and bullying," said Senator Eric Schneiderman (D), chair of the special investigations committee that recommended Monserrate's expulsion, according to CBS News. Schneiderman also told the New York Daily News that Monserrate's "abusive and unlawful conduct damages the integrity of the New York state Senate and demonstrates a lack of fitness to serve in this body."
During a 16-minute floor speech, state Senator Monserrate said, "I know that my behavior has brought unwelcome discredit to this chamber, and for that, I am deeply sorry." He added that he hopes none of the other senators find themselves "at the mercy of certain colleagues with unfortunate political agendas."
According to WRVO Public Broadcasting, the vote to expel Monserrate may have been politically motivated. State Senators Monserrate (D) and Pedro Espada (D) changed affiliations briefly last summer and formed a coalition with state Senate Republicans. Democrats persuaded Monserrate to return a few days later. However, the switches resulted in a month-long stalemate, causing Monserrate to make enemies on both sides of the aisle.
Monserrate's expulsion leaves Democrats with a slim 31 to 30 majority in the New York state House. A special election for his replacement is scheduled for March 16, though Monserrate is seeking appeal of his expulsion, which could delay the special election.
Media Resources: CBS News 2/10/2010; NY Daily News 2/9/2010; WRVO Public Broadcasting 2/10/2010
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .