Gov. Andrew Cuomo has agreed to split up his Women’s Equality Act into 10 separate bills, which could allow for individual votes on much-debated proposals that would strengthen New York’s abortion laws and enact equal pay legislation.
The 10 bills were proposed by Cuomo and introduced late Tuesday in the state Senate, where Republicans in the chamber had balked at allowing a vote on Cuomo’s women’s agenda as a single piece of legislation because of the abortion provision.
Previously, Cuomo had said he was keeping the 10-point bill whole at the request of a coalition of women’s groups, which had worked with him to craft the legislation over recent months.
Earlier in the week, the four-member Independent Democratic Conference — which controls the Senate with Republicans — introduced it’s own bill of women’s issues, including provisions targeted at working women along with nine of Cuomo’s 10 proposals. But it did not include the abortion provision, which drew intense criticism from pro-choice groups.
Senate IDC Leader Jeff Klein, D-Bronx, has questioned whether there are enough votes to pass the abortion proposal, which supporters say would cement federal abortion rights into state law. Senate Democrats, however, claim there is enough support for the provision to become law.
The 10 bills were all introduced in the Senate as of 11:15 p.m. They had not yet been introduced in the state Assembly. It’s unclear if legislative leaders will put the separate proposals to a vote.
Since the bills were introduced before midnight, they could be put to a vote as soon as Friday.