March 2020 -- Adar-Nisan 5780,  Volume 26, Issue 3

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Governor’s Budget Proposal Includes First-in-the Nation Domestic Terrorism Law

On February 27, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo launched the ‘No Hate in Our State’ campaign that includes a series of comprehensive proposals in the FY 2021 Budget to combat hate, division and anti-Semitism in New York State. The campaign includes passing a first-in-the-nation domestic terrorism law, investing $25 million for religious not-for-profit organizations vulnerable to hate crimes, creating an education curriculum on diversity and tolerance for students in New York and investing $2 million to support the State Police Hate Crimes Task Force. The Governor also launched a new website as part of the campaign with more information about these proposals, and encouraged New Yorkers to sign on to the campaign petition to show their support.


“The rash of anti-Semitism and hate crimes that has been spreading across our State and the country is a virus. I thought that New York would be immune from it, but I was wrong,” Governor Cuomo said. “I want to make it clear that anti-Semitism has no place in New York, and this year we are going to fight this rising tide of hate with bold legislative action to deter violence, protect our citizens and educate our people about the causes and terrible consequences of hate.”


To address the disturbing number of anti-Semitic and other discriminatory attacks in New York, the Governor is proposing a first-in-the-nation domestic terrorism law to include mass violence motivated by hate, creating a new A-1 class felony punishable by up to life in prison without parole. Under this proposal, mass shootings against a group of people based on their actual or perceived race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, gender identity or expression, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation would be punishable by up to life in prison without parole. This change would effectively treat these acts as they should: as terrorist crimes, carrying the same penalty as other terrorist crimes. The legislation was first advanced by the Governor on August 15, 2019 and was included as a key component of the Governor’s 2020 State of the State and FY 2021 Executive Budget.


The FY 2021 Budget will invest an additional $25 million for religious and non-religious not-for-profit organizations that are vulnerable to hate crimes, and will expand the eligibility criteria to include houses of worship. This funding builds on the $45 million the State has already made available for these organizations to fight back against hate through the Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes Grant Program.


The Governor is proposing New York schools add a curriculum that teaches civic values and the State’s rich history of diversity and religious freedom. The Governor is also proposing that the Battery Park City Authority develop a plan to expand the Museum of Jewish Heritage on the Holocaust to be a learning destination for school children across the state. Additionally, the Governor is advancing legislation mandating that every New York City student visit a museum that covers topics related to the Holocaust to deepen their understanding of these historical events.


The State Police Hate Crimes Task Force was established by the Governor in the 2018 to address the increase in bias-motivated threats, harassment and violence throughout New York State. The FY 2021 budget includes $2 million to support the Task Force’s on-going work, and to bolster the monitoring of digital media which promote violence, intolerance, selling of illicit substances and terrorism. Additionally, the Governor is proposing that the New York State Police partners with the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services and the NYS Division of Human Rights to train local law enforcement agencies across the state on effective techniques for investigating hate crimes.


Eric S. Goldstein, Chief Executive Officer of UJA-Federation of New York, said, “The proposal Governor Cuomo outlined today will pave the way in the fight against anti-Semitism and all forms of hate. We are proud to partner with Governor Cuomo in his effort to ensure that all not-for-profit organizations, schools, and houses of worship have the resources they need to protect themselves and their communities. Thank you, Governor Cuomo, for your leadership and solidarity with the Jewish community.”