Albany goes into overtime with marathon voting session
The New York state Assembly is set for overtime as lawmakers try to finish their business for the year. On Friday, close votes on controversial bills highlighted divisions among Democrats in both legislative chambers. The state Senate passed a bill to overhaul the public campaign finance system by a 34-29 margin ahead of an Assembly vote. The Assembly also saw more than 20 moderate Democrats vote against legislation to automatically seal most criminal records over time. However, some of the biggest news to emerge in the final days concerns what Albany Democrats could not pass this year, including a comprehensive affordable housing deal amid skyrocketing rents.
What is the New York state Assembly?
The New York state Assembly is the lower house of the New York state Legislature. It has 150 members, representing districts of roughly equal size and population.
What bills were passed by the state Senate?
The state Senate passed a bill to overhaul the public campaign finance system and a “Clean Slate” bill to automatically seal most criminal records over time.
What is the “Grieving Families Act”?
The “Grieving Families Act” is a bill passed by both the Assembly and state Senate to loosen laws on filing for wrongful death lawsuits.
What is the affordable housing deal that was not passed?
The affordable housing deal concerns an extension of the 421a tax abatement for real estate developments for projects already underway. It is estimated that thousands of units might have been built had the Legislature approved the deal.
What is the role of Gov. Kathy Hochul in this?
Hochul has been criticized for not playing ball in the final days of the legislative session after suburbanites helped scuttle her own affordable housing push in the budget process. However, a spokeswoman for Hochul blamed Democratic lawmakers for not introducing any housing package for her review.
Marathon voting session forces Albany into overtime
The New York State Assembly is on the verge of legislative overtime as lawmakers work to wrap up their business for the year. Close votes on controversial bills highlighted divisions among Democratic leaders on Friday. The state Senate passed a bill to overhaul the public campaign finance system undermining small donors with a 34-29 margin ahead of an Assembly vote. More than 20 moderate Democrats in the chamber voted against legislation to automatically seal most criminal records over time ahead of its expected passage in the Senate.
One of the biggest issues to arise in the final days of the legislative session was the failure to pass a comprehensive affordable housing deal amid skyrocketing rents. According to Andrew Fine, the policy director at the housing advocacy group Open New York, thousands of units could have been built had the legislature approved an extension of the 421a tax abatement for real estate developments for projects already underway. The Assembly appears unlikely to vote on legislation to provide low-cost health care to illegal immigrants despite that bill passing the state Senate.
Legislators have challenged Governor Kathy Hochul on numerous fronts in recent days, including the state Senate’s rejection of her pick to lead the New York Power Authority. However, divisions remain among Democrats over a few high-profile bills dividing progressives and moderate Democrats.
Despite this, Democratic lawmakers and Hochul have agreed on a litany of progressive ideas in the budget process, such as banning natural gas for future residential buildings, expanding rental assistance for public housing residents, and expanding green energy programs. Progressives also saw the passage of changes to state bail laws and a proposal to allow more charter schools in New York City, while moderates resisted other progressive ideas.
The final days of the session might end with a whimper rather than a bang after the collapse of a prospective housing deal this week. According to Blair Horner, the executive director of the New York Public Interest Research Group, “They will do a lot of bills between now and the end of the week, but it may be a session that ends more with a whimper than a bang.”