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Legislative Session Review:  New York

By Michael Greene | December 20, 2018

New York Session Review

The New York State Legislature adjourned its regular session on June 20 after having been in session since early January. However, because it did not adjourn sine die, it was still able to move legislation in and out of committees. Furthermore, the governor has 10 days to sign bills once he receives them, but there is no deadline to send bills to his desk. For this reason, the governor has been signing legislation throughout the year.

The New York session ended with an inability to compromise on numerous bills, including legislation regarding school zone cameras, the teacher evaluation system, school security, and sports gambling.On December 17, Governor Andrew Cuomo gave a preview of his State of the State address and shared his legislative priorities for the first 100 days of the 2019 session, which include keeping the Millionaire’s Tax, passing the Equal Rights Amendment, and increasing the firearm purchase waiting period from three to 10 days.

Legislative Highlights

  • Attorney General Eric Schneiderman resigned on May 7 after multiple women came forward with accusations that he physically assaulted them. The allegations and resignation came as a shock to many, as Schneiderman was a prominent supporter of the #MeToo movement.
  • Cuomo signed the 2018-2019 budget, which included the controversial Opioid Stewardship Act. This act requires “all manufacturers, distributors, and importers licensed in New York to report transaction information for all opioids sold or distributed within” the state. In response, the Healthcare Distribution Alliance announced it is suing the state, arguing that the law punishes distributors for the opioid crisis without due process.
  • Legislators were due for a big pay raise in January, but a new lawsuit filed by the Government Justice Center, a conservative watchdog nonprofit, may derail those plans. State officials are set to receive a raise of $30,000, the first pay raise for the state legislature in two decades. The lawsuit claims that the State Compensation Committee’s decision to increase wages was illegal. The committee has come under fire from both sides of the aisle over the raise, including the decision to tie the raise to a limit on lawmakers’ capacity to earn income in the private sector.
  • In the preview of his State of the State address, Cuomo hinted at his intent to make marijuana legalization a priority during the next legislative session. This epitomizes the governor’s move left. In the past, he referred to marijuana as a “gateway drug.”

Election Results

This November, New Yorkers re-elected incumbent Democratic Governor Cuomo, defeating Republican challenger Marc Molinaro. Cuomo’s victory marks the first time since his father, Governor Mario Cuomo, that a Democratic governor has been reelected to a third term.

Additionally, Democrats maintained a majority in the Assembly, winning 106 seats to 43 Republicans. In the Senate, Democrats won 40 seats to 23 Republicans. Although Democrats had a majority in the Senate before the election, a coalition of moderate Democrats and Republicans controlled the chamber. By expanding their majority, Democrats now fully control the Senate.

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