Good Morning from Albany…
 
The New York State Legislative Session is back in full swing (albeit virtually for the most part) this week, through Wednesday. It appears there will be no January ramp up period as Legislators will immediately consider a mountain of legislation on packed Committee agendas (review them here and here). Legislation worth noting: The Adult Survivors Act that creates a one-year window for civil lawsuits in sexual abuse cases against adults where the statute of limitations has expired; a Senate bill preventing future fossil fuel generating facility development in New York state; and a slew of election bills.
 
Last week, Governor Kathy Hochul kicked things off with her State of the State Address where she promised a “New Era for New York.” In contrast to her predecessor’s use of the State of the State as a show of power, Hochul focused on her willingness to curb the powers of the Executive and engage in a cooperative relationship with the Legislature. “I’ve been proud to stand with the members of this Legislature, signing more than 400 of your bills into law since September. And we’re just getting started. New Yorkers need the help of everyone in this room to pass an ambitious agenda,” Hochul said. Among the proposals, she included a series of constitutional amendments that would limit statewide elected officials to two terms, and an overhaul of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics that would potentially invite more scrutiny to Executive Chamber (and Legislative) decision making. Read a full summary of the key provisions in Governor Hochul’s State of the State here.

Also last week, the New York State Independent Redistricting Commission failed to reach a bipartisan consensus on a new set of district boundaries for the State Assembly, Senate, and United States Congress ahead of a January 15th deadline. After a tense meeting, the Commission voted along party lines to send two different sets of maps to the Legislature. The Legislature will consider both sets of plans this week. If the Legislature fails to approve either by a two-thirds majority, the Commission will have until February 28th to present a new set of maps. As we discussed in last week’s Legislative Session Preview, the current pace of the Commission has cast doubt that the June Primary schedule will hold. 

Albany City Court Judge Holly Trexler dismissed a misdemeanor charge of forcible touching against former Governor Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo Attorney Rita Glavin followed the court session with a press availability in which she said that the case has “been shown to be what it always was, which was a blatant political act by an astonishingly unprofessional and rogue sheriff.” Longtime Cuomo Spokesman Rich Azzopardi released a lengthy statement saying Cuomo’s silence over the last several weeks was “based on respect for the justice system… stay tuned.”

In Washington, D.C….
The conversation around the John E. Lewis Voting Rights Act—and reforming the filibuster to move past any Republican efforts to stop it—is picking up steam. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a Dear Colleague letter last week calling for its passage where he expressed little patience for Republican obstruction. Should the bill be held up by Republicans, Schumer promised to debate and vote on reforms to the filibuster by next Monday—Martin Luther King Jr. Day. “The weaponization of rules once meant to short-circuit obstruction have been hijacked to guarantee obstruction,” said Schumer.

In another blow to the Democrats’ main priority, the Build Back Better Act, it appears Senator Joe Manchin’s $1.8 trillion counteroffer to the White House is no longer on the table. Manchin said publicly this week that he was no longer involved in talks with the White House over the economic package. Privately, he has also made clear that he is not interested in approving legislation resembling Biden’s Build Back Better package and that Democrats should fundamentally rethink their approach. 

 In New York, and in Washington, the 2022 legislative session promises to be full of surprises. We will do our best to keep you informed.

 

-Jack O’Donnell  

 

For more on what to expect from the
2022 New York State Budget Process & Legislative Session, check out the 

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O’Donnell & Associates in the News

“It’s a really good day for Kathy Hochul… but she has some room to grow,” says our Jack O’Donnell as he discusses the governor’s first #StateOfTheStateNY with Jacquie Walker of News4Buffalo.
Watch the full interview here.

Times Union: Hochul’s Taxpayer-Funded Air Travel May violate Ethics Rules 

Amid a whirlwind schedule juggling governmental and campaign activities, Hochul used state-issued aircraft for 45 flights over the first 45 days in office. None of the trips were considered “mixed use” by Hochul’s office — consisting of both government and campaign-related activities — despite a busy campaign schedule on many of the trips. And none of the flight costs for using either a state-owned Beechcraft King Air 250 or a state helicopter were reimbursed to taxpayers by Hochul’s campaign. [Read more.]


Democrats Prepare for Future Without Pelosi, Jeffries Seen As Successor

With Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s expected exit from leadership, Democratic leaders ponder the future. House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries is seen as the favorite to succeed Pelosi. [Read more.]