c0730769 74cc 4663 9633 d26ddbc73ef9

Good morning from Albany, NY where, with just 4 scheduled days remaining in the 2023 Legislative Session, things are Q-U-I-E-T.  

We expect a deal on the Clean Slate Act before lawmakers adjourn this week. The bill, as it is currently written, would automatically seal an individual’s criminal record after three years for a misdemeanor and after seven years for a felony, excluding sex crimes. The legislation has long been a priority of criminal justice reform advocates, who argue that employment and housing opportunities can be elusive long after incarcerated people have served their time. Clean Slate passed the Senate last year, but failed in the Assembly. The District Attorney’s Association, among others, is opposed with Morgan Bitton, Executive Director of the District Attorneys Association offering, the Clean Slate Act, however, “lacks a realistic examination of the law, its flaws and its impact on public safety and an understanding of the massive undertaking sealing volumes of criminal records would require.”

Nonetheless, lawmakers and advocates are confident a deal will come together, with
Governor Kathy Hochul offering, “We’re just down to the technical changes that we’re having conversations about” and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie adding, “I’m very optimistic.” 

Late pushes on issues including wine in grocery stores, housing, allowing municipalities to set speed limits, other changes to alcohol beverage control laws, 421a and tenant protections are all expected to fail. Leadership in the legislature offered little hope that much else of substance will get done before the end of session. When asked about the bill that would allow wine sales in grocery stores, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins said “It’s part of the bills that we may or may not discuss, I have nothing definitive on that.” Speaking on the possibility of getting a housing proposal done, Speaker Heastie offered, “When you want to do transformational change, I really think that there really needs to be time for collective buy-in and I’m just not sure that that was able to happen with the housing program.” 

1d177832 1a2d 4182 8302 b5b3fe0fd0ad

What’s on the agenda in the waning days of the NYS legislative session?

Of course, there are still hundreds of others, mostly local bills, that are still being considered in the final week and expect a flood of appointments to be considered on June 8, the final day of Session.

As always in Albany, nothing is over until adjournment sine die. In June of 2019, for example, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which now governs most of New York’s energy, transmission, and environmental conservation policies, was introduced, passed through Committee, and  was approved on the floor in both Houses all in the final week of Legislative Session. In short, keep your eyes on Albany until the Senate and Assembly adjourn.

In Washington, D.C., Congressional Leadership officially passed the bill negotiated by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and the White House to lift the debt ceiling and avoid a default. 

Here are a few more details on the deal: 
  • The bill will suspend the US borrowing limit until 2025 (after the next Presidential election) and caps non-defense discretionary spending in 2024 with a 1% limit on spending increases for 2025.  
  • Roughly $28 billion in unspent funds from pandemic-era relief packages will be clawed back to pay for some of the bill’s programs, including an expansion of veterans healthcare. Similarly, the legislation repurposes $20 billion in IRS funding over the next two years and rescinds $1.4 billion previously allocated by Congress as requested by the agency’s speeding plan.  
  • The final agreement will make modest changes the work requirements for food stamp eligibility, increasing the upper limit of the age mandate from 49 to 55. The deal also expands some expeditions of work requirements for the homeless, veterans, and those with disabilities which the White House has said will likely result in the same number of individuals being eligible for food stamps before the bill.  
  • The bill formalized the Biden Administration’s plan to restart student loan payments later this summer, but does not roll back his plan to grant $10,000 in relief to every borrower. That measure is currently before the Supreme Court and a ruling is expected in the coming weeks. 

The debt ceiling was expected to be McCarthy’s first true test of his ability as Speaker to keep his fractured conference in line with a narrow majority. In the end, the agreement he negotiated received more yes votes from House Democrats (165) than it did from Republicans (149), ultimately passing the House by a 314-117 margin. Of the 71 defections, many came from the House Freedom Caucus which sought much deeper, longer-lasting spending cuts, and feel McCarthy was fleeced by President Biden and House Democrats. Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) voted against the deal and said, “Republicans got outsmarted by a President who can’t find his pants.” On the Democratic side, 40 of the 46 no votes came from the Congressional Progressive Caucus over concerns regarding expanded work requirements. 

In the Senate, it was much of the same. The bill passed 63-36 with more Democrats (46) voting yes than Republicans (17). Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell threw his support behind the agreement, describing it as “an urgent and important step in the right direction — for the health of our economy and the future of our country.” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was quick to credit the White House’s leadership, offering, “I commend President Biden and his team for producing a sensible compromise under the most difficult of circumstances.” Schumer, too, gets credit for getting the measure through the more deliberative House in record time with all 100 members of the Senate agreeing to expedite the process in exchange for the consideration of amendments, all eleven of which were eventually voted down. 

Interestingly enough, there was some serious deal making going on with the debt passage also fast-tracking a once obscure controversial gas pipeline.

Among New York’s 26-member Congressional Delegation, their support for the agreement was fractured as well. Ten members voted no— nine NYC Democrats… and GOP freshman George Santos. The other ten Republicans, along with six Democrats, voted in support of the bill. Republican Rep. Mike Lawler, a first-year lawmaker from the Hudson Valley, said of the deal, “Default was never an option. The speaker and the president over the last two weeks negotiated a deal. I think it’s a good deal on behalf of the American people.” Congressman Brian Higgins, a Democrat from Buffalo, acknowledged the deal left a lot to be desired, but paled in comparison to the harm that would have inflicted by default adding, “It is far from perfect. It raises the debt ceiling to ensure that the government continues to pay its bills and avoids devastating cuts to the programs that people rely on the most, like Social Security and Medicare.” 

The debt limit negotiation exposed the current rift in the GOP and some on the right have entertained the idea of a motion to replace McCarthy as Speaker, which can now be called for by a single member thanks to the rule changes agreed to by McCarthy to become Speaker. So far, only one member, Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) has publicly said he would support such a measure, but there is plenty of displeasure beneath the surface, including from Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) who said, “{If the bill passed}, then we’re going to have to then regroup and figure out the whole leadership arrangement again.” 

While the threat of default should not be used as a leverage point, the messy– yet bipartisan –way in which the agreement finally passed was truly how the Founders intended— different factions coming together to reach a deal. The loud reactions on both the Right and Left show that the deal got something right.

Here’s something else that took a while to get right. The Connecticut Senate has voted to absolve dozens of state residents who were accused, convicted and executed for the crime of witchcraft in the 1600s.

And finally… You too can have Beyonce, J-Lo, Smokey Robinson, and other world-famous artists at your family party… for a price.

-Jack O’Donnell

cf1c4dac f4bc 41a1 b1c7 033dbd9abce1

How do you bring economic growth to a lower populated area facing manufacturing losses?
We kick off our business series with North Country Chamber of Commerce CEO Garry Douglas and VP of Strategic Initiatives Joel Wood who talk to our Alec Lewis about:





Top 30 Lobbyist



2f4a1500 8e98 4f3a 91c7 98162d6c2927

Sucro Revives Former Bethlehem Steel Buildings in Lackawanna

Sucro Sourcing took on a daunting “before and after” challenge at the former Bethlehem Steel site in Lackawanna. The “before” consisted of three run-down industrial buildings, remnants of the city’s steelmaking past. The “after” is the sugar refinery and related operations Sucro created inside those buildings, bringing them back to life after decades of dormancy. [Read more.]





33640755 9961 4073 b3e5 ef193d5e5574

New to the NYS Legislature

Assembly Member Sarahana Shrestha was elected to represent the Hudson Valley’s 103rd Assembly District in November. She made headlines statewide when she upset long time Assembly Member and Assembly Insurance Committee Chair Kevin Cahill in the June Democratic Primary. Her upstart progressive campaign had the endorsements of Democratic Socialists of America, Working Families Party, and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

While it is her first time in elected office, Assembly Member Shrestha is no stranger to policy and politics. Prior to her election to the Assembly, she served as the Ulster County co-chair for the Mid-Hudson Valley chapter of Democratic Socialists of America and a leader in Public Power NY, a coalition of organizations focused on promoting a clean, renewable, affordable and accessible power supply.

Assembly Member Shrestha was born and raised in Kathmandu, Nepal, and moved to the United States in 2001 as a student. She became naturalized as an American citizen at the Ulster County Courthouse in 2019. She says growing up in Nepal and the hardships she witnessed helped shape her views of democracy and justice. Ultimately, she decided to run for office because of the need for action to bolster “the safety net: climate, housing, healthcare, public education, jobs, worker rights, childcare, and more.”

She serves on the Committees on Aging; Energy; Local Governments; Tourism, Parks, Arts, and Sports Development, and Transportation; and is a member of the Legislative Women’s Caucus and the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus.

Assembly Member Shrestha is the first member of either house of the Legislature of Nepali origin. She lives in the town of Esopus with her husband, their dog, and their several free spirited chickens.




8988a48c d098 4821 a993 4178ba610d7e

Jack Named To Albany Power 100

Our Jack O’Donnell is honored to be recognized for his work shaping New York state’s future. Thank you to City & State NY for featuring Jack in its 2023 Albany Power 100, a list of key power players in the state Capitol.

We are proud to be included with many of our partners, clients and elected officials who are dedicated to creating a better New York.

City and State NY writes, “Jack O’Donnell, a former aide to U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, is a top consultant in Western New York and in Albany. His firm, which represents corporations, nonprofits, biotech startups and unions, hired Kasirer alum Kara Hughes last year and counts labor expert Michael Cinquanti, former state Senate aide Alec Lewis and Schumer veteran Jim Moore among its staffers. O’Donnell is an expert on impeachment – his book “Bitten By The Tiger” is about William Sulzer, the only New York governor to be impeached – making him a go-to expert when then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced the prospect of impeachment.”