Good Morning from Albany…

Sine die. The Assembly adjourned sine die at 8am on Saturday, only about 36 hours late, joining the Senate who left Albany a little after 2am on Friday. 

All things considered—time, action, absence of a “big ugly,” and the total craziness meter—the end of the 2022 legislative session was unremarkable. 

What did pass:

Reproductive Health Protections– In the wake of a looming federal court decision, state lawmakers passed legislation to further protect abortion rights. Governor Kathy Hochul pledged to sign the legislation. Speaking on the issue, Hochul offered, “Make no mistake: under my watch, New York will be a safe harbor for all those who need abortion care.” 
 
Gun Safety– The legislature took action to address the pandemic of gun violence, offering legislation that could be a template for gun laws in other states, as well as at the federal level. The package includes banning anyone under 21 from buying an assault rifle. Other provisions include strengthening the 2019 red flag law, streamlining federal reporting, enacting micro stamping technology, and banning the sale of body armor and ballistic vests. Strong action, though, without federal action, the impact is limited.
 
Voting Rights– The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act, mirroring the language of the stalled federal voting rights bill, passed the New York State Legislature. Among other provisions, the legislation prevents localities from making changes to the voter rolls without express approval from the state Attorney General. 
 
Cryptocurrency Mining Moratorium– Because of affordable real estate and cheap power costs, New York is an attractive destination for companies who mine cryptocurrency. In response to environmental concerns about fossil fuel use by proof-of-work mining, the legislature agreed on a measure that prohibits all new mining activity for two years while the state develops sufficient regulations. Significantly, the measure exempts operations that have already secured or applied for new or renewed air permits and the bulk of facilities in New York that rely on power from the electric grid. Nonetheless, the crypto industry lobbied hard against the bill, including Rochester-based Foundry. Senator Jeremy Cooney who represents Foundry’s district said “The message won’t be about the details… It’ll be about an emerging industry New York is saying no to.” 
 
Mayoral Control– An agreement was reached to renew control of the New York City schools but the final result was a disappointment to Mayor Eric Adams and many in the education reform movement. Instead of the original proposal of four years, the passed legislation only offers two years and significantly changes the oversight board. It also includes a mandate on smaller class sizes that will be tough to meet under any circumstances but especially without additional funding. Adams offered, “If you water it down, if you take away the tools that we need … then we are failing our children again and we’re going to have another generation of children who are not prepared to fill the jobs and be able to deal with the crisis that we’re facing.” Several New York City lawmakers voted against the bill including Latrice Walker, the author of the bail reform bill. Adams blamed the “professional naysayers” in Albany. 
 
Fair Repair Act– The Legislature agreed on a bill that would require tech manufacturers to make their device repair instructions public. Advocates believe the bill will increase demand for tech repairs by smaller businesses rather than relying on Apple or other providers. 
 
NYCHA Housing Trust– The city housing authority is now authorized to create a public trust fund to spur investment into their dilapidated public housing market. NYCHA Chairman Gregory Russ applauded the bill,

More notable was what did not pass:

Clean Slate Act– This bill was a major priority for criminal justice activists and would automatically seal an individual’s criminal record if they met a set of post-release criteria. The bill passed the Senate but failed, again, to get across the finish line in the Assembly following concerns over victim protections as well as some specific objects from the New York State Department of Education. Proponents of the bill felt it was necessary to equal the playing field for those seeking housing and employment after having served their time. 
  
421a– The tax break intended to spur additional affordable development—questioned by some as a giveaway to developers and hailed by others as the only reason any affordable housing is being built—will officially lapse following inaction from state lawmakers. Governor Hochul had offered a modified version of the provision in her Executive Budget and it was a priority of New York City’s powerful real estate community so the official end of the program is significant.
 
Good Cause Eviction– On the other hand, real estate had a win as a bill aimed at increasing protections for renters failed to pass the legislature. Surrounding states such as New Jersey have a similar law in place. The language would have capped rent increases that were anywhere from 3%-150% of the original rent. 
 
The New York State Build Public Renewables Act– This legislation, a favorite of Progressives, which would mandate that the New York Power Authority generate all of its electricity from clean energy by 2030 and establish a process through which it can build and own renewables while shutting down polluting infrastructure did not advance.

All this sets the final stage for June 28th when we will finally have primaries for Assembly, statewide offices, and judicial delegates. We will focus on these over the next couple of weeks but worth noting, gubernatorial debates are scheduled for June 7 (Democratic), June 16 (Democratic) and June 13 (GOP).  There was also a debate between Democratic gubernatorial candidates Tom Suozzi and Jumaane Williams on Thursday but without Governor Kathy Hochul who was busy with the end of the legislative session.

There was also some more clarity towards some State Senate and Congressional races.

Some highlights: 

New York City– David Yassky is now running for State Senate against Andrew Gounardes. Former New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer was looking to challenge Senator Brad Hoylman in a primary for a newly created seat on the West Side of Manhattan but Stringer has decided to forgo running for the seat

Long Island– Senator James Gaughran announced he would be retiring as a result of the electoral map changes, saying “The electoral realities of my home district as drawn by the Special Master cannot be ignored.” Senator John Brooks announced he had changed his mind and would be running for reelection following an original statement that he was retiring. 
 
Hudson Valley– Senator James Skoufis was poised for a matchup with Republican Senator Mike Martucci as a result of the special master’s map changes but Martucci decided to forgo running. “Anyone that has a family with young children knows that it’s important to have some degree of certainty.” Expect to see him soon in local government.
 
State Senator Michelle Hinchey and Senator Sue Serino are headed for a general election matchup in one of the only incumbent v. incumbent races in the State Senate. 
 
Upstate– Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple will not be running for the Troy-based Assembly seat currently occupied by Jake Ashby. Upstate will also see an incumbent v incumbent Senate race with Jim Tedisco and Daphne Jordan running against each other. 
 
Western New York– The biggest change in the Congressional map involved Congressman Chris Jacobs. Last week, moved by the mass shooting in Buffalo, he announced support for some gun safety measures and immediately paid the price—his support from elected officials disappeared while Conservative and Republican leaders pulled their support and demanded he leave. Before Jacobs’ announcement, New York State Republican Party Chairman Nick Langworthy was already circulating petitions and minutes afterwards Congress Member Elise Stefanik, the third ranking Republican in the House leadership, announced her endorsement of Carl PaladinoAlso in the race is businessman Marc Cenedella. 
 
This race will be interesting to watch. More broadly, it shows that any gun restrictions, or even the mention of possible support, are a redline for Republicans. Jacobs had a solid conservative record during his tenure in the House and even echoed many of former President Trump’s claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent. Still, Jacobs finds himself on the outside looking in. 
 

In Washington, D.C…. 

Dr. Mehmet Oz declared victory in the Pennsylvania GOP Senate contest this week as Democratic nominee John Fetterman continues to recover from a stroke in which he said “I almost died.” Primary elections in various states will happen on Tuesday including California, New Jersey, and Iowa. 
 
The Select Committee investigating January 6th insurrection will hold their first public hearing on Thursday, June 9th at 8pm. The probe centers on the former President and other Republican lawmaker’s role in the attack on the Capitol as Congress was certifying the 2020 election. The Committee has not publicly revealed much of
their work but promised “previously unseen material documenting January 6th” at the hearing. 

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy shared that he is “growing optimistic” on gun negotiations with Republican colleagues. While there is a political appetite to do something, it is unclear exactly what provisions will attract the 60 votes needed to pass in the Senate. 

President Biden is set to travel to Saudi Arabia for the first time since becoming President. Biden and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the de facto ruler of the Kingdom, have had a rocky relationship as a result of the Biden administration’s concerns over human rights. Those concerns are well founded given a report finding MBS was complicit in the execution of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi. Still, Biden will have to find a path forward with Saudi Arabia given its energy prowess and security capabilities in the Middle East. 

Finally, Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee Pageant in London was overshadowed by some non-regal behavior from her 4-year-old great-grandson, Prince Louis, whose scene-stealing antics have since gone viral on social media.

  -Jack O’Donnell

 

 

 

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Jack is honored to be among the esteemed group of New Yorkers named to this year’s City and State NY Albany #Power100. The list identifies the political leaders in the state capital who are driving the policy agenda in New York.
“Jack is widely known as an expert on WNY politics & policy, but he’s also established a reputation as an effective advocate for his clients in Albany,” says City & State NY[Read more.]


Would-Be Reagan Assassin John Hinckley, Jr. Gets Unconditional Release

A federal judge has confirmed that Ronald Reagan’s would-be assassin, John Hinckley, Jr., will receive a full unconditional release from prison on June 15. Hinckley was 25 years old on March 30, 1981, when he stood outside a Washington hotel and shot President Reagan, a Secret Service agent, a police officer and White House press secretary James Brady. [Read more.]