A very somber feeling after the mass shooting at Tops on Jefferson Avenue in #Buffalo.

Good Morning from Buffalo, New York…

With our friends and neighbors, we are searching for signs of hope after this weekend’s unspeakable act of evil. We also stand with so many in Buffalo, in New York State, and across the nation who reject this hate, denounce White Supremacy and anti-Semitism, and abhor the violence. We also recognize that renouncing evil is not enough and recommit ourselves to seeking and uplifting positive change.
 
We especially want to recognize the victims and their families. Our prayers are with friend of the firm,  Zeneta Everhart, and her son, Zaire. Godspeed his recovery.
 
We encourage our readers to join us in supporting any of the organizations working to support the families of victims and the larger East Side community: read some suggestions on how you can lend your support here.

In wake of the mass shooting, The White House announced that President Biden and his wife Jill will visit Buffalo on Tuesday.

Today in Bath, NY…

New York’s long and painful redistricting saga will offer some resolution today with the release of Congressional and state Senate maps by court-appointed special master Dr. Jonathan Cervas. This will, presumably, provide some certainty about the path ahead to New York elected officials, many of whom have been in political limbo without districts to run in. 
 
Once the maps are live, you can view them here. 
 
Here is what we know about the expedited process: petitions that were submitted for the invalidated electoral districts can be reused in new districts if  the candidate still qualifies to run. Once the maps are released, new candidates will also have the opportunity to petition and be on the ballot, if they meet the required threshold. 
 
Of course, nothing in New York’s Redistricting process is that easy. Some other key developments: 
 
  • On Wednesday, Steuben County Judge McAllister declined to throw out state Assembly maps in response to a lawsuit brought earlier this month. In his decision, McAllister wrote, “Since the Court has received no potential maps with regard to new Assembly lines, it would almost assuredly mean that the new maps could not be in place by May 20th.” Nonetheless, Judge McAllister agreed that the Assembly maps were unconstitutional (using the same logic that threw out the Congressional and state Senate maps), which could set up future legal challenges (of note, after a challenge to maps in 1964, legislators were forced to draw new lines and then run again in 1965).

There also may be another election as Congressman Tom Reed, in a hurry for his pay day, resigned Congress this week setting up a special election in NY 23rd Congressional District (which may or may not exist in January). Similarly, Antonio Delgado is (or at least will be?) resigning his seat to become Lieutenant Governor, prompting a special election in NY’s 19th Congressional District as well. By delaying his resignation, Delgado could give Governor Kathy Hochul a window to schedule a special election on the same day as state senate and congressional primary elections- a scenario that would benefit Democratic turnout. 
 
To recap, we could very well end up with three (or even four) primary election days here in New York: 
 
  • Primary Election for Assembly and statewide races on June 28th 
  • Primary Election for Congressional and State Senate races on August 23rd
  • Special Election for Congressional seats vacated by Reed and Delgado on a separate Tuesday in August 

Meanwhile, there has been legislating as well: Albany has been working hard in the run up to the end of the Legislative Session (including today, there are nine scheduled session days left). There were roughly 70 legislative committee meetings last week. Hundreds of bills have received consideration to pass over the next couple of weeks.  Committee activity largely wrapped at the end of last week.
 
However, general committee activity winding down should not be confused with all legislative activity winding down. Members also made hundreds of new legislative introductions last week and over the weekend. This week, we will see numerous Assembly Rules Committee agendas.

The Assembly has also announced a Ways & Means Committee meeting, and we expect that Codes and Government Employees will also meet. In the Senate, multiple bills will be discharged from committees to Rules and ordered direct to third reading (aka advancing quickly).
 
While many will be focusing on the road to the August primaries, you will want to keep an eye on Albany.
 
Here’s what we are watching over the next couple of weeks:
 

New York City IssuesNew York City Mayor Eric Adams is expected to travel to Albany on Tuesday to meet with legislators to advocate for his administration’s priorities:

Reproductive Rights—On the heels of the leaked draft decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, legislators have advanced and plan to pass a slew of measures to protect and expand abortion access in New York State, including increasing funding for services in New York in anticipation of an influx from out-of-state. 

Good Cause Eviction—Real estate and landlord groups and housing advocates are locked in a bitter fight around a measure to make it harder for landlords to evict tenants. Similar tenant protections have become increasingly prevalent at the local level, advocates say the time is right for more statewide tenant protections. However, landlords argue it would make it nearly impossible to keep up with the necessary building upkeep and could decimate the housing stock across the State.

Adult Survivors Act—The Adult Survivors Act—modeled after the Child Victims Act enacted in 2019—would offer a one-year window of opportunity for adult victims of sexual harassment and abuse to file a civil lawsuit against an individual or an institution, even if the statute of limitations on the alleged crime has run out. The bill had gained momentum in light of allegations against former Governor Andrew Cuomo last year, but has failed to become law so far. The Senate unanimously passed the bill in April, but advocates are frustrated by the lack of progress in the Assembly.  

Clean Slate ActThe Clean Slate Act—which would automatically clear New Yorker’s conviction record once they become eligible—has been a priority for criminal justice advocates across the State dating back to its introduction in 2020. A coalition of organizations and legislators pushed hard for its inclusion in the State budget, but it ultimately fell out of talks. At the end of the Budget process, members of the Clean Slate NY coalition said, “The ball is now in the Legislature’s court. We call on the Assembly and Senate to pass the Clean Slate Act on the first day back to session and for the governor to make good on her word to get the bill done.” 

There are also a slew of smaller—but very important—issues that various stakeholders throughout the State are focusing on, including legislation that would establish a registration system for contractors and subcontractors performing public work in New York State; a bill to expand a key rental subsidy for individuals with HIV/AIDS to areas outside New York City; a proposal to extend prevailing wage to all renewable energy projects above one megawatt; and the Digital Right to Repair Act.

Have an issue you are curious about? Do not hesitate to reach out!

The issue of rising crime rates hit close to home for Albany lawmakers this week. Assemblyman Andrew Goodell had his car stolen from the Capitol parking garage before police found the wrecked car blocks away. 

In Washington…

Efforts by Democrats to codify Roe v. Wade into federal law failed this week (as everyone knew it would) with Senator Joe Manchin joining Republicans in voting down the measure. Manchin said “We should not be dividing this country further than we’re already divided, and it’s really the politics of Congress that’s dividing the country.” With legislative options exhausted and a looming Supreme Court decision, Democrats will now rely on the broader strategy on activating voters around this issue. 
 
Will the strategy translate into midterm success for the Democrats? Not unless the White House makes progress on inflation, and President Biden knows it. He opened his speech this past week with “Today I’d like to talk about two potential paths forward to address the number-one challenge facing families today: inflation.” Biden continued, “All of my plan is focused on lowering costs for the average family in America, to give them just a little bit of breathing room.” The President’s unfortunate political reality is that until prices start going down, no one will care about what he says on the issue. 

The House overwhelming passed the aid bill authorizing $40 billion in assistance to Ukraine by a margin of 368-57. In the Senate, Rand Paul is holding up the bill citing concerns regarding oversight. The move has angered both Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who are working together to get the bill through the Senate quickly. Schumer compromised, offering to add Paul’s objections as an amendment but that was not enough for the Kentucky Senator who wants the language included in the original bill. A series of votes to advance the aid package are expected this week. 
 
Last week’s primaries showed that Donald Trump is still the dominant factor in GOP politics. JD Vance won the hotly contested republican Senate primary in Ohio after receiving Trump’s endorsement. A spokesman for the former President said, “It was the endorsement of President Donald J. Trump that took a candidate who many insiders said was in 4th and at single digits in the polls, and in only two weeks, propelled him into a commanding first place finish.”  The Trump-backed candidate in West Virginia, Alex Mooney, won his primary for Congress as well. However, Trump is not politically invincible as demonstrated by his preferred candidate for Nebraska Governor losing in his primary.
 
Tuesday will be another big test as Pennsylvania holds their primary elections. The senate race there has fractured the GOP, with Trump endorsing Dr. Oz and Ted Cruz and many other Republicans supporting David McCormick. A 3rd candidate, Kathy Barnette, has been quickly rising in the polls, adding another facet to the already complicated race

 

Finally, congratulations to our friends at Liverpool Football Club. They, again, beat Chelsea to win a trophy, this time the FA Cup. 

 

-Jack O’Donnell

 

 

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Governor Hochul Agrees to Participate in Two Primary Debates

Gov. Kathy Hochul has agreed to participate in two scheduled primary debates, on June 7 and 16, her campaign announced. The debates, originally scheduled in the same month as the statewide primary, will now act as more of a prelude to the full swing of campaign season. [Read more.]

Legislators Try to Force Cuomo to Surrender His Campaign Account

Lawmakers are mounting an end-of-session push that would require more ex-politicians to surrender their campaign funds. [Read more.]