Good Morning from the State Capital…

There are just four weeks left (twelve session days) in the 2021 New York State Legislative Session. While some had anticipated a quiet jog to the final scheduled session day—June 10th—the next few weeks are shaping up to be anything but placid. The Legislature has plans to tackle several major issues before they adjourn—including construction wage theft, data privacy, health disparities, and reopening—but the clock is ticking. 

Last week’s legislative activity brought a couple of the major issues into focus: 
 
 

…And that’s just last week’s legislative activity. Hear more from O’Donnell & Associates Managing Partner Jack O’Donnell in his conversation with Capital Tonight’s Susan Arbetter on what to expect from the Legislature over the next few weeks here

In Attorney General Letitia James’ ongoing investigation of Governor Andrew Cuomo, the four women who have accused Cuomo of sexual harassment have received subpoenas to testify under oath, the latest indication that James’ investigation into Cuomo’s behavior has entered a critical phase. The issuing of the subpoenas, which was expected at some point in the inquiry, underscores the investigation’s progress beyond an initial fact-finding phase, during which lawyers interviewed multiple women at length, but not under oath. James has not set a deadline for releasing the findings of her office’s inquiry, which began in early March, but it will almost certainly be completed by summer’s end, according to people with direct knowledge of the investigation.

 

In the Nation’s Capital…

President Joe Biden met with Congressional Leaders including a group of Senate Republicans, led by United States Senator Shelley Moore Capito from West Virginia, on his American Jobs Plan and a potential deal on infrastructure in advance of a self-imposed Memorial Day deadline to pass it in parallel with the five year surface transportation reauthorization. Many are expressing optimism and willingness to come to the middle. Biden said after his meeting with Congressional Leaders: “I’m encouraged that there’s room to have a compromise on a bipartisan bill that’s solid and significant and a means by which to pay for it without dropping all of the burden on middle class and working class people.” Biden also continued to reiterate his goal of getting a bipartisan deal done. Moore Capito (who is leading the GOP’s negotiations on infrastructure), described it as “very productive” and a “more courteous give-and take.” Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell echoed Moore Capito, saying, “I think they want a deal this time and I think they want a deal with us, because I don’t think they think they can pass this second effort through a reconciliation package.” 

However, while both sides publicly express optimism on a bipartisan deal, distance remains at that negotiating table. What could hang up negotiations? 
  • Republicans can call Democrats bluff on budget reconciliation in a number of areas. Perhaps this is more of an argument for a deal (McConnell did say that Democrats need Republicans for this very reason), but at the moment a number of the key Biden Administration priorities—especially on labor—like the Protecting the Right to Organize Act and sweeping federal protections around paid family leave—would be very likely stripped from the bill if Democrats moved to pass it through reconciliation. 

Republicans will give Biden a revised counteroffer early this week. Republican lead negotiator Senator Shelley Moore Capito says it is possible the Republicans will go higher on the total numbers in this proposal, but the next GOP proposal is likely to remain focused on “core” infrastructure including roads, bridges, water and broadband.

-Jack O’Donnell

    For a complete guide on what to expect before the Legislature adjourns in June, check out O’Donnell and Associates End of Session “Policy Season” Preview. 

FOR DAILY UPDATES, FOLLOW US:

 

Elise Stefanik wins leadership slot

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Attorney General James Wins Dismissal of NRA’s Bankruptcy, Fight for Dissolution to Continue in New York

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Do the Irish Really Swear More Than Other Nations? Who Gives a F***?

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NYS Legislature: new member spotlight

Assembly Member Jen Lunsford (D-135th District)

In November 2020, Assembly Member Jen Lunsford defeated Republican Mark Johns to represent the 135th Assembly District, which includes the towns of Webster, Penfield, East Rochester and Perinton on the east side of Monroe County. Johns had represented the 135th Assembly District since 2011. Lunsford’s election added another member to the Rochester Delegation’s growing presence in the Majority Conference in Albany.

Prior to her election to the Assembly, Assembly Member Lunsford spent eleven years in private practice working as a litigator, focusing primarily on plaintiff’s side personal injury, workers’ compensation and Social Security disability.

Assembly Member Lunsford has long been active as a community volunteer and activist fighting for reproductive justice, criminal justice, and universal health care with organizations like Lawyers for Good Government and If/When/How. Jen ran for office because she felt a call to service and the need to shape the world into a place of hope and opportunity for her son, and for all the families of the 135th District.

Assembly Member Lunsford lives in the Rochester Suburb of Perinton with her husband, Scott, and their four-year-old son. She graduated from Patchogue-Medford High School and then went on to Hartwick College in Oneonta, where she dual majored in political science and philosophy. After working as a paralegal for a major international law firm, Jen attended Boston University School of Law where she concentrated in health care law, served as a Note Editor on the American Journal of Law and Medicine and won the Dean’s Award for Constitutional Law. Following law school, Jen moved to Rochester, where her husband grew up, to begin her legal career.

This session, she will serve as Chair of the Subcommittee on Digital Libraries, as well as a member of the Committees on Children and Families; Economic Development, Job Creation, Commerce, and Industry; Environmental Conservation; Libraries and Education Technology; and Local Governments; as well as a member of the Legislative Women’s Caucus, and the Task Force on Women’s Issues.