Good morning from Waterloo, New York- The Birthplace of Memorial Day.
As we race towards the end of New York’s Legislative Session, two looming Supreme Court decisions are driving the final days.
New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen is a challenge to New York’s century-old concealed handgun law. The ruling will be an indication of how this Court, with its solid conservative majority, will view state and federal governments’ ability to regulate firearms. State lawmakers are working through proposals that include broadening the statutory definition of a firearm to include weapons that have been altered, microstamping semi-automatic and automatic pistols to make them traceable, and an expansion of the existing “red-flag” law. In addition, Governor Kathy Hochul announced her support for legislation that would ban anyone younger than 21 from purchasing an AR-15 and similar weapons. With scheduled session days like sand through the hourglass, Hochul indicated she would call the legislature back into special session to get it done. Of course, the terrible shooting in Texas, before some of the dead in Buffalo had even been laid to rest, adds to that urgency. Worth noting that State Attorney General Tish James had a major victory against the gun lobby: a federal court dismissed a lawsuit seeking to prevent gun manufacturers from being held liable in civil court as a result of gun violence.
Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is a reproductive rights case originating in Mississippi that, according to a leaked draft penned by Justice Alito, is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade. This has prompted many states, including New York, to double down on protecting privacy and reproductive health. Immediately following the leaked draft, Governor Hochul announced $35 million for women’s health and abortion providers in the state, including $10 million specifically earmarked to bolster security at clinics. This past week, lawmakers indicated support for a legislative package to assist women in New York State and those traveling to New York from surrounding states who may no longer have access to abortion clinics as a potential result of the upcoming ruling. Senator Julia Salazar and Assemblymember Cordell Cleare are working on legislation to increase the amount of grant funding that abortion providers receive. Amending the State’s constitution to guarantee the right to an abortion was first proposed by Senator Liz Krueger in 2019 and the plan has garnered significant support and attention in light of the situation at the federal level. Expect action on this before the legislature rises.
With only three days left in the legislative session, much else is dead or on life support, including, according to Governor Hochul, 421a. The property tax credit was intended to be a catalyst for affordable housing, incentivizing developers to include affordable units in their new buildings. The program has been heavily criticized for being a giveaway to developers rather than an actual solution to New York City’s skyrocketing rents and scarcity of affordable housing.
Nonetheless, the real estate community believes—with some historical examples to support them—that affordable housing projects will dry up without the subsidy. Hochul had included a modified proposal in her Executive Budget, known as 485w, that was ultimately not adopted in the final budget.
- Green Priorities—Since the passage of the Climate Leadership & Community Protection Act (CLCPA) in 2019, environmentalists, utilities, and other stakeholders spend every session pushing legislation that they think will help achieve the ambitious CLCPA goals on emissions reduction and renewable energy production. This year is no different on that front.
- Utility Owned Renewables—Advocates and utilities are lining up behind a proposal that would allow utilities to own a limited number of large-scale renewable generating facilities. The proceeds from the sale of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) from those facilities would go to low-income customers in the form of a bill credit. However, various ratepayer and market concerns could stymie the bill in end-of-session discussions.
- New York State Build Public Renewables Act—A proposal that would allow the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to own and build renewable generation, storage, and transmission has slightly more momentum than the utility-owned renewables bill. Decision-makers are engaging on the bill and trying to find a way to get it done before June 2nd. However, the bill faces fierce opposition from developers who say it will deeply impact the market private development of renewables throughout the state, thus hurting ratepayers.
- Cryptocurrency Mining Moratorium—A bill to ban powering proof-of-work (Bitcoin) cryptocurrency mining operations powered by fossil fuels behind-the-meter passed the Assembly in April, but it has gotten hung up in the Senate. Advocates argue that having large fossil fuel-powered plants behind the meter will hurt the state’s efforts toward achieving CLCPA goals, while opponents argue the ban will lead to cryptocurrency and blockchain operations located outside New York State.
- Speed Cameras—Adams reached a deal that would expand and extend New York City’s Speed Camera Program—including allowing them to operate 24/7. “We have finalized an agreement to renew the speed camera program and expand the hours to 24/7,” said Senator Andrew Gounardes who will be the new bill’s sponsor with Assemblywoman Deborah Glick. It is expected to pass both Houses before the Legislature adjourns June 2nd.
- Mayoral Control—A proposal by the Assembly would give Mayor Adams a three year extension on control over the city’s schools. The extension comes with some changes including a possible cap on the size of classes and more diverse representation on the Panel for Education Policy. The deal is not yet finalized but does have support in the Senate, most notable from Senator John Liu, who said he is in talks with Adams on a “near-daily basis.”
- [on life support] Good Cause Eviction—Housing advocates want to see stronger renter protections passed that will make it harder to evict tenants. Good Cause Eviction—sponsored by Senate Julia Salazar and Assembly Member Pam Hunter—would prohibit eviction without “good cause.” It is a priority for Housing advocates and key progressives. However, being that it is not on the floor in either house, sponsors will have to move quickly.
- [possible but slowing down] Clean Slate Act—This legislation would automatically clear one’s criminal record once they meet a set of criteria. This has been a priority for criminal justice groups for years but with a new governor, the coalition seems hopeful they can get it across the finish line.
Of course, there was more action around redistricting— Judges in two separate cases rejected efforts to change, yet again, this year’s elections. The decisions seemingly having more to do with timing than legal merit. In a lawsuit seeking to throw out the state Assembly maps, State Supreme Court Justice Lawrence Love wrote in his decision “Petitioners have run out the clock on themselves.” The League of Women’s Voters filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to delay all primaries until August which was also denied. All of these may receive consideration next year or, at least, before the Assembly runs again in 2024.
If anyone was wondering what former Governor Andrew Cuomo is up to during this busy election season, he is feuding with 92-year-old columnist Cindy Adams. Cuomo had two aides call Adams to correct her reporting that the former Governor flew a private plane straight to Martha’s Vineyard following his brief appearance in Buffalo. He drove.
In Washington, D.C….
Primary season continued with the highly anticipated matchups in Georgia this past week and the continuation of the recount in Pennsylvania. Dr. Mehmet Oz, Trump’s endorsed candidate, and David McCormick are headed for a recount in the GOP Senate primary. State election law requires a recount if the candidates are within .05 percentage points of each other. The candidates are currently separated by just .01 percentage points, or 916 votes. Lt. Governor John Fetterman won the Democratic primary and, given the recount on the GOP side, should have a head start in campaigning for the general election but Fetterman is still recovering from a stroke that left him sidelined for nearly two weeks.
In Georgia, Former President Donald Trump’s status as a kingmaker in the Republican Party took a hit as his hand-selected candidate, David Perdue, was soundly defeated by incumbent Governor Brian Kemp. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger also won his primary for reelection. Both men had been Trump’s main targets for refusing to overturn the election in their state. It was not all bad for the former President in the Peach state; GOP Senate Candidate Herschel Walker, a close ally of Trump, won his primary contest along with a handful of Trump’s endorsed candidates for the House.
In response to the latest horrendous gun attacks, the Senate voted on a motion on Thursday to proceed to debate on the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, which has already passed the House. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer made clear to Republicans that if they wished to offer proposals of their own, this bill was the vehicle to do it. “I urge my Republican colleagues to vote to get on the bill. All we’re asking is a vote ‘Yes’ on the motion to proceed. I urge my colleague from Wisconsin to vote ‘Yes’ on that bill. If Sen. Johnson helps us get on the domestic terrorism bill, we could consider amendments related to guns, his and others that have a different point of view.” Ultimately, the measure failed without a single Republican vote.
Congress will begin ironing out defense and non-defense spending plans for FY 2023, starting with a meeting between the Chairs and Ranking Members on the Senate and House Appropriations Committees (also known as a “four corners” meeting). Citing inflation, Republicans are pushing for higher defense spending. Until an agreement is reached on that, Republicans have vowed to delay budget markups.
President Biden continued his tour of Asia this past week, offering comments on Taiwan that certainly raised some eyebrows at home and in Beijing. Biden was asked if the United States would get involved “militarily” to defend Taiwan; he responded, “yes.” While our support for Taiwan is no secret, we are not a treaty ally with them as we are with a country like Japan. If Japan was invaded, we have an obligation to defend them militarily. No such agreement exists with Taiwan which is why Biden’s comments would be a major shift in U.S. foreign policy. The President and his aides were quick to say that his comment was not a shift in policy, but rather a reiteration of our longstanding support for Taiwan.
Our Vice President Jim Moore and his wife Annie announce the birth of their son Brody Nicholas Moore.
He joins older brother Trey.