January 26, 2019

Meanwhile Back in Albany (v27)

Nathaniel Brooks/NY Times photo
In Thursday's post, the first in a series on our Sonofa Gov's State of the State, we looked at the accomplishments of the Cuomo administration, covering a whole lot of bases.

Today, we start looking at what's on the new progressive agenda Andrew Cuomo and the Democratic majorities in the Assembly and Senate plan on bringing to us.

Some things have already been delivered, as the legislature got right to work as soon as they were sworn in. Here's what was called for in the SOTS:
  • Reproductive Health Act
  • Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act
  • Criminal Justice Reform
  • Updating the SAFE Act
  • Voting Reforms
  • Passing the Equal Rights Amendment
  • Child Victims Act
  • Dream Act
  • Legal Adult Use Cannabis
  • Campaign Finance Reforms
  • Green New Deal
  • Sports Betting
  • Pro-Labor Protections
  • Tax Reforms
  • Rent Regulation Reform
  • Continuing the Build New York program
  • MTA changes
Cuomo appreciated that there's a lot of stuff in that wish list.
It's a lot. No doubt about it. But there's been a lot that has been bottled up for many, many years that we couldn't get done. And in many ways I feel the state is now liberated with the Senate Democratic Caucus and we can get these things done and we can get them done together and pass a new budget and I believe we can get them done within the first 100 days to show this state a new reality.
Some of it already has been done, or will be done soon. Let's take a look.

So far, our new 'trifecta' government has been very busy.

The Reproductive Health Act: this was passed by both chambers and signed into law by the governor; it removes criminal penalties for abortion, and allows for abortion for any reason within the first 24 weeks (which as been the law in NY since 1970), as well as at any time during the pregnancy if the fetus is not viable or if there is a risk for the health of the mother.

The Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Care Act: requires insurance companies to cover at least one option under all forms of FDA-approved contraception, including sterilization for both women and men, without cost. This appears to be moving quickly through the legislature with final approval expected soon. 

The Boss Bill: another in the reproductive health package, this prevents discrimination against any employees based on their reproductive healthcare decisions or to limit access to these services. This too is moving quickly through both chambers. 

The Jose Peralta NYS Dream Act,  which would make it possible for a limited population of undocumented students - believed to be between 6,000 and 8,000 - get access to state tuition assistance and performance awards as long as they met certain requirements, has been passed by both chambers and Cuomo has said he'll sign it. 

Updating the SAFE Act: changes to ban selling or possessing bump stocks (attaching one to a gun is already banned) and adding a 'red flag' provision that allows law enforcement officers, school officials, and family members to seek a court order preventing someone from purchasing or possessing a gun are scheduled for a vote next week; approval is expected in both the Senate and Assembly.

A Voting Reform package passed both chambers and was signed by the governor. Included are early registration of 16- and 17-year-olds; automatic transfer of voter registration if a voter moves into a new district; early voting,  and consolidation of  the state and federal primaries

On Campaign Finance Reform  the legislature approved and Cuomo signed a bill closing the LLC loophole, meaning LLCs will now be subject to the $5K contribution limit. There was no change on how many LLCs  a person can form, but there are some new disclosure requirements.

The Child Victims Act is set to be approved in both chambers next week; it will provide a one-year 'look back' period for victims to bring lawsuits even for cases where the alleged abuse may have committed beyond the statute of limitations; that is also being increased. 

Legislation making the Property Tax Cap  permanent has passed the Senate, but has not been approved by the Assembly. The cap limits increases in property taxes to 2% or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower.

There's a lot more to come, for sure, on these and other items in Cuomo's SOTS. We'll continue diving in after we get a chance to catch our breath.

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