2023 New York State End of Legislative Session
The most recent legislative session in New York State concluded with several areas of focus still under consideration from the preceding year. Challenging issues and crises stirred intense discussion between the Legislature and Governor Hochul, nurturing robust debates around policy development in housing, the environment, public safety, and education. The immediate necessity of addressing situations such as the migrant and refugee influx — though lacking sufficient resources from the federal government — led to proactive responses from the government. The collective leadership exhibited a commendable spirit of cooperation and a keen determination to forge positive solutions to the multifaceted issues of the day, setting a solid foundation for continued progress in the forthcoming legislative year.
Although we are now beyond the era of COVID, its ripple effects are still being navigated in communities across the state. These lingering impacts fueled vibrant debates throughout this session. Whether dealing with educational disruptions, an uptick in crime rates, or persistent housing insecurity in both urban and rural areas, these are broad concerns extending beyond a single session. Their deep-rooted nature will warrant thoughtful exploration over multiple sessions to fully understand their lingering effects and formulate sustainable legislative solutions. The COVID era has indeed presented us with complex, structural challenges, yet each budget and session has valiantly endeavored to address them, moving us steadily toward comprehensive resolution.
The increasing cost of living, a shared concern across the state and the nation, emerged as a consistent theme. Echoing through debates on subjects such as the optimal pace and scale of minimum wage increases, the potential adoption of just cause eviction legislation, and the best methods for implementing and enforcing climate policy, the cost-of-living discussion serves as a common thread, with this issue having particularly strong impact for the nonprofit sector, the people we serve and the nonprofit workforce. As we continue to navigate these financial pressures—marked by rising interest rates and steady, if not increasing, costs of goods — we anticipate these concerns shaping the State's legislative direction.
Additionally, the national migrant crisis, will remain a key issue in the days ahead. Both the Governor and Mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, underscored the need for federal action. With an increasing number of migrants arriving in various parts of the state, a coordinated national and state strategy will be critical to manage the potential financial implications. Here in Westchester, we are proud of County Executive Latimer’s practical and compassionate response to welcoming new immigrants as well as the coordinated, effective and impressive actions of the nonprofit sector.
In the context of potential economic downturn, as suggested by certain economic indicators, the New York State legislators will need to adopt resilient strategies to preserve mandated and essential services and initiatives amidst potentially shrinking revenues. This will be an ongoing navigational challenge for the state, again with particular impact to nonprofit agencies who already struggle from underfunded contracts and an increase in demand for government mandated services.
Moving forward, New York will persistently strive to foster an environment in which families and businesses can thrive. The interim period leading to the next legislative session will shape the state government's approach to emerging issues, and will help prioritize areas of focus in a political context marked by limited resources, critical social needs, and dynamic changes in lifestyle and work. Indeed, New York is resiliently poised to embrace and navigate these changing currents.
The legislative session formally concluded on Saturday, June 10th. However, the Assembly — the Senate is adjourned until next year — is expected to return in coming weeks to take up additional, controversial bills. Therefore, the status of key legislation is subject to change.
All sides agree housing remains a key priority for the state to address, with the Governor notably calling for the addition of 800,000 units. However, the Legislature and the Governor were unable to come to terms on the foundations of an affordable housing legislative package.
Ultimately, the Legislature agreed on legislative solutions to the ongoing housing crisis. However, legislative leaders and the Governor were not able to reach common ground leading to a breakdown in talks on the following actions:
● Homeowner Protection Plan
● Housing Access Voucher Program (HVAP)
● Affordable Housing Rehabilitation Program
● Conversion of commercial office buildings
● Extension of 421-A tax abatement program
● Strengthened labor standards
● Raising the individual apartment improvement cap
● Dilapidated Apartment Repair Program
● Creation of a local affordable housing plan
● Creation of the Office of Civil Representation
● Right To Counsel program to provide legal representation for eligible individuals in eviction proceedings
● Good Cause Eviction
Housing is expected to be a key issue again next year, and may even trigger a special, extraordinary session, if an agreement is made before the end of the year.
In a first step towards passing the New York Health Act, the Senate passed the so-called “Coverage 4 All” package of bills.
The goal of the legislation is to include immigrants who are undocumented in the state’s funding request under section 1332 of the Affordable Care Act — the state innovation fund — which allows more New Yorkers enrolled in the state-funded insurance program known as the Essential Plan. The plan currently provides low-cost coverage for nearly 1.2 million New Yorkers, and this bill would add more than 50,000 insured to the program.
The Governor previously pushed back on the expansion during the budget negotiation. The Assembly was previously supportive of the measure and will likely take up the legislation at a later date.
Clean Slate Act
The New York State Legislature reached a deal on legislation that would seal criminal records after a set period for about 2.3 million New Yorkers.
Under the new version of the bill, the following terms are expected in the legislation:
● Felony convictions would be sealed after 8 years if the individual is off parole or probation and has no new charges or convictions.
● There are exceptions for sexual offenses and some Class A felonies such as murder.
● Misdemeanor convictions would be sealed after 3 years.
● Those applying to jobs with law enforcement and work with vulnerable populations including schools would not be covered under the legislation.
First Openly Transgender Male Judge
In a major milestone for the transgender community, Governor Hochul appointed Seth Marnin, a senior director at Columbia University and founder of a nonprofit legal consulting firm, to serve on the New York Court of Claims.
Marnin will serve as the first openly transgender man to serve as a judge in U.S. history. The Court of Claims is a trial-level court which handles litigation against the state and its related entities.
Remedying Racial Injustice
As the legislative session ended, longstanding proposals to remedy racial injustice rose to the surface as prominent Black legislators, such as the chair of the Senate Banking committee, Senator Sanders, and Chair of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus, Assemblymember Solages championed a proposal to study New York’s relationship to slavery and reparations payments for the descendants of former enslaved Africans. This bill passed both houses and awaits the Governor’s decision.
Furthermore, Senator Zellnor Myrie led a bill to ban slavery in prisons, which aims to address the legacy of slavery in New York’s prison system passed in the Senate and remains on the floor of the Assembly.
Times Union: Assembly expected back in 'near future' to resolve unfinished business
ALBANY — The Assembly has adjourned, for now.
Although the legislative session appeared to conclude Saturday, assembly members, not senators, are expected back in the “near future” to complete unfinished work, according to spokespersons for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.
Republican lawmakers walking down the hall in the state Capitol could be heard chatting about returning in “two weeks,” which could place a new session day on the calendar for Tuesday, June 20, the day after the Juneteenth holiday. Assembly spokespersons said there is no definite date.
Spectrum NY: 5 issues to watch as New York lawmakers close out session
With the $229 billion budget in the books four weeks late, state lawmakers have less than a month to go before they are scheduled to leave Albany for the rest of the year.
The pending end of the 2023 legislative session means a variety of issues — from public safety to housing — will bubble up to the surface. Some are issues that did not get accomplished in the budget. Others are measures lawmakers hope to put their stamp on by June.
Gothamist: Reparations, holidays and Clean Slate: What did — and won’t — pass in Albany this year
This year was supposed to be the year Albany finally got serious about creating new housing in New York.
Gov. Kathy Hochul kicked off the 2023 legislative session by unveiling a plan she claimed would create 800,000 new housing units over the next decade, calling it her biggest priority. But the session is coming to an end with Hochul and legislative leaders pointing fingers, blaming each other for failing to reach consensus.
The Senate wrapped up its final voting session in the wee hours Saturday morning and the Assembly finishes up later in the day — meaning lawmakers will leave town without passing any major housing measures at all.
The Buffalo News: Death lawsuits, criminal records, campaign finance: Major Albany bills on tap in session's final days
ALBANY – Giving families of the Tops supermarket shooting victims greater ability to file lawsuits. Sealing records of criminal convictions. Rolling back campaign finance reforms.
Those are among the major bills passed by the State Legislature, or likely to be passed, in the waning days of the Albany legislative session. The State Senate and Assembly were originally scheduled to finish their work for the year Thursday, but are now set to end Friday, as hundreds of bills small and large wind their way through the State Capitol.
Spectrum NY: 'Good cause' eviction, housing measures sputter in New York
New York state lawmakers will gavel out of the legislative session for the year without taking up a wide-ranging package of housing measures.
Top Democrats in the state Senate and Assembly on Thursday declared "the Legislature was able to work toward an agreement" that would extend an affordable housing tax incentive for New York City known as 421a, while also placing restrictions on evictions in New York City and allowing county governments to opt-in to the proposal known to supporters as "Good Cause" eviction.
But Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie in a joint statement said the proposal did not have the support of Gov. Kathy Hochul to move forward.
POLITICO New York: New York legislators to pass bill creating a reparations study commission
ALBANY, N.Y. — State legislators plan to pass a bill this week to create a commission tasked with studying the history of slavery and racial discrimination in New York and recommending possible reparation payments, three individuals familiar with talks said.
“We have a two-way agreement. We’re confident that we’re going to pass the bill,” Assembly sponsor Michaelle Solages (D-Nassau County), said in an interview with POLITICO.
City & State New York: State lawmakers poised to close out the session without a housing plan
As the 2023 legislative session comes to a close, the governor and legislative leaders could not come to an agreement on a housing plan.
On Thursday, the fate of the housing plan that state lawmakers had been working on to pass in the final days of the session quickly became unclear. Sources with close knowledge claimed that “good cause” eviction was a main point of contention among lawmakers and threatened the possibility of a two-way agreement.
But by the end of the day, state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said the Legislature was able to come to an agreement – and the pair claimed the governor was not on board in a joint statement. That agreement, they said, included a slew of popular housing proposals, including “good cause” eviction protections, the Housing Access Voucher Program, an extension of the 421-a affordable housing tax break and more.