From Gun Laws to Abortion, 5 Issues for N.Y. Legislators as Session Ends

ALBANY, NY – Money and lobbying have a huge influence on the State Capitol, but there is little pressure like an outdated deadline to get important legislation on target.

With New York’s annual legislative session scheduled to end June 2, state lawmakers are running to give final touches to a wide range of legislative packages, from efforts to strengthen weapons and reproductive rights laws to an agreement to renew the authority of New York City over its schools.

The Democratic-controlled legislature has passed legislation in recent weeks, including a historic bill to allow adult victims of sexual assault to sue their abusers and legislation to ban the sale of animal-tested cosmetics. The Senate passed bills to crack down on monopolies and limit the cost of insulin, though it was unclear whether the Assembly would follow suit.

Consensus on other beloved legislation seemed even less secure, with many lawmakers already looking at re-election campaigns and struggling with the chaos of the new district lines that led to a rushed set of music chairs.

Here’s a look at five of the most controversial issues lawmakers face in their final week of session.

New York already has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, but lawmakers want to tighten them even further, something they already discussed before the massacres at a Buffalo supermarket and a Texas elementary school.

Recent shootings, each involving 18-year-old suspects, have only added impetus to new gun policies: Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul said Wednesday she would seek legislation to raise the minimum age to 21 for the purchase of AR- . 15 style weapons, and maybe other firearms.

Currently, anyone over the age of 18 can purchase a long gun in New York as long as they pass a background check; Permits to obtain a long gun are required in New York City, but not elsewhere in the state.

Raising the age for the purchase of at least some rifles, a step taken by other Democratic-led states, appears to have been supported by Democratic lawmakers, though it could be challenged in court by the gun lobby, which recently prevailed in California.

Lawmakers are discussing other arms control measures, including a proposal to “microstamp” semi-automatic pistols to help law enforcement officers track down cartridge cases to the weapons that dropped them.

State lawmakers are being wary of the kind of gun legislation they assume, wary of not passing any law the Supreme Court could use in its imminent decision on the state’s covert transportation law, which many Democrats fear is overturned. The law imposes limits on taking weapons out of the house.

“We don’t want to warn any Supreme Court officials who may be drafting an opinion and quoting New York lawmakers trying to anticipate their eventual opinion,” said State Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Democrat who sponsored the microprinting legislation. “So there’s a lot of discomfort but also the calculation that these bills don’t touch that hidden transportation area.”

Lawmakers may have some leeway at the time: Ms Hochul said this week she was ready to convene a special legislative session to pass bills in response to a Supreme Court decision, which is expected sometime in June.

Two environmental bills face obstacles: one would impose a two-year moratorium on the mining of cryptocurrencies with the highest energy consumption, while the other would commission the New York Electric Authority to build wind and solar power plants in order to boost the energy market. renewable.

Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online. 2050. Since this week, New York has received less than 3 percent of its energy from wind and solar renewables.

“If the private sector is too slow to help us comply with the CLCPA, which so far seems to be moving too slowly, we have a public entity that can help accelerate the pace,” said Democratic State Sen. Michael Gianaris. majority leader, said on the utility bill, a priority for progressives.

Opponents say the bill is not necessary, given the number of private-sector renewable projects that are underway, and that it will increase costs for consumers.

But it is the cryptocurrency bill, the first of its kind in the nation, that has received the most attention.

The bill would temporarily block the issuance of new permits to facilities that undermine digital currency using non-renewable energy sources. The legislation is a direct response to environmental concerns about former fossil fuel power plants that have become cryptographic mining facilities, especially for Bitcoin, in upstate New York.

The bill passed the House in April, but the cryptocurrency industry – a newcomer to Albany’s politics – mobilized to try to block legislation in the Senate, where the House passed a broader moratorium last year.

The industry argued that banning operations would harm New York’s fledgling industry and open the floodgates for similar regulations by Congress and other states. Ms Hochul said this week that she was “open-minded” about the legislation, but wanted to balance job creation in the north of the state with the environmental impact of the facilities, a concern echoed by other lawmakers.

“I think there’s a way to make sure that mining doesn’t have fossils without using the stick, and instead use carrots to get there,” said State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a Long Island Democrat.

New York City mayors have regularly flocked to Albany to renew control of the city over its public schools since Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg first persuaded lawmakers to grant him so-called mayoral control.

Although local councils oversee schools in the rest of the state, lawmakers often give the city authority over their schools in increments of one to seven years.

Mayor Eric Adams, backed by the governor, called for extended control of the mayoralty for four more years, more than any extension his predecessor, Bill de Blasio, had received.

John C. Liu, who heads the State Senate’s New York City Education Committee, said he believed four years was too long for an extension. He suggested that it would be open to a multi-year agreement, as long as certain issues were addressed such as the size of the classes and the representation of English as a Second Language students and those with disabilities.

However, the broader issue of school governance remains open, with Mr. Liu, a Queens Democrat, says he believes the state should commission a study on how the city’s schools have behaved during two decades of mayoral control and how they compare to those of other large schools. American cities.

Democratic lawmakers have been working on a package of bills that would strengthen New York’s already strong protections against abortion, following a leaked Supreme Court opinion that the court was about to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Some of those efforts have focused on protecting providers from the liability of patients from states where abortion has been criminalized. Others seek to protect patients traveling to New York for sexual health care.

Democrats are also working to enshrine the right to abortion in the state constitution, a move to which Ms. Hochul has expressed support. It is unclear, however, whether lawmakers will advance language that is closely focused on abortion or introduce a more ambitious bill that would provide comprehensive protection against discrimination.

Democratic lawmakers seem willing to let go of a divisive tax incentive program that New York City developers have used for five decades in building most major residential projects.

Both Ms. Hochul and Mr. Adams have pushed for the renewal of the much-discussed subsidy, known as 421a, or a renewed version of the program, which aims to help subsidize the construction of affordable housing.

But there was little appetite to renew the program among progressive Democratic lawmakers who launched the subsidy as a tax bonus for developers in exchange for a few units of below-market rental apartments.

“If we are to have a program that provides such generous tax benefits, we must make sure that the public benefit is commensurate with the tax revenue we are facing,” said State Sen. Brian Kavanagh, chair of the housing committee. . “I think we have a chance to do that in the future. It’s not something that has to happen next Thursday.”

The impact of the grant’s expiration on June 15 is not expected to be felt for years. Ms Hochul said the state could review the program in the future, although some lawmakers have made recent attempts to put together a package of housing bills that could include an extension of the program.

Lawmakers seemed to be close to consensus on another front of housing: legislation to help save New York City’s dilapidated public housing system, where more than 400,000 low-income residents live.

The legislation, by which Mr. Adams lobbied, creating a Public Housing Preservation Trust to unlock federal funds to fund the repair of thousands of public homes that are leaking, having heat cuts and mold.

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