State lawmakers concluded their 2022 session working to pass several bills on gun control and abortion rights, as well as a two-year ban on cryptocurrency mining, the first in the nation.
The Senate and the State Assembly worked methodically through heaps of bills as they tried to set the deadline they set to end the session.
In the wake of the mass shootings in Buffalo and Texas, lawmakers have acted on bills to tighten state gun control laws and close some gaps. Of the ten bills passed, no one under the age of 21 would be allowed to buy a semi-automatic rifle, and the sale of bulletproof vests would be banned, except law enforcement and other professionals at risk.
In the Senate, Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins says New York cannot “stand idly by” while mass shootings continue, and hopes “common sense” measures will help.
“What we want is to disrupt a culture that has created a horrible and scary present and future, if we are not willing to say we are not willing to go down this path,” Stewart-Cousins said.
Republican Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt represents a district in western New York City and lives 25 minutes from Tops Supermarket in Buffalo where the mass shooting took place. He says that while some of the measures are well-intentioned, they violate the rights of the New York Second Amendment.
“This has always been the agenda for some of my colleagues on the Democratic side of the corridor, there is an aversion to gun ownership,” Ortt said. “They want to have firearms a nuisance, they want to enforce their Second Amendment rights a nuisance.”
Despite this, a handful of Republicans voted in favor of some of the measures.
Governor Hochul, saying she “values life more than weapons,” promised to sign the bills soon.
“This is a moral moment for the people of New York, but also for the rest of the nation,” Hochul said. “Follow what we did in New York and finally begin the beginning of the end of all this armed violence and the massacres that are taking place every day in our country.”
Bills have also been passed to protect abortion care providers and patients if the U.S. Supreme Court. The measures also provide funding and protection for people coming to New York to obtain the procedure from states where abortion would be prohibited.
A constitutional amendment guaranteeing equal rights for various groups and the right to abortion have fallen off the table due to difficulties in structuring the amendment.
Senate leader Stewart-Cousins did not rule out returning to the Capitol later in the summer to approve the amendment.
“It’s not as easy as you’d think,” Stewart-Cousins said.
In the last hours of the session, the state Senate passed a bill already passed in the Assembly that would impose a two-year moratorium on some types of cryptocurrency. The process of creating bitcoins depends on large amounts of energy, and plans to revive old coal plants in the state to feed cryptocurrency have been controversial.
In the Finger Lakes region, there has been significant opposition to the use of an old coal plant that has now been converted to natural gas and on the shores of Lake Seneca for cryptographic mining.
Although the moratorium does not apply to such existing plants, Yvonne Taylor with Seneca Lake Guardian still says the measure is a victory. She urged Governor Kathy Hochul to sign the bill and use her powers as governor to take further action.
“And that’s why we need Governor Hochul to go even further and adopt a moratorium on all proof-of-work cryptocurrency,” Taylor said.
He added that using non-renewable energy sources to power bitcoin mining “is not a viable solution”.
Hochul, who was endorsed in her candidacy for the election by a union that supports jobs in cryptocurrency plants, said she was undecided on the issue.
A pro-tenant measure known as Good Cause Eviction protections did not hit the floor of either house. Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online.
In addition to a possible summer session to get the first approval of the equal rights amendment, Hochul said he could convene a special session if the U.S. Supreme Court. UU. overturns state ban on carrying concealed weapons. The challenge to that law is now before the court, and a verdict is expected soon.