As we celebrate Memorial Day this weekend with remembrance and cook outs, the unofficial and traditional start of summer with the school year winding down and college graduations concluding, we also move into the final two weeks of the scheduled legislative session. As is typical for the end of session, nominations are now being sent to the legislature for confirmation for various vacancies on boards and other governmental entities, committees are closing down in at least one house, and active lists are heavy with local priorities. The session is scheduled to end on June 10.
With three more weeks to the scheduled conclusion of the 2021 legislative session, it is usually a frenetic time in a state capitol packed with advocates, lobbyists, legislators, and staff. This year of course all are relegated to virtual meetings, working the phones, and sending out paper as the capitol remains closed to visitors. Next session may be different as the statewide COVID positivity rate continues to trend strongly downward with the 7-day average positivity rate dropping this week to its lowest since last September. As of May 20, 54 percent of all adult New Yorkers had been fully vaccinated (tracker here). This week in Albany also saw the issuance of subpoenas in an investigation of the Governor, an unveiling of the amount the Governor garnered is his pandemic book deal, and the release of final regulations related to the processing and retail sale of cannabinoid hemp in New York State. And if you’re a baseball fan, Yankees pitcher Corey Kluber tossed a no-hitter Wednesday night, the team’s first since 1999.
The final four weeks of the 2021 legislative session will kick off with a two-day session week next week and the volume and pace of bills moving through both houses continues to accelerate as members press to move priority measures through the process. This week saw the CDC relax their recommendations related to mask wearing by those fully vaccinated against COVID-19, more movement toward reopening the state, final Assembly passage of election related concurrent resolutions, and yes, daytime outdoor temperatures finally hit mid-May norms.
With just 15 session days remaining on the legislative calendar, the first week of May saw a swirl of activity. The Governor announced continued loosening of pandemic restrictions, the legislature acted on the perennially contentious hospital and nursing home staffing ratio issue; the telecom industry sued the state; and hopes for a snowmobile trail system in the Adirondacks met a constitutional roadblock in the courts.