With legislative session having come to a close late last week, this was a relatively quiet week in Albany as members shifted their focus to local primary races (early voting began June 12 and goes through June 20, primary elections are June 22). Some of the bills that passed both the Senate and the Assembly are being delivered to the Governor for his signature or veto, including one that would cover the costs of the impeachment investigation being conducted by the Assembly (S.7237/A.8037, Chapter 152). This is a process that will continue through the end of the year. Read More Here
The Legislative Session ended quietly with the Senate gaveling out Thursday evening and the Assembly concluding business early Friday morning.
The leaders of both houses left open the possibility of returning to Albany to wrap up a couple of items that eluded consensus this week, including the restructuring of MTA leadership proposed by the Governor and subsequent appointments. While there was little drama during the final week, hundreds of bills were moved by each house and more than 100 gubernatorial nominations were confirmed by the Senate.
Next week marks the final scheduled four days of the legislative session. Government relations teams will be scouring the active lists, and providing legislators with memoranda and outreach to encourage movement of priorities or holds on bills that negatively impact their clients. The session at this point has almost an anything goes atmosphere where bills that rarely see the light of day may suddenly show up on the floor for a vote and others that seemed to be obvious candidates for passage may remain in committee.
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.
February’s typical sprinkling of snow and frigid air did not slow down activity at the state capitol last week with the Governor expanding COVID vaccine eligibility, the announcement of increased federal vaccine allocations to the state, and reopening dining in NYC.