Coverage of Albany and New York State government

  • End of 2017 Legislative Session Approaching
  • Governor Announces State Rules to Protect Against Obamacare Repeal
  • State Begins Accepting Applications for Excelsior Scholarship Program
  • Climate Alliance Adds New Members
  • State Issues Ride Hailing Regulations
  • Bill to Raise Minimum Age of Marriage Passes Both Houses
  • State Issues Ride Hailing Regulations
  • Political Update
  • Coming Up

End of 2017 Legislative Session Approaching

According to the 2017 New York State legislative calendar, just seven working days remain in the 2017 legislative session.  The last scheduled day of session is June 21, although in prior years lawmakers have continued working beyond the last scheduled session day in order to complete their work for the year.

While local issues typically make up the bulk of lawmakers to-do lists at the end of session, some high profile issues that may be addressed include extending mayoral control of New York City schools; extending local sales taxes; increasing oversight of state economic development efforts; and expanding the state’s ‘Buy American’ requirements on public works projects.

Governor Announces State Rules to Protect Against Obamacare Repeal

Last Monday, Gov. Cuomo announced that he has directed the state Department of Financial Services (DFS) to issue emergency regulations to “ensure that essential health services are protected and covered for all New Yorkers,” even if the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) is repealed.

The measures will include requiring private companies that do business on the state’s insurance marketplace to guarantee the 10 “essential health benefits” required by the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), and prohibiting company that withdraws from the exchange from participating in Medicaid or its children’s health plan.

Gov. Cuomo said:

“We will not stand idly by as ultra-conservatives in Washington try to roll back the progress we have made to expand access quality, affordable health care, putting our most vulnerable New Yorkers at risk. As long as I am Governor, New Yorkers will not be subject to price discrimination based on age, gender, or pre-existing conditions, and essential health benefits will continue to be the rule, not the exception. These aggressive actions will make certain that no matter what happens in Congress, the people of New York will not have to worry about losing access to the quality medical care they need and deserve.”

State Begins Accepting Applications for Excelsior Scholarship Program

Last Wednesday, Gov. Cuomo announced that the application for the Excelsior Scholarship is now open. SUNY and CUNY students whose families make up to $100,000 annually can now apply for tuition-free college here.

To be eligible for an Excelsior Scholarship, students must be state residents, attend a SUNY or CUNY two- or four-year college, take 30 credits per year and be on track to graduate on time with an Associate’s Degree in two years or a Bachelor’s Degree in four years, and must also plan to live in New York State for the length of time they received the award.

Climate Alliance Adds New Members

Last Monday, Gov. Cuomo announced that Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia have joined the coalition, which is “committed to upholding the Paris Accord and taking aggressive action on climate change.”

The Alliance was launched last week in response to President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord.  The group is organizing U.S. states that are committed to achieving the U.S. goal of reducing emissions 26-28 percent from 2005 levels and meeting or exceeding the targets of the federal Clean Power Plan.

Gov. Cuomo said:

“As the federal government turns its back on the environment, New York and states across the country are picking up the mantle of climate leadership and showing the world it’s possible to address climate change while also creating good-paying careers….We welcome these 10 new members and look forward to collaborating and maintaining the momentum in the global effort to protect our planet, while jumpstarting the clean energy economy.”

Bill to Raise Minimum Age of Marriage Passes Both Houses

Last week, both houses approved legislation that would increase the minimum wage of marriage in New York to 17.  Current state law permits children as young as 14 are permitted to marry in New York under some circumstances.

The Senate approved the bill last Tuesday, and the Assembly passed it lastc Thursday.

Gov. Cuomo released a statement in which he said that he plans to sign the bill into law.

State Issues Ride Hailing Regulations

Last week, Gov. Cuomo announced that regulations to allow ride hailng throughout the state have been issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the Department of Financial Services (DFS), and the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB). Earlier this week, Gov. Cuomo signed into law a measure that will legalize ride hailing services statewide on June 29th.

“Extending ride sharing across New York is a matter of fairness that brings new transportation options and – with it – new economic opportunity and innovation,” Governor Cuomo said. “This framework provides for a fair, safe and compressive ride sharing system that will benefit communities in every corner of this state.”

Governor Cuomo signed the legislation last night to expedite the implementation of ride sharing by 10 days to allow ride sharing over the Fourth of July weekend.

Assembly Passes Child Victims Act

Last Wednesday, the Assembly passed legislation that would extend the statute of limitations on child sex offenses.  The bill, called the Child Victims Act, would allow victims to bring civil lawsuits until their 50th birthday and file criminal charges until their 28th birthday. It would also open a one-year window to revive old cases.

The Assembly has approved similar legislation in the past, most recently in 2008, but the Senate has not.  Advocacy groups are pushing the Senate to take up the bill before the end of session on June 21.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said:

“This legislation is fundamental to ensuring that adults who were victims of sexual abuse are able to seek the justice they deserve.  Similarly, it will help authorities identify predators and protect other children from the lifelong toxic effects associated with childhood sexual abuse.”

Senate Passes Workforce Development Package

Last Wednesday, the State Senate approved a package of workforce development bills “aimed at boosting the state economy by training job seekers and existing employees for the employment opportunities that are in demand.”

The bills, which came out of the work of the Senate’s Task Force on Workforce Development, include:

  • encouraging participation in apprenticeships (S2124-A);
  • expanding job opportunities for veterans (938);
  • making information about state work programs more accessible (3789); and
  • establishing a program to retrain and employ unemployed persons (2232).

Political Update

Governor Launches Campaign for Democrats to Win House Seats in 2018

Last week, Tuesday, Gov. Cuomo, joined by House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in Manhattan, kicked off an effort to target six Republican members of Congress from New York in the 2018 elections.

The Fight Back New York campaign, which is being run through the state’s Democrat Party, will target six GOP Houses members:  Lee Zeldin of Long Island; John Faso of the Hudson Valley; Elise Stefanik of the North Country; Claudia Tenney of Central New York; Tom Reed of Western New York; and Chris Collins of the Buffalo area.

At the rally, the Governor was harsh in his assessment of the six houses members, who all voted in favor the House health care reform legislation.

The Governor accused the six representatives of “violating their oath of office to represent the interest of the people of the State of New York.”  He said:

“They said they would help their districts; they said they would help the struggling middle class.  They’re doing the exact opposite. These are not moderate, responsible public officials. They’re not taking reasonable positions. These are political pawns to the ultraconservative puppet masters in Washington.”

Winners & Losers

Each week, City & State New York publishes a list of the week’s political “winners” and “losers.”  Read last week’s list here.

Coming Up

The Legislature is in through Thursday this week. Including today, just 5 scheduled session days remain in the 2017 legislative session.

The Board of Regents holds its next meeting on June 12 and 13.

The Public Service Commission (PSC) holds its next meeting on June 15.

June 21 is the last scheduled day of the 2017 legislative session.

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) holds its next meeting on June 27.

The State Board of Elections holds its next meeting on August 2.