New York Capital Brief:

End of Session: What Passed, What Didn’t, and What’s Next

Early this morning (6/11), the New York State Legislature concluded the 2021 legislative session, after a busy 6 months of balancing COVID-19 efforts, policy priorities, and politics.

Despite the occurrence of many unprecedented events, the Senate and Assembly altogether introduced nearly 15,000 bills and passed dozens of significant legislation including numerous voting reforms, expanding Paid Sick Leave to those receiving a COVID vaccine, the Housing Our Neighbors with Dignity Act, comprehensive gun safety reform, and the Nourish New York program.

While some major policies were passed by both houses, other high-profile bills including the Antitrust Act, NY Data Privacy Act, Clean Slate Act, the NY Health Act, and the  Adult Survivors Act, failed to advance.

In their concluding session remarks, both the Senate Majority Leader and Assembly Speaker reflected on what they characterized as “historic progress” made to the meet the challenges of the pandemic.


Cuomo Sets 70% Vaccination Rate Threshold

This week, Governor Cuomo announced that he will feel “comfortable telling the people of this state we can relax virtually all restrictions” once the statewide vaccination rate reaches 70%.  As of June 10th, 69.2% of New York’s residents are vaccinated.


Major Health-Related Bills Make Their Way to the Gov.

This year, lawmakers passed over 100 bills seeking to further reform New York’s complicated health care system.

The legislature passed several bills to expand access to treatment including the removal of prior authorization for medication assisted treatment for substance use disorders as well as a bill to prohibit insurers from forcing patients to use mail order services for certain medications.

Additionally, lawmakers passed a bill that seeks to create a licensure structure for pharmacy benefit managers; a bill previously vetoed in 2019.

Many of these bills have not yet been delivered to the Governor for his signature.  We will continue to report on the status of their advancement.


Garcia Surges in the Polls, Yang and Adams Lose Momentum

This Saturday, New York City voters can hit the polls for early voting for the NYC Mayoral Primary election. For the first time in a municipal election, NYC voters will fill out a new kind of ballot that allows them to choose up to five candidates in order of preference – known as ranked-choice voting.

A recent Spectrum News NY1 poll shows that Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has a comfortable lead, with Kathryn Garcia garnering enough support to just about tie-up with early-on front runner Andrew Yang for second place.

Primary day will be held on June 22. Early voting begins on Saturday.


Legislature Passes Opioid Lockbox Funding Bill

Both the State Senate and Assembly unanimously passed “lock box” legislation that ensures all monies that New York receives from settlements or a judgments in litigation be directed to expanding substance and opioid use disorder treatment and services.

The legislation received support from NYS Attorney General Letitia James, who in 2019 filed the nation’s most extensive lawsuit to hold particular entities accountable for their role in the opioid epidemic.