New York Capital Brief:

Hochul Enacts Election Law Changes– Benjamin Declines Nomination

On Monday evening, lawmakers narrowly approved a bill to allow indicted former Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin to decline his nomination as a Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor.Within an hour of its passage, Governor Hochul signed the legislation into law. Under the new law, candidates can file paperwork to decline their ballot position if they face State or federal misdemeanor or felony charges, or are convicted of a crime. Benjamin filed the paperwork before the May 4th deadline while restating his innocence on the charges of bribery and corruption.


Hochul Chooses Antonio Delgado as New Lieutenant Governor

Governor Kathy Hochul announced on Tuesday that she was appointing U.S. Representative Antonio Delgado as her interim Lieutenant Governor. Representative Delgado will serve the rest of Brian Benjamin’s term as Lieutenant Governor and will replace him on the primary ballot.

Delgado, 45, has represented the central Hudson Valley (NY-19) in Congress since 2019; one of the most competitive swing districts in the country. He has established a record as a political moderate and is a native of Schenectady, NY. The Republican candidate for the 19th CD is Marc Molinaro, current Dutchess County Executive.  State Senator Michelle Hinchey, daughter of the late and former Congressman Maurice Hinchey, is also considering a run as the Democratic candidate.


NYS Court of Appeals Strikes Down Dem-controlled Redistricting Maps

District maps for Congressional and State Senate district lines are still in limbo. Last week, the NYS Court of Appeals founded that the U.S. House and State Senate maps were unconstitutional, based on a 2014 amendment which was designed to remove gerrymandering from the redistricting process. Additionally, Garry Greenberg a New York businessman filed a lawsuit on Monday to invalidate Assembly maps.

The House maps were found to have been drawn with partisan intent and the state Senate maps were rejected on a process argument. The court appointed an expert known as a “special master” to submit new maps to a lower court judge for consideration later this month.

The Court decision requires the Senate and Congressional primaries to be moved from June to August to allow for petitioning based on new district lines.


Governor Hochul’s Approval Rating Drops to New Low

Governor Hochul’s job performance rating dipped to 36% last week from 43% just a month ago. Siena College reported that most voters are dissatisfied with her record on crime and economic issues, with negative approval ratings among 69% and 63% of voters on both issues respectively. The research institute polled a total of 806 registered New York State voters between April 18th and 21st.


Four Weeks Left of Session

Lawmakers have many legislative priorities left to address prior to the end of session in early June.  There remains a spectrum of issues not included in the State budget which could be deliberated on again, including the extension of mayoral control of New York City schools.  Among other legislative priorities, the Adult Survivors Act, which passed in the Senate has not yet been taken up in the Assembly.


Roe v. Wade

According to a draft decision leaked to Politico on Monday night, a majority of justices on the Supreme Court will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, striking down the federal right for a woman to choose to terminate a pregnancy. This ruling would return the decision to individual states.  Twenty-five states, including New York have codified the original ruling into law.

Governor Hochul weighed in on the matter at a Press Conference/ Rally on Tuesday. She said New York is actively exploring initiatives and legislative action to protect rights in the state, adding “Let me be clear. We are not playing defense, we are playing offense.”