New York Capital Brief

Session Ends

The New York State Legislature concluded the 2023-24 NYS Legislative Session this past weekend. Legislative deliberations were delayed when Governor Hochul announced that she is temporarily pausing the implementation of congestion pricing in New York City.

Both the State’s and City’s budgets included assumed revenue from congestion pricing, so legislators attempted to negotiate a solution to ensure fiscal solvency. While this remains an outstanding issue, there is a possibility that legislators will need to return to Albany for a Special Session.

Legislators introduced over 20,000 bills over the two-year period. In 2024, the Assembly passed 964 bills, while the Senate passed 1,690 bills. Of these, 805 bills passed both houses.

Due to the end of the two-year legislative cycle, legislators will choose which legislation will be reintroduced in 2025. All legislation chosen for reintroduction will begin the committee process anew, beginning from its committee of origin, and all reintroduced bills will receive new bill numbers.

The results of this year’s Session are summarized below:

NYS Budget Recap

The negotiations for New York State’s 2024-25 State Budget went 20 days past the April 1 deadline. Once the budget bills were finalized, a $237 billion spending plan emerged with several new provisions, including policy changes such as increasing penalties for retail theft and harsher charges for assaulting retail workers.

The budget also makes permanent the sale of to-go cocktails by restaurants, a policy initially introduced during the pandemic. Additionally, the Empire AI Consortium will be established to advance artificial intelligence initiatives with state and private funding. Notably, “Sammy’s Law” will reduce New York City’s speed limit from 25 to 20 mph, and copays for insulin are now banned.

A $2.4 billion allocation will support the costs associated with aiding migrants in NYC. New protections against forced evictions for low-income residents and provisions for renters to challenge significant rent increases have been enacted. Mayoral control over New York City schools is extended for two years, with new provisions to limit class sizes. Development incentives now offer tax breaks to developers who reserve units for low-income residents. The new Supplemental Drug Rebate Program aims to control drug costs by enhancing the NYS Department of Health’s negotiation authority and removing parts of the existing drug cap.

Legislation Passed

Significant legislative proposals were finalized during the 2023-24 Legislative Session. Though some of these proposals were percolating for years prior, this year saw the passage of:

Teacher Evaluations– The state’s largest teachers’ unions had rallied for changes to the current system of teacher evaluations. New changes to statute will reduce how the evaluations are tied to standardized test scores, and will increase professional development opportunities for teachers.

Children on Social Media– Governor Hochul and lawmakers agreed in the final weeks of Session to pass two measures that will restrict the use of social media by those under 18, and will restrict the types of data being stored by these platforms.

Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Task Force– The Task Force would be tasked with a review of the digital currency, cryptocurrency and blockchain industries in New York State, and the use of digital currencies’ impact on state and local tax receipts

Health Emergency Response Data System (HERDS)– Provisions put forth would require the Department of Health to share aggregate data from HERDS reports with the public.

Grieving Families Act– This legislation would permit families to seek compensation for the emotional suffering caused by the loss of a loved one, in addition to the loss of income. The bill has passed the Legislature in the two prior years but has been vetoed by the Governor each time.

Any legislation that passed both houses can be delivered to the Governor for consideration anytime until the last day of the calendar year. Once delivered to the Governor, she has 10 days to sign or veto the bill. The Governor has until the last day of the calendar year to complete the consideration of all legislation.

Unresolved Legislation

With over 20,000 bills introduced in the 2023-24 Legislative Session, many bills never reached the floor for a vote. Below is a list of the legislation that was negotiated arduously, but that was ultimately not passed in both chambers:

Extended Producer Responsibility– This legislation would create a new mechanism to enable New York State to implement packaging and recycling standards on manufacturers. Under the provisions of the bill, companies would be financially responsible for the appropriate recycling of any packaging item.

Bigger Better Bottle Bill– The bill would raise redemption fees for certain beverage containers, including raising: the deposit refund value to ten cents, the handling fee to six cents, and improve the redemption process through implementation of grants to establish new redemption centers.

NY HEAT Act The bill aims to cap utility payments for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers, eliminate a subsidy for companies to install new gas hookups, and empower the state’s Public Service Commission to enact regulations promoting the transition away from gas. Governor Hochul had included parts of the bill in her Executive Budget proposal.

NY Privacy Act This legislation would have enshrined mandatory transparency-related data practices; the right for consumers to access, correct, and delete their data; and the requirement for businesses to obtain explicit consent before sharing personal information with third parties. The bill also proposed strong enforcement mechanisms, including significant penalties for non-compliance

Aid in Dying– The New York State Aid in Dying legislation proposes to allow terminally ill adults with a prognosis of six months or less to live the option to request and receive prescription medication to peacefully end their lives.

Implementation Issues

Congestion pricing in New York City was agreed to by lawmakers in 2019 and set to be implemented on June 30, 2024. However, last week Governor Hochul issued a public statement that she has requested the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to halt the implementation of congestion pricing indefinitely.

The Governor’s administration is also dealing with a difficult implementation of adult-use cannabis. In May, Governor Hochul released the findings of an audit conducted on the New York State Office of Cannabis Management. It showed inefficiencies and problems with licensing. Within days, OCM Executive Director Chris Alexander had submitted his resignation.

Changes to the Legislature

During the 2023-24 Legislative Session, several members announced their intention to end their tenure in the NYS Legislature. Some are moving to other endeavors while others are seeking higher office. Senators Kennedy and Mannion both announced their intended runs for separate Congressional seats. Sen. Kennedy has subsequently won his race via special election.

Senator Breslin announced his retirement, leading to Assembly member Fahy announcing her intention to run for the seat. Senator Thomas is also vacating his seat, leading to Assembly member Darling announcing her candidacy for that seat.

Other retirements include Assembly members Aubry, Byrnes, Dickens, Giglio, Goodell, Gunther, Jean-Pierre, Joyner, O’Donnell, Thiele, Weinstein, and Zebrowski. Several of these legislators were long-tenured members with Committee Chair positions. Our team will be monitoring closely when new Committee Chairs are chosen.