New York Capitol Brief:

Budget Deadline to Be Extended Yet Again

After missing the April 1st statutory budget deadline and passing three initial budget extender bills. Legislators met Thursday, April 20 to approve a fourth extender, which is set to expire at Noon Monday, April 24th.

“I hope we are at the beginning of the end. This has been the most policy-laden budget I have ever had to deal with. I hope we are able to get to a point where I can tell you we are at the end of the end.” – State Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins told reporters on Wednesday, April 19.

Rowan Wilson Confirmed as Chief Judge

On Tuesday, the State Senate voted 40-19 to confirm Governor Kathy Hochul’s nominee, Rowan D. Wilson, to serve as Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals. Wilson will be the first Black Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals and has served as an Associate Judge on the court since 2017. Former State Solicitor General Caitlin Halligan has been confirmed to take Wilson’s current seat as an Associate Judge on the Court of Appeals

Wilson dissented from prominent decisions by former Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, including a ruling last year that maps of the State’s Congressional districts redrawn by Democratic lawmakers violated the State’s constitution.

Wilson’s swift confirmation comes after Hochul’s first nominee for the position, Judge Hector LaSalle, was rejected by the State Senate amid criticism from Democratic lawmakers about his record on abortion and union issues.

IRC Approves New Assembly Maps

On Thursday, April 20, the State Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) voted to advance the final draft map of NYS Assembly districts to be reviewed by the State Legislature. The new map makes minor changes to the current map, which was only used in the 2022 Assembly elections.

After introducing the initial draft last year, the IRC held a series of public hearings across the State. A number of members of the commission talked about the impact of having public testimony reflected in the latest iteration of the map. “The draft was for public input and public consumption, and we were going to listen to you, and that clearly was done,” IRC Chair Ken Jenkins said.

Jeffrey Wice, a professor at New York Law School, highlighted the similarities between the latest Assembly map and the one that was used in last year’s elections. “I think the Commission knew that the Legislature had the ability to reject the map in the final big picture and it tried to create a map that was realistic and received the support of both parties,” Wice said.

If the Legislature or the Governor does not approve the Assembly map, the IRC will have until June 16 to send another one. If that’s struck down, the responsibility will again fall on lawmakers.