BRONXVILLE, NY — June 15, 2021 — This year’s legislative session of New York State Government came to a close on Friday, June 10. It concluded after six months addressing many Covid pandemic bail out measures and the passage of a $212 billion budget.
As I mentioned in previous columns, early in the session legislators voted to legalize marijuana and mobile sports betting, raise income taxes on wealthier segments of New Yorkers and increase school aid to a record $29.5 billion.
Unlike almost all sessions in the recent past, this session did not end with the usual flurry of bills and midnight voting, rather it went out with a whimper with much left unfinished in many legislators’ eyes.
As background, New York is one of 38 states which has what is called a trifecta where all three branches of government are controlled by the same party: 23 of which are in states governed by Republicans and 15 in Democratic states. New York is also one of 22 states which has a veto proof super majority in both chambers with the New York State Senate having 42 Democrats and 21 Republicans and a State Assembly membership of 106 Democrats, 43 Republicans and one Independent.
Some of the initiatives left on the table in the opinion of many elected officials was a further overhaul of the state parole system. Chief among the goals of some was giving those released from prison more opportunity to clear their records. Legislation was passed that prevents people on parole from being sent back to prison for technical violations but no agreement could be reached on the automatic sealing of most convictions after a certain number of years or changing the focus of parole hearings to prisoners’ rehabilitation potential rather than the magnitude of their original crimes.
Also left unresolved was the proposed Adult Victims Act. You may recall in 2019 the Legislature passed a Children’s Victims Act that allows those who were abused when they were under the age of 18 to sue regardless of the statute of limitations. Many current lawmakers felt adults who were abused should have the same timeframe as it often takes many years to come to terms with abuse. However, the issue did not get to a floor vote in the Assembly and even the Children’s Act has a sunset provision expiring this August.
On another front, restaurants and bar owners were advocating for passage of a law to continue to allow carry out liquor sales to be made permanent. However, they faced great opposition from liquor stores. Currently an Executive Order of the Governor’s allowing such carry out beverages is set to expire July 4 unless the Governor chooses to extend it again.
Of particular importance to our neighbors in Yonkers and those in Queens and Manhattan is the bidding process for new casino licenses. Under law, there are currently seven casino licenses allowed in New York State – four going to upstate communities and three unused at the current time. Empire City in Yonkers was very desirous to convert their video lottery parlors into a full scale casino with slot machines and live game tables but this will not happen in the near future.
Other initiatives that failed to get the needed traction in spite of a great deal of advance press prior to the commencement of the legislative session, were the concepts of a single payer healthcare system and carbon tax initiatives.
The legislature also did not remove the name Donald J Trump from a tract of 436 acres he donated to the State New York situated in the town of Yorktown.
Governor Cuomo’s expanding executive authority relating to the pandemic was also not curbed or repealed or given a sunset provision at this juncture.
Some initiatives passed that will have an effect on our residents albeit not at the magnitude of the bills passed in the early months of the session such as the legalization of cannabis and the increased taxes.
Going forward, businesses such as Netflix and Hulu can no longer automatically renew services without direct consent from the customer. In addition, detailed explanation of the mechanics of the renewal process must be provided and advertising something as free only when it is attached to automatic renewal will also be prohibited.
As a result of the Thruway system going to completely cashless tolls and eliminating the jobs of toll takers, those paying without an EZ-Pass will see a 30% increase in fees as well as an additional service charge of $2.00 tacked on when the bill is mailed to one’s home.
As a result of the horrific stretch limousine accident in upstate New York, all limousines will be required to have seatbelts for every passenger.
Due to questions about election victors and margins, the Legislature passed a bill that requires an automatic recount if the margin of victory is 20 votes or the margin is 0.5% or smaller. In an election where over 1 million votes are cast, a margin of less than 5,000 votes will automatically trigger a recount.
The Senate also passed a bill to give it legal authority to move ahead with the impeachment trial of Governor Cuomo if the Assembly takes a vote to impeach when the investigation concludes.
There is some discussion of reconvening the Legislature during the summer months to address issues left on the table.
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Mary C. Marvin is the mayor of the Village of Bronxville, New York. Share your thoughts by directing email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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SOURCE: Mary Ann Maglioto | Assistant to the Mayor & Village Administrator | Bronxville Village Hall