LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: The End of the Albany Session—Out Like a Lamb

LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: The End of the Albany Session—Out Like a Lamb
Alexander Roithmayr; HGAR Director of Government Affairs

With much debate during the State Budget Fight, the State Legislature seemed ready to jog out the rest of the Legislative Session with infighting, no movement on the housing crisis and a lot still left to be done. What started as a lion of a legislative session, centered around a newly-elected governor and a plan to tackle the housing crisis, was ending as a lamb ready to go out to pasture.

The State Legislative Calendar can be a little hard to understand, so here is a summary:

Originally designed so agricultural workers could spend the second half of the year working the land and the first half of the year actively participating in state government, the New York State Legislative Session was scheduled for about six months, from January to June. In more recent times, despite having six months to legislate, State Representatives are most active in the weeks and hours before the budget is due in March and the end of session in June. Much like a senior before finals or a squirrel before winter, the halls of power in Albany are busy with much scurrying and cramming in the last week of March and final two weeks of session in June.

That being all said, this legislative session flow has been anything but typical. The budget fight has left our state representatives worn out and ready to leave Albany and tend to their districts as they would have tended to their farms in yesteryear. The year’s session resulted in a distinct lack of efficiency in the halls of the Capitol Building.

In 2023, both the New York State Assembly and Senate saw a significant drop in the number of bills passed by the legislature compared to 2022. Of the more that 15,000 bills introduced, a total of 839 bills passed both houses so far. For reference, 2022 saw 1,007 measures pass both chambers. In 2023, the State Senate also saw nearly double the amount of bills passed in their chambers compared to the Assembly. To better catch up, the Assembly will reconvene in the coming weeks to vote on bills that the Senate has already passed. The Assembly Chambers, despite having a Democratic Super Majority, are reportedly at a standstill over several issues.

Some of the bills that were passed take on topics such as the sealing of old criminal records, a commission to study reparations, expanding health care services for undocumented immigrants, and allowing liquor stores to sell on Sundays. Noticeably absent is any movement on the issue of the housing crisis. Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Housing Compact, which would have required municipalities to add more housing stock, has been dead for weeks. The legislature, which killed the Housing Compact, has not offered any alternative housing plan or solutions.

There was a concerted effort by members of the legislature to pass “Good Cause Eviction” both during budget negotiations and at the end of session. HGAR, NYSAR and a number of like-minded organizations fought hard to defeat these efforts to pass Good Cause Eviction. As of press time, there seems to be a general understanding that Good Cause Eviction is not a viable solution to the housing crisis.

All in all, the 2023 Legislative Session was a distracted one. The governor’s housing push and the protracted budget process left little room for Realtor topics to be discussed. It can be hard to focus on lifting the ban on solicitous phone calls when emergency budget extenders need to be passed. This Lion and Lamb Session can also be described as the stereotype of Albany—a legislative session full of infighting, late budgets and a refusal to tackle the bigger issues.

Just in case you were wondering, State Representatives are up for reelection next year.

Alexander Roithmayr

Alexander Roithmayr is Director of Government Affairs for the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors.

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