21 key achievements of the New York Legislature this session
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - These are some key accomplishments of the New York state Legislature during its 2019 session, which ended Friday:
1. MARIJUANA DECRIMINALIZATION: After legalization efforts faltered, lawmakers instead voted to eliminate criminal penalties for using or possessing up to 2 ounces (57 grams) of pot. People caught with pot in public will still face fines. The law will also create a process for the expungement of low-level pot convictions. Cuomo has not yet signed the measure but has expressed support.
2. CLIMATE CHANGE: New York will have the most aggressive carbon emissions reduction targets in the nation under a measure that mandates 100% renewable energy by 2040 and an 85% greenhouse gas reduction from 1990 levels by 2050. Cuomo supports the measure but has yet to sign it.
3. DREAM ACT: Lawmakers endorsed legislation earlier this year to make financial aid available to students who were brought into the country illegally as children. The measure and the appropriate funds were included in this year's budget.
4. LICENSES FOR IMMIGRANTS: New York is now the 13th state to authorize driver's licenses for immigrants in the U.S. illegally under a law signed by Cuomo.
5. RENT REGULATIONS: More than 1 million apartment dwellers in and around New York City will get new protections against big rent increases under a new law that also makes rent stabilization rules permanent and allows cities statewide to opt into the rules.
6. VACCINE EXEMPTIONS: The state will no longer grant waivers for mandatory vaccinations based on religious beliefs.
7. ABORTION RIGHTS: Lawmakers have codified abortion rights in state law, including a provision permitting late-term abortion when a woman's health is endangered. Cuomo signed the bill in January, on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling.
8. TRUMP TAXES: State tax officials would be directed to disclose the state tax returns of top public official who pay New York taxes — including President Donald Trump — when asked to do so by congressional committees. Cuomo has yet to sign this bill.
9. FARMWORKER RIGHTS: Farm laborers would get a day off each week, earn overtime after 60 hours of weekly work and be allowed to organize under legislation awaiting Cuomo's signature.
10. CHILD VICTIMS ACT: Molestation victims would have more time to file lawsuits or seek criminal charges under a new law that extends the statute of limitations going forward. The new law also gives victims a one-year window to file lawsuits now barred by the statute.
11. MANHATTAN TOLLS: Vehicles traveling south of 61st Street will be charged a toll by electronic devices placed around the borough's central business district beginning in 2021. New York City's Metropolitan Transportation Authority will create a review board tasked with determining toll amounts depending on the time of day, along with exemptions. Funds will be dedicated solely to upgrading the city's transit system. Revenues from a new transfer tax on Manhattan homes that sell for more than $25 million and a tax on internet retail sales will also help fund MTA upgrades.
12. PLASTIC BAG BAN: The law, which Cuomo signed on Earth Day, prohibits most single-use plastic bags provided by supermarkets and other retailers starting March 1, 2020. It gives counties and cities the option to charge 5 cents for paper bags.
13. PROPERTY TAX CAP: The 2% can on local property taxes is now permanent. Current temporary law was scheduled to expire next June. Since its implementation in 2012, it has saved taxpayers $25 billion, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
14. CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORMS: Lawmakers eliminated cash bail for misdemeanors and non-violent arrest, required officers to issue appearance tickets rather than take someone into custody for low-level crimes required prosecutors and defense lawyers to share all pre-trial information and ensured a defendant's right to a speedy trial. Under a deal between Cuomo and lawmakers, state prison officials will revamp the use of solitary confinement.
15. PUBLIC CAMPAIGN FINANCING: The state established a commission to implement a public campaign financing system for Senate and Assembly races and for statewide offices, with up to $100 million annually in public funds for campaigns. The commission is due to submit its findings in a report Dec. 1.
16. WATER INFRASTRUCTURE: Another $500 million will be allocated to clean water infrastructure, in addition to the state's $2.5 billion investment.
17. LIMOUSINE REGULATIONS: Seatbelts would be required in large stretch limos and penalties for operating a limo without proper state authorization or for violating transportation safety regulations would increase. State police and transportation officials would have the authority to seize limo license plates when vehicles aren't in compliance; and the state would be allowed to revoke registration for limos that don't meet federal safety standards. Some of the measures still await Cuomo's signature.
18. GENDA: Lawmakers added gender identity and gender expression to the state's anti-discrimination law, making it illegal to deny people a job, housing, education or public accommodations because they are transgender.
19. SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND RAPE: Lawmakers eliminated the statute of limitations for second- and third-degree rape, and created a new legal standard for civil harassment suits intended to make it easier for victims to file lawsuits.
20. EARLY VOTING: Voters will be able to cast a ballot in person up to 10 days before an election, starting this year.
21. CAT DECLAWING BAN: New York is now the first state to ban the declawing of cats, which animal welfare advocates say is cruel and unnecessary because it involves the amputation of the first segment of a cat's toes. This measure hasn't been signed by Cuomo yet.