NY legislative session nearing end with fate of several bills still unknown

With less than 48 hours left before the New York State Legislative session wraps up for the year, any sort of deal on increasing housing access in the state seems stalled for now.

In a rare move, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie both called out Governor Kathy Hochul for being opposed to a housing plan they say they have been working towards. This includes extending an affordable housing tax incentive for New York City known as 421-A and a measure named "Good Cause Eviction," which restricts tenant evictions.

"Unfortunately, it was clear that we could not come to an agreement with the governor on this plan," the two leaders wrote in a statement. "It takes all three parties - the Senate, the Assembly, and the governor - in order to enact legislation into law… This plan must prioritize not only the construction of new units of affordable housing but also robust protections for tenants including good cause eviction."

Yet, since Democrats have supermajorities in both houses, technically, they could override any veto from the governor if they had the votes.


Low-income tenants rally against rent increases at NYC rent board hearing

During a preliminary vote last month, the Rent Guidelines Board considered raising rents between 2% and 5% for one-year leases, and between 4% and 7% for two-year leases.

Hochul’s team fired back, pointing to the Housing Compact Hochul tried to push through in the budget.

"Governor Hochul put forward nation-leading housing legislation in her Executive Budget that the legislature flatly rejected. Now, in the final hours of the legislative session, the Assembly and the Senate are blaming the Governor for their own failure to act," Hochul’s Communications Director Julie Wood said. "To be clear: Unlike the more than 500 bills the legislature has passed since January, no housing package was ever even introduced, let alone passed, for the Governor's review."

New York City is facing a significant housing shortage and in the last election cycle, it was one of the top issues for voters.

"The housing crisis is real," Mayor Eric Adams said on Thursday at an unrelated press event.

Mayor Adams emphasized that lawmakers can not walk away from Albany without some deal on top issues like 421-a.

"If we don't come out of Albany with a housing plan and put those bills on the floor, then we're not going to have housing in the pipeline," Adams said.

There are numerous outstanding bills up in Albany that might not pass until the final few hours. But according to sources, here are a few that have at least a good shot at getting across the finish line.

  • The Clean Slate Act, which would seal criminal convictions after a certain number of years, will likely pass the Senate on Friday. There is a good chance this bill is brought to the floor for a vote in the Assembly on Friday as well, but it’s still unclear at this point.
  • A bill that would move the presidential primaries from April 30 to April 2 is almost sure to pass. This move would give New York more influence in the Democratic primary and under the Democratic Party rules, regional states with the same primary date can send more delegates to the national convention.
  • Also, a bill that would create a commission tasked with studying the harms of slavery to determine if reparations are needed is set to also pass both houses possibly by Thursday night.

"Typically study bills are where issues go to die, but I think the reparations bill is different," Blair Horner with the New York Public Interest Research Group explained. "I don't think the advocates if this becomes law, are going to be easily happy with the study that ends up in the dustbin or on the shelf and not implemented."

Bills that have a less certain future is the Sammy’s Law bill. This bill would allow the city to lower its speed limit. It passed in the Senate, but so far the Assembly has not moved on it.

Also, a bill that would change the name of the Mario Cuomo Bridge back to Tappan Zee is stalled for now.

While it gained more popularity this year,  it also is not a main focus of the legislature right now.

"It would just be a cost in terms of changing the signs," Horner said.

However, this can all quickly change in the final few hours. Lawmakers expect to wrap up the legislative session for the year sometime overnight Friday or early Saturday morning.