How Does a Bill Become a Law in Albany?
How Does a Bill Become a Law in Albany?
“No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.” (1866, Gideon Tucker, Surrogate Court Judge)
At the December Delegate Assembly UFT President Mulgrew began the meeting with the President’s Report: a compilation of national, state and local do-ings, mostly political. On the state level, improvements in Tier 6 of the Teachers Retirement System pension and mayoral control.
Albany is “governed” by what was once called, “three men a room,” now “two gals and a guy,” Governor Hochul, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Steward Cousins, all Democrats in a legislature dominated by Democrats.
The legislative session begins with the Governor’s State of the State message before a joint meeting of legislature in the iconic 1879 Assembly Chamber with all the bells and whistles. In a well-crafted hour and a half speech the governor recounted her successes and laid out her plans for the session and beyond.
Her education comments were few: teaching reading and pools. The State should jump on the “Back to Basics” movement and adopt phonics literacy programs and teach kids to swim. No comment on mayoral control.
Towards the end of the speech the governor addressed the most controversial topic, the elephant in the room, building 800,000 units of “affordable housing” including state authority to override local zoning laws, a no-go last session. Suburban legislators in both parties oppose and Democratic control in the House of Representatives could depend on the New York State seats. Last session the progressive Democrats demanded “good cause” eviction laws, opposed by the governor.
The New York Times report on the speech here and the Associated Press below correctly points to the core political issue separating Democrats as well as the Governor and the Democratic members of both Houses,
The annual address in Albany came as both Republicans and Democrats have placed increased attention on New York as a potential battleground state for the U.S. House in November, adding a level of national importance to the governor’s agenda this year.
For Hochul, the dynamic could prove challenging as she moves to compromise with progressive statehouse Democrats while not exposing her party’s congressional candidates to attacks from conservatives.
One of the biggest priorities for the governor this year is to reach a deal with progressives to create more housing in the state, a politically vexing problem that has previously proven elusive but remains a tenet of her agenda
Next week the governor will release her Preliminary Budget: will she include non-budgetary items in the budget? Include an extension of mayoral control? Eliminate the cap on the number of NYC charter schools? Or, stick to the items referenced in her State of the State speech?
The legislature is in Albany for 61 days and adjourns June 5th, party primaries are on June 25th.
In January, the State of the State, the Preliminary Budget next week, one-house budgets in February, the actual negotiations in March and the constitutional end of the fiscal year, March 31st although going beyond the April 1 date is possible if the “two gals and a guy” can’t agree on a budget. After the budget the legislature races to the June 5th adjournment with hundreds of bills, called “the big ugly,” passing in the final few days.
The major UFT issues, from the union website, “Fix Tier 6” means,
While Tier 6 provides a pension with a lifetime payment, it is not as beneficial as previous tiers.
There are two big reforms we want to focus on:
Lower the retirement age for Tier 6 members to age 55 after 30 years of service
Raise final average salaries by using the same calculations as Tier 4 members
Thanks to our advocacy, we’ve already won some pension improvements: In 2022, Tier 6 member vesting dropped from ten to five years, in line with Tier 4 members, guaranteeing a pension benefit for 85,000 Tier 6 members.
Pension improvements cost money and a change in the law is a difficult lift, 10% of New York City budget is the cost off pensions. An ally are legislators elected after 2010, they are Tier 6 members.
At least one pension reform bill has been introduced https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2023/A5487.
The other major legislation is mayoral control, probably addressed after the budget is passed. While the opposition to mayoral control is substantial the actual replacement has always been the issue.
NY 1 reports,
Another issue of importance to Adams is mayoral control of the city’s public schools, which which is up for renewal in June.
Mayoral control allows him to handpick the school’s chancellor.
Some lawmakers are skeptical of the issue; others want it eliminated. The New York state Department of Education was asked by the Legislature to analyze the issue. The department is expected to release its report in March.
Adams, who thinks the issue should be called “school governance,” rather than “mayoral control,” told Capital Tonight that he’s not worried.
Remember, “What, me worry”
Everyone can become a citizen lobbyist.
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