WSJ: NYS Legislative Session May End with ‘Big Ugly’

Hi Everyone –

As the legislative session comes to a close next Wednesday, June 19th, there is a possibility that many of the outstanding issues may end up in a “Big Ugly”. This is when an omnibus bill is created where many of the outstanding issues are rolled into one bill. The below article appeared in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal describing the potential of a “Big Ugly”.

‘Big Ugly’ Bill May Emerge in Albany as State Legislature Nears Break

Single piece of legislation might be tasked with tackling rent regulations, climate change, sexual-harassment claims and online sports betting

By Jimmy Vielkind  Wall Street Journal  June 9, 2019

Prepare to meet the “big ugly.”

Leaders of the Senate and Assembly will begin serious negotiations this week with Gov. Andrew Cuomo about a host of unresolved issues, from rent control to, potentially, legalizing recreational marijuana.

It has been standard practice at the Capitol to combine disparate issues into a single piece of legislation to create a Franken-bill with parts that appeal to all comers. With so much in the air, lobbyists and lawmakers are waiting to see if a “big ugly” bill will emerge this year before the Legislature adjourns for the summer on June 19.

Imagine it: one bill that renews rent regulations, addresses climate change, changes the legal standard for sexual-harassment claims, authorizes mobile sports betting and … take your pick.

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie have both said they hope to avoid a “big ugly.” But Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan, a Republican from Long Island, warned during a press conference last week that such an omnibus bill was coming. He was stating his opposition to a measure that would let undocumented immigrants obtain a New York driver’s license.

“Don’t wrap it up in a bundle of things,” Mr. Flanagan said.

Democrats control both the state’s Senate and Assembly for the first time in a decade. But the agenda of the party’s progressive wing—including the driver’s license bill and marijuana legalization—has run into resistance from more moderate members representing Long Island and New York City’s northern suburbs.

Progressive advocacy groups have been targeting those senators, whom they see as roadblocks to their agenda, including rent laws that are more favorable to tenants. On Monday, members of Make the Road New York, which has organized protests at the Capitol, will demonstrate at the offices of the six Democratic senators from Long Island and urge them to include a “good cause” eviction measure for nonregulated tenants in the final rent bill.

Democratic State Chairman Jay Jacobs, who lives in Nassau County, said he has warned suburban legislators that supporting those bills could have political consequences.

“My argument has been: Let’s play the long game, not the short game,” Mr. Jacobs said in an interview. Gains in the suburbs helped Democrats win the Senate majority.

Mr. Cuomo made a similar argument in a Friday public-radio interview, but both he and Mr. Jacobs said their efforts weren’t coordinated.

The rent laws expire on June 15, which is viewed as the deadline for action.


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