Rachel Holliday Smith, Reuven Blau, Claudia Irizarry Aponte, and Samantha Maldonado, The City
Albany lawmakers have passed a lot of bills this session. But many of their major goals — along with Gov. Kathy Hochul’s plan to address the state’s acute housing crisis — have so far gone nowhere.
Some big items included a bailout for the MTA in the state budget, a new bill sealing most criminal records, tweaks to local election laws, and adding two new school holidays: Diwali and Lunar New Year.
But with the legislative session coming to an end, many goals will likely have to wait another year, including: “good cause” eviction protections, a replacement for expired tax breaks for apartment developers, and Sammy’s Law, which would have given New York City the authority to lower its speed limits.
This article will be updated as lawmakers wrap up their work in the state capital. Here’s what the state Senate and Assembly have passed on to Hochul’s desk for her signature or veto, and what they’ve kicked down the road:
Criminal Justice System
Most proposed criminal justice reform legislation got bottled up this legislative session. But the Clean Slate Act, designed to automatically seal most criminal records of people who stay out of trouble for a number of years, passed both houses of the legislature. Currently, up to 1.4 million people stand to benefit.
Supporters of the measure argued that a criminal conviction, even for a low-level offense, can make it difficult — and in some cases impossible — for people to land jobs or housing.
People convicted of sex crimes and class A felonies, including murder, would not be eligible to have their records sealed. All other cases would be sealed three years after someone serves time or is on parole for a misdemeanor, and after eight years for felony cases. That means that employers and other members of the public would not be able to see those conviction records, even as they would still be discoverable in subsequent criminal trials.
Backers of the measure are urging the governor to sign it into law. Hochul has not indicated where she stands on the bill.
The state’s hourly minimum wage will increase to $17 in New York City and its suburbs by 2026, and the rest of the state by 2027, in an agreement reached between the legislature and Hochul earlier this session. Downstate, hourly wages will automatically increase to $16 next year and by 50 cents annually until 2026. And in a first, future increases will be indexed to inflation.
But not everyone is happy.
The boost is about $4 short of the $21.25 minimum wage sought by progressive lawmakers, who say $17 hourly is not enough to keep up with the pace of inflation since 2019, the year the hourly wage in New York City reached its current $15 floor.
State Senator Jessica Ramos (D-Queens), who introduced a bill to raise the minimum wage to $21.25, noted the boost ultimately approved by the governor only increases wages for the city’s low-wage workers by $13 a week. “A $17 wage puts us behind other comparable high-cost-of-living cities like Seattle, San Francisco, and Washington DC, which will all have minimum wages at or around $20 by 2026,” Ramos said in April. “We can do better.”
Few measures that would advance goals under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act of 2019 passed this session. One notable bill that the Senate passed but did not come to a vote in the Assembly: the NY HEAT Act, which would direct the Public Service Commission to regulate utilities in line with the state’s required greenhouse gas emission reductions, and decrease reliance on gas. The bill would have also capped energy bills at 6% of income for low-income customers.
Few of Hochul’s ambitious housing plans came to fruition this spring. She set out to force communities across the state to produce more development by letting the state override local rules if they failed to hit production targets that aimed to spur construction of more than 800,000 housing units over a decade.
But not only did suburban lawmakers reject Hochul’s zoning proposals, the legislature has now failed to act on three other major measures sought by developers and tenants:
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