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LI vs. State NY


By Austin C. Jefferson and Rebecca C. Lewis
December 18, 2023

    Albany Agenda
    New York State

State legislators are looking to pick up where they left off last year as the first day of the 2024 legislative session kicks off a new year in Albany on Jan. 3. Lawmakers are hoping to take meaningful action on a range of issues, including housing, health care, cannabis reform and the environment.

Then Gov. Kathy Hochul is scheduled to give her State of the State address on Jan. 9 and lay out her agenda for the coming year. The state is also running a budget deficit, which will factor into decisions that the governor makes across most issues. Plus, housing is set to be a major talking point after a mixture of stonewalling and lobbying led to a deal not getting done last year.

To make matters even more interesting, it’s a critical election year in New York, with presidential, congressional and state legislative seats at stake. With lawmakers well aware that one vote could result in attack ads or election losses, there will be more factors at play in Albany this year than just legislation. Even Hochul acknowledged it.

A growing progressive coalition that showed its might in both chambers last year will be back in full force. Meanwhile, the Democratic supermajority may be hoping for simpler negotiations after the housing and bail reform caused a state budget deal to be reached a month late.

There are so many policy items to be aware of heading into next year. Here are some of the biggest issues on the docket for the 2024 state legislative session.


An overarching constraint that will impact what gets done in Albany is the impending $4.3 billion budget deficit in fiscal year 2024, which was down from the more than $9 billion deficit projected earlier this year.

Progressive activists and lawmakers are pushing once again for a variety of new taxes on the wealthy, as well as further increasing the income tax for high-earners. Assembly Member Crystal Peoples-Stokes, a high-ranking member with sway in the chamber, said she doesn’t want to see the Legislature approve new taxes on the wealthy to help address the state’s looming budget woes.

State Senate Finance Committee Chair Liz Krueger said she was interested in exploring how to maximize the state’s sales tax revenue, but declined to provide additional details to State of Politics in November.

The governor already announced a hiring freeze at state agencies in September through the end of the year as a cost-savings measure. The move comes after two years of record-high budgets during Hochul’s first two years in office.

Budget hardliners have asked that the state make cuts rather than dip into its rainy day fund, which is approaching $20 billion.


Hochul is expected to take a second run at passing her housing plan after it fizzled last year. But she’s also dropping a controversial part of her plan to mandate housing construction after it faced intense opposition from suburban lawmakers who bristled at the idea of the state taking away local zoning control. Hochul confirmed she’ll be taking a different approach next year.

“Good cause” eviction will return to Albany for a third year in a row as housing advocates plan to push for increased tenant protections – setting up a showdown with the real estate lobby. Sponsored by state Sen. Julia Salazar and Assembly Member Pamela Hunter, it would place limits on when a landlord is legally allowed to evict a tenant and would effectively place a cap on rent increases for apartments that aren’t rent-stabilized. Progressives last year said they would not accept any housing package without “good cause” eviction – and they didn’t, because a housing package didn’t pass.

Housing advocates are still also pushing for the Housing Access Voucher Program, which would fund vouchers for people experiencing homelessness and those imminently facing a loss of housing. Unlike with other housing measures, it has support from both tenant advocates and landlords, who would receive the money from voucher payments. It also has bipartisan support. But Hochul has expressed reservations about the bill due to its cost. Last year, lawmakers proposed allocating $250 million for the program in their one-house budgets.

Renewing or replacing the expired 421-a tax break for developers in New York City will likely be discussed next year. Hochul had originally proposed a replacement in 2022 when the program was set to expire, but lawmakers rejected it. Last year, she proposed a more modest extension for existing projects, which also did not make it through the Legislature. With the right labor protections, renewing the program has support from construction unions and developers contend the tax break is necessary to build more housing in New York City, while opponents said it doesn’t create enough affordable housing. State Sen. Jeremy Cooney also said he would like to see a return of the upstate version of 421-a that the governor proposed last year.

Other measures to build social housing, which would be a sort of statewide land trust with local oversight, may be introduced. Still without sponsors or a bill number, the legislation would create a new department called the Social Housing Development Authority and create a pathway for community-based affordable housing.

Housing activists may also pursue legislation that will further regulate the administration of the Rent Stabilization and Emergency Tenant Protection Act and change the New York City Rent Guidelines Board. With a controversial 3% rent increase in June in New York City, one change would move votes on rental increases to November and see that guidelines for conducting vacancy studies are clearer and that tenants are given a stronger voice in deliberations. With Newburgh set to potentially become the second upstate city to enact tenant protections after Kingston, reforms could prove timely.

The Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act could be revisited in 2024. If passed, the bill sponsored by state Sen. Zellnor Myrie and Assembly Member Marcela Mitaynes would allow tenants the opportunity to pool their money and purchase their apartment building if a landlord attempted to sell. With the right of first refusal, the hope of lawmakers and activists would be that fewer tenants would be displaced if given the opportunity to own their building.

Criminal justice

Criminal justice advocates have had several major victories in recent years, and they’re pushing for several significant parole reform bills. Those two bills – Fair and Timely Parole as well as Elder Parole – would make it easier for incarcerated people who are already eligible for parole to actually receive it by ensuring the parole board takes into consideration factors like good behavior. The second bill would make all incarcerated people 55 or older who have served at least 15 years eligible for parole, but would not automatically grant it. They would still need to go before the parole board and receive approval.

Advocates will likely make another push for legislation that would remove mandatory minimum sentences, which was part of a package of bills they focused on last year. The other two bills would permit judges to review and reevaluate excessive sentences and permit people to receive time off their sentence for good behavior.

Bail reform has been a major topic in Albany the past few years, with several rollbacks of the landmark 2019 legislation. But after Hochul held up the budget by a month earlier this year over bail reform, it’s unlikely that she’ll make it a priority again. Spurred by the spike in antisemitism this year, Republicans plan to pursue legislation that would expand the definition of a hate crime and reduce the possibility of possible domestic terrorists being released through the state’s bail laws. Crimes like threatening mass harm could become hate crimes.

State Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal and Assembly Member Grace Lee hope to expand New York’s hate crime laws to include 31 other offenses after a rise in Islamophobia and antisemitism. Gang assault, sexual misconduct, rape, drawing graffiti and weapon possession would be classed as potential hate crimes under the bill.

Cannabis and agriculture

After a legislative hearing in October on the state of the legalized marijuana rollout, state Sen. Jeremy Cooney said he plans to roll out a package of cannabis-related bills in the 2024 session.

Cannabis growers are also seeking relief through the Recompense Fund that state Sen. Michelle Hinchey and Assembly Member Donna Lupardo announced earlier this year. The fund would prop up farmers who have yet to see a return on their investment in the cannabis market after the state’s complicated rollout of licenses, which have been held up because of several lawsuits.

Hinchey also wants to continue the Nourish New York program, which allows farmers to sell surplus produce to food insecure communities. She has legislation that would allocate funding to 10 regional food banks that would be separate from other Department of Health programs in the administration and application process.

Energy and utilities

Utility providers will be on the defensive as advocates and lawmakers hope to rein in price hikes that have been tough on homeowners and low-income New Yorkers.

For starters, lawmakers could move to have the Energy Affordability Program codified into law, which is currently administered by the state Public Service Commission. They argue that this would decrease the odds that low-income ratepayers will go into utility arrears. In codifying it, utility advocates hope that more funding for the program can be secured and that it can be expanded to more people. There will likely be requests for the program to be included in Hochul’s budget.

Delivery costs stuck in the craw of many New Yorkers attempting to heat their homes in recent winters. State Sen. Shelley Mayer and Assembly Member Didi Barrett will likely push legislation that will regulate how utility companies set their rates. Rather than deriving their own formulas and presenting them to the Public Service Commission for approval, they would use formulas created by the commission, formalizing the process. Also in an attempt to keep rates down, legislation could be revisited next year that doesn’t allow utilities to charge fixed rates for metering, billing, service connections and customer service. Introduced by state Sen. Kevin Parker and Assembly Member Robert Carroll, the bill would save New Yorkers tens of millions of dollars.

Health care

At the top of the agenda for many health care advocates, including 1199SEIU and safety net hospitals, is once again asking for higher Medicaid reimbursement rates. They have long said that stagnant reimbursement rates have left health care facilities serving the lowest-income New Yorkers in a constant state of imminent fiscal collapse. Last year, they demanded a 10% increase for hospitals and a 20% increase for nursing homes. The final budget last year included a 7.5% increase at hospitals and 6.5% increase at nursing homes, but they said the deal was insufficient. To address structural issues within the industry, 1199SEIU would ask for roughly $6 billion in funding over the next five years to cover the gap in cost coverage for health care providers accepting Medicaid. They said that a 30% gap in coverage limits the sustainability of providers in New York.

The perennial New York Health Act, which would create a single-payer health care system in New York, is unlikely to get passed – but that’s not stopping advocates from continuing to push for it. Bill sponsor state Sen. Gustavo Rivera expressed confidence that the legislation is still building momentum and told City & State in November that “there's been conversations that I've had with certain folks about the bill that I haven’t had before.” He said those conversations have given him hope that some new big players will begin supporting the bill.

Rivera, who chairs the state Senate Health Committee, also said he’ll be focused on getting passed his legislation that would legalize supervised injection sites statewide. Hochul has consistently opposed the sites where people can use illegal drugs under the supervision of trained medical professionals. She has declined to heed the recommendations of the Opioid Settlement Fund Advisory Board to allocate some of the billions in the fund to supervised injection sites due to the fact that they remain technically illegal under state and federal law. The two that currently operate in New York City do so with the support of the mayor and the cooperation of law enforcement.

For-profit insurance companies will also be under scrutiny. A bill sponsored by state Sen. Tim Kennedy and Assembly Member Erik Dilan would seek to tax out-of-state transfers made by for-profit insurance companies to ensure that money gained from premiums stays in New York. The idea is that that money can be reinvested in New York’s health care system.

The “Coverage for All” bill didn’t become law last session, and its dozens of supporters within the Legislature will try with a renewed effort to pass legislation that will provide subsidized health care to New Yorkers – whether they are documented or not. It failed to get traction over budget concerns during the past two years, even when lawmakers received clarity from the federal government that the state could apply for a waiver to use federal funds.


Environmental advocates are attempting to hold the state to its climate change goals and protect the state’s watersheds.

At the top of the agenda is the NY HEAT Act, which activists have been pushing for years. It would stop utilities from initiating new gas hookups and would also cap utility bills for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers to 6% of their annual salary. Climate and environmental advocates called on Hochul to include the bill in her budget at rallies in New York City and Albany. It passed in the state Senate in the last session, but failed in the Assembly.

Environmental advocates also focused on the Climate Change Superfund Act, which remains a priority for the sponsor of the bill, state Sen. Liz Krueger, for the upcoming session. This bill also passed in the state Senate, but failed in the Assembly. The Climate Change Superfund Act would require major polluters to pay a total of $3 billion a year into a fund meant to help cover costs related to building new green infrastructure.

New York Renews has a $1 billion investment plan for a variety of different climate and environmental initiatives. They view it as a stepping stone to what they said was a necessary $10 billion a year investment into programs that will help the state meet its climate goals. Other groups are asking for $600 million, at minimum, to support future improvements and maintenance following the passage of the Clean Water Infrastructure Act – $100 million of which would go toward replacing lead service lines.

In that same vein, advocates for New York’s ecosystem will be hoping to reduce PFAS chemicals in the state’s waterways. The PFAS Disclosure Act would force holders of State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits to measure and publicly disclose the levels of PFAS they discharge into New York’s waterways. Sponsored by state Sen. Rachel May and Assembly Member Anna Kelles, the bill would make communities aware of their exposure to PFAS, a group of synthetic chemicals that may be linked to certain cancers. It passed the state Senate last year, and in 2024 lawmakers hope it can make it out of the Assembly.

Assembly Member Emily Gallagher and state Sen. Rachel May plan to pursue legislation to empower municipalities and their water boards to levy a fee for stormwater runoff. Pollutants and debris can travel from that runoff into bodies of water, possibly endangering the water supply. While such fees exist in some municipalities, this bill would allow water boards to charge property owners who don’t effectively manage their runoff while simultaneously creating an incentive for eco-friendly drainage systems.


State Sen. John Liu and Assembly Member Zohran Mamdani plan to introduce legislation eliminating a property tax break for Columbia University and New York University that is estimated to be worth $327 million. If passed, this session the measure would need to pass in a public referendum the following year. The two universities own a large portfolio of properties, and the money would go to fund the City University of New York.

The issue of mayoral control of New York City public schools will be an important issue again after the two-year extension approved in 2022 is set to expire. Back then, New York City Mayor Eric Adams had wanted three or four years of control, but lawmakers did not agree, even with Hochul on his side. Retiring Assembly Member Jeffrion Aubry said that in his final session, he would like to see a more permanent solution to mayoral control of schools, rather than the temporary extensions that keep the issue in a near-permanent state of flux.

A New Deal for CUNY will be the objective of lawmakers hoping to inject $1.7 billion of funding into the CUNY and SUNY systems over five years. Introduced last year by state Sen. Andrew Gounardes and Assembly Member Karines Reyes, the bill would create free tuition for students, allow for the hiring of more faculty and mental health professionals, and establish staff to student ratios. A capital plan would also be created as part of the bill.

The CUNY system has been able to tout increased enrollment this year as progress, but some SUNY schools are facing large budget deficits, program cuts and faculty walkouts over their problematic financial situation has worsened by pandemic-era enrollment dips.

New York’s Tuition Assistance Program, some lawmakers posit, should be expanded to more income levels. State Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky and Assembly Member Patricia Fahy introduced a bill that would raise the income threshold for the families of students applying for TAP. After a public hearing on the issue, lawmakers proposed that by increasing the amount of eligible students, more people would attend college.

Democracy and transparency

A new fight to renew Open Meetings Law reforms will likely begin next session as lawmakers debate how much access the public, and journalists, should have to legislators from the municipal level to the Executive Chamber when they make important decisions.

There will be a push for requirements for online access for the public to view and comment on meetings, offer a designated space for the public to view meetings, expand the number of advisory boards covered by the Open Meetings Law and expand the use of videoconferencing technology.

Local industrial development agencies will also be examined over their administration of payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements. Reinvent Albany plans to request more of the money paid by developers to these agencies be directed to schools rather than the agencies. A bill sponsored by state Sen. Sean Ryan and Assembly Member Harry Bronson would stop industrial development agencies from waiving tax payments that would otherwise be received by school districts.

Inspired by the saga of former Rep. George Santos, state Sen. John Liu and Assembly Member Gina Sillitti plan to introduce legislation that would require political candidates to swear under threat of perjury that details about their background, residency and employment history are true. Candidates would have to send sworn statements to the state Board of Elections affirming these details if they are included as part of their platform.

Child care

In a bid to alleviate so-called child care deserts, Empire State Campaign for Child Care believes that supplementing the wages of workers in the industry will increase access to child care and lower the cost of receiving it.

State Sen. Jabari Brisport’s Universal Child Care Act could make a return to Albany and through funding and other initiatives the senator would hope to revamp the industry. The bill would require $5 billion in funding. Of that, $1 billion would go toward stabilizing the child care workforce, $3 billion would be set aside to subsidize “high quality and culturally responsive child care,” $400 million would go toward child care infrastructure and $600 million would be earmarked for reimbursements as the costs of child care transition.

The bill didn’t make it last session due to budgetary concerns, although Brisport is hopeful that its support within the Legislature will help it get across the finish line next year.


Safe streets advocates plan to push for Sammy’s Law once again after it came close to passing in the Assembly last year, but ultimately failed amid opposition from certain outer borough and upstate lawmakers. The legislation is named after Sammy Cohen Eckstein, a 12-year old who was killed by a speeding car in Brooklyn. It would allow New York City to set its own speed limits.

Another bill named in someone’s honor, groups like VOCAL-NY plan to advocate for Daniel’s Law. Named after Daniel Prude, whom police in Rochester killed after they were called to help him while he was experiencing a mental health crisis, the legislation would enable social workers and mental health professionals to respond to emergency calls about mental health crises, rather than law enforcement.

Correction: A previous version of this article referred incorrectly to the sponsors of the stormwater runoff bill. The bill sponsors are Assembly Member Emily Gallagher and state Sen. Rachel May.

Admitted: June 1, 1796
Population: 77,262
Prior time as territory: 6 years
Journey to statehood: Took place without congressionally approved "enabling act," and in so doing blazed a trail for six future states that would similarly barge into the Union without first being invited. Tennessee's first two "senators" were denied entry to Congress, but the territory later lobbied successfully for admission. Its first officially recognized congressman, Andrew Jackson, was elected in August 1796.


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