Capitol Watch: Session by the numbers; Gov. Cuomo’s full desk

Local Politics
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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The numbers are in, and the recently concluded New York legislative session was officially one of the most productive in recent history.

The Senate and Assembly together passed 935 bills in the six-month session that ended this month. That’s 300 more than last year and the most overall in more than a decade.

Here’s a look at what’s making news:

BUSY SESSION

When Democrats won control of both chambers of the Legislature last year, they vowed to make history. And for good or bad they did, passing more bills than any Legislature in years.

The 935 measures that passed both the Senate and the Assembly included ones creating new rental protections for more than a million tenants in and around New York City, the further decriminalization of marijuana, safeguards for abortion rights, and aggressive new targets for reducing pollution that causes global warming.

The vast majority, however, are more modest in their scope, impacting only a specific industry, community or corner of the law.

What’s responsible for the brisk pace? One-party rule. In recent years, when each party held a chamber, the Senate and Assembly would often pass their own partisan bills, which members knew had no chance in the opposite chamber. But with Democrats now in charge of both the Senate and Assembly, a bill’s chances of passing both chambers is much higher.

CUOMO’S FULL DESK

All that legislating could translate into lots of work for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, who must decide whether to sign or veto hundreds of complicated bills passed in the session’s final weeks.

They include the pot decriminalization bill and the emissions-reductions proposal, as well as bills that would permit people who have been adopted to request their original birth certificates, ban the declawing of cats and require ingredient labels on feminine hygiene products.

Cuomo has also yet to act on several high-profile measures that passed earlier in the year, including one that would authorize state tax officials to hand over a public official’s New York state tax return to Congress.

Typically, Cuomo has 10 days to sign or veto any measure that has passed both chambers or else it becomes law without his signature. But the clock only starts ticking when the Legislature formally transmits the bill to Cuomo’s office. That can often be weeks — or even months — after the bill passed.

HEASTIE HEADS NORTH

With the session in his rearview mirror, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, of the Bronx, is headed north to begin his fourth upstate tour.

The trips to places like Utica, Buffalo and the Southern Tier typically involve visits to factories, classrooms and county fairs, along with meetings with local leaders and, inevitably, what seems like a few thousand calories worth of local cuisine.

Heastie kicked off this year’s edition last week, traveling to Bombardier’s plant in Plattsburgh, where the company manufacturers and tests rail and transit cars, including the ones used in New York City subways.

While in the North Country, Heastie made a stop at Clare and Carl’s Hot Dog Stand, a local institution started more than 70 years ago and famous for its “Michigan” hot dogs.


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