This Week in Albany

Week ending December 1, 2017

Legislative Update

The Governor signed 43 bills and vetoed 31 this week. Several bills strongly supported by CSEA were among those vetoed.

Vetoed:

    • Veto #194: S.4324 – Tedisco / A.5210 – Abinanti: This bill would have required that retirees be given 45 days of notice prior to changes to their health insurance. The Governor also vetoed this bill in 2016. The Governor included this bill in a list of other bills vetoed because of their cost.
    • Veto #195: S.4630 – Gallivan / A.6505 – Kearns: This bill would have prohibited the re-location Western NY Children’s Psych Center. The Governor said that this bill would “have a negative impact on children and families in need of mental health services.”
    • Veto #196: S.5130 – Golden / A.7134 – Abbate: This bill would have allowed any sheriff, undersheriff, deputy sheriff or correction officer employed by Nassau County to be eligible for a performance of duty benefit due to the intentional or reckless act of a civilian visiting an institution under the jurisdiction of such county. The Governor included this bill in a list of other bills vetoed because of their cost.
    • Veto #198: A.7135 – Abbate / S.5704 – Phillips: This bill would have allowed for a performance of duty disability for Nassau County Ambulance Medical Technicians (AMTs). The Governor included this bill in a list of other bills vetoed because of their cost.
    • Veto #199: A.7127 – Abbate / S.5705 – Phillips: This bill would have allowed for a performance of duty disability for Nassau County fire marshals. The Governor included this bill in a list of other bills vetoed because of their cost.
    • Veto #185: A.473 – Paulin / S.2516 – Gallivan: This bill would have allowed for the establishment of an optional disability coverage for county probation officers. Counties would have to opt-in to providing this coverage. The Governor vetoed this bill both because of costs and a belief that benefits like this should be collectively bargained.
    • Veto #191: S.3670 – Golden / A.3332 – Abbate: This bill would have allowed any Tier 6 member who is a uniformed court officer or peace officer employed by the Unified Court System to retire without early age reduction upon attaining 30 year of creditable service and age 55. It would also reduce the normal retirement age from 63 to 62, and lessen the reductions in benefits for those who retire prior to normal retirement age. The Governor included this bill in a list of other bills vetoed because of their cost.
    • Veto #192: S.3671 – Golden / A.3503 – Abbate: This bill would have allowed for the establishment of an accidental disability retirement for uniformed court officers / peace officers within the Unified Court System. The Governor included this bill in a list of other bills vetoed because of their cost.

CSEA will evaluate these bills and veto messages and determine how we can move forward on this legislation next year.

Signed Into Law:

      • Chapter #420: A.7285 – Dinowitz / S.6007 – Ranzenhofer: This bill will require the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to report specific shared services between NYPA, the Canal Corporation, and the Department of Transportation. The 2017-18 State budget expanded such shared services.
      • Chapter #439; Approval #28: S.5811A – Squadron / A.7634A – Rozic: This bill will require a report on alternative work schedules within state agencies.

We expect the majority of the remaining 105 bills that have passed both houses and have not yet been delivered to the Governor to be sent to the Governor’s desk next week. This includes several of CSEA’s priority bills.Updates on CSEA’s priority bills can be found on our website.


Federal Tax Reform

Republican efforts to pass a tax overhaul bill in the U.S. Senate stalled on Thursday as leaders rushed to rewrite parts of the bill to win over the votes needed for passage. The Senate bill would slash corporate taxes, completely eliminate state and local tax deductions (including the property tax deduction), and would add about $1.5 trillion to the deficit over a decade.

Senators are expected to work through the day Friday to get the votes needed for the bill. The House of Representatives has already passed their version of the bill, so the two houses will need to go to conference committees once a Senate bill passes to iron out the differences between the two.

The timeline on this legislation is still uncertain, so stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.


State Senate Democrats Talk of Reunification

State Senate Democrats appear to have reached a vague and uncertain agreement with the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) to reunify the two Democratic conferences in the Senate following next year’s special elections.

The “reunification” plan was laid out by the State Democratic Party, which threatened to fully back challengers to the IDC in next year’s Primary elections if the conference did not agree to it.

Under the proposed plan, the IDC and Senate Democrats would work together to win two special elections for vacant Senate seats in 2018. If Democrats win both seats, IDC leader Jeff Klein and Democratic conference leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins would become co-leaders of a new Democratic majority.

The logistics of the arrangement and the reality of it coming to pass are still unclear. Currently, the Senate is made up of 31 Republicans, 21 Democrats, eight members of the IDC, two vacancies, and Brooklyn Senator Simcha Felder, who was elected on both Democratic and Republican lines and conferences with the Republicans. The IDC has formed a majority coalition with Republicans since the conference’s inception in 2011.

Thirty-two votes are needed to pass any legislation in the Senate. If Democrats win the two vacant Senate seats, and can convince Senator Felder to join them, they would have exactly 32 votes.

The reunification proposal adds more uncertainty as Albany gets ready for an Executive Budget proposal that must address a shortfall of up to $4 billion. Governor Cuomo has not yet indicated when he will call for Special Elections to fill vacant legislative seats.


At a Glance

The Senate and Assembly have released the 2018 State Legislative Session Calendar.

The legislature is scheduled to be in session for 60 days between January and June, beginning on January 3.