It’s A Wrap: Week Six Of The Legislative Session

This week, New York Families’ Weekly Wrap-up from Albany covers the migrant crisis, housing, prenatal testing, absentee voting, and the upcoming February 13 election in New York’s 3rd congressional district.

February 5, 2024:

  • New York Democrats won the first round of a legal battle concerning the New York Early Mail Voter Act. Enacted last year, this ill-advised law lets voters use mail-in ballots for any reason during the nine-day early voting period that precedes Election Day. Republicans have justifiably called the law a slap in the face to the New York voters who rejected a 2021 constitutional amendment that would have legalized universal mail-in voting. A trial court judge ruled the law to be constitutional; however, Republicans plan to appeal.
  • The State Senate Investigations and Government Operations Committee voted 7-0 to advance Bill S.5230-Thomas, the Annual Fair Housing Testing Bill. This legislation would require the Office of the New York State Attorney General to engage in covert investigations each year for the purpose of identifying and remedying housing discrimination. According to the bill memorandum, such covert investigations would utilize “paired testing” involving two housing applicants with “equivalent social and economic characteristics [that] differ only in terms of characteristics being tested for discrimination.” The results of such investigations would be reported to the Legislature and the governor. The bill will now proceed to the Senate Finance Committee for further consideration.

As a Christian organization, New York Families believes in the intrinsic value and worth of every human being, regardless of race, color, or nationality (see Romans 10:12). Accordingly, we support efforts to eradicate racial discrimination in housing. We urge the Legislature to pass the Annual Fair Housing Testing Bill.

  • The State Senate Investigations and Government Operations Committee also voted 5-2 to advance Bill S. 3292-B-Myrie. This bill is a thinly disguised effort by Democrats to stack the deck in court cases involving legislative redistricting by requiring that all such cases be filed in Democrat-dominated Albany County. Just last year, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation requiring that any constitutional challenges to election laws be filed in one of four Democrat-dominated counties. This bill is even more egregious. Following the Committee’s action, the bill has advanced to third reading and could receive a vote on the Senate floor on any session day.

February 6, 2024:

  • The State Senate Health Committee voted 15-0 to advance the Prenatal Testing Bill (Bill S.1159-A-Skoufis/A.9152-Paulin). This bill would require manufacturers of non-invasive prenatal screening tests to provide notices that test results indicating a high level of risk do not necessarily mean that an unborn baby has a genetic disorder. Such notices would also state that non-invasive prenatal screening tests are not to be used for diagnostic purposes, and that follow-up diagnostic testing is recommended when a high risk is identified. Because we believe that this legislation might reduce the number of abortions by alleviating confusion about certain prenatal test results, New York Families Action supports this bill.
  • New York City Mayor Eric Adams delivered testimony to members of the State Legislature in Albany on Tin Cup Day. (“Tin Cup Day” is the day when representatives of local governments come to Albany to present their budgetary requests at a legislative hearing.) This year, Mayor Adams asked the state to pick up half of the $10.6 billion in migrant-related costs that the City expects to incur during this fiscal year and the following fiscal year. “‘While we are deeply grateful for the $1 billion that was appropriated in this year’s state budget, the midyear adjustment of nearly $900 million, and the $1.1 billion in shelter costs proposed in in the governor’s executive budget, we are still shouldering the largest share of asylum-seeker costs,’” said Mayor Adams.

February 7, 2024:

  • At an Albany roundtable, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that 20 New York municipalities would receive grant funding to facilitate housing development. Addressing New York’s housing shortage is a majority priority for Gov. Hochul; however, her efforts to pass major housing legislation were stymied last year, forcing her to go back to the drawing board and focus on housing incentives rather than heavy-handed housing mandates.

February 8, 2024:

  • The candidates in the upcoming February 13, 2024 special election in New York’s 3rd congressional district held a debate. Democratic former Rep. Tom Suozzi and Republican Mazi Pilip sparred on border security, abortion, and other current issues. While Rep. Suozzi supports the U.S. Senate’s bipartisan immigration proposal, Pilip opposes it. Recent polling shows that the two candidates are neck-and-neck in the contest to replace disgraced former Rep. George Santos. The race in this Long Island-based district will have national implications, as the Republican Party currently holds a paper-thin 219-212 House majority.