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

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Our name has changed, but our Weekly Wrap-up hasn’t. We’ve taken a few weeks off, but we are back this week to update Christian New Yorkers on the latest political developments in New York and (occasionally) in Washington, D.C. This week’s update has information on a broad range of issues, including COVID-19 mandates, abortion pills, the New York State Budget, and much more.

March 25, 2024:

  • Various New York Republicans held an event at the New York State Capitol to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the Cuomo administration’s reckless COVID-19 nursing home directive. On March 25, 2020, the New York State Department of Health barred nursing homes from turning away patients with COVID-19. More than 15,000 New York nursing home patients died during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Cuomo administration engaged in a cover-up to hide the true number of nursing home deaths.

State Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt (R-North Tonawanda) and others called for an independent investigation into the state’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Leader Ortt commented: “‘The best way to ensure New York is better prepared in the future, is to openly and honestly assess the mistakes of the past. Thousands of families continue to mourn the loss of their loved ones in nursing homes due to the disastrous March 25th directive from former Governor Cuomo. They deserve the thorough, transparent investigation that was promised, not more inaction from their state government.’”

March 26, 2024:

  • On March 26, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in U.S. Food and Drug Administration v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine. In this case, pro-life medical professionals filed suit to challenge the FDA’s approval of an abortion drug known as mifepristone. The FDA has chosen not only to make the drug available, but also to let patients receive it by mail without an in-person doctor visit. According to the Associated Press, mifepristone is now used in two-thirds of abortions in the United States. Thus, this case has major implications for the pro-life movement nationwide.

Unfortunately, reports on the March 26 oral arguments suggest that the justices had concerns about whether the pro-life medical groups that filed the lawsuit had standing to sue. Generally, a plaintiff challenging a government policy must demonstrate that he has been harmed by that policy or is likely to suffer imminent harm because of that policy; if a plaintiff cannot make this showing, a court will rule that he lacks standing to sue and will dismiss his case. In this case, if the Court finds that the plaintiffs lack standing, the FDA’s approval of mifepristone will remain undisturbed. A decision is expected in June 2024.

March 27, 2024:

  • On March 27, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) board voted 11-1 to give final approval to its congestion pricing plan for lower Manhattan. Congestion pricing was first proposed by then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Under the approved plan, the MTA will charge vehicles fees to enter Manhattan at points below 61st Street. Proponents of the plan seek to achieve environmental gains by decreasing automobile traffic into Manhattan and creating an incentive for people to use mass transit instead. In addition, it is hoped that the congestion pricing plan will generate $15 billion in new fees for the fiscally troubled MTA. Detractors express concern about the impact of the fees upon low-income and working-class drivers, especially persons who reside in areas with limited access to mass transit.

According to NBC New York, most of the toll readers for the new system have already been put in place; the MTA could start collecting fees in mid-June. The daytime congestion pricing fee structure is reported to be as follows:

  • $7.50 for motorcycles;
    • $15 for passenger cars;
    • $24 for small trucks; and
    • $36 for large trucks.

School buses, commuter buses, emergency vehicles, and essential government vehicles will be exempt from congestion pricing fees.

  • Also on March 27, the New York State Senate passed Bill S.4505-A-Liu/A.1994-A-Fall by a 61-0 vote. This bill would ban discrimination against students in public elementary and secondary schools based upon “the wearing of any attire, clothing, or facial hair in accordance with the requirements of his or her religion” on school property or at school functions. New York Families Action supports this pro-religious-liberty legislation.

  • On March 27, the New York State Assembly passed Bill S.2921-A-Cleare/A.5212-A-Wallace by a vote of 112-38. This bill would require public authorities (which are “public benefit corporations created to further public interests,” and which “develop, operate and maintain some of New York’s most critical infrastructure”), industrial development agencies, and local development corporations to be “gender balanced.” New York Families Action has taken no position on this bill. However, in a nation where a Supreme Court nominee claims to be unable to define the word “woman,” the bill raises questions. If this bill is passed, how will the state define the word “woman?” Will “transgender women” be counted as “women” for purposes of the required gender balance? What happens if a person who self-identifies as gender fluid, non-binary, or agender is appointed to a public authority? How will the state determine whether the requisite gender balance has been achieved?

March 28, 2024:

  • On March 28, President Joe Biden (D-DE)—along with former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama—came to New York City to hold a $26 million fundraiser for President Biden’s re-election campaign. The event was held at Radio City Music Hall before 5,000 supporters. At the event, President Obama opined that President Biden has “‘done an outstanding job as president.’” The fundraiser was attended by U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer and by an array of celebrities. According to State of Politics, attendees who donated $100,000 could have their pictures taken with all three presidents, while those who donated $250,000 and $500,000, respectively, were granted access to smaller and more private receptions.

President Biden, 81, is the presumptive Democratic nominee for president of the United States this fall. Former President Donald Trump (R-FL), 77, is the presumptive Republican nominee for president. Attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (I-CA), 70, and academic Cornel West (I-CA), 70, have launched independent campaigns for the White House.

  • Also on March 28, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a budget extender bill keeping the New York state government open until April 4. The passage of this bill meant that the New York state budget would not be passed by the April 1 deadline. Last year, lawmakers and the Governor did not manage to get the budget done until May 2. This year, negotiations about how to address a lack of housing in and around New York City remain ongoing.
  • Finally, a March 28 article in The New York Times highlighted Bill S.6314-A-Brisport/A.4785-A-Epstein. This bill would make it unlawful to make, sell, or use adhesive animal traps. Such traps—also known as glue traps or glue boards—are inexpensive traps used at homes and businesses for the purpose of trapping rodents. According to the bill memorandum, the sponsors of Bill S.6314-A-Brisport/A.4785-A-Epstein object to the use of adhesive animal traps because—among other reasons—they do not kill rodents instantly, but subject them to slow deaths. Thus, the sponsors contend that adhesive animal traps are “unnecessarily cruel.” New York Families Action takes no position on this bill; we only wish that its pro-abortion sponsors cared as much about the suffering of unborn children as they do about the alleged suffering of rats and mice.