Forgoing the customary “State of the State” Address, Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled his legislative agenda early this year, urging the Democratic-controlled Legislature to act in the first 100 days of session, which opened on Wednesday.
Cuomo announced the agenda on December 17 during a speech hosted by the Roosevelt Institute. Breaking with tradition, the governor laid out his legislative agenda in December instead of waiting until the State of the State address to enable the Legislature to commence action on these top priorities immediately upon convening.
His priorities include several progressive policy goals, including legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes, passing a “red flag” law that gives police the power to remove guns from the homes of certain New Yorkers, writing abortion protections and gender equality language into the State Constitution.
Other items — such as a New York State Dream Act, a “Green New Deal” and codifying the Affordable Care Act into law — are a direct response to Trump Administration policies the governor called “repugnant” and “un-American.”
“We declare independence from this federal government’s policies. We disconnect from the nationalism, and the racism, and the chaos, and the xenophobia, and the misogyny, and the discrimination, and the dissembling of this Washington administration,” Governor Cuomo said.
“We proclaim our federal government’s policy not only regressive, not only repugnant to New York values, we declare it un-American. Let us pass this ambitious progressive agenda as New York’s restoration of true democracy, restoring fairness, progress and pride.”
The agenda was unveiled three weeks before the state Legislature convened in Albany for the start of the 2019 Legislative Session. One of the governor’s priority items — the Reproductive Health Act — has already been introduced by Assemblywoman Deborah Glick and Sen. Liz Krueger.
The legislation would move abortion into the Public Health Code, and out of the state’s Criminal Code, among other things.
“Abortion is a medical procedure, not a crime,” Glick said. “The days of demonizing women’s reproductive healthcare must come to an end. When abortion is illegal women die, and pregnancy is not a risk free condition. Women, in consultation with healthcare professionals, and not legislators, should make decisions that affect their own health free of interference.”
“With reproductive rights and access under attack from Washington in a way we haven’t seen in decades, now is the time to pass the Reproductive Health Act and reclaim New York’s place as a leader on women’s reproductive freedom,” Krueger said.
The governor’s full agenda includes:
- Making the statewide 2 percent property tax cap permanent.
- Codifying the Affordable Care Act’s health exchange into law and passing a law requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, regardless of what happens at the federal level.
- Passing the Reproductive Health Act and the Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act within the first 30 days of the new session.
- Passing an Equal Rights Amendment to add sex as a protected class.
- Passing a “Red Flag Law” to take guns away from domestic violence offenders, banning bump stocks and extending the waiting period for purchasing a gun from three days to 10 days.
- Investing an additional $150 billion in infrastructure projects.
- Passing congestion pricing in New York City and overhauling the structure of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
- Redistributing education funding based on need.
- Passing the Dream Act to provide student loan and education grant opportunities for the children of undocumented immigrants.
- Making New York’s electricity 100 percent carbon neutral by 2040 and put the state on the path to eliminating its carbon footprint.
- Investing in water infrastructure projects.
- Enacting voting by mail, early voting, same-day voting registration and automatic voter registration, synchronizing federal and state elections and making Election Day a state holiday to help more New Yorkers vote.
- Closing the LLC loophole, banning corporate campaign contributions, overhauling the state’s campaign finance system and ending outside income for lawmakers.
- Expanding Janus protections for public sector labor unions at the local level
- Reforming rent regulations, including ending vacancy decontrol, repealing preferential rent and limiting capital improvement charges to protect affordable housing and respect tenants’ rights.
- Passing the Child Victims Act which changes the statute of limitations on legal actions for childhood victims of sexual assault.
- Codifying the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act into New York State law and ending conversion therapy.
- Legalizing, regulating and taxing adult use of recreational marijuana.
- Ending cash bail and enacting speedy trial and discovery reforms.