Pile Of Legislation Passed By NY Democrats Awaits Cuomo's Attention

WCBS 880 Newsroom
October 19, 2019 - 6:46 pm
Andrew Cuomo

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ALBANY (AP) -- A huge pile of legislation passed this year by newly empowered New York Democrats is still awaiting the governor's signature, and advocacy groups and lawmakers are clamoring to get their bills turned into law.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo faces a 10-day deadline to act on bills after they are passed by the legislature, but the clock doesn't start until they land on his desk.

So far this year, Cuomo has signed 379 bills into law while 507 await his signature. The governor typically ends up with 500 to 600 bills, according to Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi.

"It is our responsibility to ensure the legislation passed is responsible and that, as drafted, they accomplish what they say they do," Azzopardi said.

Democrats newly in charge of the state's Legislature this year swiftly passed a tsunami of bills, including long-awaited liberal policies on climate change, abortion access and criminal justice reforms.

But clashes over more contentious bills continue to highlight splits among the party's increasingly vocal left-wing factions and those seen as more moderate — including Cuomo.

Amid a strike against General Motors, union leaders have lobbied Cuomo to sign an eleventh-hour bill to make striking workers eligible for unemployment benefits after one week. That's up from seven weeks under current law.

And in a year that saw the passage of landmark rent reform long opposed by powerful developers, a bill to better protect rent-regulated renters from being forced out by landlords also remains in limbo.

Other remaining bills include exempting breastfeeding women from jury duty, and a ban on the aerial application of the widely used pesticide chlorpyrifos starting in January.

The non-partisan Citizens Budget Commission wants Cuomo to veto 18 bills that enhance pension or disability benefits — legislation that costs at least $71 million in the first year alone.

Cuomo is tight-lipped about many bills but has publicly expressed concerns about some — including whether pedestrians would be safe under legislation allowing electric scooters and bikes. Meanwhile, e-scooter manufacturer Lime and environmental and municipal supporters say the bill fits into New York's push to tackle a shifting climate.

The governor also frequently negotiates with lawmakers on tweaks to bills, which may officially wind up on his desk near the year's end.

"There's the formal rules and then there's the informal rules: what deals are being cut with individual legislators or groups of legislators from particular geographic areas," said Doug Muzzio, professor of political science at Baruch College. "What the governor wants and what they want. It's an extremely complex game. A lot of times it's a game of strategic communication."