New York’s 2023 legislative session was scheduled to conclude on Thursday, June 8, 2023, but due to the need for several long debates on bills and a shortened end of session due to a Budget that was one month late, they extended the end date to June 9th. In the end, the Senate and Assembly adjourned on Saturday, June 10th. However, the Assembly had not concluded all of their business and had to return on June 20th and 21st to address its outstanding issues. Both houses are not expected to return to Albany until January or at the call of the Governor.
This session the legislature approved the biggest budget in New York history at $229 billion, with much of it recurring spending. However, they did not include any new taxes to bolster the state’s finances, making good on Governor Hochul’s pledge not to raise taxes. However, next year’s Budget picture looks much bleaker, with a projected $10 billion budget gap. The Legislature will be looking at ways to close the gap next year.
The end of session was very busy, with a flurry of bills moving in and out of committees and the floor of the Senate and Assembly. The following is an update of our highest priority core bills:
- Unemployment Amnesty Period for Employers – With no bill introduced, this issue appears to be dead. We will advocate for it next session, but without legislative interest or support, we may have to accept that this will not move forward, especially in light of the looming Budget deficit New York is facing next year.
- Retainage – With a bill introduced in both houses – S.6855 / A.1194 (Martinez/Braunstein) – we are positioned to move the bill in both houses early in the 2024 session. We are working on getting additional sponsors over the summer and fall and scheduling a meeting with the Dormitory Authority of the State of NY, which was directed to work with stakeholders when the bill was vetoed in 2015. Since Senator Martinez is a new sponsor, she has indicated that she will also be meeting with all stakeholders to understand and work through any concerns.
The bill that was introduced to extend the substantial completion law to private contracts, S.3539 / A.4167 (Breslin / Hunter) passed both the Senate and Assembly. Once the bill is signed by the Governor, we have an agreement with the NYS Subcontractors Association and the Governor’s Office to do a Chapter Amendment next session to include language exempting materials that are graded and have warrantees from retainage requirements.
- Workforce Development – Our bill, S.5024 / A.7481 (Mayer/Conrad) did not move out of Committee but now that it is introduced in both houses, we can work on securing passage next session. This bill will give additional funding to school districts across NYS for BOCES teacher salaries, to provide students in technical careers with better programming opportunities. We are also working with a group of construction trade organizations and businesses to create a not-for-profit company so that we can organize with a sustainable entity that will have a more formal structure to benefit from grants and funding to support the construction trades.
- Deforestation – S.4859-A / A. 5682-A (Krueger/Zebrowski) passed the Senate in April despite our strong opposition to the legislation. The Assembly also planned to move the bill before session ended. On June 10th the Assembly put the bill on the Debate List for a vote. We were successful in getting the bill laid aside, and we were assured by the sponsor that the bill would not be brought to a vote due to long debates on other bills and a desire to end the session. The Assembly adjourned on June 10th without voting on the bill, which meant it would not be brought to vote until the Assembly reconvened, which at that time we believed would be in January. However, when the Assembly returned on June 20th and 21st, in addition to the remaining bills they needed to pass, they began debating bills that had been laid aside. There was a heavy push by environmental groups, including the National Resources Defense Council, to push the bill through. Despite our strong arguments against it, the Assembly called the bill up for a vote. There was a 25-minute debate on the Assembly floor that ended with the bill passing the Assembly by a vote of 115-26. We are organizing with other industry partners, including ESFPA, AFPA and AGC to work with the Governor’s Office to secure a veto, or to include Chapter Amendments that are more in our favor.
We also worked with the general business community on these bills:
- OPPOSE: S.6636 / A.6698 (Hoylman-Sigal/Weinstein) Damages for wrongful death (passed both houses)
- OPPOSE: S.1977-A / A.46-A (Ramos / L. Rosenthal) Creates an employee lien. This bill would allow employees to file a lien against employers for simply a CLAIM of wage theft. This bill passed several years ago but was vetoed by Governor Cuomo. (In Senate Judiciary Committee / Assembly Rules Committee)
- SUPPORT: S.7250 / A.7549 (Cooney / McDonald) COVID sick-leave (Senate and Assembly Labor Committees)
- SUPPORT: S.920 / A.1684 (Cooney / Woerner) Additional notice prior to commencing an action in certain discrimination cases (Senate Investigations Committee / Assembly Codes Committee)
- OPPOSE: S.6635 / A.5745 (Ramos / Reyes) Work-related stress at work (Passed Senate / Assembly Labor Committee)
- OPPOSE: S.562-A / A.920-A (Kavanagh / Gallagher) Enacts the All-Electric Building Act (Senate and Assembly Energy Committees)
- OPPOSE: S.541-A / A.1893-A (Hoylman-Sigal/Joyner) Enacts the Empowering People in Rights Enforcement (EMPIRE) Worker Protection Act (Senate Labor Committee / Assembly Codes Committee)
- SUPPORT: S.7012 / A.2364 (Mannion/Stirpe) Requires the division for small-business to publish a small business compliance guide (Passed Both Houses)
Happy Summer Everyone!