Abortion rights and gun safety bills to mark final week of state legislature

Abortion rights and action against gun violence top the list of the Democratic-led New York State Legislature in the final week of its 2022 session, spurred by a series national events.

Lawmakers are also likely to act on locally-tailored bills, such as extending the mayor’s control over New York City schools. But they are unlikely to renew a controversial tax break for property developers.

Dozens of other bills are in play. Among them is the “Clean Slate” bill to remove certain criminal records and another that would move municipal elections to even years, ensuring that they are hold presidential or gubernatorial election years.

The session is due to end on Thursday. Even if it extends into Friday or Saturday, officials said there are no plans to continue the session the following week.

Here are some things to watch in the last few days:

Gun Safety

A number of bills are pending, following another school shooting in Texas and the killing by a white supremacist of 10 African Americans in a Buffalo supermarket.

Among them is one to toughen the “red flag” law, which provides a process for removing firearms from people who could be a danger to themselves or others.

Another would raise the age from 18 to 21 for the purchase of semi-automatic weapons, such as an AR-15, the military-style pistol used by the accused Buffalo shooter. Another could restrict the availability of body armor, like the ones the Buffalo shooter wore.

Another bill would require the “micro-marking” of ammunition, which would facilitate their traceability.

right to abortion

Democrats are poised to take a number of steps four weeks ago after a U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion suggested a majority of justices would soon overturn the landmark Roe decision. v. Wade guaranteeing the right to abortion.

Among the proposals, lawmakers are considering giving first pass to a constitutional amendment guaranteeing access to abortion. The amendment is expected to be passed by lawmakers in two legislative sessions and then approved by voters in a statewide referendum.

Other bills that could be approved are those aimed at protecting health care providers in New York from lawsuits for providing abortion services to a woman who travels to New York from outside of New York. ‘State. Another would allow civil lawsuits against those who interfere with a woman’s attempts to travel to New York to access abortions.

NYC and housing

The law giving the mayor’s office control over schools is about to expire, and lawmakers are sure to renew it. The question is: for how long?

Although Mayor Eric Adams would prefer a longer extension, lawmakers are looking at two to three years, sources said.

Governor Kathy Hochul called for the renewal of “421-A,” a law that gives developers tax incentives if projects include a certain amount of affordable housing. It is also popular among developers and political donors. But many Democrats don’t want him reappointed, making his chances unlikely.

Hochul is locked in a Democratic primary for governor with Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) and New York public attorney Jumaane Williams.

With 421-A gone, so has the “good cause” eviction bill, which would make evictions more difficult.

Elections and Voting

Some Democrats support a bill to move municipal elections to even years.

Each side makes high claims on the idea. Republicans say that would change longstanding traditions and amount to a power grab.

“New York Democrats are back, pushing for legislation that would illegally seize power and upend our entire electoral system in New York City, Republican State Speaker Nick Langworthy said.

Democrats say it will boost voter turnout in local elections — and Republicans are afraid of anything that increases turnout.

“The hysterical statements and burning hair of local partisan officials on legislation to consolidate even-year elections proves how petrified they are to have to confront voters,” said Senator James Skoufis (D-Cornwall ), sponsor of the invoice.

The political reality is that each side is trying to improve its chances of winning local elections. In New York, Republicans tend to fare better in odd elections with low turnout and Democrats fare better in even years of presidential or gubernatorial elections.

But even some who might support the principle believe the bill is rushed and without enough consultation with local governments. They want to wait until this year.

Separately, lawmakers could pass a bill to further protect voting rights, including the right to sue for acts of voter suppression.

Clean slate

The Clean Slate bill would open the door to sealing records for misdemeanors and certain felonies after a specific period of time – 3 years for misdemeanors, 7 for felonies.

But with rising crime rates and a fall election looming, some upstate and suburban Democrats are uneasy about the proposal. Additionally, some lawmakers and Hochul disagree on when the clock would start ticking to seal the records.

Multiple sources said the issue will “would come down to the wire” before it becomes clear whether lawmakers will act.