NY Legislative Roundup: Bills Passed on Abortion Protections, Voting Rights, and Cryptocurrency Mining | Government and politics


By Jon Harris, Matt Glynn and Jonathan D. Epstein The Buffalo News

New York’s Democratic-controlled Legislature ended its session by passing bills that tighten the state’s gun laws, strengthen its abortion protections and bolster its voting rights to expand the access to ballot boxes.

It was all part of a flurry of activity to wrap up a six-month legislative session that also saw a first-of-its-kind moratorium on mining new cryptocurrencies at fossil fuel power plants sent to the governor. Kathy Hochul for review.

And that wasn’t the only victory for environmentalists. The Legislative Assembly also introduced a bill that would facilitate improved energy and water efficiency standards for appliances and reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with buildings.

Longtime Albany watchers pointed out that the rush to end the session was less intense than a typical year. Bill Hammond, senior health policy fellow at the Empire Center for Public Policy, noted that of the 860 bills passed so far this year, 35% received final approval in the past week. That figure was 52% last year, by comparison, he added.

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Legislation passed and expected to be signed into law by Governor Kathy Hochul by the end of this week will raise the age to buy a semi-automatic rifle in New York to 21 and require a firearms license to do so. .

For example, a bill that designates John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital as a safety net provider, which helps protect the Buffalo facility from Medicaid cuts and opens the door to additional funding opportunities. , flew under the radar and was passed weeks ago by the legislature.

Still, some measures appear to have been left out, including legislation that would have made it harder for landlords to evict tenants.

Here is a snapshot of the end of this legislative session:

right to abortion

With a Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade looming, the legislature passed a package that strengthens state abortion protections.

This includes legislation that would protect abortion service providers from charges of malpractice solely for performing, recommending, or providing reproductive health services to patients residing in states where such services are illegal.

Another bill passed would provide legal protections for abortion providers, such as prohibiting law enforcement from cooperating with or providing information to any out-of-state agency related to legal abortions in New York. Courts and county clerks would also be prohibited from issuing subpoenas for such out-of-state proceedings.

APTOPIX Supreme Court Abortion

News that the Supreme Court is set to overturn its landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion in this country is getting a strong backlash locally and nationally.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat, said in a statement that the legislation will protect New York vendors from other states “who seek to impose their policies on New Yorkers and punish vendors beyond their borders”.

Some states with Republican-controlled legislatures have recently restricted abortion. For example, in late May, the Republican governor of Oklahoma signed what is considered the nation’s toughest abortion ban.

Hochul, who less than a month ago announced a $35 million investment to support abortion providers in New York, said she intended to sign the bills into law.

“Make no mistake: As long as I am governor, New York will be a safe harbor for anyone who needs abortion care,” Hochul said in a statement.

Major Voting Rights Act

The Legislature also passed a bill aimed at bolstering access to the ballot box, just months after the US Senate failed to pass voting rights legislation.

The state legislation would create a pre-approval program that would require localities with a proven history of voter discrimination to “pre-approve” all changes to the Voting and Elections Act by the state. through the Attorney General’s Office of Civil Rights or a state Supreme Court.

The legislation, officially the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New York, would also prohibit any law, policy or practice that results in voter suppression or dilution of the vote of members of any race, color or race. particular minority language group.

“While states across the country have worked overtime to restrict voting rights, New York’s VRA will strengthen protections for all voters, especially those who have been historically disenfranchised,” said the Sen. Zellnor Myrie, sponsor of the bill and chairman of the Senate Elections Committee, said in a statement.

The Legal Defense Fund, a longtime national civil rights law organization, called on Hochul to sign the bill, noting that the governor voiced support for stronger voting rights in his state of the art address. in January.

Climate change

The legislature passed a bill that would set stricter efficiency standards for devices. It also calls for incorporating greenhouse gas emission reduction standards into building codes to combat climate change.

The Advanced Building Codes, Appliance and Equipment Efficiency Standards Act covers products like televisions, printers and computers. The legislation calls for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to update energy and efficiency standards for seven products already regulated by the state, and set new standards for 30 other products, including air purifiers and electric vehicle chargers, the Appliance Standards Awareness Project says.

The new standards “will save New York consumers $15 billion on utility bills by 2035, including approximately $6 billion in utility bill savings for low- to moderate,” according to a summary of the legislation.

The bill would also allow regulators to set energy codes for new homes and commercial buildings that would exceed national model codes, the group said.

“Better appliances and building codes mean better-performing buildings, which is key to making them more affordable and better for the environment,” said Samantha Wilt, senior policy analyst for Natural Resources’ Climate and Clean Energy program. Defense Council.

VScryptocurrency mining

In recent years, cryptocurrency mining companies have flocked to upstate New York, capitalizing on the state’s cheap power for its power-hungry computers and, in some cases, restarting factories. mothballed industrial plants that burn fossil fuels.

A bill that has now passed the state legislature is set to slow that boom, a move hailed by environmentalists but opposed by cryptocurrency proponents who believe the legislation will stall development. economy and the state’s position in an emerging industry.

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Cryptocurrency companies already have a footprint in Western New York – which some would like to expand.

The bill targets energy-intensive proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining that uses fossil-fuel power plants, placing a two-year moratorium on new and renewed aerial permits for these specific types of operations.

It also requires the state Department of Environmental Conservation to conduct a comprehensive environmental study that assesses the impacts of cryptocurrency mining operations that use proof-of-work authentication methods.

“With the passage of this bill, the Legislature has rightly declared that fossil fuel power plants cannot be given a second life in New York solely for the gain of private industry, which would go to the ‘against state climate mandates,’ Liz Moran, New York politician. Earthjustice advocate, said in a statement.

The state aims to reduce New York’s greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2050.

Rights of tenants

The story was more about inaction on landlord-tenant issues.

Lawmakers failed to act on legislation championed by progressives, known as the eviction bill for just cause. This would have capped annual rent increases at 3% and made it harder for landlords to evict market rate tenants for not paying rent if it rose more than that, unless they could prove a “good reason” for doing so in court, such as breaching other terms of the tenancy agreement.

The bill had been vigorously opposed by landlords and developers, who complained that it would allow tenants to get away without paying rent for months in any legal proceedings and would prevent wholesale redevelopment of buildings.

The state legislature also failed to extend a popular tax break in New York known as 421-a, which provided benefits to developers for building new housing in the city with a proportion of units described as affordable. Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams both support the provision and are expected to try again next year.


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