Climate change sponsors lead the way

Who’s up and who’s down this week?

New York Assemblyman Steven Englebright at the unveiling a state-of-the-art well system to fully contain and treat the plume of contamination caused by industrial waste from the U.S. Navy in 2018.

New York Assemblyman Steven Englebright at the unveiling a state-of-the-art well system to fully contain and treat the plume of contamination caused by industrial waste from the U.S. Navy in 2018. Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Update: End-of-session legislative wins and losses dominated last week's Winners & Losers list. More than a third of voters got behind state Sen. Todd Kaminsky and Assemblyman Steve Englebright, who led the way with a sweeping climate change law. Meanwhile, state Sen. Liz Krueger and Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes were easily voted the week's biggest losers after their efforts to legalize recreational marijuana turned into a bad trip. 

Democrats in Albany are the big winners this week. While some big things didn’t get done – like recreational marijuana and gestational surrogacy – lawmakers passed sweeping climate change legislation, enacted a stricter sexual harassment standard, paved the way for undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses, and more. Of course, the long-term political ramifications won’t be entirely clear until next year’s elections – but in the meantime, we have this week’s Winners & Losers.


Tiffany Cabán -

The 31-year-old public defender is on a roll ahead of the Queens district attorney Democratic primary on Tuesday. Cabán, a progressive insurgent backed by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, picked up high-profile endorsements this week from U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, and even The New York Times. Even if Cabán is a loser next week, she’s succeeded at something few can – building a national profile and support from a local DA race.

Marcos Crespo & Luis Sepúlveda -

State Sen. Luis Sepúlveda, Assemblyman Marcos Crespo are taking a victory lap after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Green Light bill into law. The legislation, which will allow undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers’ licenses, squeaked through the state Senate on a 33 to 29 vote. The lawmakers overcame fierce opposition from Republicans, uncertainty from moderate Democrats and the glare of the national spotlight. It was also a victory for Make the Road New York and the New York Immigration Coalition, which worked with Metropolitan Public Strategies and others to secure passage.

Steve Englebright & Todd Kaminsky -

State lawmakers may not have saved the world this week, but they did pass landmark legislation that puts into statute groundbreaking climate change goals for the state. While Gov. Andrew Cuomo is talking big about the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, it was state Sen. Todd Kaminsky and Assemblyman Steven Englebright, the two leads sponsors, who did more than anyone to get it over the finish line. Maybe, just maybe, Planet Earth now has a fighting chance – if the rest of the world follows New York’s lead.

Deborah Glick & Gloria Steinem -

Assemblywoman Deborah Glick and activist Gloria Steinem helped block a bill that would have legalized gestational surrogacy, an issue that has split the LGBTQ and progressive communities. Gay men – among others – want to be able to have start families of their own more easily, but Glick and Steinem are not enthusiastic about women renting out the wombs. Despite the best efforts by the governor to get a deal on the issue, Glick and Steinem never budged.

Cathy Nolan & Jessica Ramos -

State Sen. Jessica Ramos and Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan sponsored the bill that passed this week to give farm workers similar rights as the state’s other hourly employees. Though Nolan said she doesn’t stand by all aspects of the bill, she referred to the compromise as “still a victory” for its guaranteed overtime to workers exceeding 60 hours per week. Once passed, the law will also make it easier for farm workers to unionize. Meanwhile, Ramos also sponsored bill to legalize the use of e-bikes and e-scooters – which passed in a sweeping 56-5 vote.


Joe Addabbo & Gary Pretlow -

State Sen. Addabbo and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow had no luck as the sponsors of a bill to permit mobile sports betting. Addabbo in particular had expressed confidence in his odds, but perhaps he was bluffing. In any case, it’s clear Addabbo and Pretlow were taking a gamble all along, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie questioning the measure’s constitutionality all along.

Richard Carranza -

Fair or not, New York City’s schools chancellor has been taking flak for his emphasis on diversifying the city’s public schools, with some lawmakers calling his rhetoric divisive. Others have came to his aid, but now, after getting heat for hiring some of his former employees, and another aide may become the subject of an ethics investigation. Yet the biggest loss for Carranza is his failure to get state lawmakers to let the city scrap the entrance exam for elite high schools.

Liz Krueger & Crystal Peoples-Stokes -

It was a long, drawn-out battle, but it’s time to be blunt: legalizing recreational marijuana isn’t happening this year. Krueger made the announcement that a joint agreement just couldn’t be reached and the bill was dead. More limited measures may expand medical marijuana and further decriminalize low-level offenses, but this loss is easily one of the biggest for Democrats at the end of the session. Lawmakers will have to dive back into the weeds next session to hash it out.

Keith Raniere -

Almost two years after reports about Nxivm – which prosecutors exposed as a sex cult outside Albany in which women were branded – first surfaced, the group’s founder, Keith Raniere, is about to pay for his crimes. Jurors in federal court in Brooklyn took less than half a day to convict Raniere on seven counts, including racketeering and sex trafficking.

Tom Rutledge -

It hasn’t been a good week for the leader of Charter Communications. First, five veteran female NY1 reporters filed a lawsuit against the station, alleging gender and age discrimination. Then, up in Albany, longtime TV anchor and top-notch journalist Liz Benjamin stepped aside as host of Charter Spectrum’s “Capital Tonight” show, taking her encyclopedic knowledge of state politics with her. For an executive in the news business, it’s usually not good when you’re the one making news.

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