2023 session wrap-up

Legislative session not over until the Assembly says so

Assembly lawmakers are expected to return soon to consider a slew of prominent bills, including Sammy’s Law, a bill challenging wrongful convictions and a gaming deal with the Seneca Nation.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

The scheduled day to end the 2023 legislative session came and went last week.

While the Assembly made history by passing the Clean Slate Act, a bill to seal criminal records after a designated time frame, for the first time in the chamber, lawmakers also left without bringing a slew of prominent bills to the floor for consideration. 

Assembly lawmakers have been told they might convene in the next two weeks – as early as on June 20 – to consider proposed legislation. A spokesperson for the Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie confirmed as much in a statement to City & State but declined to confirm which bills would be considered. “Members have been told to be prepared to return in the very near future,” said Michael Whyland, press secretary to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

Here are some of the most prominent bills still awaiting review by the Assembly after getting passed in the state Senate.

Sammy’s Law

Before wrapping for the weekend, the Assembly failed to bring Sammy’s Law – named for a child who was tragically killed by a speeding driver – for a full floor debate. The bill would allow cities with a population over 1 million, such as New York City, to establish speed limits of their own, including below twenty miles per hour.

Leading into the final days of session, advocates went on a hunger strike and rallied at the state Capitol for passage of the bill. The bill then went on to get passed the state Senate in a 55-7 vote last week. When the Assembly failed to bring it to the floor for consideration, advocates criticized the lower chamber's inaction.  

Challenging wrongful convictions

While advocates have continued to push for the passage of a bill meant to challenge wrongful convictions, the measure still has not been voted on in the Assembly – after getting passed in the Senate last week. The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Zellnor Myrie and Assembly Member Jeffrion Aubry, was first introduced in 2020 and has been gaining momentum in recent years. 

If implemented, the legislation would change the criminal procedure law to allow for motions to vacate a person’s conviction if the crime they were convicted of was later decriminalized. The bill would also allow courts the ability to review cases and vacate a person’s conviction if there is evidence of a person's innocence. The bill is meant to ease barriers to vacating a conviction and ensure reviews are conducted. The bill passed the Senate in early June in a vote and was immediately sent to the Assembly for consideration. It was on the chamber’s debate list in the waning hours of session, but the Assembly ultimately did not review it before lawmakers left for the weekend.

Seneca Nation Deal

In 2002, the Seneca Nation of Indians and the state entered a gaming compact that is set to expire at the end of the year. As reported by the Buffalo News, a “conceptual agreement” between the Seneca Nation and Gov. Kathy Hochul over a new 20-year compact was confirmed in the final days of session. 

While Hochul’s office confirmed the agreement – with few details about it made public – it was then left to the Legislature to pass a bill authorizing the governor to enter the agreement. On Friday night, the Senate voted 62-1 on the bill to allow the gaming compact agreement to move forward. The Assembly was expected to take up the vote on the compact authorization before concluding session.