Heard at Somos: Clean Slate signing expected soon

Bill sponsor state Sen. Zellnor Myrie says he has been in conversation with the second floor.

State Sen. Zellnor Myrie, pictured here at a 2021 rally, has been pushing Clean Slate for years.

State Sen. Zellnor Myrie, pictured here at a 2021 rally, has been pushing Clean Slate for years. NYS Senate Media Services

After years of near misses and fumbles in the metaphorical endzone, the Clean Slate Act is set to get signed into law very soon. That’s according to state Sen. Zellnor Myrie, the bill’s sponsor, who told City & State that he has been talking with Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office about it in the past couple of weeks. “I anticipate that we’re going to get a bill signing very soon,” Myrie said. “We negotiated this with the governor, so I think she wants to get this done.” 

According to an Albany staffer with knowledge of the event, Hochul will sign the bill next week in Brooklyn.

Myrie and Assembly Member Catalina Cruz, the sponsor in the Assembly, have for years been trying to make the legislation law. It would seal the criminal record of most people previously convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony after a certain number of years upon the end of their incarceration – provided they stay out of trouble during that time. It has gotten widespread support from progressives, unions and business groups alike, but 2023 was the first time it has passed in both chambers, part of a three-way deal. 

Last year, Hochul included her own version of the legislation in her executive budget, but it differed greatly from the legislative version in terms of how long someone would need to wait to have their record cleared. It ultimately did not make it into the final budget. While the state Senate approved the bill, it never made it to the floor in the Assembly despite attempts to consolidate support near the end of the legislative session. Hochul didn’t include her version of the Clean Slate Act in her budget this year, which brought into question whether she would work to get the bill approved. 

In 2021, the Clean Slate Act was the subject of extensive end-of-session negotiations. Then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo had offered his support of the bill behind closed doors if lawmakers agreed to approve legislation from him to split the Metropolitan Transportation Authority leadership post. Ultimately, neither passed that year. At the same time, Democratic Assembly Member Tom Abinanti had also circulated a memo outlining his concerns with the legislation among his colleagues that he said impacted fellow members with reservations.