Albany Agenda

Gov. Kathy Hochul killed these bills last year – and they’re back from the dead

The governor may have struck them down with vetoes, but state lawmakers are trying again.

Lawmakers have been working on their bills that were vetoed by Gov. Kathy Hochul last year.

Lawmakers have been working on their bills that were vetoed by Gov. Kathy Hochul last year. Susan Watts/Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul

At the end of last year, and in some cases at the beginning of this year, Gov. Kathy Hochul vetoed a handful of bills after they passed in the Legislature. But that doesn’t mean that lawmakers were ready to call it quits. In many cases, the bill sponsors promised that they would come back this year with new versions of their vetoed legislation and try again. And with the legislative session well underway, lawmakers have begun to make good on some of those promises.

Lawmakers are in the middle of the typical two-year legislative cycle, so normally bills introduced in 2023 can carry over into 2024 with the same bill number, but a veto spells the end of the line for specific legislation. That doesn’t mean that lawmakers can’t give it another go with a new bill number – and potentially some tweaks to make their proposal easier to pass.

Some haven’t brought their legislation back yet, like state Sen. Sean Ryan who said last year that he “look(s) forward to reintroducing the bill to ban noncompetes and passing it once again,” potentially still working on new language to increase the likelihood of the governor’s signature or waiting until after budget negotiations. But others have already started actively pushing for a take-two (or three in one case) for their once-dead bills. Here’s where those efforts stand this year. This list was last updated on April 5.

Public campaign finance tweaks

New York lawmakers are back again this year trying to implement tweaks to the state’s new public campaign finance system after Hochul vetoed an attempt to change it last year. This time, state Sen. James Skoufis has introduced a new version of the legislation that state Sen. Zellnor Myrie sponsored last year. The amended legislation removes one controversial aspect of Myrie’s bill that was roundly criticized by good government groups – a provision that would have allowed the first $250 of any contribution, no matter how large, to be matched. Currently, only donations up to $250 are eligible for matching funds. Skoufis told City & State that the rest of the bill remains the same as last year, and the change is meant to address the criticisms from good government groups and concerns raised by Hochul in her veto. The new version was introduced as budget negotiations continue past the original April 1 deadline, and Skoufis said he’s trying to get the issue revisited as part of the spending plan, if not post budget. But state Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris said the proposal has not been discussed with other state leaders. And even though the changes were meant to appease good government groups, many of those groups were quick to criticize the new bill, which would still increase the thresholds to qualify for matching funds.

Grieving Families Act

After the governor vetoed the legislation twice last year, the state Senate included the Grieving Families Act in its one-house budget proposal. The bill would change the state’s wrongful death statute to allow family members of someone who died to seek damages for emotional harm, rather than just lost wages. The Assembly did not include the bill in its budget proposal, but both sponsors – state Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal and Assembly Member Helene Weinstein – reintroduced it in February. Although they included changes to last year to address some of Hochul’s concerns raised in her first veto, the latest version of the bill is the same as what lawmakers approved last year. For Weinstein, who has championed the legislation for 30 years, this year marks her last shot to get the state’s wrongful death rules changed as she prepares for retirement. A group of lawmakers and advocates rallied in the state Capitol for the bill on Wednesday.

Challenging Wrongful Convictions Act

Like the Grieving Families Act, the state Senate included the Challenging Wrongful Convictions Act in its one-house budget. The bill would make it easier for people wrongfully convicted of a crime to challenge that conviction in hopes of getting it vacated. Although sponsor state Sen. Zellnor Myrie has not yet introduced a new version of the bill for the new year, the Senate one-house resolution refers to last year’s bill that Hochul vetoed, indicating that lawmakers are not keen on making tweaks to the legislation, which had widespread support in a poll last year. Assembly Member Jeffrion Aubry, the sponsor in the lower chamber, also has not yet reintroduced the legislation. But with his retirement set for the end of the year, he has said that getting the bill passed again and signed by the governor is one of his priorities for his last session.

New York Deforestation-Free Procurement Act

With the new year also comes a new bill name for this legislation that is meant to ensure that contractors doing business with the state aren’t contributing to tropical rainforest deforestation. Sponsors state Sen. Liz Krueger and Assembly Member Kenneth Zebrowski announced on Tuesday that they were reintroducing their legislation as the Tropical Rainforest Economic & Environmental Sustainability – or TREES – Act. The newly acronymed legislation makes several changes compared to the vetoed version in order to address some of Hochul’s concerns, according to the bill sponsors. Those included pushing back the effective date of the bill from 2025 to 2027, offering the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Staten Island Ferry five-year exemptions from the ban on using tropical hardwood, and clarifying language around contractors’ requirements to perform due diligence through steps established by the Office of General Services before certifying that their products do not contribute to deforestation.

Lobbying transparency for gubernatorial nominees

After Hochul vetoed legislation that would have required lobbying disclosures around efforts surrounding gubernatorial nominees, sponsors state Sen. Michael Gianaris and Assembly Member John T. McDonald III reintroduced their bill at the start of the new year. It originally came following the contentious fight over Hochul’s original pick for state chief judge, Hector LaSalle. A campaign supporting LaSalle – who members of the state Senate did eventually reject – organized events and spent money to back his nomination, but state law doesn’t currently require disclosures about who is funding the people lobbying for a nominee. Gianaris said the new version removes the retroactive provision to address Hochul’s concerns raised in her veto over relitigating the LaSalle nomination. He also said he expects that the state Senate will pass the new version soon.