Albany Agenda

Will these bills pass before session ends?

From social media regulations to red light cameras, here are some of the bills to watch during the last week of the legislative session.

Demonstrators rally for the “Better Bottle Bill” at the state Capitol on June 3, 2024.

Demonstrators rally for the “Better Bottle Bill” at the state Capitol on June 3, 2024. Austin C. Jefferson

There are two (scheduled) days left in the 2024 legislative calendar, and state lawmakers are attempting to finish up any outstanding business before heading back to their districts. As state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins put it, “it’s pencils down” after the last vote. 

The bulk of lawmakers' priorities were hammered out during state budget negotiations in April, but some issues were left over. Deliberations are now underway on issues related to the environment, adolescent mental health, labor protections, elections, public health and even utilities – with lawmakers hoping to find compromises on a compressed timeline. 

Gov. Kathy Hochul is putting her weight behind certain issues, but otherwise, it’s up to the state Senate and Assembly to get the job done this week. In past years, officials have passed omnibus legislation known as the Big Ugly (or the Slim Ugly one year) after negotiating several high-profile bills and coming to agreements. There has been little chatter about that prospect this year, even as lawmakers and advocates rush to get their priorities over the finish line. Here’s what we’re paying attention to before the legislative session is set to end on June 6. This post was updated June 4.

Social media 

The SAFE for Kids Act and the Child Data Protection Act became top priorities for lawmakers last month after Gov. Kathy Hochul reaffirmed her support for the two bills – which would, respectively, regulate how social media companies use addictive algorithms with adolescents and restrict the nonconsensual collection of data belonging to children under 18. During state budget negotiations, legislative leaders and bill sponsors state Sen. Andrew Gounardes and Assembly Member Nily Rozic chose to address the bills later in the year. Hochul has been on a veritable charm offensive in the past two weeks with media hits and press conferences focused on the legislation. 

The bills saw a breakthrough Monday when lawmakers, Hochul and state Attorney General Letitia James secured a deal on their language and provisions. James would be responsible for developing regulations that would enforce the bills and bringing legal action against tech companies who violate the laws. Rules and measures rumored to be on the chopping block, like limits to when companies can send addictive feeds to children and age flagging, were left alone.

Packaging and recycling

The Packaging Reduction and Recycling Infrastructure Act has gotten plenty of attention this session. Environmentalists have been pushing hard for the bill, which aims to drastically cut down on New York’s use of single-use plastics. The legislation would require the state to cut its plastics use by 50% over the next 12 years. It would also ban “chemical recycling” – a practice opposed by environmentalists that breaks down products into individual molecules. On paper, the recycling bill has fairly significant support – a majority of both chambers have signed on as co-sponsors of the measure and it has advanced out of committee in both houses as well. But it also faces strong, well-funded opposition. The chemical industry, which manufactures plastics and is involved in chemical recycling, has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to lobby against the bill. Business groups in the state have also taken a stance against the legislation, warning that it would increase costs. 

Last year, the bill failed to pass either chamber despite having support from a variety of lawmakers and the governor. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie told reporters last week that the bill is currently part of three-way talks between legislative leaders and the governor, but it’s unclear whether it will be able to overcome all its resistance in the short time remaining before the session ends.

“Better Bottle Bill”

The “Better Bottle Bill,” which would increase the deposit for bottle purchases in New York and make more beverage containers (including wine and cider bottles) eligible for deposits, is on the state lawmakers’ radar as the session draws to a close. Supporters of the bill say that it’s necessary because inflation has eaten into the profits of bottle redeemers, and expanding the types of bottles eligible for deposits would increase recycling rates in New York. But organized labor and industry leaders have come out against the bill, which they say could place an undue burden on restaurants. Demonstrators have gathered outside of state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins’ Yonkers office calling on her to support the measure. For now, the bill is stuck in committee in both the Assembly and state Senate, while advocates hope to turn up the heat. 

Even-year elections

State Sen. James Skoufis is hoping to complete his dream of moving local elections throughout the state to even-numbered years. He’s halfway there, since Hochul already signed his bill moving elections outside of New York City to even-numbered years. Now, he’s pushing a constitutional amendment that would do the same within the five boroughs. Skoufis and good government groups say that the change would drive up voter turnout, though the state’s Republicans have labeled it a power grab and a number of counties, towns and other localities around the state are suing over the change. Skoufis told City & State on Monday that high-level conversations on the amendment are still ongoing in the final days of the legislative calendar. 


Lawmakers are once considering the NY HEAT Act, a major priority for climate activists as the state attempts to hit its mandated emission reduction goals. The legislation passed in the state Senate earlier this year but has stalled in the Assembly. It would cap utility payments for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers, remove a subsidy for companies to install new gas hookups and empower the state’s Public Service Commission to enact regulations that would promote the transition away from gas. Hochul included part of the bill in her executive budget, and the Assembly indicated an openness to parts of it as well in its one-house rebuttal. But the fossil fuel industry has lobbied hard against the bill, as it has with most other legislation that would cut down on fossil fuel usage or increase costs for companies. Activists have gone on the offensive around the bill, pressuring lawmakers to pass it before session ends. Heastie said last week that discussions with the governor and the state Senate are taking place regarding the bill.

COVID review commission

Years after the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many are still awaiting a comprehensive review of the state’s response to the crisis. The Executive Chamber hired an outside firm to conduct a probe a year and a half ago, but its report has not yet been released. A bill sponsored by state Sen. Julia Salazar and Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas would create a state commission independent of the Executive Chamber with the power to subpoena witnesses in order to investigate the state’s response to the pandemic. The bill has been gaining some traction as the session wraps up. The latest push to pass the legislation comes as former Gov. Andrew Cuomo is set to testify before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic later this month about his controversial pandemic-era nursing home order.

Requesting paper ballots

Election integrity advocates are making a push again for legislation that would require paper ballots in New York, as several counties are considering purchasing touch-screen voting machines. The advocates are trying to get the Voter Integrity and Verification Act, also known as “VIVA NY,” passed before local boards of elections can begin actually making the purchases. Experts say that touch-screen voting machines have caused a number of issues in other states, pose a security risk and may even violate state law. The state Senate approved the bill last year, but it stalled in the Assembly. After failing to pass both chambers last year, the state Board of Elections voted to allow the new machines. Several groups sued to stop their usage, but a judge tossed the suit.

Red light cameras in NYC

New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ administration has been trying to get lawmakers to approve an expansion of the city’s red light camera program, and city Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez came up to Albany a few weeks ago to push for the effort. But it’s unclear whether lawmakers are discussing the expansion in earnest in the final week of session, especially since the state just approved significant new street safety legislation in the budget that allows the city to lower its speed limits even further.

The Nail Salon Minimum Standards Council Act

State Sen. Jessica Ramos and Assembly Member Harry Bronson introduced the Nail Salon Minimum Standards Council Act earlier this year in response to mounting concerns over the welfare of workers in the industry. The bill would create a council composed of workers, employer, and government representatives to recommend new labor standards in nail salons. Advocates have organized for months to push for the bill’s passage. It has not yet passed out of the Labor Committee in either chamber.

Short-term rental registry

Following big housing developments this year, state Sen. Michelle Hinchey and Assembly Member Pat Fahy have remained focused on short-term rentals and their effect on the state’s housing stock. They proposed the creation of a statewide registry for units rented for less than 30 days, like Airbnbs or Vrbos, and have the support of the New York State Association of Counties. The bill would allow municipalities to properly evaluate the effect of short-term rentals on their communities and allow them to tax units like hotels, opening the door to millions in untapped revenue. Though there are just a few days left of session, Assembly Housing Chair Linda Rosenthal said Tuesday that the bill was a priority for her in the final week.