Albany Agenda

Democrats in the NY Legislature have supermajorities. They aren’t using them.

A veto override isn’t on the table for bills from last session, according to lawmakers.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie called veto overrides “nuclear options.”

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie called veto overrides “nuclear options.” Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Gov. Kathy Hochul recently vetoed several major bills passed last session, many of which were passed with legislative supermajorities. Democrats in the state Legislature have the power to override some of those vetoes, but they aren’t using it. A relationship that is at times strained could only worsen with a veto override. 

Assembly Majority Leader Carl Heastie told Capital Tonight Tuesday that, “(Overrides) are always…nuclear options and you would hope to never get to that point.”

Democratic political consultant Hank Sheinkopf said given the governor’s control of state agencies, overriding a veto needs to be a last resort unless the legislation in question is of the utmost importance. 

“Why would you want to make the governor angry unless absolutely necessary?” asked Sheinkopf. “Getting reelected depends on service. You're not going to give your constituents what they need to get.”

He added, “overriding a veto is an absolute way to embarrass a governor in public.”

Vetoes of the Grieving Families Act and the Wrongful Convictions Act were met with anger by stakeholders. Grieving Families Act sponsor State Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal said that although “we seem to be negotiating through veto messages” he would try to pass the Grieving Families Act for the third time during the upcoming session. 

But Hoylman-Sigal said overriding Hochul’s veto was “a conversation that no one has yet had.” He added it was a decision that was up to legislative leaders.  

Not everyone agreed an override would amount to a declaration of war. Political consultant Jake Dilemani said that retaliation from Hochul was possible but unlikely. 

“Could the governor turn around and use (an override) as an excuse to go retaliate against the Legislature? Theoretically, yes,” said Dilemani. “Do I think that that would happen with this governor and this Legislature? No.”

And some advocates pushed for it. Legal aid organization Brooklyn Defenders said they encouraged the Legislature to override Hochul’s veto of the Preserving Family Bonds Act in a Tuesday X post

Progressive Queens Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas said that the recent vetoes hurt, and if the Legislature decided to go the route of an override: “I’m down.” 

Later in a statement shared by a spokesperson, González-Rojas said, “I’m willing to work with anyone and yes the executive should remember the legislature can override a veto,” referencing legislation she passed on transparent home care services that Hochul vetoed.