Albany Agenda

Bill drafting system hacked as lawmakers hash out late budget

The cyber attack occurred early Wednesday morning.

Uh oh.

Uh oh. Austin C. Jefferson

The state’s bill drafting system was hacked early Wednesday days after Gov. Kathy Hochul’s announcement of the “parameters of a conceptual agreement” on a budget, it is unclear how much the attack will affect lawmakers attempting to pass a funding plan. 

The system is part of the state Bill Drafting Commission, the nonpartisan entity used by the state Legislature to draft legislation for members while also providing legal advice on policy. Lawmakers are optimistic about an actual budget deal being reached in a matter of days but need drafted bills to vote on in order to move forward.    

“The Bill Drafting system has been down since early this morning,” state Senate Majority Communications Director Mike Murphy said in a statement. “They are working to correct the issue as soon as possible. They can still process work for the houses and we don’t believe this will delay the overall process.” Democratic members of both the state Senate and the Assembly were informed about the attack Wednesday morning.

Hochul was asked during her appearance on The Brian Lehrer Show about the attack, and while she wasn’t able to provide additional details on the attack, she did elaborate on the precarious position it put bill drafters in. 

“We have to go back to the more antiquated system we had in place from 1994. This happened very, very early in the morning and so we've been on top of this, I have one of the top cybersecurity teams in the entire country,” said Hochul. “I knew that was a priority, so no one will do it better than we do in trying to get to the bottom of this attack. But our understanding right now is it'll take a little bit longer to deal with the legislative side of it.”

The attack on the state’s bill drafting system isn’t the only case of cybercrime in Albany. State Sen. Jessica Ramos’ X account was hacked last week. “I think on the light side, this is mildly entertaining at such a tense period in our budget negotiations,” Ramos said of the bill drafting hack. She doesn’t think her social media mishap is related. “And at worst, it can cause a delay that might make me late to pick up my kids from school, so I don’t appreciate that.”

“This is a Murphy’s Law budget,” state Sen. Sean Ryan quipped. “Any time you think nothing can go more wrong, suddenly this happens. But we’ll figure it out.”