United States: 2016 New York Legislative Session Update

Hearings, hearings, hearings. As is the case every year, marathon joint budget hearings on the various issues areas in the Governor's 2016-17 spending plan have consumed legislators during the end of January and beginning of February. While these hearings can be long and mundane, certain topics are often more contentious than others depending on the budget year.

This year's hearings saw lawmakers expressing frustration with Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Matt Driscoll about the $20 billion proposed for DOT to spend on fixing roads and bridges throughout the state. Lawmakers were seeking a list of specific projects that DOT plans to undertake as part of its proposed 5-year capital plan. Driscoll told the legislative panel that while some $3 billion for state-owned highways and bridges and increases in mass transit funding will be included, the specifics of the plan should not be expected until March.

At the economic development budget hearing, lawmakers probed Empire State Development (ESD) president Howard Zemsky for updates on the state's START-UP NY program.  The workforce development budget hearing saw testimony concerning Governor Cuomo's proposal to increase the state's minimum wage. This testimony drew both praise and criticism from the legislative panel, largely along partisan lines.

Top court and administrative appointments. On January 21, the Senate unanimously approved Janet DiFiore to serve as the Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, the highest court in New York. As Chief Justice, DiFiore is responsible for oversight of the state's Unified Court System. DiFiore has an impressive legal background, as she previously served as Westchester County District Attorney, Westchester County Court Judge, State Supreme Court Judge and Chair of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE).

On January 20, the Governor also announced the nomination of Michael Garcia to serve as an Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals. He was quickly confirmed by the State Senate on February 8. Most recently Garcia had practiced law at Kirkland & Ellis and had previously served as US Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Shifting to administrative agencies, in late January, Governor Cuomo announced the nomination of Maria Vullo to serve as Superintendent of the state Department of Financial Services (DFS). Vullo is currently of counsel at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. DFS is a powerful and relatively new state agency tasked with overseeing financial services in the state, including insurance and banking activities. Vullo's nomination is subject to Senate confirmation, which is expected to occur sometime in March 2016.

Finally, in early February, Governor Cuomo announced the nomination of Rossana Rosado to serve as New York's Secretary of State. Rosado served as the editor and publisher of El Diario, the oldest Spanish-language newspaper in the country, for almost twenty years. Her nomination is also subject to confirmation by the State Senate.

Political temperatures rising. As winter's chill settles on Albany, political temperatures are beginning to rise inside the State Capitol. The Governor recently made his long-awaited announcement calling special elections for April 19 to fill one Senate vacancy and three Assembly vacancies. Special elections will be held in the 9th Senate District (Nassau County), previously held by Dean Skelos (R); the 59th Assembly District (Brooklyn), previously held by Roxanne Persaud (D); the 62nd Assembly District (Staten Island), previously held by Joe Borelli (R); and the 65th Assembly District (Manhattan), formerly held by long-time Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D). These special elections will also occur on the same day as Democrats and Republicans go to the polls to vote in New York's Presidential primaries.

The special election in the 9th Senate District will be closely watched by New York's political class, as many observers expect it to be a bellwether for control on the State Senate heading into the November elections. Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky (D), a former federal prosecutor, will be facing off against local attorney Chris McGrath (R), the former head of the Nassau County Bar Association. Expectations are that this special election could be the most expensive in State history, and given the election is the same day as the Presidential Primaries, a high voter turnout is expected.

On the legislative front, the Governor, Senate and Assembly are beginning to stake out their policy priorities. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D) has begun to push a tax proposal that would increase taxes on those earning $5 million or more annually, while lowering rates for middle- and low-income earners. The proposal would also increase the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The Governor and Senate leadership quickly threw cold water on the proposal, with the Governor declaring there was "no reason or appetite" to talk about taxes this year.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R) has also gone on the offensive. Flanagan has made clear that he is not willing to pass the Dream Act, even if linked with the education tax credit—which the Senate supports. Also not likely to make it through the Senate, according to Flanagan, is the current minimum wage proposal from the Governor. Other priorities for the Senate include eliminating the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) and measures to promote job growth in the state. Senate Republicans have hinted that they may be open to supporting a paid family leave bill being pushed by Independent Democratic Conference leader Jeff Klein.

Looking ahead. State legislators departed this week for their two-week February break. They will return later this month to intensive budget negotiations, with both the Senate and Assembly expected to release their "one-house" budget proposals in early March. Budget negotiations between the Governor and legislative leaders from the Assembly and Senate will continue throughout the month, culminating in a vote on the final budget agreement before the budget deadline on April 1. Expect continuing updates from the New York Public Policy team during the month of March on the state budget.

Dentons is the world's first polycentric global law firm. A top 20 firm on the Acritas 2015 Global Elite Brand Index, the Firm is committed to challenging the status quo in delivering consistent and uncompromising quality and value in new and inventive ways. Driven to provide clients a competitive edge, and connected to the communities where its clients want to do business, Dentons knows that understanding local cultures is crucial to successfully completing a deal, resolving a dispute or solving a business challenge. Now the world's largest law firm, Dentons' global team builds agile, tailored solutions to meet the local, national and global needs of private and public clients of any size in more than 125 locations serving 50-plus countries. www.dentons.com.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions