United States: 2018 New York Legislative Session Preview

Last Updated: January 15 2018
Article by Amy G. Solomon, Craig M. Johnson and Benjamin Kern

New York State legislators made their annual return to Albany for the start of the 2018 legislative session with no shortage of issues to deal with. The state is facing its first major budget crunch since Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) took office in 2011—an estimated $4.4 billion budget gap—which comes on the heels of the new federal tax overhaul expected to have a devastating impact on downstate suburban residents. This is also an election year in New York, which means that the Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller and every member of the state legislature are up for reelection.

The constraints on the state budget, election year considerations and political turmoil out of Washington will complicate the 2018 session in a number of ways:

  • How left can the guv go? It's no secret that Governor Cuomo has a problem on his left. Long seen as a political pragmatist most comfortable in the center of the political spectrum, the Governor has been tacking left ahead of the 2018 elections—and a potential 2020 presidential run. After a surprisingly formidable primary challenge in 2014, the Governor appears determined to put to rest any questions regarding his liberal bona fides. His State of the State address on January 3 focused heavily on threats from the federal government and advanced an array of liberal proposals, including a package of sexual misconduct measures, the elimination of cash bail for non-violent felonies, and state pension fund divestment from significant fossil fuel holdings and investment in companies with significant minority and female representation on their boards and executive teams. It remains to be seen whether the Governor's efforts will be enough to shake off a challenge from his party's energized liberal base in 2018.
  • A fragile Senate: The Republican Senate majority coalition has been remarkably resilient in deep blue New York, holding a 32-seat majority in the 63-seat chamber thanks in part to Senator Simcha Felder who, although elected as a Democrat, has caucused with the Republicans since taking office. In the closing months of 2017, Governor Cuomo brokered a "reunification plan" between the mainline Senate Democrats and a breakaway group of eight Democratic senators, known as the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), who had formed the governing coalition with the Republican majority. The mainline Democrats and IDC have agreed in principal to the plan, which would see both groups come together to form a governing coalition after the state budget in March and two special elections in April. However, nothing is certain in Albany, and Democratic victories in the special elections and a Democratic/IDC reunion would still fall short of the 32-seat majority threshold— unless Senator Felder were to cross the aisle. That said, a change in Senate leadership would have a seismic impact on the legislative agenda, and we will be closely monitoring the situation as we move toward April.
  • Election-year drama: State and national political observers have spent no small amount of time handicapping the 2018 election season, including in New York, where there is no shortage of complicating factors to consider as the new year unfolds. These include the federal corruption trials of two top advisors to the Governor, the retrial of two former legislative leaders, the recent indictment of a state Assemblywoman on fraud charges, and New York City's failing subway system (see below), not to mention the federal tax plan's changes to deductions for interest on high-end mortgages and state and local taxes (SALT), and myriad other possible policy actions out of Washington inimical to the state's interests.

Health Care

Despite the steady drumbeat of attacks out of Washington on the Affordable Care Act and other major government health care programs, Governor Cuomo's State of the State health care agenda was surprisingly sparse. He promised to protect Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), but provided little in the way of details about how these programs would be protected or funded without assistance from the federal government. Other initiatives included in the address aimed at tackling the opioid crisis by taking enforcement actions against pharmaceutical opioid distributors and expanding telehealth services to rural parts of the state.


Education policy initiatives were similarly sparse in the Governor's State of the State. With respect to the P-12 level, the Governor said that the state is committed to making sure that local school districts that receive state grants are distributing aid to the poorest schools in their district. He also touted the expansion of the state's "free" SUNY/CUNY Excelsior Scholarship Program; the income ceiling for eligibility increased to $110,000 from $100,000 effective the next academic year.


With New York City coming off a so-called "summer of hell" that included major mass transit disruptions which left commuters stranded across the region, it was no surprise that, in his State of the State address, Governor Cuomo, with support from legislative leadership, focused on investment in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and other transportation upgrades, including construction of a tunnel for cars and trucks beneath the Long Island Sound to connect Long Island with Westchester or Connecticut, and the long-awaited restoration of Penn Station. Notably absent was a much-anticipated congestion pricing plan which would fund MTA upgrades by charging drivers who travel in New York City's most congested areas during peak commuting hours. Details of the plan are expected to be released before the state budget is delivered on January 16.

Taxes and economic development

The recently passed federal tax overhaul and specifically its curbs on the state and local tax (SALT) deduction is expected to be a major challenge for the state in 2018. Like other high-tax states, New York will be hard hit by the cap on these deductions and Governor Cuomo has not shied away from speaking out on this issue. As part of the state's response, he has vowed to sue the Trump administration on the grounds that the law unconstitutionally discriminates against New Yorkers and constitutes double taxation. The Governor is also exploring a shift in the state tax code away from income taxes to payroll taxes, and allowing some payments to be treated as tax-exempt donations.

Social Issues

As noted above, the Governor put forth a package of sexual assault proposals that are expected to find broad bipartisan support from the legislature, including legislation that would codify the federal definition of sexual harassment in state statute, prohibit secret settlements by public entities and end mandatory arbitration of sexual harassment and discrimination claims. The Child Victims Act, legislation that would allow child sex abuse victims to bring civil cases up until his or her 50th birthday, allow the state to bring a felony criminal charge up till the victim's 28th birthday, and provide a one-year window to revive an old case, is expected to be prominent issue in the 2018 session. Advocates for the legislation have pushed hard to see it included in the state budget. The legislation passed the Democratic-dominated Assembly last session, but final passage has been held up by the GOP-controlled Senate for a number of years.

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.

In association with
Related Topics
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