The 2020 New York state legislative session is about to begin.
A session planned for 57 days through June begins January 8th as Governor Andrew Cuomo gives his State of the State address. Assemblywoman Pat Fahy represents the 109th district. The Albany Democrat says she's looking forward to the session. "Being as aggressive as possible on a number of pieces of legislation, including on the environment, we passed, by all accounts, the most ambitious climate change and climate leadership, bill earlier this year. In order to make those goals that are embedded in that legislation, we really need to be aggressive in terms of the environment in terms of our transportation and our energy policies."
Senator George Amedore is a Republican representing the 46th district. He is leaving office at the end of 2020. "You know, I think this is going to be a very interesting session. I think it's going to be a difficult session. The state faces the $6.2 billion deficit as well as other issues and I think, big reforms that will impact the quality of life or the pocketbook that we have not felt or seen the effects of yet."
Last session, the governor and legislature couldn’t agree on a major policy change: fully legalizing marijuana. There were other issues, like e-bikes, that were vetoed by Cuomo.
Democratic Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara of the 111the district says he's keeping an eye on bills that have been vetoed. "E-bikes, which is something I supported, you know, anything that, anything that where we can cut regulation and support businesses support communities, and I think the, you know, e-bikes is just one of a number of bills that are out there and some of the bills that, you know, were approved, I think were helpful, but some of the bills that were vetoed were not. So I'm really keeping a close eye, and I do think we need to revisit a number of issues that have been, whether it's from last legislative session or the session before, there's a certainly a number of issues that need further legislation, amendments and reform, and I plan on bringing those forward."
Fahy intends to keep pedaling for e-bike legislation: "I read the governor's veto message, I think we're not that far apart. I know he's got some safety concerns but I think most of what he's raising can be addressed."
Amedore says he'll focus on bills that intend to foster economic opportunity in upstate New York. "How we can reduce the property tax burden on upstate homeowners and residents that has literally just plagued the growth of economic opportunity for upstate New York. When we can reduce the property taxes, I think we will have a better opportunity to bring growth into the regions that once had thriving economies. I will also continue to keep my eye on the efforts that we laid out with making sure that those who are bound by substance use disorder, make sure that they have proper treatment and the recovery services."
Legislators also say they’ll examine public financing for state elections, regulations involving pension funds, criminal justice reform and a single-payer health care system.
Santabarbara cited additional health-related issues: "There's a tremendous need for senior care, nursing homes, funding for nursing homes is something that surfaced — a tremendous need with an aging population. In my district, I've seen an aging population, tremendous need for elderly care and the rising cost of prescription drugs. Both of my parents just shared with me how expensive it is for prescription drugs that are needed that they are struggling with."
Amedore and Santabarbara predict fierce budget debate in what will be a shorter session, owing to the summer and fall election calendar. "You know, making sure again, the quality of life, the affordability of life, security of life is there for, for New Yorkers. And, you know, hopefully we can we can have a legislative session that would be more balanced than that of just one party rule which we have right now. Because we're facing some big issues and big struggles and, you know, it needs to have a balanced approach and debate, to make sure that all regions of the state are represented in the capitol," said Amedore.
Santabarbara added: "The governor really needs to stop with all the high cost big spending pet projects that we've seen in the past and really need to focus on the people this year more than ever, but we need to stand firm on no more spending and no new taxes for this upcoming budget period."