Monday, July 23, 2012

End of Session Wrap-Up

End of Session Wrap-Up The 2012 legislative session ended on June 21st exactly as the leadership had scheduled.  The leadership in both houses touted how functional they had been this session, perhaps trying to increase their approval rating during this election year.

The highlight of the session occurred back in March with the passage of the “bug ugly” including Tier VI pension reform. The end of session came and went with many not even noticing.  Here is the wrap-up of League issues:
·         Redistricting- The League’s major issue, it was settled in April.  The legislature passed very
partisan lines but the Governor was able to secure first passage of a constitutional amendment setting up a non-partisan commission to take the redistricting pen out of legislator’s hands going forward.  Second passage will happen in 2013 session.
·         Pay Equity- Passed the Assembly but was not brought to the floor of the Senate
·         Voter Friendly Ballot bill- Passed the Assembly but was not brought to the floor of the Senate
·         Hydro-fracking- Still being considered by DEC and did not come before the legislature. Rumor was ramped up at the end of session that the Governor would allow for some permitting in some communities but no action was taken by the Governor.  The League has been very active on this issue and we will continue to monitor activity on this issue closely.
·         Tanning beds ban- The legislature passed legislation banning tanning bed usage by anyone 16 years and younger.  The League had lobbied for the ban 17 years and younger.  The bill now goes to the governor for signature.
·         Campaign Finance Reform- Although the Governor talked about the need for campaign finance reform as a candidate for governor and put it into his 2012 State of the State address in January, he did not submit a program bill.  Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver did pass his public finance legislation but no companion bill was passed in the Senate.  The League supports public financing but felt that although Silver’s bill was a start, more comprehensive reform was needed to compliment public financing.  There is speculation that the governor will use a pay increase for legislators as leverage to get campaign finance reform when the legislature returns in December.  The League will lobby vigorously for campaign finance reform.