The Democrats rule New York as a one-party state with veto-proof supermajorities in both chambers of the state legislature. But once again this year they failed to use their power to enact popular progressive reforms affecting health care, climate, housing, criminal justice, and abortion rights.
The Democrats’ disposal of the following 20 bills are 20 reasons to vote for the Green Party gubernatorial ticket of Howie Hawkins and Gloria Mattera on November 8.
1. The New York Health Act would have created a state-level Medicare-for-All program for all New York residents. Versions of it have passed the Assembly since the early 1990s. But the bill has not got out of committee in either chamber since the Democrats regained control of the state Senate in 2018.
More climate legislation is needed to implement to clean energy and environmental justice goals of the 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). While the Green Party regards these goals in CLCPA as too weak, the Greens did support the climate bills pushed by the Climate Can’t Wait coalition to support the CLCPA’s clean energy and environmental justice goals. But these climate bills were not adopted by the legislature:
2. The Build Public Renewables Act would have enabled the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to build affordable renewable energy and to retrofit public buildings with energy efficiency and electric heat pumps.
3. The All Electric Buildings Act would have ended fossil-fueled heating and cooling systems in new residential or commercial buildings for buildings up six floors by 2024 and all buildings by 2027
4. The CLCPA Implementation and Funding Act would have provided $15 billion in the 2022 budget to help fund the clean energy transition.
5. The Clean Futures Act would have banned new fossil-fueled electric power generation.
6. The Climate and Community Investment Act would have enacted a progressive carbon tax with rebates to help fund the clean energy transition.
7. The Fossil Fuel Subsidy Elimination Act would have cut over $330 million in New York tax exemptions to the fossil fuel industry.
8. The Green New Deal for New York Act would have taxed the rich for over $10 billion a year to help fund the clean energy transition
9. The Renewable Capitol Act would have required that the State Capitol and Empire State Plaza be powered by renewable energy.
10. The Teachers’ Fossil Fuel Divestment Act would have required the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System to divest from fossil fuel holdings.
11. The Energy Efficiency, Equity and Jobs Act would have required that Public Service Commission programs provide job training funds and set hiring targets for disadvantaged communities.
12. The Cryptocurrency Mining Act did pass. It provides for a two-year moratorium on fossil-fueled cryptocurrency mining. But it grandfathers in the on-site fracked gas powered electricity at Greenidge Generation’s Bitcoin mining plant in Dresden on Seneca Lake. Whether Governor Kathy Hochul will sign it into law is far from certain. The original bill called for a three-year moratorium. The Green Party supports a ban. Cryptocurrency mining is a waste of energy. Even when cryptocurrency is mined with renewable electricity, that is clean electricity that is needed immediately to decarbonize buildings, transportation, and manufacturing.
The affordable housing crisis in New York has become acute since the Covid eviction moratorium expired in January. In New York City, rents rose 33 percent in 2021, almost double the national rate and the highest increase among the 100 largest U.S. cities. Evictions are accelerating.
13. The Prohibition of Eviction Without Good Cause Act would have required landlords to have “good cause” to evict tenants and prevented landlords from kicking out tenants just to drastically raise rents. It also would have capped rent increases at 3%, or 1.5 times the annual percent change in the Consumer Price Index, whichever is higher.
Despite the Black Lives Matter demonstrations after the police murder of George Floyd in May 2020 that were the largest protest movement in US history, their demands for an end to police and criminal justice system abuses have stalled in New York. These five police and criminal justice reform bills failed:
14. The Clean Slate Act would have cleared a person's criminal record after completion of their sentence in order to remove barriers to employment, housing, and education for 2.3 million New Yorkers.
15. The Fair and Timely Parole Act would have required the state Parole Board to evaluate inmates for parole based on current merit and behavior.
16. The Elder Parole Act would have required that inmates over 55 years old who served 15 or more years be considered for parole.
17. The Challenging Wrongful Convictions Act would have enabled people wrongfully convicted to clear their names and their records
18. End Qualified Immunity Act would have ended the US Supreme Court invented doctrine that shields government officials from liability in civil cases and in particular police and correctional officers from culpability for civil rights violations.
While the state legislature did not see fit to divest the teacher’s pension fund from fossil fuel companies, it did see fit amid a flood of campaign cash from the financial industry to funnel public employee pension funds into high-risk Wall Street “alternative investment” schemes.
19. The High-Risk Public Employee Pensions Investment Act (our name for A9668A/S8532) will raise from 25% to 35% the portion of state public employee pension funds that can be invested in high-risk “alternative investments" such as hedge funds, private equity, and real estate, sending as much as $54 billion more in retiree savings to risky Wall Street investment stratagems.
In the wake of the leaked US Supreme Court draft decision to overturn abortion rights, New York Democrats proclaimed they would enshrine abortion rights as well as gender equality in the New York state constitution. Then they failed to pass the proposed Equality Amendment to do so.
20. The Equality Amendment would have started the process of enacting a state constitutional amendment to prohibit discrimination based on a person’s race, ethnicity, national origin, disability, and sex — including pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes, access to reproductive care including abortion, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.