Summertime at the state Capitol: the special session edition


June 28, 2022

By Joseph Spector
Summertime special sessions
 have been rare recently, particularly in an election year when the focus is winning over voters in their districts rather than walking the halls of the state Capitol.

But this year has been far from normal.

The U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn a century-old concealed carry gun law in New York prompted a quick response from Gov. Kathy Hochul and the Legislature — so much so that they are coming in for session just a day before the holiday weekend.

“We are looking at legislation to address what the Supreme Court did to us,” Hochul told reporters on Monday as POLITICO’s Katelyn Cordero reported today.

“They struck down a law that’s been on the books for over 100 years, that allowed state government to have restrictions on concealed carry.”

So far, it appears it could be just a one-issue special session, as opposed to one in which lawmakers pack in a whole lot of unfinished business into one “Big Ugly.”

The only other issue under consideration is whether to pass a constitutional amendment to codify abortion rights and other rights into the state constitution.

But so far, as POLITICO’s Shannon Young reported Friday, there was not a lot of hope that a deal could be reached on a constitutional amendment. And that means if the Legislature were to wait and do the first approval of an amendment until next year, it couldn’t be on the ballot until 2025. Supporters had hoped it could be added to the presidential ballot in 2024.

The bill on limiting how concealed carry permits can be issued will be at the crux of the law set for approval by the Democratic-led Legislature on Thursday, perhaps in the evening. They want to require additional training and safety courses, as well as limit where concealed carry guns can be allowed.

Democrats want to ban concealed carry weapons from subways and schools, for example, and also allow private businesses to also prohibit them.

But it will be a difficult balance: if the law gets too restrictive, the state might end up in a new lawsuit that could make its way to the Supreme Court once again. And we all know how the last gun case before the Republican-led court ended up.

IT’S TUESDAY: Happy Primary Day! Stay with us as we keep you updated on the latest New York news from the campaign trail, in Albany and from City Hall. Summer is here, and the news keeps heating up!

Check the results:Follow our results page tonight for the latest results from Primary Day in New York.


MAYORAL CONTROL BILL: Mayoral control of New York City schools ends at the end of the month, and a bill allowing it to continue has been paired with legislation that requires a reduction the city’s class sizes.

Now it’s a question of when Hochul will sign the bills and unlock $530 million in state Foundation Aid funding to defray the cost of implementing those reductions, POLITICO’s Madina Toure reported today.

Lawmakers in the city are urging the Democratic governor to do so expediently.

“Eminent economists have estimated that the benefits of smaller classes are twice as large as the costs,” they wrote in a letter provided to POLITICO. “We urge you to sign this bill immediately, so that NYC children can soon be provided with the smaller class sizes that students in the rest of the state already receive.”

A Hochul spokesperson said: “Governor Hochul is committed to helping ensure that every student in New York receives a world-class education, and we are reviewing the legislation.” — Joseph Spector


ADAMS ON THE RUDY SMACK: Mayor Eric Adams didn’t see an assault in the smack on Rudy Giuliani’s back by an employee at a ShopRite on Staten Island over the weekend.

“Someone needs to remind former Mayor Giuliani that falsely reporting a crime is a crime,” Adams said at an unrelated press conference Tuesday. 

“What he stated, there was a lot of creativity, and I think the district attorney, he has the wrong person he is investigating. … When you look at the video, the guy basically walked by and patted him on the back.”

The employee was initially charged with felony assault involving a person over the age of 65, but Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon downgraded the charges Monday to misdemeanors for assault, menacing and harassment. The employee’s attorneys have said he “merely patted” the former mayor. — Joseph Spector


HEALTH CARE:  Attorney General Tish James announced the launch of a free abortion legal service hotline that will provide guidance and resources to patients, health providers and out-of-state residents looking to travel to New York for the procedure.

The hotline, which will be staffed by trained attorneys, comes as part of the AG’s new Pro Bono Task Force on Reproductive Health convened with 24 national law firms and eight reproductive rights organizations. James said her office and the network of law firms and advocacy groups “will work around the clock to offer this free support because every single person in this country should have the right to make their own decisions about their own bodies.” — Shannon Young

GUN CONTROL: While New York has taken a variety of new steps this year on gun control, it hasn’t outlawed the sale of semi-automatic rifles, although it just increased the age to purchase them from 18 to 21 and in 2013 restricted what kinds are available.

Sen. Alessandra Biaggi (D-Westchester) introduced legislation NY S9481 (21R) today that would “allow a private right of action” against individuals, firms, corporations or associations who manufacture, distribute, or sell semi-automatic rifles in New York, rather than outright ban.

The bill notes that attempts at outright bans have been beaten back by the courts, so this would attempt to allow New Yorkers to be able to “bring cases against those who allow semi-automatic rifles to enter our communities with deadly consequences.”

“Our nation’s deadliest shootings, including both Buffalo and Uvalde, all possess a common denominator — the use of an AR-15. If we are to take bold and transformative action to tackle our gun violence epidemic head on, then we must do something to limit the sale and distribution of these deadly weapons,” Biaggi said in a statement.

If the measure, which didn’t yet have an Assembly sponsor, is taken up, it would next year when the Legislature returns for a six-month session. — Joseph Spector

EDUCATION: Adams released his blueprint for child care and early childhood education this morning, which allocates about $2 billion in early child care over the next four years.

The city’s plans include increasing access to child care for more than 41,000 children in high-need neighborhoods over the next two years, providing vouchers to 600 undocumented families and a new Office of Child Care and Early Childhood Education. There are more than 500,000 children under the age of five in New York City.

“America runs on child care,” Adams said during a press conference in East Harlem. “It doesn’t matter if it’s mothers or grandmothers who are providing some type of child care for their grandchildren and children, the neighbor next door or a child care center — this country and this city wouldn’t function without child care and we’re clear on that.”

Jennifer March, executive director of Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York, praised the city for supporting immigrant households, homeless children and children in communities “with high unmet need.” — Madina Touré


PRIMARY DAY: It’s primary day in New York as candidates for governor and state Assembly crisscrossed their districts and/or parts of the state to urge on voters to pick them at the polls.

Hochul visited two subway stations in Manhattan — including one awkwardly with August primary foes, Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler, and then will host a campaign party in the city tonight.

Long Island Rep. Tom Suozzi stayed in his hometown of Glen Cove and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams will end the day at a party in Brooklyn.

On the Republican side, perceived frontrunner Lee Zeldin stayed on his native Long Island for the day and that’s where he will have his election night affair. Former Westchester County executive Rob Astorino campaigned in his home county before his local party, while Andrew Giuliani did a string of media hits on radio and then campaigned in Queens with his father.

For more on what to watch for tonight, POLITICO’s Bill Mahoney has a great roundup here. — Joseph Spector


— Residents of Glenmont are suing the Port of Albany and Bethlehem over a wind turbine project. 

— None of Buffalo’s outdoor public pools will open this year because of a lifeguard shortage.

— The Castle Point VA Hospital in Wappingers Falls will not be closing after all. 

— A task force in Rochester issued several recommendations to improve housing in the city.


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