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Some Bills Governor Hochul Killed While You Sipped Egg Nog

LLC transparency, challenging wrongful convictions, and a consequential climate bill all died with 2023.

(Hell Gate)

Happy 2024, which will likely be quite a terrible year

Legislators are back in Albany on Wednesday, where housing will once again be the focus of the agenda. Will this be the year that Good Cause Eviction finally passes? Maybe—according to reporting in Gothamist, Democratic legislators are already floating a compromise that would pair the passage of Good Cause Eviction laws with a revamped 421-a tax credit for real estate developers, an idea that even our mayor now supports. Will we tax the rich? LOL?

But before we dive into a new legislative session, let's take a look at what happened during the last days of December, a period of time when our governor wields the power of her pen to either sign or veto bills that have been languishing on her desk for months. 

Hochul signed some good bills into law, like one moving local elections to even years, in an effort to boost voter turnout, and a bill that mildly strengthens protections for rent-stabilized tenants. Her veto of a campaign finance bill was lauded by good government groups. 

But she mostly vetoed bills with gusto. 

She vetoed the Grieving Families Act which would have allowed victims' families to sue for damages related to pain and suffering caused by a wrongful death. This was Hochul's second veto of the bill, and she again argued that it could lead to "increased insurance premiums for the vast majority of consumers, as well as risk the financial well-being of our own health care facilities—most notably for public hospitals that serve disadvantaged communities."

Hochul also vetoed the Challenging Wrongful Convictions Act, a bill with the goal of making it much easier for people to challenge their convictions—something that even states like Texas have done in recent years.

Do you have a noncompete agreement that's preventing you from finding a better job? You're out of luck—the governor nixed a bill that would have banned noncompetes, "after a furious lobbying effort by Wall Street and other powerful industries that forcefully opposed the measure," per the New York Times.

Hochul did sign a bill requiring shadowy limited liability companies to report the names of their owners to the state—but in a move gutting the utility of the law, those names will only be made available to law enforcement agencies, and not the general public who might, say, want to find out the name of the actual human owner of their building. As Reinvent Albany noted, "The LLC ownership database created by the governor and legislature will be secret and watchdogs and journalists will have zero idea if it is a big success or total failure."

And she vetoed what New York Focus described as "what is arguably the most consequential climate legislation on her desk," a bill that would have required companies contracting with the state to show that they don’t contribute to the deforestation of tropical forests. Corporations like Sysco were very unhappy with the bill, and it appears their lobbying worked. 

“Governor Hochul has been clear: she will always do what’s right for New Yorkers, even if it’s unpopular in the halls of Albany," wrote the governor's Communications Director Anthony Hogrebe in a statement defending Hochul's vetoes. "This year the State Legislature passed 896 bills—more than 500 of which passed in the final days of the session—most without a single hearing or opportunity for public comment. These included a number of extreme legislative proposals that would have put public safety or the state's economic recovery at risk. Governor Hochul successfully secured common sense changes to dozens of bills, and didn’t hesitate to use her veto pen when necessary to prevent harm to New Yorkers. She will continue standing up for the people of this state, no matter what it takes."

And some veto-proof links: 

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