New York governors often get their way with the legislature by using their pulpit to intimidate lawmakers. But Cuomo could have a lot to lose if he upsets his fellow Democrats or complicates the debate just before lawmakers end their session on Thursday.
Many of them have already called for his resignation, and those in the assembly could, at some point in the coming months, be called upon to vote on articles of impeachment. Suffice it to say he doesn’t have a lot of goodwill in the bank at this point.
“There is probably no one who will be happier this year that we are gone than the governor, for obvious reasons,” said Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt. “You have an Assembly impeachment inquiry. I criticized the pace and wondered how serious or in-depth this investigation is and what we can expect, but I think we can all expect that when we’re out of session it certainly won’t. not go into hyperdrive.
The governor’s most important role in shaping policy remains in state budget talks due in late March. But in a normal year, you can expect it to have a long list of non-budget priorities for the remaining session weeks.
These are usually detailed in “program bills”, legislation drafted directly by the governor’s office. In a typical year over the past several decades, a governor would present about 25 at this point in the session. Cuomo has used them over the past few years to cover dozens of major topics, such as same-sex marriage, medical marijuana, gun control, and rent regulation.
As the last week of this year’s session approached, he had presented two. Neither is likely to make the history books: one was a technical measure allowing the state to pay the bills when the budget was a few days late, the another was a step in contract talks with state police.
He presented a few more this week. But the most important of them – a move that changes the leadership structure of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority – seems to have done little to upset the debate in Albany, as it is essentially an attempt to adjust the structure of ‘an agency that the governor already controls effectively.
Asked for comment, the governor’s office highlighted remarks it made in April in which it said it would not focus too much on politics in the months to come.
“Oh, on political priorities, my political priorities were adopted in the budget. I had described them before and all the main political priorities were adopted. The priorities going forward for me, with the legislature, will be confirmations, ”Cuomo said on a conference call at the time. “This is a very operational phase for the state government. These mass vaccination sites are a huge operational burden to put in place. Then the pop-up sites, then the partnerships with the churches, then the public education that goes with it.
Cuomo’s ability to dominate end-of-session political discussions was diminished in 2019, when Democrats took control of the Senate to accompany their dominance of the Assembly. This allowed them to negotiate without relying on the governor as mediator between the two chambers.
“The Legislative Assembly, since we won a majority, has been very firm in driving our agenda, it is our job, it is our responsibility,” said Deputy Leader of the Senate Mike Gianaris. “The governor can sign or veto what we pass, and that’s when he can have a say.”
But even in 2019, the governor still weighed in on what the legislature should do. He regularly held press conferences and went on the airwaves to complain that lawmakers would not pass a state-level equal rights amendment, banned “gay panic” defenses in the June agenda, helped negotiate the country’s most radical climate measure, and taunted fellow Democrats that they couldn’t pass a rent control bill that would make tenants happy. (They, in fact, passed such a bill.)
Now he barely commented on the policy even when asked. His take on parole reform, one of the most controversial issues in Albany right now, was raised in a recent press appearance. He responded by saying that the candidates for mayor of New York, an office that has no role in bills like this, should weigh in on it.
“Let a New York City Mayoral Candidate Say, ‘Here’s What I Think About Bail Reform, Here’s What I Think About Parole Reform, Here’s What I Think About Releasing Disciplinary Files police, these are the changes we want to make, ”he said. “I would have a crime-only debate to go into more detail, as there are no conceptual answers to these issues and too much of the political dialogue is currently taking place at 64,000 feet. “Well, I would reform the police.” How? ‘Or’ What!?”
Cuomo didn’t even fit into the types of issues he would typically focus on succeeding on, or at the very least try to take credit for once passed.
Take, for example, a bill called the Adult Survivors Act, which would open a year-long window for adult survivors of sexual abuse to file a civil complaint, no matter how long ago the abuse took place. and even if the limitation period has expired. It’s an extension of the Child Victims Act, which Cuomo spent years promoting before signing it with fanfare in February 2019.
Rosenthal, the godfather of the assembly, has he discussed the bill with Cuomo?
“I haven’t been there,” she said. “I don’t know if anyone else has, but you know, we don’t engage with them on every issue. He has a say when an invoice arrives at his office.
Or consider a bill that attempts to reopen gun manufacturers to liability for some gunshot deaths. Cuomo has been a central figure in the national debate on this policy. A 2005 federal law that limits the types of lawsuits that can be brought against gun companies was drafted in part in response to his proposal to use housing and urban development to help bring such lawsuits when he was secretary of the HUD in the late 1990s. But he did not comment on the current bill, which seeks to circumvent this federal law.
“Our colleagues across the way, they’re probably happy” with Cuomo’s absence, Ortt said. “He doesn’t drive them, he doesn’t push them through a difficult situation or around a corner. And I’m sure they’d love to get out of here – I don’t think for a second that they want to be here when the Attorney General returns with her report. I’m sure they would love to be out of Dodge when that day comes.