The New York State Legislature returned for a rare summer Session July 20th through July 23rd. The week’s Agenda looked much like the Legislature’s typical end-of-session agenda looks like, consisting of local bills and various member priorities. Some major pieces of legislation that passed both Houses include:
- Various pieces of legislation to help support vulnerable New Yorkers during the COVID-19 Pandemic, including a bill that ensures that every New Yorker, whether they have health insurance or not, will be able to receive a COVID-19 test free.
- Legislation that creates a system for automatic voter registration. In the Assembly’s Press Release, they state, “This process would allow state and local agencies to provide the New York State Board of Elections with voter registration information for people that submit an application for services or assistance. Agencies participating in this program will include the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the Department of Health, the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the Department of Labor, the Office of Vocational and Educational Services, city and county departments of social services, the New York City Housing Authority and other agencies designated by the governor in the future.”
- Several pieces of legislation that ensure the timely use of absentee ballots during the COVID-19 pandemic and minimize the chances that those ballots will be held invalid.
- Legislation that establishes Abolition Commemoration Day in New York, which will be observed on the second Monday in July and a bill that establishes Juneteenth as a public holiday, which will be observed on June 19th each year.
- Anti-SLAPP legislation, which offers legal protection to any individual or entity sued for exercising their free speech rights. The legislation broadens New York’s existing anti-SLAPP statute by revising the definition of an “action involving public petition and participation” to include a broader definition of matters in the “public interest.” The bill also states that if a defendant’s speech or activity fall under the protection of the statute, judges will have the ability to dispose of these meritless claims quickly.
At the end of the week, neither House indicated that they plan to return again before the end of the year. However, it’s not impossible that they could return if the federal government acts on legislation to provide funding for New York. We will continue to monitor the Legislature’s actions closely over the next weeks and months and keep you informed of any announcements we hear.