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Session Ends with Onslaught of Progressive, NYC Legislation

By Will Barclay

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The 2019 New York State legislative session thankfully came to a merciful close in the early morning hours of June 21. After last November’s election, when downstate Democrats seized control of the state senate, most understood that the legislative agenda would be tilted towards downstate’s progressive priorities. However, even socialists such as Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez probably couldn’t have predicted just how hard-left New York was going to turn — although I imagine they would be happy with it. Bills expanding abortion rights and allowing late-term abortion in certain circumstances, giving illegal immigrants the right to take part in New York’s tuition-assistance program, and eliminating cash bail except for the most violent felons are just a few of the many pieces of left-wing legislation that were passed during session.

The session ended in a flurry — 578 bills out of total of 1,099 bills passed this year were approved in the final five days of the session and the liberal hits just kept coming. In the final days of the session, the legislature passed bills that would allow illegal aliens to obtain New York driver’s licenses, a farm labor bill that will drive up costs for our already hard-pressed New York farmers, and a so-called Climate Leadership Act that will cost billions of dollars, affect how each of us live and work, yet have a very limited impact on global greenhouse-gas emissions. 

The Democratic majority’s haste to get legislation passed did create some interesting snafus. One bill, that would have provided automatic voter registration for persons dealing with state agencies, was poorly drafted and could have been interpreted to automatically register non-citizens to vote. Thankfully, the bill was pulled when the drafting error was pointed out. The fact that this drafting error was caught is somewhat miraculous given that we were passing legislation in rapid succession in the middle of the night.

Sadly, little to nothing was done this session to address the outward migration of the Empire State’s population, to improve our business climate, or to assist our already overtaxed citizens. Indeed, other than making the property tax cap permanent, it is hard to point to any pro-taxpayer legislation that was passed. What is even more troublesome is that some on the other side of the aisle claim they are just getting started. Next year, expect pushes for legislation that will have state tax payers pay for everyone’s health care, the legalization of prostitution, legalization of marijuana, and legislation that will require the release of all incarcerated criminals at the age of 55 provided they have served 15 years of their sentence — including murderers and rapists.

One axiom that is often repeated and is fitting at this time is “elections have consequences.” Last November’s election results had major consequences for our state and unfortunately the aftereffects have not been positive for the citizens of upstate New York.       

William (Will) A. Barclay is the Republican representative of the 120th New York Assembly District, which encompasses most of Oswego County, including the cities of Oswego and Fulton, as well as the town of Lysander in Onondaga County and town of Ellisburg in Jefferson County. Contact him at barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or (315) 598-5185.

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