Governor Kathy Hochul Administration Begins and New York Holds Extraordinary Legislative Session

NY State Government: Week in Review

Governor Hochul Administration

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul was sworn in as the 57th Governor of New York on August 24, becoming the first female Governor in New York’s long history. She succeeded three-term Governor Andrew Cuomo, who resigned in the wake of multiple investigations against him and his administration, and she will serve her term as Governor until December 31, 2022. Governor Hochul has announced her intent to seek a full four-year term for Governor, which will require her to prevail in both the Democratic gubernatorial primary in June 2022 and the general election in November 2022.

Governor Hochul has also announced key appointments to positions within her administration, including the appointments of state Sen. Brian Benjamin as Lieutenant Governor, Karen Persichilli Keogh as Secretary to the Governor, former General Counsel of Empire State Development Elizabeth Fine as Counsel to the Governor, and former New York City commissioner of sanitation and mayoral candidate Kathryn Garcia as Director of State Operations. The administration has also advanced appointments for key positions related to the state’s legalized cannabis program, including former cannabis policy advocate Chris Alexander as Executive Director of the Office of Cannabis Management, and former Assemblymember Tremaine Wright as chair of the state’s Cannabis Control Board—both Alexander and Wright were confirmed by the New York State Senate during last week’s legislative session. Governor Hochul also announced that Adrienne Harris, a former economic advisor to President Obama, has been nominated to be the next Superintendent of the Department of Financial Services, replacing Linda Lacewell. We expect Governor Hochul to continue to make appointments over the next several weeks.

Governor Hochul has also begun to act on some of the 471 bills that passed the New York State Legislature this past legislative session but had not yet been acted upon by the previous administration. These bills must be delivered to the Governor on or before December 31, with a large number of those pending bills typically incrementally delivered between now and the end-of-the-year deadline.

Governor Hochul has identified several immediate priorities upon assuming office, including the state’s response to the Delta variant and the COVID-19 pandemic more broadly; ensuring schools are safe through mandatory vaccination or weekly testing of faculty and staff and a mask mandate for anyone entering a school; disbursing state funds allocated for undocumented workers who were not eligible for federal unemployment payments; revisiting the state’s policies related to sexual harassment and ethics requirements and training; and extending the residential and commercial eviction moratoriums and remedying delays in the disbursement of more than $2.7 billion in rental assistance funds.

Extraordinary Session

The Governor directed the New York State Legislature to convene in an extraordinary session on September 1 to consider legislation intended to address several critical needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on New Yorkers. The legislation featured measures to address COVID-19-related impacts on tenants and landlords, including legislation to require tenants to submit a hardship declaration in order to delay an eviction proceeding (an issue identified in recent Supreme Court decisions); extend the state’s residential and small-business eviction and foreclosure moratoriums until January 15, 2022; expand the resources available to tenants and landlords under the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program and the State Supplemental Rental Assistance Fund; and provide additional resources for legal assistance for tenants navigating these issues.

Additionally, the New York State Legislature passed, and Governor Hochul signed into law, legislation to extend until January 15, 2022, the authority of government bodies to conduct meetings remotely rather than in person as long as the public is able to view or listen to the meeting and the meeting is recorded and then transcribed.

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