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2024 New York State Legislative Session Wrap Up

The State legislative session wrapped up for the year in the early hours of Saturday.  A total of 805 bills passed both houses, a decline from recent years.  According to NYPRIG, with the exception of the 2020 pandemic session, it was the lowest number of bills passed by the Assembly going back to at least 1995.  There are a number of factors that may have contributed to the decrease in bills passing, including an earlier session end date due to upcoming June primary and a delay in finalizing the budget, which created a more condensed amount of time to get things done.  

A list of bills supported by City Bar committees that passed both houses of the Legislature can be found below; please click on the links for a full summary and the report.  In addition to two bills supported by the Council on Judicial Administration, we saw a number of bills passed aimed at reforming and improving Family Court for all litigants, a plank of the City Bar’s 2024 New York State Legislative Agenda. The Policy Department will be working with committees to further advocate for the measures in the coming months to ensure they are signed into law by the Governor. 

  • The No Cap Act (A.5366 AM Bores / S.5414 Sen. Hoylman-Sigal) would amend the State Constitution to remove the population-based cap on the number of Supreme Court justices that can serve a particular judicial district. New York’s antiquated and inefficient method for allocating judicial resources negatively impacts the administration of justice not just in the Supreme Court but also in the other courts within the Unified Court System, including what are often called the People’s Courts – the Family Court, Civil Court and local criminal courts. The purely population-based constitutional cap has proven over-simplistic, outdated, and unworkable. It has created a ripple effect that has impacted the entire court system. Support for the No Cap Act grew out of the Council on Judicial Administration’s (Fran Hoffinger, Chair) recommendations in their comprehensive report “Repeal the Cap and Do the Math.”  The Council was particularly active in advocating for the Act’s passage, meeting with legislators, participating in a rally for the issue, and working to garner support  from a wide range of good government, business, legal services organizations and bar associations.  At the end of session, the City Bar coordinated a statement of support that was signed by a number of local bar associations to call for the Act’s passage.  Since this bill is an amendment to the State Constitution, it will need to pass both houses of the Legislature again during the next legislative sessions before it can be placed on a ballot for consideration by voters.  This bill is a 2024 New York State Legislative Agenda item. 
  • The Council on Judicial Administration also supported a bill to eliminate the “Death Gamble” for judges and justices (A.9143 AM Tapia / S.7567-A Sen. Sepulveda). This bill would permit an eligible retirement system member to receive, in lieu of an ordinary death benefit, a death benefit such member would otherwise be entitled to receive provided such member is a state-paid judge or justice of the unified court system or a housing judge of the civil court of the city of New York.  Judges are forced to gamble that they can live long enough to retire so that when they die, their families will be entitled to receive an adequate pension that they can opt to receive as a monthly allowance. Many judges enter judicial service in their fifties or sixties without prior governmental service; as such this “Death Gamble” is not theoretical, as they hope to serve long enough to accrue significant retirement credit. The City Bar believes this system is unfair and should be removed, as it was for police officers, firefighters and teachers in previous legislation.  The Council has supported this amendment since it was first proposed in 2015 by the New York County Lawyers’ Association (NYCLA). 
  • The Safe Landings Act (A.9321-B AM Hevesi / S.8724-B Sen. Hoylman-Sigal) would authorize the Family Court to adjudicate motions to enforce orders that were issued on behalf of children while they were in foster care, after they are discharged from or age out of care. Specifically, the amendments apply to youth between the ages of 18 and 21 who have been discharged from foster care and those who have aged out of care after turning 21, and who, due to the failure of the foster care agencies to timely comply with validly entered Family Court orders, are still in need of stable housing and/or receipt of other necessary services for their transition to adulthood. At permanency hearings held periodically while a child remains in foster care, the Family Court issues orders directing the agencies to comply with their mandate to provide the youth with these services. Far too often, however, by the time of the youth’s departure from care, the orders remain unfulfilled, and the youth is without recourse to seek enforcement of the orders because the Family Court has lost jurisdiction. The youth is thus left alone and unprepared to navigate the complexities involved in becoming a self-sufficient adult. Click here to read our report in support of the bill.  This bill was supported by the Children and the Law Committee (Amy R. Hozer-Weber and Christina Rich, Co-Chairs) and the Council on Children (Cathy A. Cramer, Chair). 
  • The Children and the Law Committee and Council on Children also issued a report in support of the Adoption Subsidy Fraud Bill (A.3580-A AM Hevesi / S.8745 Sen. Persaud). The bill addresses the monthly subsidy provided to virtually all parents who adopt children out of foster care to help them provide for the child’s needs following the adoption. As stated in the report, “It is a sad reality, however, that adoptive parents sometimes become unwilling or unable to care for their children before those children turn 21. In such cases, the child may be placed with a new custodian or guardian by the court, may become homeless, or may return to foster care. The Social Services Law currently provides no legal mechanism for terminating or transferring the adoption subsidy when that happens, except upon the death of the adoptive parents. Instead, the adoptive parents continue to receive significant government assistance, even though they are no longer supporting the child.” The bill creates a mechanism to help ensure that adoption subsidies are used for the care and maintenance of children, as mandated by the Social Services Law, by providing that the subsidies terminate or be transferred when the adoptive parent is no longer supporting the child. 
  • The Family Court and Family Law Committee (Michael Weinstein and Tuozhi Zhen, Co-Chair) supported a bill regarding accurate information in child abuse and neglect proceedings in Family Court (A.7348 AM Dickens / S.9745 Sen. Brisport). The bill will ensure that when parents consent to findings in Family Court Act, Article 10 proceedings, they receive accurate information concerning the findings’ collateral consequences at the New York Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment. Currently, Section 1015(f) of the Family Court Act leaves jurists without any option except to provide inadequate warnings to litigants. Amending the legislation is the only way to protect litigants from receiving misleading information, and to make sure that consent is willingly, knowingly and voluntarily made. 

We will continue to provide updates on the status of these bills in the coming months, so please make sure to follow us on social media and read the 44th Street eNews and other City Bar publications for updates.