Legislative Affairs 2013 Session Preview

As New York State begins its 2013 legislative session, we have only the briefest of moments to reflect on 2012, a session which yielded two new state laws courtesy of City Bar proposals. One clarifies and strengthens the trust provisions that govern the relationship between an artist-consignor and merchant-consignee, and the other expands an attorney’s ability to attach a charging lien to a client’s monetary recovery to cases where alternative dispute resolution is utilized. A number of other measures supported by the City Bar were also enacted; you can read more about them here. 2013 has been off to an unusually quick start, and with important changes afoot in the Legislature. As a result of November’s election, a new crop of legislators has taken office and the Senate will operate under a new power-sharing agreement between Republicans and the Independent Democratic Conference. The devastation of Superstorm Sandy continues to be felt throughout the state, and the Legislature will begin to address some of the issues that have arisen in the wake of the storm and the implications the disaster will have on the state’s finances and future protocols. Following the horrific shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, the Legislature promptly passed new gun control measures, but it appears that the debate over the new law will continue well into session and into the courthouse. Budget hearings are in process, with a goal of completing the budget by April 1, if not sooner. And these are just a few of the many pressing issues facing our state government this year. Looking forward, the City Bar plans to tackle an aggressive roster of bills and proposals. During his 2013 State of the State Address, Governor Andrew Cuomo laid out a framework for what he would like to see accomplished this year. The Governor’s address featured a number of measures and initiatives supported by the City Bar over the years. We applaud the Governor for including them in his agenda and we look forward to working with the legislature to see those goals accomplished. Issues featured in the Governor’s agenda include:

  • Combating wrongful convictions by requiring the recording of criminal interrogations
  • Reforming New York’s campaign finance laws
  • Achieving true equality for women by, among other things, ending family-status and pregnancy discrimination, strengthening human trafficking and order-of-protection laws, combating housing discrimination faced by victims of domestic violence, and enacting the Reproductive Health Act
  • Addressing the ongoing issues presented by the NYPD’s arrests for low-level marijuana possession

In addition, the City Bar will be supporting the following initiatives as part of our advocacy work this year:

  • Modernizing the state’s Uniform Commercial Code
  • Amending the Human Rights Law to provide clarity and consistency in the definition and treatment of guide, hearing and service dogs
  • Enacting a Home Mortgage Bridge Loan Assistance program modeled after Pennsylvania’s successful program
  • Legalizing medical marijuana
  • Maintaining adequate funding for civil legal services
  • Protecting consumers from unlawful and predatory debt collection/settlement practices
  • Making necessary amendments to various provisions of the Estates, Powers and Trusts Law

To view these and the rest of the City Bar’s state policy recommendations, please view our 2013 Legislative Program. You can also visit our Legislative Affairs Web page and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates on our advocacy efforts.