Having An Impact: City Bar Policy Successes in the 2023 New York State Legislative Session

Signed Into Law By the Governor

  • Clean Slate ActThe Act will automatically seal criminal conviction records for civil purposes after reasonable waiting periods (effective November 16, 2024). Sealing would not take effect until community supervision is complete, and records would be sealed only for civil purposes, remaining available for criminal justice purposes and for gun licensing. While the bill is not as expansive as we originally supported, we joined the diverse coalition of groups and businesses – including 49 law firms – in supporting the amended Act. It will allow millions of New Yorkers with criminal conviction histories the opportunity to move forward, achieve financial and housing security, and become vital participants in New York’s economy. This bill was supported by the Mass Incarceration Task ForceCivil Rights CommitteeCorrections and Community Reentry Committee, and the Criminal Justice Operations CommitteeThis bill was a 2023 New York State Legislative Agenda (A.1029-C (AM Cruz) / S.7551-A (Sen. Myrie), Chp. 631)
  • Unsworn Affirmations Expansion. This new law (effective as of January 1, 2024) will permit all persons to use unsworn declarations, whether made within or outside the United States, in place of notarized affidavits or affirmations in New York state court litigation. This is consistent with Federal practice. The limitations of New York’s law created significant difficulties for litigants and non-party witnesses, particularly the unrepresented and those residing outside cities, in addition to imposing undue burdens on the offices of the county clerks and courts. The elimination of notarization will not reduce the truthfulness of witness statements filed in court, and that ample need for notaries in New York State would remain.  This bill was first proposed by OCA’s Advisory Committee on Civil Practice and supported in 2021by the  Commercial Law and Uniform State Laws CommitteeCouncil on Judicial AdministrationLitigation Committee and State Courts of Superior Jurisdiction. (A.5772 (AM Lavine) / S.5162 (Sen. Hoylman-Sigal), Chp. 559)
  • Ban on the Slaughter of Horses for ConsumptionThis new law (effective April 11, 2024) will prohibit the slaughtering of horses for human consumption. While federal law has effectively shuttered domestic horse slaughterhouse operations at present, the United States remains a major source of horses destined for slaughter and human consumption abroad. Each year, thousands of American horses are transported to slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada and a number of these horses are sourced from New York State or are transported via the New York State thruway. This raises animal welfare concerns associated with the transport and slaughter of horses for human consumption, along with the serious public health risk presented by consuming horse meat.  This bill was supported by the Animal Law Committee. (A.5109-A (AM Glick) / S.2163-B (Sen. Addabbo), Chp. 726)
  • Prohibiting Wildlife Killing ContestsWildlife-killing competitions often take place in a “party-like atmosphere” and are conducted simply for fun. This new law will protect animals from unjustifiable suffering while fostering environmental conservation (effective November 1, 2024). The new law also continues New York State’s efforts to promote humane education and treatment of animals. This bill was supported by the Animal Law Committee  (A.2917 (AM Glick) / S.4099 (Sen. Kennedy), Chp. 762)

Adopted as Part of the Budget

Opposed Legislation

  • Blanket Ban on Non-Competition AgreementsThis bill would have enacted a total ban on non-competition agreements in New York State. The City Bar believes that restricting non-competes for low wage workers is beneficial, however a complete ban is not.  The New York Court of Appeals has been a leader in the non-compete area, closely analyzing non-competition agreements, and scrutinizing and attempting to prevent their misuse.  But the Court of Appeals has also recognized that a non-competition agreement may be enforced “to forestall unfair competition,” and New York courts have recognized several legitimate employer interests which justify enforcement, including the protection of trade secrets and confidential information, customer relationships and goodwill, and protection against irreparable harm where the employee’s services are unique or extraordinary.  This bill went far beyond a limited, presumptive, rebuttable prohibition and would ban non-competes where they are needed and would be pro-competitive, such as where they protect the goodwill, value and alienability of New York businesses, large and small, without adversely affecting workers.  The Antitrust & Trade Regulation Committee, Corporation Law Committee and Trade Secrets Committee urged the Governor to veto the bill or adopt chapter amendments to exclude highly compensated individuals from the law. (A1278-B (AM Joyner) / S.3100-A (Sen. Ryan),  Vetoed Memo 133)
  • Watering Down New York’s Public Campaign Finance ProgramThis bill would have made various clarifications and modifications to the Public Campaign Finance Program (PCFP) that would damage the program. Central to the program’s promise is its match on only small contributions of $250 or less from constituents, which responds to a status quo under which ultra-wealthy donors wield disproportionate influence in the political process. This bill upends this core feature. Under the bill, the first $250 of even maximum contributions of $18,000 for statewide candidates, $10,000 for senate candidates, and $6,000 for assembly candidates could be matched with as much as $2,300 in public funds.  This change would undermine candidates’ incentives to engage with small donor constituents, and instead reward courting the wealthiest donors who already have the greatest say.  Other features of the bill make it much harder for candidates without access to wealth and/or previous political support to participate. One amendment would substantially increase the fundraising thresholds that legislative candidates must meet to receive public funds. Another would reduce the public funds available for participating assembly candidates.  The Election Law Committee argued that these changes would undermine candidates’ incentives to engage with small donor constituents, and instead reward courting the wealthiest donors who already have the greatest say. (A.7760 (AM Walker) / S.7564 (Sen. Myrie), Vetoed Memo 150)

Learn More!

2023-24 New York State Budget Recap

2023 New York State Legislative Session Wrap Up

Legislative Update: A Flurry of Vetoes to End the Year 

2022-23 Committee Year Highlights

The City Bar is Member Driven: Join Us!