Capitol Watch: 2018 legislative agenda coming into focus
By DAVID KLEPPER
Nov. 18, 2017
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — In this week's New York state government news, lawmakers are looking ahead to the 2018 legislative session and predicting the return of several contentious issues.
Meanwhile, a state Assembly committee plans to review nursing home safety and Gov. Andrew Cuomo announces a new state award for public service.
A look at stories making news:
SESSION COMING INTO FOCUS
Lawmakers, lobbyists and advocates are already preparing for the start of the 2018 session in January and predicting the return of several contentious issues.
Advocates of a proposal to allow patients with terminal illnesses to request life-ending medication from a physician say they're hopeful this could be the year New York joins California, Washington D.C. and four other states that have physician-assisted death laws. They point to polls showing growing public support, but they'll still have to contend with deeply skeptical lawmakers who have kept the bill from passing for several years.
Debates over funding for New York City transit are likely to return as well following a summer of delays, breakdowns and construction work. One idea is congestion pricing — or the levying of an additional toll on motorists who enter the most densely populated areas of New York City. Cuomo, a Democrat, has said he's preparing a congestion pricing proposal for lawmakers to consider.
Transit advocates say lawmakers have no choice but to consider new ways to fund the aging, stretched system.
"The consequences of underinvestment in the MTA are clear: delays and breakdowns are up, and ridership is down as New Yorkers look for more reliable ways of getting where they need to be," said Nick Sifuentes, executive director of Tri-State Transportation Campaign.
A bill loosening the statute of limitations on child molestation so victims can sue their abusers for decades-old abuse will be back. Supporters say they hope recent attention on allegations of sexual misconduct against several big names in Hollywood, media and politics will help overcome opposition in the Senate, which has so far blocked the bill.
Legislators are already predicting tougher-than-usual budget decisions next year, thanks to a projected $4 billion budget deficit and the threat of additional federal spending cuts from Washington.
NURSING HOME SAFETY
The quality of care for nursing home residents will be the focus of a meeting Monday of the Assembly's committees on health and aging.
The hearing in New York City was called to review federal regulations governing nursing homes as well as policies on nursing staff ratios, staff training and oversight.
NEW AWARD FOR PUBLIC SERVICE
Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week announced a new award for state employees who demonstrate exceptional service to the public.
Ten executive branch workers will win the Empire Star Public Service Award, which will come with $5,000 the employee can use for professional training or continuing education in their field. One winner will be chosen from each of the state's 10 regions. Winners will be announced next year.