Tax Caps and Sippy Cups: Leftovers From the Albany State Legislature

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Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's A Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning's political conversations on WNYC. Today on the Brian Lehrer Show, Glenn Blain, Albany bureau reporter for the New York Daily News, talked about outstanding issues in Albany, including bills requiring warning labels on sippy cups that await Governor Cuomo's signature.

Under the radar in Albany

Banning the sale of hookahs to minors, changing the state's bottle law, and yes, putting tooth decay warnings on sippy cups—these and more are the bills on Andrew Cuomo's desk post-legislative session.

But these issues fly under the radar for a reason. Of greater significance would be small victories by powerful lobbying groups; their wins normally catch the media's attention, but may have been overshadowed by gay marriage legalization this time around. Did anything like that happen at the end of the session? Glenn Blain gave two examples.

You see a lot of pension sweeteners. Public employee unions push for these bills that enhance benefits for certain classes of unionized public employees...There are also local bills extending sales taxes or mortgage taxes for local communities that don't get a lot of public attention, but mean a lot to people in municipalities whose sales tax bills get more expensive or less expensive.

What Cuomo doesn't tell us

Blain went on to say that one of the Albany press corps' biggest complaints with the super-popular governor is how reticent he is about what's going on with most of the legislation that reaches his desk.

Since January 1st, 670-something bills have been passed, but Cuomo has acted on—signed or vetoed—only about 100 of them. The vast majority are still waiting to be sent to his desk, and we really don't know what he's going to do on any of them. Previous governors, when they would sign or veto, would release lists of what they had done, and if they vetoed something they'd release veto messages. We haven't gotten that from this governor.

Redistricting reform stalls

Also passed this legislative session was a constitutional amendment from State Senate Republicans that established a non-partisan redistricting process in New York. Blain said the legislation isn't so much a shot at reform as it is a way to kick the can down the road.

It has to be passed by another session of the legislature, then go to a public referendum. It's essentially pushing it off until the next Census, giving Senate Republicans a chance to go through the next election cycle and draw the lines for this one.