Democrats for the first time in a decade will have full control of state government, holding a large majority in the state Senate that will enable them to pass a variety of bills long-sought by liberals.
“What we agree on is so overwhelming and what we will get done is so overwhelming it’s going to be transformational for this state,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday during a stop in the Bronx.
And the list of what could get done in the first few weeks of the 2019 legislative session is a long one.
Top Democratic leaders in the state Senate and Assembly have signaled they will move to pass measures meant to strengthen abortion rights in the state, create a system of pre-Election Day early voting in New York, make it easier for the survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file lawsuits, enhance protections of transgender New Yorkers and provide college tuition assistance to undocumented immigrants as well as new gun control legislation.
“We are going to make rapid, remarkable change,” Cuomo said. “All of those issues that have been bottled up for years that the conservatives would not pass by ideology.”
Cuomo has long blamed Republican control of the state Senate for the failure of key progressive legislation in Albany — a complaint his liberal critics say rings hallow when he was also able to pass gun control measures and the legalization of same-sex marriage while the GOP held power.
“I couldn’t get it passed because the conservatives just wouldn’t pass it,” Cuomo said, “and they wouldn’t pass it for years. We can now get all those things done.”
For Republicans, it’s adjusting to a new reality in the minority of both the state Assembly and now the state Senate.
“I think the governor is doing something great, I’ll say so,” said Sen. John Flanagan, who will hold the minority leader post. “Now, I’m scared to death about what’s coming.”
Republicans say Democrats also have to show they will be able to handle the day to day work of running the state.
“Now that they’ve been given the mantle of governing, I will match my ability to articulate our positions with anybody,” Flanagan said. “We’re ready to go right at it.”
The 2019 legislative session begins in January and runs through June.