Assembly Democrats appear unlikely to pass a controversial bill expanding health care for illegal immigrants as they pushed to finish their legislative work for the year by Wednesday night.
Gov. Kathy Hochul expressed concern that subsidized health care for illegal immigrants might leave the state holding an annual $3 billion dollar tax bill, despite the feds picking up the tab in the short term.
“I… have to be cognizant of the extraordinary costs that are being imposed on New York state taxpayers at a time when the warnings about our finances are troubling,” the governor told reporters.
But not all Democrats shared Hochul’s fiscal worries.
“We’ve built more support [for healthcare] than ever before with 62 co-sponsors, the support of labor, the business sector, health plans & Members of Congress,” Assemblywoman Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas (D-Queens) tweeted Wednesday.
“It’s time for a vote,” she added about the bill, which passed the state Senate weeks ago.
But Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) was on track to guide his Democratic supermajority through the end of the 2023 session without holding divisive votes on some controversial bills during a two-day legislative session convened after the chamber blew past an original June 8 deadline.
Even before the 150 Assembly members returned to Albany, the Bronx powerbroker had already ruled out a floor vote on a controversial proposal to allow the Hochul to strike a deal with the Seneca Nation that would allow a casino to open in Rochester.
He also kept “Sammy’s Law” on ice that would have allowed New York City to impose a 20 m.p.h. speed limit on some streets after outer borough Democrats expressed concerns about traffic safety fatigue in their districts.
A Heastie spokesman did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon about whether the speaker also planned on keeping a cork on the “Coverage for All” bill to provide subsidized health care to illegal immigrants.
Other bills sailed through the chamber on Tuesday and Wednesday with little friction between Assembly Democrats.
- The chamber approved the “Challenging Wrongful Convictions Act” to make it easier for people to overturn their sentences if new evidence emerges.
- Another bill requiring Limited Liability Companies to reveal their true owners also passed the Assembly by a healthy margin.
- Democrats are also expected to approve a proposal that offshore wind developers says is critical for linking green energy to the grid.
- Environmentalists are also celebrating passage of a bill to ban the dumping of radioactive water into the Hudson River from the Indian Point nuclear power plant site.
- A resolution outlining $340 million in funding for local community groups and governments was also slated to pass on Wednesday.
Assembly Minority Leader William Barclay (R-Fulton) expressed relief on Wednesday that Democrats might be done with lawmaking for the year despite ongoing talk about reconvening later in the year to consider issues like housing.
“The Legislature is finally leaving Albany – and that’s probably the best news for New Yorkers,” he said.
“Meanwhile, some major concerns are looming on the horizon. We’re in the middle of a migrant crisis and staring at a $9 billion budget hole next year. Session may be over, but lots of work still needs to be done.”
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