State Senate Has Upper Hand In Rent Regulations Battle
With just six session days left on their calendar, state lawmakers are running out of time to deal with the extension and possible expansion of the soon-to-expire rent regulations. NY1's Erin Billups filed the following report.
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As the legislative session nears its end, with little progress to show in the rent regulation battle, some lawmakers say it's looking less likely the final bill will have the enhancements they've been pushing for.
“The negotiations right now are in, what are the enhancements...if there aren't any," said State Assemblyman and Housing Committee Chair Vito Lopez.
Whether a deal is closed on rent before the Wednesday night deadline depends on senate Republicans. Unlike the Assembly and governor, they do not want to see rent laws expanded.
“Basically what you’re doing is giving special privileges, benefits and enrichments to very wealthy people and I think it’s hard to justify," said State Senator and Housing Committee Chair Cathy Young.
Democrats say rent regulations, which affect more than a million city residents, is simply a bargaining chip for Republicans as the session winds down.
"They want something else and we're in the process of watching the cards being placed on the table of what everybody's looking for. The suburbs of New York want a property tax cap," said State Senator Liz Krueger.
On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos signaled for the first time a rent deal may not be reached by its June 15th expiration.
"If that time table is June 15th, we ought to be functioning right now and we should not be looking to push the ball down the court, to kick the can down the road. What's important is that we do it now," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
Silver says he's been meeting with Governor Andrew Cuomo and says they're still working toward strengthening the laws.
Advocates say, in the past, rent reform has fallen victim to Republican reluctance, resulting in the loss of upwards of 130,000 units of affordable housing. But this year they're more optimistic.
"We have Governor Andrew Cuomo siding with tenants, that's the difference today," Krueger said.
Sources tell NY1 lawmakers hope to wrap up their session Friday, which is earlier than scheduled. On top of rent there's still a lot on the agenda, including gay marriage and the property tax cap.