The now fully-Democratic state legislature is not dawdling when it comes to passing new legislation. In a radio interview, State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said he wants to make it easier for New Yorkers to cast their ballots.
"We are going to do early voting. We are going to do a combined primary. We are going to do universal transfer, which means if someone moves from anywhere in the state — let's say someone lives in Buffalo and they move to Brooklyn and they forgot to register, they can do an affidavit ballot and their vote will still be counted," Heastie said on WCNY's The Capitol Pressroom. "We want to do no-excuse absentee."
The notion of the legislature moving ahead without the governor is a new dynamic in Albany. Normally, under Gov. Andrew Cuomo, big bills are negotiated and passed as part of the state budget, which is due at the end of March.
"He's going to present his budget next Tuesday. We are going to pass bills," Heastie said. "If he presents something in his budget that the legislature has an agreement on, I don't believe we are going to hold back to discuss it in the budget. If we can pass it, we will pass it."
Cuomo, in a separate interview Thursday, said there may still be important bills that have to be included in the budget.
"Anything that's not done, we will try to get wrapped up in the budget," the governor said on WAMC Radio's The Roundtable with Alan Chartock. "I think we have an historic 100 days here, and a great opportunity. We just have to get it done."
To be clear, two of the voting reforms, early voting and no-excuse absentee, are actually constitutional amendments which can't happen right away.
Combining primaries would move all primary elections to June instead of September.
And the legislature is slated take up transgender rights Tuesday, with the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) and vote to ban conversion therapy.
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