What a difference a year makes.
After starting 2019 in a sprint, lawmakers in Albany have returned to the more subdued pace of years past.
Last year, Albany lawmakers quickly passed legislation for victims of childhood abuse, a bill to allow undocumented students to more easily attend college, voting reforms, and a codification of abortion rights. That was all in their first two months.
"Every, I'd say, beginning of session may not be the highest scoring session that you saw last year," Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said. "Because, like I said, that was really a culmination of trying to clear up years and years and years of not being able to get things that Democrats in the Senate and the Assembly prioritized."
With a June primary this year instead of September, lawmakers want to be back in their districts to campaign. So more session days were added in the first two months, with fewer days in the month of June.
In 2019, there were a total of 14 legislative days in January and February. This year there are 22.
In June, the opposite is true: there were 11 session days in June of 2019, and this year there are only 2.
But even with all the new days in the first two months, not all that much is getting done.
"There is no doubt that the policies are different than they were in previous years," said Blair Horner, the executive director of the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG). "A lot of the institutional pressures are the same: the governor drives the budget process, the legislature is forced to react, and they are a junior partner in the system. So their ability to sort of change the system is limited."
"The reality is, I think you know, we do what we can do outside of the budget or inside of the budget," Democratic State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. "We just continue to advance what we believe is important."
Last year was the first year Democrats controlled both houses, so there was a backlog of bills they wanted to pass immediately. But now that most of the priorities got done, Albany is beginning to fall back on the same pace as in previous years, when Republicans controlled one house and Democrats the other — much of the agenda gets pushed into the budget.