ALBANY, NY (WXXI) – The New York State Assembly held a brief session at the State Capitol to reauthorize remote meetings for 2021 because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said it’s still possible that a session will be held before 2020 ends on more substantive issues, such as raising taxes on the wealthy and protecting tenants.
Heastie came to the state Capitol to lead the session, but most other lawmakers participated remotely. Heastie said several of his staff members have come down with the virus, and he wants to continue to be cautious about in-person gatherings.
He said he is close to an agreement with Democrats who lead the state Senate about enacting more rent protections for tenants affected by the virus and unable to meet their monthly payments, as well as an extended moratorium on evictions and foreclosures.
“Legislators want to show their constituents, particularly people who are suffering under the threat of eviction,” said Heastie. “Legislators want to show that they want to do their jobs.”
The speaker said his majority party Democrats would also like to impose new taxes on the state’s wealthiest residents, so that New York can start closing a multibillion-dollar pandemic-related budget gap.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he wants to wait, though, to see if Joe Biden, after he’s inaugurated as president in January, can get Republicans in Congress to agree to more federal aid to help New York.