Expansion Of Voting Rights Expected To Pass Before New York Legislative Session Ends

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SYRACUSE, NY (WRVO) – State lawmakers are back in Albany as the end of the legislative session nears.  The focus is on the state Senate, which is in democratic hands for the first time in decades, and whether it can shepherd through some longtime progressive initiatives.

State Sen. Rachel May, left, speaks at a news conference Monday in Syracuse on expanding voting opportunities ELLEN ABBOTT / WRVO NEWS

One of the no-brainers Syracuse-area state Sen. Rachel May expects to pass, is legislation that will expand voting rights. Right now plans for automatic voter registration is stuck over details, such as when residents would be able to decline registration.

“And that’s the whole debate,” said May.”So I think we can get past that, I think we can pass that bill.”

But there are others that might have more trouble. Legalizing recreational marijuana and the Green Light bill, which allows undocumented immigrants to get drivers licenses are heavier lifts.  And the Senate is getting some pushback from the Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He’s criticized lawmakers for a lack of movement on these issues.

“It’s surprised me some. Maybe he’s just staking out his territory for negotiations to come,” said May.

The legislative session is set to close June 19. Among issues that could be on the table are proposals regarding tenant friendly rent regulations,  and elimination of religious exemptions for vaccines.

May expects this year’s end of session crush is partly a result of Democratic control of the Senate for the first time in years, and shouldn’t be the norm.

“Now that we’ve passed some of the things, like early voting, that have just been stalled forever, we have a chance to get more creative and pass some of the things we think would make a difference, but never had a chance of getting to committee before,” she said.