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2024-25 Legislative Session Highlights

Amanda Agallipeau June 12, 2024

2024-25 Legislative Session Highlights

The New York State legislative session has wrapped up for 2024. There were some notable wins, and some things left unfinished. Below is an overview of our accomplishments from this session.

Three top priority bills passed both chambers, and we will be advocating for the governor to sign:

  • Contracting Reform (S.4877-A Mayer/A.2740-B Paulin): Establishes a “non-compliant state agency” category that outlines three circumstances of delays or non-action by an agency on a contract. Because nonprofit agencies like Empire Justice rely heavily on funding from state agencies, timeliness of state contracts and payment is essential to ensuring that services to communities will not be delayed. Read our Memo of Support for more information.
  • Notarization Fix (S.9032-A Ryan/A.9478-A McMahon): Clarifies the intent of 2023 changes to the notarization law by allowing any person to submit an affirmation under penalty of perjury in lieu of an affidavit in an administrative proceeding. This bill will remove a barrier to justice. Read our Memo of Support for more information.
  • HOPP Codification (S.7297 Kavanagh/A.7636 Solages): HOPP, or the Homeowner Protection Program is the only statewide program that provides free legal help and housing counseling to thousands of homeowners targeted by mortgage fraud, scams and foreclosures in every county of the state. This bill enshrines the program into law. In an unprecedented move, the SFY 2025 Enacted Budget swept funds from the Interest on Lawyers fund (IOLA fund) – money that is earmarked specifically for civil legal services to serve low-income New Yorkers – to cover the expenses of HOPP. We support full funding for HOPP every year, but it must not come from IOLA, as that would deplete resources badly needed at the expense of civil legal services overall, in an environment where an estimated $1 billion additional investment is needed.

Two notable losses:

  • IOLA bill (S.9130-A Ryan/A.10253-A Solages): This measure would ensure that monies from the IOLA fund are used only for the fund’s original, statutorily intended purpose – to fund civil legal services. The bill passed the Senate but not the Assembly. We are disappointed that the bill will not be signed into law before the SFY 2026 budget cycle, especially given the commitment from both the Executive and the legislature that the sweep of IOLA was a one-time action.
  • Protecting New York Consumers and Small Businesses (S.795-A Comrie/A.7138 Weinstein): This bill would bring consumer law in line with 43 other states and the federal government by banning “unfair” and “abusive” business practices. This means that when bad actors take advantage of New York consumers – such as when a lender does not send a bill then charges someone for late payment – New Yorkers have limited recourse. The Senate version of the bill was amended to include carve-outs for industries, and actually rolls back existing consumer protections. The Fair Deal NY coalition, which we are part of, has put out a memo of opposition to the Senate version.

There were additional helpful bills that passed both chambers; we will be advocating for the governor to sign.

  • Decoupling Bill (S.8152-A Brisport/A.8878-A Hevesi): Provides equitable access to child care for children whose parents work non-traditional hours. In addition to alleviating stress and financial burden for parents, it would ensure that children receive consistent, quality care. Parents could pursue educational and career opportunities without the worry of unreliable child care, allowing families to thrive. Read our Memo of Support for more information.
  • Private Education Debt Registry (S.5056 Thomas/A.5286 Epstein): Requires all private education creditors operating in New York State that are not already licensed or chartered by the Department of Financial Services (DFS) to annually submit information on their private education debt activity. Making information about private and other student loan debt of New Yorkers available to policymakers and the public instills transparency and will lead to a better understanding of what New Yorkers are experiencing to inform regulations and ensure student debt borrowers are adequately protected. In doing so, consumers will be better protected from exploitation and systemic predatory behaviors will be easier to identify. With increased oversight, students will have a clearer understanding of their obligations, and can make clearly informed decisions about their higher education. Read our Memo of Support for more information.
  • Statewide Presumptive Eligibility (S.4667-A Brouk/A.4099-A Clark): Allows families quick access to child care assistance while waiting for paperwork processing to be completed. Without the additional administrative burdens, parents will not lose job opportunities, and children experience continuity of care.
  • Cap Property Tax Interest Rates at a Reasonable Level (S.967 Ryan/A.1489 Thiele): Sets the minimum and maximum delinquent tax interest rates for residential real property. This bill would cap interest rates, thus protecting homeowners from exorbitant penalties and reducing the financial burden on families who are already struggling with delinquent taxes. This will help prevent foreclosures, keeping families in their homes and communities.

Other bills that passed one chamber of the legislature, that we will continue to work on pushing through next year:

  • Foster care Bill (S.7054-A Hoylman-Sigal/A.4027 Kim): Limits the practice of suing parents whose children are placed in foster care for child support. The financial burden of paying this support disparately impacts people of color at higher rates and jeopardizes a family’s ability to afford basic necessities, exacerbates financial instability, and drives families deeper into poverty. These costs delay and prevent parents from regaining custody of their children. Read our Memo of Support for more information.
  • Language Access (S.9754 Chu/A.7235-A De Los Santos): Expands critical language access services for Limited English Proficient individuals. Services not directed by the Governor, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles, would be directed to provide translated documents and interpretation services.

 

The Empire Justice Policy Team