Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Still No Decision on NY Marriage Equality Act or Rent Control As Session Nears End

The New York State 2011 legislative session should have ended yesterday, but it hasn't because of two of the most contentious issues remaining on the table - rent control and the gay marriage bill (the Marriage Equality Act). Right now, there's quite a bit of political maneuvering behind the scenes to get a deal done on both counts. Indeed, both issues are likely to be tied to each other to secure passage of both.

The legislature had extended the existing rent control guidelines until midnight tonight after they were set to expire over the weekend. That's given them some additional time, but the problem is that Republicans would like to see the law extended as it is currently configured, while NYC representatives and the Democratic caucus would like to see them adjusted to give a higher cap (to $300,000) on income and reduced increases in rents on 1-year and 2-year leases.
Rent regulations, which briefly lapsed last week, were last night extended for a second time and will now expire at 12:01 a.m. tomorrow.

Skelos would not accept demands by Silver to raise to $300,000 a year and $3,000 a month the income and rent thresholds at which landlords can strip price controls from a unit. The limits currently stand at $175,000 and $2,000.

"We're looking to protect lower- and moderate-income families," Skelos said.

"But we're not looking to protect the wealthy in New York City."

As the leaders met, the shouts of hundreds of demonstrators echoed through the halls. Some demanded stronger rent laws, some called for a ban on natural-gas drilling, but a vast majority sought to influence any vote on same-sex marriage.

Thirty-one of the Senate's 62 members -- including two Republicans -- have already committed to supporting the same-sex-marriage bill, leaving it just one vote from passage.
For now, the legislature is passing one-day extenders on rent control so that they can continue talks. This is the Albany way.

In the end, I expect deals to be cut on both the gay marriage bill and rent control so that both issues will be passed, and New York will become the sixth (and largest state) to recognize gay marriage.

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