Earth Matters: New York State legislative progress report

Earth Matters: New York State legislative progress report

Though it’s only March, the NY State legislative session is already at the halfway mark. The NY State Legislature is only in session from January to the first week of June, roughly 60 working days, so the push to get bills to the floor for vote is intense.  A number of bills and budget items with environmental impacts are at various stages in the process.

Beyond Plastics is calling on its coalition partners to push the Packaging Reduction and Recycling Infrastructure Act (A5322-b/S4246-b) with calls to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Speaker Andrea Stewart-Cousins to bring the bill to a floor vote before Earth Day, April 21st.

According to Beyond Plastics, this bill would “require companies to cut their single-use packaging IN HALF in 12 years and redesign what’s left to make it truly recyclable, as well as to ban 15 of the most toxic chemicals currently used in packaging including PFOA, vinyl chloride, benzene, toluene, phthalates, bisphenols, lead and other heavy metals. The bill would also save NYS taxpayers money by putting the burden of paying to deal with packaging waste where it belongs – on the companies responsible for creating it.” The bill would also implement one of the key recommendations for meeting the goals of New York’s Climate Law.

But the bill is opposed by the American Chemistry Council, complaining that it’s overly restrictive and would not allow for chemical or advanced recycling, a process that uses heat and chemicals to break down plastic waste and turn it into new plastic. However, experts agree that chemical recycling doesn’t work well, and the capacity of recycling plants for this process would at best take care of less than 2% of plastic waste.

Parks and Trails New York and their coalition partners recently held an advocacy day in Albany to support funding and specific initiatives for NYS Parks. Their key asks of Legislators:

Restore capital funding for the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) to $250 million. The Senate has proposed $250M while the Assembly maintained the Governor’s proposal for $200M.

Support a $100 million capital allocation for the NYS Parks Centennial signature projects. 2024 marks the first hundred years of the NYS park system. One of the proposed Centennial projects would be enhancing and restoration of East Bathhouse at Jones Beach State Park into a multi-feature, upgraded, accessible splash pad and swimming pool destination.

$90 million in capital investments for outdoor recreation opportunities at the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). This will allow the DEC to address a variety of capital needs to improve access to state lands, rehabilitate campgrounds, and upgrade recreational facilities.


New Yorkers for Clean Water and Jobs and partners is calling for support of the Clean Water Infrastructure Act. Governor Hochul’s budget proposed a 50% cut in funding to $250 million. Over the last 6 years, New York has annually designated $500 million to upgrade water infrastructure and improve water quality, critical as the state’s overall water infrastructure is deteriorating. An estimated $80 billion is needed to completely repair and update New York’s drinking water and sewer infrastructure. The Senate and Assembly both propose restoring the budget line to $500 million.


The Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) is supported by numerous groups and coalitions. They are asking for $400 million without agency staffing offloads. The Senate and Assembly both removed the Governor’s budget proposal of a $25M offload of state agency operating costs into the EPF.  Each house proposed restorations to EPF programs. The Assembly proposed a $400M EPF and the Senate proposed a $425M EPF.


A 60-day work year sounds like a pretty good deal, but it’s packed with action. The Assembly, Senate and Governors budgets must be reconciled in a process of negotiation. Bills that were vetoed or didn’t make it to the floor last year are being reworked to gain more support. New bills are being introduced and looking for sponsors. Representatives are expected to be available to constituents year-round as are their staff. While advocacy days in Albany are limited to session dates, phone calls, letters, emails and visits to offices in the district can be used to let your representative know that you’d like them to move New York State in a clean, green direction.



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  1. Thank you for the update in our NYS Legislature and the challenges needing to be resolved before the session ends.


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