- Associated Press - Monday, January 1, 2018

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York lawmakers will gavel in the 2018 legislative session Wednesday. Here’s a look at some of the top issues expected this year:

NEW YORK CITY SUBWAYS: The aging system has been beset by chronic breakdowns and delays. Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers have pointed fingers at each other and floated different ideas for how to raise money for needed upgrades. Those ideas have included congestion pricing, which would impose added fees on motorists entering busy parts of the city, as well as a long-shot proposal to raise taxes on the wealthy.

CHILD SEX ABUSE: A proposal to loosen the statute of limitations for child molestation has failed repeatedly in Albany but supporters are hoping national attention on sexual misconduct gives their cause fresh momentum. The bill would give victims more time to file civil lawsuits or seek criminal charges against abusers and create a one-year window for past victims to file civil suits. Victims now have until they turn 23 to sue.

SEXUAL MISCONDUCT: Cuomo says he will propose a comprehensive state policy for combating sexual harassment. Several lawmakers have already advanced their own ideas.

BUDGET DEFICIT: The state is facing a projected deficit of $4 billion in next year’s state budget, which lawmakers hope to approve by April 1. That will force them to make some difficult decisions about spending priorities in the more than $150 billion spending plan.

RESPONSE TO WASHINGTON: The federal tax overhaul, changes in federal health care spending, the rollback of environmental protections and proposals to rein in immigration will impact millions of New Yorkers. Cuomo and other Democrats will look for ways to push back.

ASSISTED SUICIDE: Supporters of a proposal to allow terminally ill people to seek life-ending drugs from a doctor insist their proposal is gaining momentum, but top lawmakers still express concerns, and the Catholic Church and others remain steadfastly opposed.

DECLAWING CATS: Another longshot bill would ban the declawing of cats, a practice that opponents say is cruel and unnecessary.

ELECTION INTEGRITY: Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election have prompted proposals from Cuomo and lawmakers to require the disclosure of groups paying for online political ads.

VOTING REFORMS: New York is now one of a minority of states that don’t allow early voting. Cuomo and lawmakers have advanced measures to authorize it and to make it easier to register to vote.

ETHICS: The upcoming trial of ex-Cuomo insider Joe Percoco is likely to once again prompt calls to clean up Albany’s pay-to-play culture, but so far lawmakers have favored only modest ethics reforms.


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