By Sabina Mollot
Earlier this month, State Senator Brad Hoylman was named chair of the Judiciary Committee by Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.
On the December 12 appointment, Hoylman said, “The issue of equal access to justice and judicial independence couldn’t be more important as Trump continues his all-out assault on our court system.”
Hoylman for some time has been pushing a bill that would make it easier for people sexually abused as children to seek justice many years later.
Asked if being on a committee that tackles crime issues would help push the Child Victims Act along, he responded, “It doesn’t hurt.” What also doesn’t hurt is that Democrats have the majority and the bill, while facing opposition from churches and other institutions, has plenty of partisan support.
The appointment came six days after the announcement of pay raises that will bring legislators’ salaries from $79,500 to $110,000 in 2019 with the condition, set by a special compensation commission, of limiting outside income to 15 percent of their base salary. The salaries will go up $10,000 every year until they reach $130,000 in 2021 (for a total raise of about $50,000). This will make Albany’s pay levels higher than any other states’ municipality but still lower than those earned by New York City Council members, who in recent years saw a similar pay bump.
“New York State is unique in that we have New York City, with a higher cost in living,” Hoylman said.
Still, Hoylman said he’ll be pushing a bill of his that’s been collecting dust since he was first sworn in, in 2013, which would limit the ability of lawmakers to earn outside income. He said this is to be on the safe side since there is some doubt about the compensation commission’s ability to enforce its outside income rule in exchange for the pay raises.
“It is important to recognize that this is a full-time job and we want to end private client relationships,” Hoylman said. “Our responsibility is to the public and no one else.”
Meanwhile, the 2019 legislative session will begin in earnest once Governor Cuomo makes his State of the State Address on January 9, indicating what he considers a priority to get passed.
As for Hoylman’s priorities, he expects to focus on reproductive health rights, gun restrictions, LGBTQ protections, voting reform, finding sources of revenue for the MTA including congestion pricing, and in June when the rent regulations expire, strengthening them.
“Stuyvesant Town’s former Assembly member, Brian Kavanagh, is the (Senate) housing chair and I want to support him every step of the way on reforming MCIs, ending preferential rent, eliminating vacancy decontrol and vacancy bonuses and leveling the playing field for tenants,” Hoylman said.