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Hochul signed 585 bills from when she became governor through early April.
New York lawmakers, on average, introduce and enact more pieces of legislation than other states.
Gov. Kathy Hochul said that she has passed more than 400 bills since she became governor in a recent campaign ad.
The ad, called "Hard Work," starts: "It’s late at night, and a light is on in the Governor’s office. Kathy Hochul is hard at work, and it shows. Since taking office, she’s passed over 400 new bills."
More than 400 bills sounds like a lot. Is she right? And what are all these bills about?
Hochul became governor Aug. 24. When she came into office after the resignation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, she had 471 pieces of legislation to review, according to a Buffalo News article. The legislation had been passed by lawmakers but had not yet been sent to the governor’s office for consideration. At the time, state government was in the midst of trying to get more people vaccinated against COVID-19, craft a budget for introduction to the legislature in January, and rebuild the economy.
We asked Hochul’s campaign for a list of the bills that she signed, and communications director Jerrel Harvey directed us to a database that tracks legislation, called LegiScan. The database showed that between Sept. 2, 2021 and April 9, 2022, Hochul signed 585 bills, according to a count by the campaign that that PolitiFact confirmed.
We wondered if this many bills are common in other states. New York has a 213-member legislature that meets in regular session six months of the year. It is a complex state, home to the biggest city in the country and also a $3.6 billion agriculture industry.
It’s true that relative to other state legislatures, the New York State Legislature introduces an uncommonly high number of bills and passes an above-average number of them into law.
New York lawmakers introduce on average almost 16,000 bills a year, the highest among all states, according to an analysis of more than 20 years of data, said Brenda Erickson, a program principal with the National Conference of State Legislatures. Of the thousands that are introduced in New York, an average of about 650 are enacted every year, Erickson said.
By comparison, the national yearly average of bills introduced is 2,200, with 425 bills enacted, she said.
Several reasons account for why so many are introduced in New York, said Grant Reeher, a political science professor at Syracuse University. The legislature has a professional staff, which can work on drafting new laws. The state government also spends more money per person than many other states. New York also has a large state government that runs many programs, and sometimes those operations need adjustments, which can require changes to the law.
"It’s a liberal state, it’s more active, it spends a lot of money, there’s more stuff to manage," Reeher said.
A lot of the introduced bills, however, don’t have sponsors in both the Senate and the Assembly. They are known as one-house bills. Both houses must pass a bill for it to be sent to the governor. Some of these one-house bills are introduced every year and have a slim chance of ever becoming law.
We asked Reeher about Hochul’s use of the word "passed" in her campaign ad. He said technically she didn’t pass those bills, the legislature did. But the language is plausible, because they became law after she signed them. (Under certain circumstances, bills that have been passed by the legislature can become law even without the governor’s signature.)
Hochul said that she passed more than 400 bills since taking office.
According to a database of legislation, she signed 585 bills since taking office in late August and mid-April.
We rate this claim True.
Kathy Hochul campaign website, press release, "Hochul Campaign Launches "Hard Work"- First Television Ad, Running Statewide," April 19, 2022. Accessed April 19, 2022.
LegiScan, New York State Legislature Bills Passed, 2021-22.
Email interview, Jerrel Harvey, communications director, Friends of Kathy Hochul, April 22, 2022.
Phone interview, Professor Grant Reeher, Ph.D., Syracuse University, April 22, 2022.
FiscalNote, report, "The Most Effective States 2021." Accessed April 22, 2022.
The Buffalo News, "Kathy Hochul sworn in as New York’s first female governor," August 23, 2021. Accessed April 22, 2022.
Email interview, Brenda Erickson, program principal, National Conference of State Legislatures, April 22, 2022.
Urban Institute, backgrounder, "State and Local Expenditures," undated. Accessed April 25, 2022.
The New York State Senate, "How a Bill Becomes a Law," undated. Accessed April 25, 2022.
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