ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — Well lawmakers are back in Albany on Wednesday for the first day of the state’s legislative session which runs until June. Leaders in both the Senate and Assembly told Capitol Correspondent, Amal Tlaige, public safety and affordability are top concerns to be addressed this session. 

After being sworn in, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins thanked her staff and laid out the plans for this legislative session. “The affordability crisis touches every nerve in our communities. We see it most acutely in the current housing shortage that’s devastating New Yorkers across the state. Leaving many to wonder if they’ll be able to make rent let alone buy a house,” she said. Also adding that they will work on a state-wide housing policy that guarantees supply will meet New Yorkers housing demands. She also says if the state can tackle the housing issue, we’d see less crime. “Public safety and justice can go hand-in-hand. And it’s important to ensure that true criminals are the only ones being punished. For that to happen we need a multifaceted approach that targets the sources of crime as well as its symptoms,” said Stewart-Cousins.

Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay agreed that affordability and safety are top concerns, and hopes to see changes made to existing laws. “New Yorkers want to have safe communities. I think for some of the policies that we passed here need to be reevaluated, particularly bail reform and we want to get judicial discretion back into that,” said Barclay.

Barclay also noted that 400,000 people left New York over the last couple years because the cost of living is too high. Barclay says he will push back if his colleagues across the aisle attempt to raise taxes. “But I’d like to go even further and give New Yorkers real breaks, let’s say the gas tax, continue that exemption going forward and maybe on some other products too for real relief to New Yorkers immediately,” he said.

One thing that was not mentioned today was the Governor’s nomination for Chief Judge: Justice Hector D LaSalle. Democrats have voiced opposition to her choice, saying he’s too conservative for the role.