In a classic end-of-session rush job, the Assembly and Senate last week passed a bill that will make it easier to sue New York State’s local governments.

Tom Stebbins of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance has blown the whistle on what looks like gift-wrapped, election-year favor to trial lawyers:

The bill, innocuously titled the “Uniform Notice of Claims Act,” extends the time period for filing certain lawsuits against public entities and centralizes the filing of claims with the secretary of state. With tens of thousands of lawsuits filed against our public institutions each year, it is easy to see how the secretary of state’s office could be quickly overwhelmed with pending litigation, and delay actual notice to the defendant municipalities.

Of course, when local governments get sued, taxpayers foot the bill. In New York, our cities, towns, villages and counties are overburdened with lawsuits. Local governments are often roped into claims because they have “deep pockets” and are perceived as an easy target because they are under pressure to settle, rather than fight a claim and incur the costs of litigation.

The bill was approved June 21, the last day of session, by a 44-16 margin in the Senate, and by a 113-13 margin in the Assembly. In both houses, a few Democrats joined a minority of Republicans in voting against the measure.  Among those voting in favor were Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (who, of course, could have single-handedly blocked the bill) and Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb — last seen demanding that the state provide local taxpayers with relief from unfunded mandates.

The sponsor of the bill, which was opposed by local government groups, was the chairman of the Senate’s Local Government Committee,  Jack Martins of Mineola — who, naturally, is also a member of the state Mandate Relief Council, created a year ago when the Legislature and Governor Cuomo couldn’t agree to anything really substantial to reduce cost pressures on local governments.

While the governor has yet to propose meaningful mandate relief, will he at least veto this thing?

Stay tuned.

About the Author

E.J. McMahon

Edmund J. McMahon is Empire Center's founder and a senior fellow.

Read more by E.J. McMahon

You may also like

Sales Tax Receipts Surge Statewide, Filling Local Government Coffers

Local governments across every region of the state raked in robust sales tax collections during the three months that ended on June 30th Read More

A Study of COVID-19 in Nursing Homes Raises Doubt About New York’s Minimum Staffing Law

A newly published study of COVID-19 in nursing homes links larger numbers of employees to higher rates of infection and death for residents – raising fresh doubts about New York's recently enacted "safe staffing" law. Read More

Remote Threat 

Remote work and a more mobile professional class will increase the speed and scope of New York's ongoing out migration. Read More

Proposed minimum staffing law could push some nursing homes to employ fewer licensed nurses

Some New York nursing homes are likely to scale back their use of higher-trained personnel if proposed minimum staffing ratios become law, according to a review of existing employment patterns. Read More

New York’s Medicaid and Public Health Crises Get Short Shrift in the New State Budget

In spite of an ongoing pandemic and spiraling Medicaid costs, New York's health-care system received surprisingly little attention in the new state budget. On issue after issue, law Read More

Tax hike and huge spending increase seem likely in next NY budget

New York state today began its 2022 fiscal year without an adopted budget—which, in itself, is not a big deal. The state government can continue to pay bills and employee salaries next week if either final appropriations Read More

DiNapoli Predicts $3.8B More in State Tax Receipts

New York State's tax receipts in the current fiscal year will exceed Governor Cuomo's latest projections by $3.8 billion—still down from last year, but a big improvement over the governor's worst-case scenario—according to updated estimates from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's office. Read More

With Hopes Dashed for “Blue Wave” Bailout, Cuomo Needs to Deal With Budget Shortfall

With the national election results still unclear, Governor Cuomo can no longer put off tough decisions on how to balance New York's pandemic-ravaged state budget. Read More


Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.


Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100

General Inquiries:

Press Inquiries:


The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!