Democrats are now totally in charge of our state government.
That has a lot of upstate New Yorkers nervous.
They fear more taxes, the legalization of marijuana, oppressive gun control and maybe even the elimination of the tax cap.
The Democrats — who are almost all from downstate — now control the Assembly and Senate with the only check on a totally progressive agenda being the presence of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
That is a bit frightening.
There always seem to be problems when one party controls all the levers of power. Look how that has gone in Washington over the past two years.
But while there is cause for concern in Albany, there could be opportunities as well.
Republicans blocked the Child Victims Act from even getting a vote over the past 10 years over fears of damaging institutions like the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America, but the Democrats appeared poised to pass a law that will allow victims of pedophiles to get one last chance at justice.
It is long overdue.
It was encouraging to see that the Democrats in the Senate are prepared to take on significant voting reform as one of their first acts.
This is common-sense stuff that we all should favor. It will include early voting, same-day voter registration, expanded voting by mail, making Election Day a state holiday and consolidated primaries — state and federal primaries on the same day.
Led by Gov. Cuomo, there are proposals for campaign finance reform that would limit the amount of money that Limited Liability Companies can donate while also outlawing campaign contributions from corporations.
These would all be positive developments in state government.
But there will be other initiatives that will make many uncomfortable.
Gov. Cuomo is again looking to take up gun control by banning bump stocks, extending the waiting period for buying a gun from three to 10 days and enacting a “red flag” law that would allow police, or family members, to get court orders to temporarily remove guns from people deemed dangerous or unstable.
I suspect a firestorm of protest that this is violating Second Amendment rights, but I see all as common-sense measures that could save lives.
The legalization of sports betting and recreational marijuana is also being considered as soon as this year, even though there has been little discussion about the parameters of marijuana use.
I believe both are bad ideas.
Democrats also see an opportunity to pass social reforms that include legal protections for Roe vs. Wade after years of being blocked by Republicans in the Senate, extending financial aid to students who were brought into the country illegally and a state universal health care proposal.
We may be seeing a preview of the 2020 presidential election in the state Legislature.
One final bit of good news — Gov. Cuomo wants to make the 2 percent tax cap permanent.
It appears the Democrats have the votes, so this could be a year of change in the New York State Legislature, with the debate starting this week.
One thing I found especially unsettling was buried in the 34 pages of rules passed by the Democrats.
The Senate Ethics Committee will have a 4-3 majority for the Democrats.
That is wrong.
The Ethics Committee should always be above politics.
But then again, this is Albany, where nothing is above politics.