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Where is Kathy?

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Gov. Kathy Hochul has pivoted her support for congestion pricing, a policy she has championed since serving as governor.

With help from Shawn Ness

THEY DO NOT HAVE THE VOTES: Gov. Kathy Hochul remains missing since her last-minute decision to suspend congestion pricing Wednesday morning via video message. And a legislative leader’s transatlantic vacation threatens to ensure that New Yorkers are left without a solution to the billion-dollar hole in the nation’s largest transit system as lawmakers return home for the year.

Lawmakers continue to fight in Albany during the final hours of this year’s legislative session after the governor’s rollback of congestion pricing forced them to find $1 billion in revenue they have lost due to the rejected tolling plan. .

The problem is that they only have hours – not days – to resolve this financial emergency. And an even bigger problem is that many of them don’t want to do it.

“The governor is pointing an unloaded gun at us and asking us to give her ammunition to shoot us and our constituents,” state Sen. Julia Salazar said in a statement.

At least two solutions to address the funding gap have already failed to meet the target so far. A last-minute plan to raise a tax on New York City businesses failed Thursday after lawmakers immediately rejected it. Another proposal came under fire this morning after it became clear there was not enough support. Prominent Democrats, including Manhattan Sen. Andrew Gounardes and Queens Sen. Jessica Ramos, said they would not vote for the second idea of ​​tapping the state’s general fund to provide $1 billion a year as collateral against a bond.

Now Democratic legislative leaders are trying to come up with a third solution for which they can rally support before returning home. Lawmakers are adamant about leaving Albany at dawn tomorrow, and won’t return until January. (Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie is said to have booked a plane ticket to Europe tomorrow.)

Asked repeatedly about his trip abroad, which makes it almost certain that the House will not have time tomorrow to fix the problem, Heastie did not deny his trip to reporters. He then turned to his Playbook reporter and snapped, “Where are you going tomorrow?”

And in the midst of all this, the governor has locked herself behind closed doors, refusing to answer questions or face the public after making one of the most consequential political decisions of her mandate.

But she can’t hide forever. she is scheduled to make a fundraising appearance at a brunch sponsored by the Saratoga County Democrats on Saturday before the Belmont Stakes.

“She makes a mistake by not answering questions,” Ramos said. “It would be really disappointing if she avoids the public unless people are donating.”

Another lawmaker offered a similar opinion: “If (Hochul) really believed his betrayal of congestion pricing was popular, you’d think he’d be bragging about it. Instead, he hides,” Assemblywoman Emily Gallagher. published in X.

Hochul’s political and government communications teams did not respond to Playbook’s requests for comment. —Jason Beeferman

Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski wants to pass a bill that would ban the devocalization of dogs and pets before the end of today's session.

A PERFECT END OF THE SESSION? Both houses of the Legislature are advancing a bill to prohibit the surgical devocalization of dogs and cats.

“It’s a horrible practice to literally rip out an animal’s vocal cords because you don’t like the sound they make,” said Senate sponsor Mike Gianaris. “Anyone who is willing to do that to their pets does not deserve to have a pet.”

The bill was approved this afternoon by the Senate. A version in the Assembly sponsored by Ken Zebrowski has been advancing in committee in recent days; Zebrowski says he “hopes to get it done” before the chamber adjourns in the next few hours.

“Devocalization is a convenience surgery that can cause long-term harm to affected animals and does not address the root cause of barking,” said Brian Shapiro of the Humane Society of the United States. “This is an animal in danger and this type of convenience surgery is not in the best interest of the animal.” —Bill Mahoney

— FOLLOW THE UNEXPECTED LEADER: State lawmakers want to import drugs from Canada in bulk, a measure Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis implemented in his home state earlier this year. The State seeks to import medicines to treat diseases such as HIV and AIDS, various mental illnesses and prostate cancer. (POLITICO Pro)

– NEW YORK HEAT ON ICE?: Assembly lawmakers are still looking to pass the NY HEAT Act, which could end up in a “Big Ugly” omnibus bill. Many lawmakers are cautiously optimistic that the bill will pass, but have come to accept that it will be nowhere near what it seemed when it was originally proposed. (State of politics)

— AMMUNITION TRACKING: Following Hochul’s emphasis on public safety, lawmakers are looking to advance a bill that would allow credit card companies to track gun and ammunition purchases. But it is still unclear whether Hochul will sign the bill if it passes the Assembly today. (Union of times)

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