New York Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks at the state Capitol in...

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks at the state Capitol in Albany on Feb. 1. She has vetoed bills to reopen criminal convictions and ban “noncompete” agreements. Credit: AP/Hans Pennink

While she’s generally aligned with fellow Democrats, Gov. Kathy Hochul has vetoed a handful of high-profile bills that show the more moderate governor still has her differences with a more progressive State Legislature.

As a New Year’s deadline approaches, Hochul killed proposals to make it easier for people to reopen criminal convictions, restrict the buying of lumber products from tropical forests and ban employers from imposing “noncompete” agreements on departing employees.

The governor also drove a compromise on a bill to keep the true owners of limited-liability companies — especially in high-end real estate — hidden. And she’s expected to nix a bill to make changes to the state’s campaign finance laws, sources say.

It was all part of the rush to the end of the year when a governor faces pressure to approve or reject scores of bills passed by the legislature.

Just before Christmas, Hochul signed into law a proposal high up on the Democrats’ wish list: Moving most local elections to even-numbered years.

But here’s a look at some of the other bills she vetoed or altered:

Convictions challenge

Hochul vetoed a bill that would have made it easier for people who have pleaded guilty to reopen their case and challenge their convictions.

Under current law, a person is prohibited from doing so except in some cases involving new DNA evidence. The bill would have allowed for new video or audio footage and claims of being coerced to plead guilty.

Hochul said it went too far.

“This bill’s sweeping expansion of eligibility for post-conviction relief and relaxation or outright elimination of certain procedural rules would upend the judicial system and create an unjustifiable risk of flooding the courts with frivolous claims,” Hochul said in a statement.

Among other things, Hochul said the bill could trigger procedural hearings on unsworn, uncorroborated allegations and “create the possibility of someone raising claims in perpetuity.”

District attorneys around the state had opposed the bill.

Noncompete clauses

Hochul vetoed a bill that would have banned “noncompete” agreements, which restrict workers’ ability to leave their jobs for one with a rival business.

Banks and Wall Street firms lobbied hard against the bill. The legislature had floated a compromise of imposing an income limit on noncompete agreements, suggesting, for example, that they can’t be imposed on someone earning less than $300,000 annually.

Hochul, in the past, supported banning noncompete agreements for those earning less than the state’s median wage. In the end, compromise negotiations failed.

“New York has a highly competitive economic climate and is home to many different industries. These companies have legitimate interests that cannot be met with the legislature’s one-size-fits-all approach,” Hochul said.

Tribal marijuana

With the slow rollout of New York’s licensing of legal pot shops, cannabis farmers have had to stockpile tons of crops, risking that they go bad before they can be sold. Legislators passed a bill to allow a one-time sale of cannabis crops to Native American tribes. Hochul, in vetoing the bill, said it would put state-licensed shops at a competitive disadvantage with dispensaries on tribal lands.

Bail training

The governor killed a bill that would have mandated judges to take annual training on New York’s new bail law, which eliminated prosecutors’ use of bail for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies. During legislative hearings, lawmakers told anecdotes of judges sometimes not realizing what circumstances still allow bail, and the state court administration acknowledged that training on the new law wasn’t mandated.


Hochul nixed a bill that would have restricted buying paper, coffee and lumber and other products from companies whose products are sourced from deforested lands. The European Union has enacted a similar law. Hochul sought to reach a compromise, but Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) said the proposed changes would have eliminated oversight and made the bill ineffective.

LLC identities

Hochul signed a bill that’s intended to allow government to know who owns limited liability companies in the state. But she drove a compromise that eliminated a provision that would have made the information available in a public database. Real estate companies had opposed the legislation, saying it would discourage celebrities and others from buying out of fear of harassment. Backers said the compromise strips away public accountability and vowed to raise the issue again.

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