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Queens Chronicle

Wedlock deadlock, deal for rent regs

Supporters and opponents pack state Capitol to talk gay marriage

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Posted: Thursday, June 23, 2011 12:00 pm | Updated: 12:06 pm, Thu Jun 30, 2011.

An agreement has been reached in Albany regarding rent regulations and property taxes, but, as of Wednesday afternoon, same-sex marriage legislation had not yet been voted on.

On Tuesday, Gov. Cuomo and legislative leaders assured the public that rent regulations, which provide various forms of protection to approximately 1 million renters in the state would be strengthened and extended.

Reports state the threshold for deregulation would be raised from $2,000 to $2,500. The maximum household income for those living in regulated apartments would be capped at $200,000 rather than at $175,000 as it is presently. The deal also limits the amount of additional rent landlords are permitted to charge after making improvements to their property or after vacancies.

The agreement is bundled with legislation which would cap property taxes paid by homeowners outside of New York City at 2 percent in most cases.

Though the rent regulations are not as strong as Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) intended, they include more than Republican State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Nassau) initially desired to concede.

In addition to these deals, Silver, Cuomo and Skelos agreed to allow CUNY and SUNY schools to raise annual tuition by $500.

Earlier this week, state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Jackson Heights) celebrated the passage of his legislation preventing the mass distribution in public places of cards advertising prostitution. “If this bill were to fail,” Peralta said in a statement, “it would say to the traffickers and pimps that they can infect our communities with impunity; that they can literally trash our streets, in total disregard of children and families, without consequence.”

Legislation introduced by state Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria) prohibiting concealed compartments in vehicles is also one signature away from becoming law. Gianaris’ goal was to prevent drugs and weapons from being hidden in secret compartments built into cars.

As bills were passed and deals were made, marriage equality advocates across the state waited for good news. On Wednesday, opponents and proponents flocked to the state Capitol and a parade of different celebrities appeared in Albany to voice their support for gay and lesbian couples.

Senate Republicans said they were concerned the language of the legislation, which exempts religious leaders from performing same-sex marriages and allows organizations to rent space to same-sex couples at their discretion, wasn’t strong enough.

Though Cuomo was able to rally significant support for the marriage equality bill, on Wednesday he still needed one more Republican senator to vote in favor for its passage to be guaranteed.

State senators Shirley Huntley (D-Jamaica) and Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) pledged their support for the bill last week, leaving ordained minister and state Sen. Ruben Diaz (D-Bronx) as the only Democrat in opposition. Two other city senators, Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn), and Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) round out the contingent of city representatives who have yet to support the legislation.

However, Albany insiders said they are confident that if the bill were to come to a vote, it would be able to gain the one additional supporter needed to pass.

Same-sex marriage legislation put to a vote in 2009 was rejected by the state senate.

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