In-Depth Report

Empire Space Legislative Analysis

Patrick Chase
Jun 06 2022

When studying the New York space ecosystem it is important to analyze what legislative history exists to understand how the state government is approaching issues related to space, if it is at all. A truly healthy and functional space ecosystem has a state government that is informed and prepared to be a partner and supporter, where individual legislators take pride and focus regarding the space resources in their district and work in a bi-partisan fashion in Albany to achieve results.


NYS Assembly Advanced Search database
NYS Senate Advanced Search database


Searched databases for any relevant legislation introduced since the 2009-2010 Legislative Session containing the following phrases:
Space exploration

The word ‘space’ is too broad and generates an immense amount of searches. The databases are also not ideal, with even focused searches bringing up non-relevant values at the top of the results queue.


There have been 5 pieces of ‘space’ related legislation introduced in the New York State Legislature since 2009. Three (3) were passed, while two (2) died in committee and did not become law.

Legislative Record

2009-2010 Session
Relates to the American Natural History Museum Planetarium
Sponsors: Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan), Senator Liz Kruger (D-Manhattan)
Co-Sponsors: None listed
Final vote: Passed Senate 61-0
Signed: July 14th, 2009
Analysis: An administrative bill related to the governance of the Hayden Planetarium as it exists in relation to the American Museum of Natural History. There were no significant public changes to programming. Assemblywoman Rosenthal and Senator Kruger represent the Hayden Planetarium in Albany.

2011-2012 Session
Authorizes a tax check-off for gifts to the explore the cosmos New York fund and the issuance of distinctive "Explore the Cosmos New York" license plates
Sponsors: Senator Andrew Lanza (R-Long Island)
Co-Sponsors: None listed
Final Vote: Never received a vote in Rules Committee
Analysis: The purpose of the bill was to “Require New York State to commemorate the contribution of New Yorkers to the Space Shuttle Program and NASA space exploration by creating a designated fund for the Science and Education Center that will house the Space Shuttle Enterprise at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.”

2015-2016 Session
Relates to collection period after assessment not being extended as a result of hospitalization for members of the armed forces, astronauts and victims of certain terrorist attacks
Sponsors: Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan)
Co-sponsors: None listed
Final Vote: Passed Senate 61-0
Signed: November 4th, 2016
Analysis: Included astronauts and former astronauts in classes of people (including veterans and victims of terrorist attacks) included in tax collection exemptions as a result of hospitalization.

2017-2018 Session
A9853 Establishes a task force to study the potential for economic opportunities by means of evolving space technology
Sponsors: Clyde Vanel (D-Queens)
Co-Sponsors: Jean-Pierre (D-Long Island), D’Urso (D-Long Island), Murray (R-Long Island), , Blake (D-Bronx), Seawright (D-Manhattan), Raia (R-Long Island), Crouch (R-Southern Tier), Mosley (D-Brooklyn), Pichardo (D-Bronx), Rivera (D-Buffalo), Lupardo (D-Southern Tier), Dickens (D-Manhattan), Hyndman (D-Queens), Giglio (R-Long Island), Taylor (D-Manhattan), Jaffee (D-Mid-Hudson), Errigo (R-Finger Lakes), Crespo (D-Bronx), Cook (D-Queens), Magee (D-Mohawk Valley), Miller (R-Mohawk Valley), Simon (D-Brooklyn), Wright (D-Brooklyn)

Members in italics are no longer serving in the Legislature.

Final Vote: Never received a vote in the Governmental Operations Committee.
Analysis: This bill advocated for the creation of a temporary taskforce with members appointed by the Governor and both parties in both chambers of the Legislature. They would be tasked to analysis the space sector in the state and “make recommendations on how to utilize space exploration for the purposes of advancing scientific research, exploring new economic opportunities, ensuring the future survival of humanity and developing strategic advantages within the state.” It was not introduced in the 2019-2020 legislative session, and disruptions and new priorities brought about by the Covid Pandemic in 2020 effectively killed any momentum on the bill.

2020-2021 Session
Congratulating NASA Astronaut Doug Hurley upon the occasion of piloting the new SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station
Sponsors: Fred Ashkar (R-Southern Tier)
Co-Sponsors: None listed
Final Vote: Unanimous
Analysis: Senate resolution commending Binghamton native Doug Hurley on his successful SpaceX mission to the International Space Station. Such resolutions are specific to the chamber (in this case the Senate), and do not go to the Assembly to be voted on, nor do they get signed by the Governor. This official congratulations from the New York State Senate to astronaut Doug Hurley is the 1st noted congratulations from either chamber of the Legislature to an astronaut.

General Analysis

The recent legislative record on space related issues is thin, but it does exist, and there are some intriguing threads available to tug on.

Big picture is that space-related measures have passed in both chambers of the Legislature and been signed by the Governor, involving members from both parties in multiple regions. The 3 successful pieces of legislation were administrative or ceremonial, relating to museum administration, health insurance, and congratulating an astronaut on a successful mission.

The failures paint a less rosy picture.

The failure of Senator Lanza’s space license plate bill in 2012 is disappointing. A simple yet attractive concept should be an easy sell in an often fractured chamber, but perhaps the legislative clock simply ran out, or it became victim to unrelated political battles.

The failure of Assemblyman Vanel’s space task force proposal in 2017 is the most prominent item on the list. It was a simple yet ambitious proposal to create a space task force to study the space sector and propose solutions to increase benefits to New York. It had sponsors from both parties in districts from the Canadian border to the tip of Long Island and every region in between.

One can only speculate about how much further advanced the New York space ecosystem would be if this bill had succeeded and had 5 years of focused leadership and development. The legislative coalition behind the bill is also fascinating to contemplate, such a unique range of representatives is highly uncommon in Albany, but at least its existence then gives hope that it could be recreated now.

Overall the Legislature is not a complete and total stranger to space. Space-related issues do come up every few years, even if they are minor and likely consume a fraction of a fraction of the bandwidth legislators usually spend during a legislative session. However when faced with more substantive pieces of space legislation, representatives have failed to act each time. The legislative future of space progress in Albany can currently be described as cloudy at best.

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