Authors
Sam Mellins

Sam Mellins is senior reporter at New York Focus, which he has been a part of since launch day. His reporting has also appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Intercept, THE CITY, and The Nation.



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Traffic on a Manhattan street
Hochul Halts Congestion Pricing as Manhattan Traffic Reaches Record High

The constant gridlock is a major drag on Manhattan’s businesses, and source of frustration for commuters. And it’s never been so bad.

June 12, 2024
A blurred Kathy Hochul
Hochul in Hiding as Congestion Pricing Hangs by a Thread

Since announcing her plan to put the program on ice, the governor has not appeared in public.

June 7, 2024
New York State Capitol in front of question marks
Senate Democrats Lock Down as Secret Committee Comes to Light

A secret group of Senate Democrats helped decide the fate of nearly 650 bills over the last month. Just don’t ask any questions.

June 6, 2024
An ornate Senate staircase in New York's Capitol building in Albany
This Secret Senate Committee Decides Whether Bills Live or Die

You haven’t heard of it, and your state senator might not have either. The Working Rules group helps determine the fate of hundreds of bills at the end of each legislative session.

May 30, 2024
NYCLU Sues to Overturn Landmark Sex Offender Law

Advocates charge that New York’s restrictions for sex offense registrants are “vague, expansive, and unnecessary.” On Tuesday, they filed a federal lawsuit to strike them down.

May 28, 2024
Albany State Capitol building with For Rent signs in the windows.
Landlord Legislators Carved Themselves Out of Good Cause Eviction

A quarter of lawmakers in Albany are landlords. Almost none of them are covered by the most significant tenant protection law in years.

May 13, 2024
Albany’s New Housing Plan Would Build Only a Fraction of the Housing New York Leaders Say Is Needed

It’s the first step New York has taken to address its housing shortage in years — but tenant groups are fuming and real estate wants more.

April 22, 2024
New York Governor Kathy Hochul stands at a blue and yellow podium that says "Consumer Protection & Affordability / 2024 State of the State."
How the State Budget Could Crack Down on Bad Business Practices

New York has one of the weakest consumer protection laws in the country. This year’s state budget may change that.

April 16, 2024
Activists and New York state Senator Julia Salazar rally to pass good cause eviction in Albany. They stand in the high-ceilinged halls of the Capitol with a white banner reading PASS GOOD CAUSE and various red signs.
Wage Disputes and Tenant Protections Stall Albany Housing Deal

As real estate developers resist wage guarantees and try to roll back tenants’ rights, a potential budget deal is at an impasse.

April 4, 2024
Albany Capitol superimposed over 100 dollar bill money printer
Get Billions of Dollars to Pay for Medicaid With This One Weird Trick

New York legislators have a plan to claim billions in federal funding for health care, driving a fight between industry groups.

March 21, 2024
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Governor Kathy Hochul, and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins before three tall stacks of paper.
How the New York State Budget Is Made

We answer your questions on the state’s notoriously opaque budget process.

March 11, 2024
People gather outside a stone arch with sign that says "Hospital & Emergency Room" displaying letters A, C, D, F, G, H, and an emergency cross.
Retired Teachers Seek Union Shakeup to Dodge Medicare Advantage

In the New York City teachers union, anger over a plan to privatize retiree health care could send a longshot campaign over the edge.

February 26, 2024
New York State Governor Kathy Hochul stands in front of American flags and behind a podium reading "Our New York, Our Future."
Hochul Sparks Outcry With Proposed Cash Transfer From Legal Aid Fund

Her administration says the fund won’t be harmed. Legal experts question whether she can take it at all.

February 7, 2024
A New York City subway on the left, and highway traffic on the right.
Flush With Biden’s Infrastructure Cash, New York Is Choosing Highways Over Public Transit

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law directed billions toward public transit in New York, but the state is choosing to spend billions more on highways.

February 5, 2024
A group of people before the judges of the Court of Appeals
It’s Hard to Get a Criminal Case Heard in New York’s Top Court. The New Chief Judge May Change That.

Some Court of Appeals judges are far more likely to grant requests to hear appeals than others, a New York Focus analysis found.

January 25, 2024
A green welcome sign superimposed over an aerial suburban shot reads "WELCOME TO Greenburgh," with Greenburgh crossed out, and replaced with "Edgemont."
How One Wealthy Neighborhood Got Itself Exempted From State Law

Westchester’s Edgemont community wants to secede from its town — and has scored a legal carveout to let it.

January 22, 2024
New York Governor Kathy Hochul sits at a large wooden table and signs papers in Albany, New York.
How the Governor Upends Bills Before Signing Them

With chapter amendments, governors can make major changes to pending laws. Kathy Hochul uses them more than any executive before her.

January 17, 2024
Park Slope Neighbors Seek to Block New Apartment Buildings on Industrial Site

A laundry company wants to turn its factory into 13-story apartment buildings, sparking the latest in a series of fierce zoning fights.

December 20, 2023
Court of Appeals judges stand and clap for Caitlin Halligan
New Pro-Defendant Decisions Signal Sea Change at New York’s Top Court

The rulings shed light on the leanings of Caitlin Halligan, the court’s newest judge and frequent tie-breaker.

November 30, 2023
Chief Judge Rowan Wilson sits on the Court of Appeals bench.
New York’s Top Court Just Narrowed the Case That Spelled Doom for Bloomberg’s Soda Ban

While the United States Supreme Court seeks to restrict the government’s ability to regulate, the New York Court of Appeals is broadening it.

November 28, 2023
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