Conservatives Look To Unlock Rent Rules

Daily News Albany Bureau

Ratcheting up the attack on rent regulations, Conservative Party leaders will pressure state legislators to back elimination of the laws that limit rent hikes on more than 1 million city apartments.

The 159,000-member party will use mailings and "everything we can to put as much pressure on as many legislators" as possible to stop state lawmakers from reauthorizing the rent laws when they expire in June, said party chairman Michael Long.

"We have to eliminate rent control and rent stabilization," said Long, whose party provides key cross-endorsement for most legislative Republicans and has long called for phasing out state rent laws.

The stepped-up lobbying effort was announced amid an attack on the laws from State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno (left) (R-Rensselaer) and the city's politically potent landlord lobby.

Bruno has vowed to let rent control and stabilization laws expire June 15 unless legislators accept his demand for a two-year transition to a free-market system. Only elderly, disabled and low-income tenants would continue to be protected by rent laws under Bruno's plan.

But the Democratic-controlled Assembly and some GOP state lawmakers from the city are battling to keep current rent protections in place.

Bruno predicted the Conservative Party campaign could affect the outcome of what is certain to be a bruising legislative battle. "A lot of members carry the Conservative endorsement, and a number of members depend on it in their elections," he said.

Bruno also escalated his attack on the rent laws.

"You've got people making $150,000, $200,000, with us subsidizing their rent indefinitely," he said. "I mean, that's what socialism is all about. That's what I think borders on what used to be communism. It's not democracy."

Original Story Date: 02/11/97
Original Story Section: City Central