Whenever a champion is crowned in one of the major professional sports leagues, sports writers are quick to rush out their way-too-early lists of the favorites for the following season. Months before awards season, the entertainment industry begins buzzing about who might win an Oscar, an Emmy or a Grammy. And in the aftermath of presidential elections, pundits have been weighing in earlier and earlier with who they think will run in the next election.

But where the prognosticating is perhaps more worthwhile is in Albany, where planning for the next legislative session can begin as early as April, just after the state budget is finalized. And some point to Labor Day as the turning point when the lobbying really begins to pick up.

Whatever the case, the second half of the year has long been a time to test the political winds, develop new policy proposals and revise existing bills to improve their chance of passing next year. The Cuomo administration spends months putting together the top priorities to roll out in January, and legislators and lobbyists know that getting a bill in the governor’s budget can be just what’s needed to get it across the finish line.

And it’s increasingly critical to lay the legislative groundwork early. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is up for re-election next year, as are all of the state’s lawmakers, and everyone will be eager to get out of town and start fundraising and campaigning sooner rather than later.

RELATED: The Albany Power 100

In this 2018 budget preview, we look at a handful of proposals that are already on the table – and who’s pushing to get them in the state budget.

DREAM Act

DACA protests

With the president shifting the responsibility to Congress to replace the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act, in the next six months and uncertainty about whether there will be enough votes in Washington, some state lawmakers say it’s critical that New York do what it can on its own for these young immigrants. Read the full story here.

Congestion pricing

Traffic in NYC

Facing growing frustration over New York City’s deteriorating mass transit system, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is dusting off an old idea that stalled a decade ago: congestion pricing. Read the full story here.

Ethics and election reforms

Albany state capitol

Although Gov. Andrew Cuomo highlighted some proposed voting reforms in his State of the State addresses, none of the major reforms became law. Now, some lawmakers are hoping that Cuomo pushes harder for those same voting reforms in 2018 – and reforms campaign finance law while he’s at it. Read the full story here.

Scaffold Law

NYC Scaffold

In an open letter to the governor on Sept. 8, seven Assembly members argued that the Scaffold Law should be reformed. The statute requires business owners and contractors to be held fully responsible when a worker is killed or injured in a fall or other similar danger working high above the streets. Read the full story here.

Single-payer health care

Bernie sanders and andrew cuomo

 

Last month, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the once and perhaps future presidential candidate, unveiled legislation to create a single-payer health care system. But Congress isn’t the only route to obtaining single-payer health care in New York. Assemblyman Richard Gottfried has repeatedly introduced the New York Health Act, which would establish a single-payer system on the state level. The bill passed in the Assembly, but failed in the Republican-controlled state Senate. Read the full story here.