From the Morning Memo:

Black ministers in an open letter released late last week voiced their support for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie as he comes under criticism from progressive grassroots groups.

The Coalition of Black Ministers Advocating on Friday released an open letter to the New York First Progressive Caucus to tout the speaker’s bonafides on key issues facing the black community in New York.

“While some of those legislators rarely, if ever, have been known to champion causes in communities of color, Speaker Heastie has championed those causes his entire life, even when others stood mute,” the ministers wrote. “To us, that is progressive.”

The letter was released a day after a Heastie fundraiser in New York City was protested by progressive groups frustrated with the state budget.

Progressives, including some state lawmakers, were dissatisfied with a budget that created a commission to review the feasibility of publicly financed campaigns in the state — a provision that came after Assembly Democrats have been discomfited by a more sweeping agreement on the issue.

At the same time, the budget did not create a surcharge on second homes worth more than $5 million, which lawmakers said ran into logistical concerns over collecting the revenue to bolster capital spending at the MTA. Instead, lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo agreed to a real-estate transfer tax surcharge.

“We hope that going forward, these so-called progressive legislators will not attack leaders in the African-American community. Instead we they will work with us to bring about the changes we want in our communities,” the clergy wrote in the letter.

“Finally, we note, these so-called progressive legislators voted for the same budget they claim is anti-progressive. They cannot have it both ways; they cannot disparage Speaker Heastie for doing something they also supported. There was nobody forcing them to vote yes on a budget they supposedly found so repugnant to their principles. They voted for it of their own free will.”

Publicly, Heastie has shrugged off the possibility of primary challenges.

Focus is now turning to the renewal of rent control regulations for New York City that are due to expire in June; Heastie and Assembly Democrats are pushing an agenda aimed at tenant affordability and ending vacancy decontrol.

Heastie is the first black speaker of the Assembly after he was elected to the posted in 2015.

The confluence of progressive politics and grassroots advocates inflamed by President Donald Trump’s election has already seen some victories at the local level in New York, as Democrats in the now-defunct Independent Democratic Conference lost primaries last year to challengers who pointed to their alliance with Republicans in the state Senate.

Republicans lost majority control of the Senate last year, leading to a series of long-sought policy victories for Democrats on gun control, abortion and LGBT rights.

But the budget included more complicated policy matters for lawmakers, such as criminal justice law changes like ending cash bail. Ultimately, cash bail will end for non-violent felonies and misdemeanors.

And the next several weeks could find more tripwires for lawmakers and Cuomo, such as extending access to driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants and seeking sanctuary state status for New York.