Mar 3rd - 5:11 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has told lawmakers that ethics is his No. 1 priority this year and other contentious issues – school aid, teacher evaluations, and regional infrastructure projects – are negotiable, several legislators said.
The four-way contest to fill former Assemblyman Karim Camara’s vacant Brooklyn seat could result in the chamber’s first WFP-only member.
Cuomo’s office unveiled support from 17 county executives for his plan to expand SUNY’s sexual assault policies to private campuses throughout New York. The lone holdout: Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.
NFIB’s Mike Durant said said the money going to just two recipients of the film tax credit is more than half of the $26 million small-business tax cut Cuomo has proposed.
Rep. Charlie Rangel changed his mind and attended Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to a joint session of Congress.
Bob Duffy, cover model.
Democrat Vincent Gentile and Republican Daniel Donovan, the two candidates vying for the NY-11 seat in a special election, offered general praise for Netanyahu.
In a major victory for President Obama, the Republican-led House overcame last-minute opposition and moved toward final passage of legislation to fund the DHS without restrictions on immigration.
Six New York members of the House of Representatives voted “yes” on the clean DHS funding bill. Reps. Tom Reed and Lee Zeldin voted against it.
Former CIA head David Petraeus cut a plea deal for providing his mistress with eight binders of top-secret material while she was writing a fawning biography.
FEMA is less than pleased with having a key role in the third season of “House of Cards” and made its disapproval known via Twitter.
The Onondaga County Legislature voted to urge state transportation officials to keep a tunnel or depressed highway as options for rebuilding Interstate 81 in Syracuse.
Mother Nature is not being kind to tomorrow’s charter school rally participants.
Agriculture contributed $37.6 billion to New York’s economy in 2012, an increase of more than 22 percent from 2007, according to a report released by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office.
The UFT Charter School met just one of its 38 academic goals last year, even as it struggled to serve a sufficient number of at-risk students, an analysis by the school’s authorizer shows.
“I am a Kennedy, Google me. If you don’t let me in, the governor will be calling.”
NYC rats are currently carrying hundreds of lice, mites and the species of fleas that transmit the bubonic plague, according to research from Cornell University.
Another study, however, suggests that gerbils, not rats, may have helped bring bubonic plague to Medieval Europe and contributed to the deaths of millions.
Communities across the lower Hudson Valley are contending with a deer population that has been growing for decades without the threat of natural predators like cougars, bobcats and wolves.
At least 23 Medicaid directors across the country have left their posts since last January.
Mar 3rd - 4:14 pm
Business groups are blasting Gov. Andrew Cumoo’s latest effort to raise the minimum wage through a campaign aimed at having voters influence their state lawmakers.
Cuomo on Tuesday unveiled the minimum wage hike campaign, which includes voters sending letters to elected officials and newspaper editorial boards urging them to support the wage bill, which would hike the wage to $11.50 in New York City and $10.50 elsewhere in the state.
The campaign includes “talking points” to include in letters to the editor as well as writing tips.
The current minimum wage is $8.75 and would increase to $9 at the end of the year if lawmakers do nothing.
“Gov. Cuomo’s campaign to increase the minimum wage could push struggling small businesses over the edge,” said Greg Biryla, executive director of Unshackle Upstate. “For employers who are trying to create new jobs and expand their business, another minimum wage increase and an added $69 million in new healthcare taxes would be a brutal combination. Albany needs to focus on improving the state’s business climate – not make it more toxic.”
Business advocates at the Capitol also found it galling that Cuomo was promoting the minimum wage effort on the same day they were holding their advocacy day supporting small businesses.
“That upward push is going to impact small business. Small businesses haven’t fully phased in and dealt with the past minimum wage increase and I think it sends them a regressive message that New York isn’t open for business,” said Mike Durant, the state director of the National Federation Of Independent Business.
Cuomo insisted to reporters in Buffalo the wage hike would generate economic activity.
“The first thing they’re going to do is spend that $3 billion and that’s going to stimulate the economy,” Cuomo said. “That’s been the track record.”
Mar 3rd - 3:11 pm
Queens Democratic Assemblyman Francisco Moya, along with affordable housing advocates the Building and Construction Trades Council on Monday pushed a bill that would add new requirements for insurance providers that operate under the state’s Scaffold Law.
The measure — deemed “The Sunshine Bill” by supporters would require insurance companies to file annual financial disclosure statements and claims with the Department of Financial Services, which regulates banking and insurance in New York.
The bill seems aimed at the ongoing dispute over the cost of the Scaffold Law — which business groups contend is onerous — but supported by labor groups as well as the state’s powerful trial lawyers lobby.
“The Sunshine Bill will bring much-needed facts and clarity to insurance pricing and practices,” Moya said in a statement. “We cannot amend critical worker safety protections without first shedding light on how insurers calculate liability premiums. We owe it to the thousands of construction workers who risk their lives to build our state’s infrastructure.”
The measure is supported by the Building and Construction Trades Council, a powerful private-sector union that has been supportive of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“New York has long been a leader when it comes to worker safety, and we can’t afford to break that tradition,” the group’s president said. “Weakening the Scaffold Safety Law would put thousands of working people’s lives at direct risk. If the insurance industry shares our concerns about construction site safety, they shouldn’t stand in the way of real debate and should let the real facts come out.”
Scaffold reform groups contend the measure isn’t necessary and that the information on the cost of the regulation is already public available.
Tom Stebbins of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance called the measure a “diversion.”
“The data is clear: New York’s insurance costs are the highest in the nation, and the reason is the Scaffold Law,” he said. “Far from earning outsized profits, insurance companies are abandoning the New York construction market entirely. We are encouraged that organized labor and the personal injury lawyer lobby has finally acknowledged the serious impacts of our astronomical construction insurance rates. Unfortunately, this misguided legislation does nothing to advance a meaningful discussion about Scaffold Law reform, which has strong bipartisan support.”
Mar 3rd - 2:07 pm
A legislative reception honoring former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is scheduled to be held this evening by a group that supports addiction services treatment.
The group, Coalition For Community Services, will present Silver with its Champion Award this evening at a reception at the Albany Room.
The event is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
Silver was arrested in January on corruption charges. He faces a three-count indictment from federal prosecutors who accused him of masking legal referrals as bribes and kickbacks.
Luke Nasta, the group’s public policy officer, said the event was scheduled before Silver’s arrest.
“We’ve been consistent in why we’re recognizing Sheldon Silver,” Nasta said.
Silver as speaker and in public office has been a longtime supporter in the Legislature of helping champion chemical dependency treatment “especially during the Pataki years,” Nasta said.
“It’s about the cause,” he added.
Silver, who retains his seat in the Assembly representing lower Manhattan, is expected to attend the event this evening, Nasta said.
Invited to speak are Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Silver’s successor as speaker, Bronx Democrat Carl Heastie.
Mar 3rd - 12:38 pm
Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator who ran for president in 2012, will appear in Albany this month to keynote an evangelical group’s lobby day.
Santorum will be speaking at the New Yorker’s Family Research Foundation on March 17, with a speech at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center.
Santorum served in the U.S. Senate from 1995 through 2007.
The event is being held in conjunction with the group’s affiliate organization, New Yorkers For Constitutional Freedoms.
“Legislative Day 2015 gives NYFRF an opportunity to share information with our friends and supporters about key legislative issues of concern to the evangelical Christian community in New York,” said the group’s executive director, the Rev. Jason McGuire. “It also gives NYFRF the privilege of welcoming a nationally-known conservative political figure; former U.S. Senator and 2012 presidential candidate Rick Santorum (R-PA), a stalwart defender of human life and strong families, will serve as our keynote speaker.”
The event comes after Gov. Andrew Cuomo focused heavily on a 10-point package measures aimed at addressing women’s issues, including a codification of the Roe v. Wade decision in state law.
With Republicans holding a full majority in the Senate this year, it’s doubtful that abortion plank of the women’s agenda will pass this session.
Mar 3rd - 12:29 pm
Democratic Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh has introduced a measure in his chamber that would block taxpayer reimbursements of legal fees for public officials who tapped their campaign accounts acquitted of criminal charges.
The measure was first introduced in January by Queens Democratic Sen. Mike Gianaris, and picked up Kavanagh as an Assembly sponsor this week.
The bill would address the practice of allowing state officials to seek reimbursement for their legal defense, pending approval from the state attorney general and comptroller’s offices.
The reimbursement option was highlighted after former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno successfully sought $2.4 million from the state following a not guilty verdict in his second corruption trial.
Bruno’s defense was largely paid for by $1.2 million out of his campaign account as well as a legal defense fund.
“This bill will protect taxpayers by preventing reimbursements to a campaign committee or legal defense fund,” the bill memo states. “Additionally, the bill provides that if a criminal defendant has a legal defense fund, he or she will be required to expend all money in the account before he or she would be entitled to any taxpayer reimbursement.”
Mar 3rd - 11:27 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo in Buffalo on Tuesday raised the potential to pursuing a minimum wage increase outside of the state budget, which is due at the end of this month.
At the same time, Cuomo spoke of compromising with Senate Republicans, who remain opposed to a two-tiered minimum wage hike proposal for New York City and the rest of the state.
Cuomo’s proposal would increase the state’s minimum wage to $11.50 in New York City and $10.50 elsewhere.
If state lawmakers do not act this year, the wage will increase automatically at the end of the year to $9, up from the current $8.75, a product of a 2013 law.
“I hope to get it done this legislative session either in the budget which is April or at the end of the legislative session in June,” Cuomo said in Buffalo.
Cuomo was in Buffalo to undertake a new campaign to promote the minimum wage hike push at the Capitol.
He added that his appearance in western New York today was meant to highlight the push for the minimum wage increase and by having voters contact their local legislators to push for the wage hike.
But Cuomo also acknowledged that Republican lawmakers, who hold control of the Senate with 33 seats, remain opposed to the latest wage increase.
“We have a Democratic Assembly and a Republican Senate,” Cuomo said. “For many years, that stymied progress in New York. Probably the single thing I’m most proud of in the last four years we’ve been able to work together.”
He spoke generally about his own record on working with Republicans, adding he sees the possibility for a deal on a wage increase again.
“At the end of the day, we’ve been able to reconcile and reach a compromise,” Cuomo said. “We’ve been able to do that in New York, I wish Washington did that better, frankly. But we’ve been able to reach compromise positions and I think we’ll be able to do that again.”
The last minimum wage increase was allowed by Senate Republicans, though they technically held a numerical minority in the chamber. The Independent Democratic Conference, a five-member breakaway caucus, held power in the chamber over the last two years and pushed for the wage increase.
But liberals and other wage advocates have knocked that agreement, saying it didn’t go far enough.
Mainline Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy this morning said the most recent agreement was “half a loaf.”
“Raising the minimum wage is something that the Senate Democrats have long fought for and we were the ones that pointed out that the last deal made on the raise was nothing more than a half loaf,” Murphy said. “I hope the Senate Republicans will finally join the fight for fair pay and raise the minimum wage.”
Mar 3rd - 8:02 am
From the Morning Memo:
State lawmakers are under pressure from Gov. Andrew Cuomo to disclose more information on their outside business interests, including their privately held clients.
“People have to know. That’s where we keep getting into trouble as a government,” Cuomo told reporters last month in Utica.
But lawmakers in recent days have started to push back.
Senate Republicans introduced a bill last week requiring non-family members living with state officials to disclose their income as well. The bill appears to be targeting Cuomo’s live-in girlfriend, Food Network star Sandra Lee.
“We believe the governor’s office should be participating in these disclosures and participating in the ethics reforms,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman John DeFrancisco said in an interview.
Cuomo is linking new disclosure requirements to the approval of spending in the $142 billion budget proposal. This has upset some lawmakers, who say it makes it more difficult for them to negotiate a compromise.
“The more that appropriations are tied up in language, it ties the Legislature’s hands to act,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said at a news conference last week.
And then there’s Cuomo’s own record on disclosure and his administration’s new policy of deleting emails after 90 days. Democratic Sen. Liz Krueger is introducing a bill that would halt that deletion policy.
“I think the governor’s office really missed the boat on this one. We’re living in the 21st century. Email is a standard form of communication between the public and the government,” the Manhattan Democrat said in an interview.
For some lawmakers, the deletion policy being pursued by the governor’s office is in contradiction to the efforts to shine more sunlight on the Capitol.
“I think that the governor believes we should have more transparency, more information flow between legislators and the public. I think the governor just needs to think through is the right hand doing what the left hand is saying,” Krueger said.
The ethics push at the Capitol comes after the arrest of now-former Speaker Sheldon Silver on corruption charges. Silver was one of the longest serving speakers in the state’s history. And on Monday, Senate lawmakers moved to limit how many years legislative leaders and committee chairs can serve.
“I do believe that when you’re in power for too long, you begin to somewhat removed and insular from people and there’s potential for more problems,” said Sen. Joe Griffo, a Rome Republican who is the measure’s main sponsor. “I believe this is a better way to empower more members, allow more members opportunities to serve in leadership.”
Mar 3rd - 7:59 am
From the Morning Memo:
City Councilman Vincent Gentile on Monday evening received the backing of the labor-aligned Working Families Party as he seeks to take on Republican Dan Donovan in the 11th congressional district special election.
In a statement, WFP State Director Bill Lipton referenced Donovan’s role in presiding over a grand jury as Staten Island district attorney that ultimately voted to not indict a New York City police officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.
“Vincent Gentile’s been a fighter for working families on housing and health issues,” Lipton said. “He will bring extensive experience to this post from his time in the New York State Senate and as a member of the NYC Council. By contrast his opponent, Daniel Donovan, has become a national symbol for inequality in the criminal justice system.”
Donovan had recused himself as the prosecutor who investigating the WFP’s for-profit consultant firm Data & Field Services in a 2009 city council race, a move that was later upheld by the state Court of Appeals.
Donovan, meanwhile, was endorsed by the Independence Party on Monday as well as Republicans in Brooklyn and Staten Island. Over the weekend, Donovan received the endorsement of the Conservative Party.
The special election to replace disgraced Republican former Rep. Michael Grimm is set for May 5.
Mar 3rd - 5:51 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Erie County and Albany. It’s going to be a VERY busy day down at the Capitol – lobby day, with many groups – including college students who want to preserve TAP, NYS Farm Bureau members, raise-the-age supporters and NFIBers – making their respective cases. As such, today’s calendar appears at the bottom of this post instead of the top.
The ranks of the anti-Cuomo protestors were stronger, with more than 1,000 teachers and public education advocates marching through the Empire State Plaza concourse, clogging security checkpoints into the Capitol and rallying on the Million Dollar Staircase in a boisterous protest of the governor’s plan.
House Speaker John Boehner is expected to move soon – as early as tomorrow – to bring up the clean bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security for a vote on the House floor.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio accused House Republicans of putting New York City in jeopardy by threatening a partial shutdown of the DHS, calling the city the top target for terrorism in the nation.
Hillary Rodham Clinton exclusively used a personal email account to conduct government business as secretary of state, State Department officials said, and may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record.
Billionaire supermarket mogul, political donor and sometime candidate John Catsimatidis did not deny his interest in potentially buying the Daily News, but said he’s under a confidentiality agreement and can’t discuss its possible sale.
Cuomo, through his aides, has given a chilly response to Senate Republicans for proposing that some financial data regarding live-in girlfriends of elected officials – such as Cuomo’s girlfriend, Sandra Lee – be subject to the same ethics disclosures required for spouses of elected officials. But back in 2009, then-Attorney General Cuomo made that connection himself.
The governor’s former top racing and gaming adviser was “aghast” to learn that his emails concerning the banishment of the Wandering Dago food truck from Saratoga Race Course had been deleted from his account — despite a reporter’s FOIL request and a lawsuit involving communications related to the truck’s banishment.
US Attorney Preet Bharara should be more prudent in his public criticism of Albany and its denizens, says Bennett L. Gershman, a former prosecutor and professor at Pace University School of Law.
Safety advocates are calling for increased prosecution of drivers who violate traffic laws, including a new one that makes failure to yield a misdemeanor, instead of a traffic violation, if a pedestrian is killed or injured. They are also asking the State Department of Motor Vehicles to suspend a driver’s license after serious offenses as a way of deterring dangerous driving.
Three guards accused of beating an inmate at the Attica Correctional Facility so severely that doctors had to insert a plate and six pins into his leg each pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor charge of misconduct. The last-minute plea deal spared them any jail time in exchange for quitting their jobs.
For the first time, the state quietly released details on how much some films and shows received in tax breaks for the final quarter of last year. The list of 10 productions showed they received a total of $27 million in the fourth quarter, with the most being $10 million for the hit show Orange is the New Black on Netflix.
De Blasio, in an appearance on The Nightly Show, once again explained his comments about how he speaks to his biracial son regarding interactions with the police.
The mayor made it clear he doesn’t want to discuss his rocky relationship with Cuomo, though he didn’t deny a report that he’s trying to mend fences.
Assemblyman Jim Brennan, the New York sponsor of a Port Authority reform bill passed in both states but vetoed by both Cuomo and NJ’c Chris Christie, rejected the New Jersey compromise version of that measure, all but dooming its chances in its current configuration.