Aug 30th - 2:16 pm
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer’s Republican opponent is taking him to task for the contributions he’s received from the chief executive officer of the company that boosted the price of the EpiPen.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Wendy Long pushed Schumer to return the donations from Mylan CEO Heather Bresch and the company’s political action committee.
Over the years, Schumer has received $10,000 in donations from the PAC and Bresch.
Mylan stoked controversy this month after hiking the price of the EpiPen, commonly used to inject anti-allergens.
“I am calling upon him to take those donations out of his $27 million campaign coffer and donate them to a worthy institution that treats children with life-threatening allergies who can’t afford EpiPens or with pediatric cancers like leukemia and Hodgkin’s who are suffering because of generic drug shortages that he causes,” Long said in a statement.
She suggested Schumer forward the money to either St. Jude’s Hospital or to Kravis Children’s Hospital at the Mount Sinai Medical Center.
“And I’m not sure if there are enough zeros on the online button to do it, but why not give sick children the whole $27 million sitting in your campaign warchest? Renounce your sorry past as the King of Pay for Play in Washington,” Long said.
The increased price for the EpiPen — hike by some 400 percent — has led to bipartisan outrage toward Mylan as a generic version may soon be offered and calls for federal and state investigations grow.
Aug 30th - 1:00 pm
Democratic congressional hopeful Zephyr Teachout on Tuesday took the unusual step of touting her Republican opponent John Faso’s own poll.
In a fundraising email, Teachout’s campaign pointed to the poll conducted by the McLaughlin Group for Faso’s campaign that found the former Assembly minority leader ahead 46 percent to Teachout’s 41 percent.
“That’s pretty incredible,” wrote campaign manager Kim Maier. “Our opponent — backed by big corporations, special interests and Super PACs — is ahead only within the margin of error in his own poll that he’s showing to press.”
In the email, Teachout’s campaign urges $3 contributions ahead of Wednesday’s reporting deadline.
“Now it’s up to our grassroots movement to close the gap,” she wrote. “We’re making great progress towards our goal of raising $100,000 by our deadline of Wednesday at midnight, but we’re still short.”
The 19th congressional district is a Republican-leaning House seat, though has been a battleground district in recent election cycles. Teachout’s campaign could benefit from an increase in Democratic voters heading to the polls this year.
Republican Rep. Chris Gibson is retiring after three terms this year.
Aug 30th - 12:35 pm
The state’s medical marijuana program will be expanded to include the testing of new products, allowing home delivery service, the authorization of nurse practitioners to certify patients and make it easier for patients to afford prescriptions.
In all, the changes appear aimed at making it easier for those who qualify for the program to certify as patients and even expand the patient pool through regulatory changes.
The expansion of the program announced on Tuesday by the Department of Health are marked change from 2014, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law what was at the time promoted as a strictly monitored and tightly regulated system of providing medically based cannabis to severely ill patients.
Cuomo at the time insisted the program could be folded if law enforcement officials determine it is being abused — a component that was key to him agreeing to backing the bill that had been pushed for the last several years by state lawmakers.
Supporters of the measure that was ultimately approved after negotiations with the Legislature complained it was too restrictive and could hinder access to patients.
But advocates for medical marijuana have pushed state policymakers to expand the program that so far has certified more than 7,000 patients and registered nearly 700 doctors.
At the same time, the acceptance of marijuana as a drug for terminally ill patients has grown among voters, much less other states introducing similar programs.
Health Commissioner Howard Zucker indicated the changes were based in part from feedback state officials have received since the program went online.
“Since launching the program, the Department has worked closely with doctors, patients and registered organizations to gather information relevant to strengthening the program in anticipation of the required two-year report,” Zcuker said. We are constantly evaluating the program to make it more effective for patients and practitioners, and we believe that the implementation of these recommendations will do just that.”
Perhaps the biggest change will be to allow nurse practitioners to certify patients for the program. Initially the purview of only doctors, the move is aimed at expanding the number of patients certified in the program, especially those who live in rural areas where there are fewer physicians.
Meanwhile, the state DOH will propose additional regulatory changes that will be aimed at streamlining requirements for drug manufacturers. Additional efforts include reviewing evidence for the use of medical marijuana for those who are suffering from chronic and intractable pain.
The Department Health also wants to encourage independent laboratories to apply for certification of medical marijuana testing, while they also pledged to continue to reach out to federal officials to ease restrictions on research.
Aug 30th - 11:51 am
Republican Senate hopeful Julie Killian on Tuesday released her first TV ad that calsl for term limits and other reforms in Albany.
The ad is airing in the Westchester County cable TV market.
“When people want change, they’re not shy about saying it,” the ad’s narrator says. “Julie’s a leader in the fight against drug abuse, an advocate for our kids and a mom who knows how to get things done.”
Killian is a Rye City councilwoman who is challenging Democratic incumbent George Latimer for the suburban Westchester Senate seat. Republicans have long had their eye on flipping this district for the last several election cycles, making the race for it often one more the expensive campaigns each year.
Aug 30th - 11:07 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration on Tuesday sought to recoup costs incurred by the response to the Hoosick Falls water contamination, arguing in a letter the Environmental Protection Agency should ultimately pay for what polluters do not.
The letter from Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos and Health Commissioner Howard Zucker was released just as a Senate hearing in the rural village on water contamination was being held.
The demand that the federal government cover costs associated with the state government’s response is the latest development in an increasingly truculent relationship between the Cuomo administration and the EPA over the issue.
The EPA had initially declared the drinking water in the village unsafe before the state moved to declare the area a Superfund site.
But Cuomo has said the EPA holds responsibility for shifting safety levels for PFOA, which was found to be at unsafe levels in the village’s municipal drinking water.
“In a span of a few months, the EPA shifted their position repeatedly – changing the level from 400 parts per trillion to 100 parts per trillion in a single town, and then changing the national advisory level from 400 parts per trillion to 70 parts per trillion. In addition, the EPA has had different guidance for what to do when any of those levels are actually exceeded,” the New York officials wrote in the letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.
“This generated undue public anxiety and different strategies and deployments for our agencies, resulting in the state marshaling unprecedented resources in order to adapt to the constantly shifting guidance and recommendations from the EPA. As a result, the EPA should reimburse the State for any costs not ultimately borne by the responsible parties.”
New York officials say the state so far has spent at least $25 million on the Hoosick Falls response. An additional $50 million is expected in additional costs in the coming years, which includes biomonitoring in the area and the installation and maintenance of water treatment systems in homes.
The state also says the federal government should pay for the identification and connection to a permanent alternative water supply for the village.
State lawmakers in September will hold a joint Assembly and Senate hearing on statewide water quality issues, while the Republican-led House Oversight Committee has opened a review of the state’s response to the Hoosick Falls water contamination.
Officials at the EPA are not testifying at the hearing in Hoosick Falls today, but are instead submitting written testimony.
Aug 30th - 10:18 am
Democratic state Senate candidate Amber Small on Tuesday was given the backing of the Communications Workers of America, a labor group that has deep ties to the union-aligned Working Families Party.
“We had a clear choice in endorsing Amber Small for the 60th District of the New York State Senate,” said WNY CWA Council Legislative Committee Chairman Tom Roulley.
“The political elite and wealthy have controlled Albany for too long and it’s time to change that. CWA is proud to support the only candidate in this race who will make working families in our community a priority.”
Small is running for 60th Senate district in the Buffalo area, a seat that is being vacated by Democrat Marc Panepinto. She faces Republican Chris Jacobs this November.
“This race will be a choice between a community advocate who stands up for middle class workers and equality for all people, or an out of touch 1%er who represents big business and the erosion of the working class,” Small said in a statement.
Aug 30th - 9:12 am
We’re on Paul Ryan Watch Day 2. It’s a short turnaround for the House Speaker who left a fundraising event in Buffalo around 8:30 p.m. Monday.
Ryan raised more than $250,000 at that event for his federal joint fundraising committee Team Ryan, aimed at electing House Republicans. About 100 people attended.
Today’s event at Oak Hill in the Rochester area is a little different. It’s a fundraiser for Rep. Tom Reed, R-23rd Congressional District.
Ryan had a similar fundraiser for Rep. John Katko in Syracuse, Monday afternoon. Reed is being challenged by Democrat and Naval Reserve Commander John Plumb, in a race that is expected to be competitive.
During his New York swing, the speaker has not been talking to local media. I’m told that’s because he tends to keep a very tight schedule when he travels.
Ryan attended about a half a dozen different events Mondat and has a couple more around the state on the schedule Tuesday.
Aug 30th - 6:30 am
From the Morning Memo:
A poll released by Republican congressional candidate Jack Martins shows him easily defeating his rival for the party’s nomination, Philip Pidot.
The poll comes as Pidot has, through a series of court challenges, successfully sought a primary against Martins for the nomination in the third congressional district.
That primary is set for October.
But Martins, a state senator from Nassau County, would crush Pidot, 43 percent to 9 percent, according to the poll conducted by Clout Research.
At the same time, 51 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of Martins, with only 8 percent viewing him unfavorably. Pidot, meanwhile, is seen favorably by 22 percent of voters and unfavorably by 12 percent. A whopping two-thirds of voters responded they did not know enough about him to form an opinion.
“Favorability ratings play an important part in elections for most political offices because voters rarely support a candidate they do not like, and because in partisan primary elections, races often come down to favorability because candidates have similar stands on many issues,” the polling memo states.
With the unusual primary date for the race, Martins has sought to move the general election to December in order to comply with the federal MOVE Act, which requires timely access to ballots for military and overseas voters.
Moving the election would also have the impact of the Republican nominee not running down ballot from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who could negatively impact GOP candidates this fall in House and state races.
A Department of Defense official in a letter released Monday to the Board of Elections concluded holding the election on schedule would not conflict with the law.
The poll of 628 likely voters was conducted from Aug. 25 through Aug. 27. It has a margin of error of 3.76 percentage points.
Updated: Bill O’Reilly, a spokesman for Pidot, responds to the poll in this statement.
“What’s truly remarkable about this ginned up ‘poll’ is that Jack Martins was unable to manufacture a number for himself greater than 43 percent. He has every advantage in this primary — the entire Republican apparatus behind him, stacks of money, years of incumbency, and an opponent who got on the ballot only a week ago — yet 57 percent of NY3 Republicans couldn’t be persuaded in a press-release survey to say they’re voting for him,” O’Reilly said.
“Jack Martins won’t debate his record; he’s spent four months in court unsuccessfully trying to squelch a primary, and now he’s releasing dubious surveys without crosstabs to publicly suggest strength. A truly strong candidate would welcome a primary, debate his record anytime and anywhere, and release his engineered survey in full. His refusal to do all three shows you exactly where Jack Martins knows he is in the hearts and minds of an an electorate exhausted by and disgusted with pay-to-play, backroom Albany politicians like him.”
Aug 30th - 6:15 am
From the Morning Memo:
Former Sen. Terry Gipson, who is running for his old Senate seat he lost in 2014, has a new job as a SUNY New Paltz professor.
Gipson, who was defeated in a re-election bid two years ago by Republican Sue Serino, was listed among the new faculty members at the college for the 2016-17 academic year.
The post in the college’s communication department is a full time one.
It comes as Gipson is running a rematch against Serino for the Hudson Valley seat, one of a handful of battleground districts across the state.
Should he win, Gipson presumably would be dividing his team between his work as a state lawmaker and as a college professor.
Earlier this month, Senate Republicans were critical of Gipson for accepting a small consulting fee from a firm that has ties to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Aug 30th - 6:00 am
From the Morning Memo:
Democratic state Senate candidate Sara Niccoli in a fundraising email last week pledged to support and strengthen women’s rights if elected to the chamber.
In the fundraising note sent on Friday, Women’s Equality Day, Niccoli noted the progress women have made in society, even as gender bias continues.
“When women continue to be confronted with bias and misogyny at every turn, the celebration of women’s equality feels a bit like salt in a wound,” the email states.
“But it’s important to remember how far we’ve come. I’m reminded that my grandmother, Leota Boone, was born into a world in which a woman’s voice only existed through the men around her. My mother, Rebecca Nance, grew up in a time when women were denied the right to choose and forced to risk their lives to exercise their reproductive rights. The steps we’ve taken give me great hope for my daughter, Olive, and an entire next generation of powerful women.”
Issues facing women — equal pay in the workplace, reproductive and health considerations — came to the forefront during the 2014 elections in New York. At the time, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s re-election pursued a strategy of bolstering supporting from women by promoting a 10-point agenda that included issues such as pay equity and bills aimed at curbing workplace and housing discrimination.
Most of that legislation became law under a Republican-led Senate, save for the plank that supporters said was aimed at the codification of Roe v. Wade in state law.
Even as the pay equity bill passed, some longtime supporters of the measure said at the time it didn’t go far enough in terms of ensuring the wage gap is closed.
In her fundraising email, Niccoli said as a lawmaker she would cover push these issues to the forefront.
“I am committed to safeguarding women’s reproductive rights. And I will go further by fighting for pay equity, fair wages, and pathways to leadership positions in business and government. The world will be a better place with more women at the helm,” she wrote.
Niccoli is facing Republican Sen. George Amedore in the 46th Senate district.
Amedore in 2014 unseated Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk, a rematch of the 2012 race for the district that covers the Hudson Valley and Mohawk Valley.
Tkaczyk would later file to create an alternative Women’s Equality Party, the ballot line created at Cuomo’s behest in 2014.