Aug 24th - 6:45 am
From the Morning Memo:
A pro-business group’s legislative ratings for individual state lawmakers took a hit this year after a legislative session of difficult votes for businesses in New York, ranging from a minimum wage increase to 12 weeks of paid family leave.
The ratings from the National Federation of Independent Business especially hit the Republican-led Senate, where the GOP conference out of solidarity approved a budget bill containing the minimum wage increase after a contentious internal debate.
“The scores, particularly within the State Senate, trend significantly lower when compared to past sessions,” said NFIB state director Mike Durant.
A passing grade for the NFIB is 70 percent and the highest scoring lawmaker in the Senate was Brooklyn’s Simcha Felder, a Democrat who sits with the GOP conference in the chamber. Felder scored an 83.
In the Assembly, the Republican conference generally scored best, with multiple members receiving a 100 percent score. Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, a western New York lawmaker, was the highest scoring Democrat in the chamber based on NFIB review.
In addition to the minimum wage provision, NFIB also considered bills aimed at strengthening the state’s cap on property taxes, a measure aimed at bolstering laws governing the employment of farm laborers and the bill to create universal health care among their criteria for the ratings.
But the $15 minimum wage, as pushed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo this year after he set the wage for fast-food workers through a Department of Labor board, proved to be an especially bitter pill for some business groups to swallow.
The wage increase set the minimum wage to $15 in New York City and the surrounding suburban counties, to be phased in over the next several years. North of Westchester County, the wage will hit $12.50 and then be subject to an economic review by the Division of Budget.
Both the wage hike and the paid-family leave program were included in the 2015-16 state budget.
Republicans in the state Senate were ultimately able to secure a sizable tax cut aimed at middle-income earners in the budget alongside the wage measure. Business groups opposed to the wage measure, however, insisted the tax cut did not offset the cost of the $15 minimum wage.
“When analyzing the legislative session from a macro perspective it is very clear that the high profile issues, like minimum wage and paid leave, negatively impact small business while there are limited efforts to enact real, meaningful reform,” Durant said.
“Frankly, small business in New York needs more than lip service from Albany. There needs to be a more concerted effort to not only promote Main Street, but to push for high impact legislative reforms to the cost drivers that already hamper job creators. Until then, small business in New York will only continue to tread water, at best.”
Aug 24th - 6:15 am
From the Morning Memo:
Constituents of Republican Sen. Kathy Marchione this week received a mailer from her Senate office detailing the lawmaker’s efforts on clean water following water contaminations in Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh.
“The recent public health crisis in Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh is a critical reminder of the need to be vigilant about protecting our public health and safety,” the mailer states, “and making smart investments in water quality and environmental protection.”
The mailer touts the scheduled hearing on water quality in Hoosick Falls on Tuesday in the village, which has been rocked by a contamination of the chemical PFOA in the village’s drinking water. Nearby Petersburgh, too, has discovered a chemical contamination in its municipal water supply as well.
The mailer also points to border water issues, including Marchione’s co-sponsorship of a bill that would require testing of tap water in schools for lead, as well as her supporting for increasing funding for the Environmental Protection Fund by nearly 70 percent, as proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
And she pledges to “deliver an additional $200 million over the next two years” to upgrade municipal water infrastructure.
Marchione had come under criticism for initially not pushing for hearings on water quality issues in the wake of the Hoosick Falls contamination and the subsequent fallout, including the creation of a state Superfund site by the Department of Environmental Conservation.
Ultimately, the Republican-led Senate agreed to hold the hearings following weeks of mounting public pressure. Joint Senate and Assembly hearings on statewide water concerns will also be held in September.
Aug 24th - 6:00 am
From the Morning Memo:
The campaign of Democratic Sen. Gustavo Rivera is calling on rival Democrat Fernando Cabrera to explain the use of campaign funds seemingly designated for the general election for use in next month’s primary.
The Rivera campaign in particular is pointing to contributions of $7,000 and $11,000 from businessman Roger Hertog, a conservative philanthropist who has been bankrolling efforts against Democratic legislative incumbents this year.
State election law requires that donations are capped at $7,000. But the Rivera camp says Cabrera’s closing balance in a pre-election filing shows a balance of $2,931 — suggesting some of the larger contribution was used.
River in a statement called for a Board of Elections investigation.
“It is no secret that Fernando Cabrera is willing to break the law and ignore the values of Bronxites to try to advance his own political career and his right-wing ideals,” River said. “He is not only taking money from an individual that is notorious for funding right-wing attacks on Black Lives Matter, criminal justice reforms and anti-poverty programs, but he is also illegally using these funds.”
Messages left with the Cabrera campaign were not returned.
Aug 24th - 5:25 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in the New York City area with no public schedule. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is on a family vacation in New England.
At 9 a.m., Sen. James Sanders Jr. holds a press conference to announce that $12.94 million in state funding has been allocated for transportation improvements to Far Rockaway, A-Train Station, Beach 22nd St. and Mott Ave., Queens.
At 10 a.m., advocates for people with developmental disabilities, including members of the #bFair2DirectCare coalition, hold press conference to highlight the “300 Days to Better Pay” campaign, calling for a funding increase in the New York state budget for wages for staff, Proctor’s Robb Alley, 432 State St., Schenectady.
At 10:25 a.m., Rep. Steve Israel holds event to call on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Social Security Administration to conduct a review of the Medicare enrollment process, sidewalk outside the Melville Social Security Administration office, 1121 Walt Whitman Road, Melville, Long Island.
At 11 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul cuts the ribbon to open a Hampton Inn & Suites, 25 Lakers Ln., Cazenovia.
Also at 11 a.m., NY-19 Democratic candidate Zephyr Teachout will tour infrastructure in Margaretville five years after Hurricane Irene, 773 Main St.
At 11:30 a.m., Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney joins local stakeholders in Poughkeepsie to outline concerns about the effectiveness of the current cleanup strategy to remediate PCBs in the Hudson River, Upper Landing Park, Poughkeepsie.
At noon, Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte, state Sen. Kevin Parker and NYC Councilman Jumaane Williams announce the establishment of the Haitian Studies Institute at Brooklyn College, 2900 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn.
At 1 p.m., Hocul hosts a Central NY Roundtable on Women’s Leadership, Onondaga Community College, Storer Auditorium, 4585 West Seneca Turnpike., Syracuse.
At 2 p.m., NYC Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez holds press conference to discuss passed legislation he introduced to remove a written English exam as a requirement to drive a taxi in New York City, Seaman Car Service, 4020 10th Ave., Manhattan.
At 2:30 p.m., Hochul speaks at the opening of the Syracuse Center of Excellence for Environmental and Energy Systems, 727 East Washington St., Syracuse.
At 6 p.m., the Education Panel for Educational Policy holds a public meeting, with the agenda including an update from NYC Education Chancellor Chancellor Carmen Farina, amendments to the chancellor’s home instruction services regulation and approval of contracts, Prospect Heights High School, 883 Classon Ave., Brooklyn.
Also at 6 p.m., Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal holds a “Live! With Linda for the West 40’s/50’s” event, The Flats, 554 W. 53rd St., Manhattan.
Clinton headlined an event at Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel’s Hollywood Hills home yesterday afternoon that brought up $3.36 million, according to ticket prices and attendance figures provided by the campaign.
Two prominent New York Democratic congressmen – Reps. Joe Crowley of Queens and Steve Israel of Long Island – are calling on Carl Paladino to resign his post as the state co-chairman of Donald Trump’s campaign over his continued attacks on the parents of a Muslim/American soldier who died in combat.
Democrats are taking aim at Trump for hiking the rent on his campaign offices in Trump Tower once donors started picking up the tab. Trump jacked up the rent on his campaign space at his Fifth Ave. building once he was no longer footing the bill.
During a visit to Latvia, VP Joe Biden assured leaders that Trump, who is one election away from the White House, had no idea what he was talking about when he threatened to back out of the NATO pledge to protect American allies.
Trump wants a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton’s emails.
While she was secretary of state, Clinton hosted a dinner involving Clinton Foundation donors, including a Ukrainian businessman who had given money to the organization and who had retained a lobbyist to arrange State Department meetings.
Eric Trump accused Clinton of not only “making a joke out of national security,” but also committing perjury “because she lied in front of Congress” about her emails.
Less than a week before its official launch, Bernie Sanders’ new political group is working its way through an internal war that led to the departure of digital director Kenneth Pennington and at least four others from a team of 15, and the return of presidential campaign manager Jeff Weaver as the group’s new president.
Clinton is proposing a package of ideas aimed at helping small businesses, including a new standard deduction that could simplify tax filing and improvements to a little-used tax credit for companies that offer workers health insurance.
Trump is reportedly headed to his native borough of Queens Thursday.
Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg is going after Republican politicians who are supporting Trump – and he is also getting behind those who have declined to endorse their party’s nominee.
An affiliate of the Qatar Investment Authority bought a 9.9 percent stake in Empire State Realty Trust, the landlord that owns the 1,250-foot Empire State Building, the company said.
The FBI is investigating attempted cyber intrusions targeting reporters of The New York Times and is looking into whether Russian intelligence agencies are responsible for the acts, a U.S. official said.
Looking at ways to expand New York’s fledgling medical cannabis program, the state Health Department wants to give schools a way to “possess, secure, and administer medical marijuana products under limited circumstances.” Queens Republican Sen. Marty Golden does not approve.
A report by the state Health Department gives the first glimpse of who is getting cannabis through the state’s 9-month-old medical marijuana program.
A coalition of liberal, union-backed organizations released a report detailing the political giving by billionaire businessmen and others to independent expenditure campaigns that have in turn supported Democratic primary challengers to incumbent lawmakers in the Assembly.
The NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating whether a group of cops ignored a gay man who tried to report an assault near Bryant Park last weekend.
Few details have been provided about NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s family vacation to New England, and even some City Hall staffers didn’t know he was going until the last minute. The itinerary did include diner in Vermont with Sen. Bernie Sanders, a favorite of de Blasio’s two children, though their dad backed Clinton in the Democratic primary.
Aug 23rd - 4:48 pm
President Obama visited flood-ravaged Louisiana today, promising ongoing federal help for the more than 100,000 people who have filed federal help claims. “You are not alone,” he said after touring a wrecked neighborhood in Zachary, La.
“I would encourage Hillary Clinton to follow Donald Trump and President Obama’s leads and come down to south Louisiana now to see for herself the damage that has been done,” House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., said in a statement.
More than half the people outside the government who met with Clinton while she was secretary of state gave money — either personally or through companies or groups — to the Clinton Foundation.
The speechwriter for Melania Trump’s controversial Republican National Convention address was paid just $356.01 for her work in July, according to the latest Federal Election Commission filings.
The NYT praises the $20 million Greenmarket Regional Food Hub plan, for which Gov. Andrew Cuomo has pledged $15 million.
Graduate assistants at private universities may form unions, the National Labor Relations Board ruled today in a case involving Columbia University. The 3-1 decision overturned a 2004 board precedent, Brown University.
Clinton staffers are defending the Democratic presidential nominee’s use of “Fight Song” after her campaign anthem was widely criticized.
Democratic state Senate candidate Terry Gipson earned a small amount of income last year working for the same consulting firm used by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, according to a recently filed financial disclosure form.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate critiques the book “Positively American,” penned by her Democratic opponent, Sen. Chuck Schumer, and his then-aide Daniel Squadron (before he was a state senator).
Long insists she did not, in fact, link the rise in crime in the North Side of Syracuse to a church-turned-mosque, and criticized Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner for her “happy talk” about welcoming refugees to the city.
New York has added machetes to a list of “dangerous or deadly” weapons that also includes daggers, razors and stilettos.
Congress is calling for more information on why the price of EpiPens is climbing. Queens Rep. Grace Meng says this may be a case of “price-gouging,” and suggests a hearing on the issue.
The so-called “Final Five” took to the skies above Manhattan today to ceremonially flip the light switch at the Empire State Building observation deck.
Pizza frites are what Central New Yorkers crave most at the New York State Fair. That’s according to a recent survey of more than 1,400 people about the 12-day extravaganza.
A new joint report from the Vera Institute of Justice and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge initiative says that women locked in local jails are now the fastest growing incarcerated population in the nation. And those inmates are disproportionately Black and Latina.
NYC’s best hot dog? You be the judge.
Aug 23rd - 4:16 pm
Among the payments approved by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office in recent weeks was a $9,000 fee for a law firm representing the state Senate in a personnel matter.
A Senate spokesman declined to comment on the hiring of Kraus & Zuchlewski LLP, citing the unnamed personnel matter.
The firm has been hired in the past by the Senate in order to handle a harassment complaint in the office of Sen. Tony Avella, a Queens Democrat, in 2012. Avella himself was not the target of the complaint.
Democratic Sen. Marc Panepinto of Buffalo abruptly announced this year he would not seek another term in the chamber, at the time citing a “personnel matter” as well as allegations of sexual misconduct.
The Assembly, too, continues to spend on legal fees related to sexual harassment investigations.
DiNapoli’s office reported a combined $85,000 was approved to two firms that have represented the chamber in the ongoing review of harassment policy. The law firms were retained following a spate of sexual harassment scandals involving state lawmakers.
Aug 23rd - 3:51 pm
Republican Sen. Kemp Hannon’s re-election bid on Tuesday was endorsed by the Civil Service Employees Association, the state’s largest public-workers union.
“I’m extremely pleased to receive the endorsement of the CSEA and their members,” Hannon said. “They have had a great impact on the lives of New Yorkers since they were first founded in 1910, and their mission and values are a testament to the strength and commitment of their members.”
Hannon is running for re-election in a Nassau County Senate district Democrats have long coveted, especially in presidential election years when his margins of victory are often smaller than in non-presidential cycles.
This year Hannon is being challenged by Democrat Ryan Cronin in one of a handful of battleground Senate districts playing out in the suburbs and in upstate New York.
“CSEA members need elected officials who fight for working people so they can earn wages that keep up with their ever increasing costs,” said Danny Donahue, the CSEA President. “We need elected official who will fight to maintain good jobs that benefit our communities. CSEA knows that building strong communities starts with good economic and tax policies that benefit everyone as opposed to just those at the top.”
Aug 23rd - 2:50 pm
The state’s highest court on Tuesday disqualified Democratic state Senate candidate Steven Glickman from the race for the 55th district, leaving Republican incumbent Rich Funke unopposed.
The Court of Appeals in its ruling upheld an earlier state Supreme Court ruling that found Glickman was not eligible to run for state office given he did not meet New York’s five-year residency requirement.
Glickman had registered to vote in Washington, D.C., establishing that city as his primary residency. He did not register to vote in New York until last year.
“These factors clearly demonstrate that Glickman broke the chain of New York electoral residency which did not recommence until he registered to vote in New York in 2015,” the court found. “Thus, he cannot claim New York residency for the past five years as required by the State Constitution properly invalidated the designating petitions on that basis.”
The ruling gives Senate Republicans, who face electoral headwinds this cycle given the presidential election and their narrow majority in the chamber, one less district to defend this November.
Funke was first in elected in 2014, unseating Democratic incumbent Ted O’Brien, who had flipped the Republican held seat only two years earlier. The Rochester-area district had long been a top target for Senate Democrats when it was represented by Sen. Jim Alesi, who chose to retire in 2012.
“This ruling is a win for common sense and the State Constitution and a loss for out-of-towners who don’t follow the rules. The case is now closed,” said Funke campaign spokesman Jesse Sleezer.
Aug 23rd - 1:02 pm
Republican congressional candidate John Faso on Tuesday released his first television ad of the general election which focuses on both government — and domestic — frugality.
In the ad, Faso’s wife Mary Frances discusses her husband’s record as an Assembly lawmaker pushing to close a $5 billion state budget deficit and slash spending along the way.
During this, John and Mary Frances take turns adjusting their Kinderhook home’s thermostat (Mary Frances wants it a little warmer, John wants it a little cooler, to save money).
“Being frugal in the Assembly helped him eliminate a 5 billion dollar deficit, and write the first budget in over 50-years that cut state spending,” she says in the ad. “Wait until he takes that ‘frugality’ to Washington.”
The TV spot will air on cable TV in the 19th congressional district, which is being vacated by Republican Rep. Chris Gibson this year.
Faso faces Democratic candidate Zephyr Teachout for what is expected to be a hotly contested race for the battleground House seat.
Aug 23rd - 12:16 pm
Democratic Assembly candidate Yuh-Line Niou this week was endorsed by the New York State AFL-CIO in her bid to unseat incumbent Alice Cancel.
“I am humbled by the endorsement of the workers and leaders of the NYS AFL-CIO,” she said. “I have always worked to be a champion for workers, and cannot wait to fight for the members of the NYS AFL-CIO and all working families in Albany.”
Niou and Cancel are facing each other in rematch following an April special election to replace disgraced former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who was ousted late last year following his corruption conviction.
Niou ran a strong challenge on the Working Families Party line against Cancel, who had the backing Silver’s political apparatus in the lower Manhattan Assembly district.
“I am proud to announce the NYS AFL-CIO’s endorsement of Yuh-Line, and look forward to ensuring she is the Democratic nominee in September,” said Mario Cilento, President of the NYS AFL-CIO. “Yuh-Line understands the importance of continuing the fight for working men and women and giving all working people a strong voice in Albany. We know she will work for us, so we are looking forward to fighting for her.”