Extras

Congratulations, Assemblywoman Didi Barrett, you broke the Albany Internet today.

It will cost $210,000 for would-be suppliers of medical marijuana to apply for a New York license, according to regulations released today. Only five suppliers will be selected.

Former Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver will be arraigned again tomorrow morning after a new indictment charged him with transferring his crime proceeds into investments not available to the general public.

The state health department is moving ahead with an ambitious, $6.4 billion reform of New York’s Medicaid delivery system despite a stern warning from the Federal Trade Commission that it might violate anti-trust law.

Assemblyman Richard Gottfried is introducing new legislation to hasten emergency access to the drug for patients who can’t wait for the program’s scheduled January 2016 start date.

Cuomo says New York will be the first state to offer English-language lessons to Spanish speakers over their mobile phones.

Just weeks after signing into law a tight deadline for school districts to overhaul their new teacher evaluation systems, Cuomo said giving them more time “sounds totally reasonable.”

Now that the Comcast deal is off, Charter Communications Inc. is laying the groundwork for a potential bid for Time Warner Cable Inc.

Rep. Elise Stefanik, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, was bullied by a group of “mean girls” as a youngster.

The state Gaming Commission is issuing a $343,000 fine against harness trainer Lou Pena for 1,717 instances in which he violated equine rules by drugging horses with steroids and other hormones.

Hillary Clinton wrote an oped published in the Des Moines Register to thank and recognize the “great ideas” she got from her trip to the state earlier this month.

The mother of Eric Garner won’t be supporting Staten Island DA Daniel Donovan, who convened the grand jury that failed to indict anyone in her son’s police custody death, in his run for Congress. “He should run far away as possible,” she said.

The Rev. Al Sharpton is off to Baltimore, the scene of unrest after black man Freddie Gray died in police custody there this month.

A coalition of Queens pols wants to bring the “Move NY” congestion pricing plan to a standstill.

Ron Perlman said he wants to hire as many Central New Yorkers as possible to work for Wing and a Prayer Pictures, his film production company he’s planning to move here this year.

How Greg Biryla became the new head of Unshackle Upstate.

New York City has struggled for a decade to handle the half-million summonses issued each year for low-level offenses, which flood the court system and have been issued overwhelmingly to young men, according to a report released today.

Sen. David Carlucci wants the heroin overdose antidote naloxone available over the counter.

Now that Loretta Lynch has become the U.S. attorney general, sworn in by VP Joe Biden today, her top deputy in the Eastern District, Kelly Currie, has stepped up to take her place in Brooklyn.

CBS News anchor-reporter Jeff Glor has been in Buffalo to do interviews for a story that is primarily about Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula.

Assembly Approves Pay Equity Measure

The Democratic-led state Assembly unanimously approved a bill on Monday that would pay equity parameters for women in the workplace.

The measure, which was approved 119-0, was passed by the Republican-controlled Senate and now goes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk, who is expected to sign it into law.

“All women deserve to receive a paycheck based on their position and job performance rather than their gender,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Today, with the Assembly’s passage of the fair pay provision of the Women’s Equality Act, the Empire State is taking a firm stand in support of equal pay for women in the workplace, and I look forward to signing this legislation as we continue to advance and ensure the rights of women across New York State.”

The measure is part of a five-bill package Assembly Democrats had planned to take up in today’s legislative session.

Republican lawmakers and business interests have raised concerns with a broader bill, the New York State Fair Pay Act, that would ban pay inequity based on gender, race or national origin.

The pay equity measure had received more support from lawmakers in both parties and some Republicans even included the issue in their campaign literature last year.

The pay equity bill had hit a legislative snag for the last several years, as it was part of the larger 10-point Women’s Equality Agenda. The state Senate had balked at taking up the full WEA over a provision that would have codified the Roe v. Wade ruling into state law.

Instead, Senate Republicans have held separate votes on bills contained in the WEA package.

The Senate had previously approved an anti-human trafficking provision in the WEA as well as the pay equity measure.

Democrats in the Assembly had long pushed to keep the WEA has a single piece of legislation, eve as it became clear the votes were not available for the abortion plank.

Senate Republicans won a slim majority last year after Cuomo and Democrats campaigned heavily on the issue.

But after Bronx Democrat Carl Heastie replaced Sheldon Silver as the chamber’s speaker, movement on individual bills in the Women’s Equality Agenda was seen: Votes on the human trafficking legislation was held, and the abortion provision was approved as a stand-alone bill.

Today, Heastie cited the push to close a wage gap between men and women workers a moral duty.

“The wage gap continues to rob millions of women of the earnings to which they are entitled,” Heastie said at a news conference. “As a matter of social and economic justice, we have a moral obligation to close the wage gap.”

Sen. Diane Savino, a Staten Island lawmaker and member of the Independent Democratic Conference member, hailed the passage of the bill she sponsored in her chamber.

“The sad thing was it was tied up in the bigger issue of the Women’s Equality Agenda. Real women in New York state could have been helped a year and a half ago,” she said. “But they’re going to be helped now.”

Senate Dems Push LLC Loophole Closure

Senate Democrats on Monday pushed for a vote in the Senate Elections Committee that would reclassify limited liability companies and limit their political giving.

Sen. Daniel Squadron, the bill’s main sponsor, used a parliamentary maneuver in order to have a measure put to a vote in a legislative committee.

The measure was approved, and is now before the Senate’s corporations committee.

At the moment, a single campaign donor can give unlimited contributions through a network of limited liability companies or LLCs.

“It seems like almost everyday new allegations of corruption and abuse of the public trust are leveled at state government,” said Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins at a news conference this morning.

“What does it say when the Senate Republicans are so opposed to ethics reforms that they have to be forced to even discuss these bills in committee?”

The nudging is subtle: Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos is under investigation by federal prosecutors, while the GOP’s deputy majority leader, Tom Libous, is under indictment for lying to the FBI.

More broadly, Democratic Assemblyman Sheldon Silver is under indictment for corruption charges and will be arraigned on a superseding indictment on Tuesday.

Good-government groups have long railed against the so-called LLC loophole, but for the moment the classification has been elusive in changing.

The state Board of Elections earlier this month had considered a change in the regulation, but the commissioners deadlocked in a vote.

Republican commissioners argued at the time it should up to the Legislature to change the regulation. The Board of Elections initially opened up the LLC giving based on a federal ruling that has since been overturned.

“The Board of Elections opened up this loophole through their own action,” Squadron said. “It was consistent At the time, the federal government quickly corrected that. The Board of Elections has failed to act. The New York State Legislature has failed to act. We’ve seen this loophole get bigger and bigger.”

Candidates on both sides of the political aisle have benefited from the arrangement, though Gov. Andrew Cuomo has raked in the lion’s share of the contributions.

Nevertheless, Cuomo himself has been pushing to have the loophole closed.

“The Governor supports and will continue to fight for closing the LLC loophole,” said spokesman Rich Azzopardi. “Today’s passage of legislation out the Senate Elections Committee that would accomplish this goal is a positive development and one that we hope ends with an actual vote and passage from the full Senate.”

Heastie: A ‘Macro Look’ At Testing In Schools

The response to the large number of students opting out of the most recent round of standardized tests be may be a “macro look” at the number of hours spent on examinations, Speaker Carl Heastie on Monday said.

“It is a concern for all of us with a huge number of students opting out,” Heastie told reporters.

The opt-out figures are estimated to be as high as 100,000.

In recent weeks, the movement had gained the support of the statewide teachers union, NYSUT, which encouraged parents to not have their children take the last two weeks’ worth of testing, which focused on English-language arts and math.

Heastie said the numbers will likely spur lawmakers in Albany to take a broader look at the issue of testing in the classroom.

“We do have to take a real macro look at this,” he said.

NYSUT’s leadership remains upset with the approved state budget’s teacher evaluation criteria as well as the weakening of teacher tenure laws.

State lawmakers have introduced some changes to the evaluation measures, such as exempting high-performing school districts.

At the same time, the Board of Regents is backing a deadline extension for school districts that must enact the new evaluation criteria.

Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch this month signaled support for moving the deadline from this November to September of next year for schools that demonstrate a “hardship.”

The move has been endorsed by the Assembly leadership.

“I think for us particularly in the Assembly we want to see the districts get the resources,” Heastie said. “We didn’t want to see any districts be punished or not get their resources if somehow that deadline wasn’t met. So I’m very happy the regents put that out there.”

.50 Caliber Ban To Get Senate Codes Committee Vote

Sen. Daniel Squadron has sent a memo to his fellow Codes Committee members, urging them to vote “yes” on his bill that would, with some “reasonable” exceptions, require registration for, and prohibit the sale and tranfer of, .50-caliber rifles in New York.

The measure, formally known as the “.50-Caliber Threat Reduction Act,” will be voted on when the committee meets tomorrow at 1 p.m.

“Before voting on this bill, please read the below fact-sheet and watch the attached video,” Sqaudron wrote. “I hope you will agree with me that a weapon with the capacity to kill a human from over a mile away, pierce body and vehicle armor, and destroy military and civilian infrastructure should not be available in New York State without registration and without even a permit. This legislation is necessary to protect communities and the law enforcement personnel who risk their lives to keep us safe.”

Squadron also urged his Codes Committee colleagues to watch a clip of former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly during a “60 Minutes” segment on .50-caliber rifles, during which the ex-NYC law enforcement official watches a demonstration of weapon’s ability to pierce steel plates on a firing range that is three football fields long. Kelly says during an interview that the are “clearly a weapon of war” that is “appropriate for the military” and could do “a lot” of damage in the hands of the wrong person.

Some, but not all, .50-caliber rifles are deemed assault weapons and therefore banned under the SAFE Act. But, Squadron said, a loophole in the law allows the rifles if they are not modified in a highly specific way.

The fact that the vote will take place at all is something of a victory for the Brooklyn Democrat senator, who is the ranking minority member on the Codes Committee and tried last year to compel a vote through a parliamentary maneuver also employed by Sen. Diane Savino, an IDC member, to circumvent the chamber’s leadership to get a vote on her medical marijuana legislation.

In order to avoid voting on a controversial gun bill during an election year – a move that no doubt would have further enraged their conservative allies who were still smarting over passage of the SAFE Act -the Senate Republicans moved the bill from the Codes Committee to the Rules Committee, which is controlled with an iron fist by the leadership. (Of course, at the time, power over the chamber was being shared by IDC Leader Jeff Klein and Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos. Now, thanks to the results of the 2014 elections, the Republicans have a clean majority).

There are 16 members of the Codes Committee, which is chaired by GOP Sen. Michael Nozzolio. Nine members are Republicans, six are Democrats and one (Savino) is an IDC member. Four of the Republicans – John Flanagan, Phil Boyle, Marty Golden, and Andrew Lanza – voted “yes” on the SAFE Act in January 2013.

Schneiderman Denies Interest In Running For Governor

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in a statement on Monday insisted he isn’t planning a run for governor in 2018.

At the same time, Schneiderman said he had “no interest” in challenging incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo and will run for re-election as attorney general instead.

“Being able take on powerful interests in order to protect New Yorkers is the greatest job I’ve ever had and my plan for 2018 is to run for re-election. I am not thinking about or planning to run for Governor, and I have no interest in challenging an incumbent Democratic governor who shares my views on virtually every issue.”

The statements comes the same day as The Daily News reported Schneiderman is considering running for governor when the office is open again in 2018.

Cuomo earlier today strongly suggested he would be seeking a third term as governor.

Cuomo and Schneiderman are said to have a frosty personal relationship at best and the two have tangled over a variety of issues, including the power to go after public corruption (Cuomo later gave Schneiderman a role in deputizing members of the Moreland Commission).

Schneiderman has taken a more assertive approach in dealing with Cuomo this year and nudged him both pushing for a stronger ethics package with the Legislature as well as suspending an email deletion program.

Schneiderman, a former state senator, was first elected attorney general in 2010 and defeated Republican John Cahill for re-election.

The attorney general remains popular with liberals and other left-leaning advocates. Cuomo, meanwhile, continues to be broadly popular, but faces skepticism from liberal advocacy organizations.

Cuomo: The Budget Was On Time

Time in Albany can be indeed seem like a flat circle.

But Gov. Andrew Cuomo insisted on Monday that the state budget was indeed “on time” despite passing hours after the midnight deadline in the Democratic-led Assembly.

The budget would be the fifth spending plan in a row approved before the start of the state’s fiscal year, which begins April 1.

This year, the Senate concluded work before the deadline, but the debate in the Assembly lasted through the wee hours of the morning.

Cuomo noted, however, that the passage of the budget this year was not marked by a prolonged, months-long fight over the spending plan.

“Well, look. You want to play technical games, count minutes. What on time means is you had years where the budget was months overdue,” Cuomo said. “The budget is due April 1. You’ve had years where they would be there June, July, August and it wouldn’t be done.”

Indeed, the year before Cuomo took office as governor, the budget was one of the latest approved in state history and was not finalized until August.

The budget was only finally finished until then-Gov. David Paterson used the power of the emergency extender to force through spending cuts he had been seeking. The Legislature chose to pass the budget rather than risk a government shutdown.

The action in many respects changed the dynamic of the budget process in Albany and, since then, on-time or timely budgets have been routine.

“When we see we’ve done five budgets in a row the way government’s supposed to function, that’s what we’re talking about,” Cuomo added.

DOH Releases Med Mar Applications

The Department of Health on Monday announced it was now accepting applications for those who are interested in getting in the medical marijuana business.

The application, posted here on the DOH website, must be returned to state officials by May 29.

Applicants are required to release specific business plans and operational procedures. A $10,000 non-refundable application fee is required, as is a $200,000 registration fee (the latter of which is refunded if state regulators decline to issue a license.

The state is requiring organizations to adhere to strict security and record-keeping requirements. At the same time, organizations registered in the program must contract with an independent laboratory in New York to test medical marijuana products.

“This represents an important step in implementing the medical marijuana program in New York State,” said acting State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. “We have laid out an ambitious timeline in getting the program up and running and we are meeting our goals. Once the applications are in, we can begin our review and move to the next step of selecting the registered organizations this summer.”

New York is award up to five businesses to grow, harvest and manufacture medical marijuana. Twenty dispensaries around the state will be licensed to sell the medical marijuana, which is being redistricted to patients will certain, severe illnesses.

The licenses will be awarded by July and the program is aimed to be up and running by early 2016.

Cuomo Says He’ll Stay Governor ‘As Long As The People Will Have Me’

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday did not close the door on running for re-election in 2018, saying he would stick around “as long as the people would have me.”

“For myself, I think we are in the midst of a phenomenal transformation in the state of New York,” Cuomo said this morning in New York City. “We’re doing all sorts of exciting things, big things, things that are going to take time, but make a phenomenal difference. So we are on the right track, finally and there is nothing else that I would rather do than what I’m doing. I plan to stay as long as the people would have me.”

His comments come as Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a fellow Democrat, is reportedly gearing up to run for governor in three year’s time.

“In politics, people are constantly trying to figure out what their next career move is,” Cuomo said in a response to the question of running again.

Cuomo himself has renamed his campaign account Andrew Cuomo 2018, and his former top aide Larry Schwartz expects the governor to seek a third term as well.

He joked that a possible career move could be in journalism. Cuomo is known for calling reporters when he is displeased with a story. His brother Christopher is a morning anchor for CNN.

“I don’t want to compete with my brother Chris,” he said. “So I have no alternative but to stay where I am.”

Cuomo defeated Republican Rob Astorino last year to win a second term.

Democrats Kirsten Gillibrand, the state’s junior U.S. senator, is also being eyed as a potential candidate for governor.

On the Republican side, Astorino is believed to be interested in running again, as is Rep. Chris Gibson.

Upstate Ride Share Gains Traction In Assembly

A bill that would bring ride-sharing services to the upstate region is gaining traction in the Democratic-led Assembly, where two Albany-area Assembly lawmakers over the weekend signed on to the measure.

The bill, backed by Democratic Assemblyman Kevin Cahill and Republican Sen. Kevin Cahill, picked up the support of Democrats Pat Fahy and John McDonald, their offices announced over the weekend.

If approved, the bill would provide a regulatory insurance structure for companies like Uber and Lyft to operate outside of New York City.

Current insurance regulations do not permit ride-sharing services north and east of the city and the bill would allow drivers for “transportation network companies” or TNCs to obtain insurance.

“Transportation is a key factor in smart growth for the Capital Region and ride sharing or TNCs have proven success in a growing number of cities across the country,” Fahy said in a statement. Ride sharing would add to the number of transportation options we have, while providing flexibility for riders and visitors to the Capital Region.”

McDonald, who represents the Albany suburb of Cohoes as well as parts outside of downtown, pointed to the growth of the area that includes a new casino in Schenectady.

“As our region continues to grow both in regards to business and hospitality with the 2017 arrival of the Albany Capital Center and Rivers Casino, it is critical that we have the proper infrastructure in place to welcome visitors to the Capital Region whether it is for business or pleasure,” he said.

The added support comes as Department of Financial Services Superintendent Ben Lawsky signaled in a recent Capital Tonight interview that his office would be reviewing and potentially submitting its own ride-sharing legislation.

“I think potentially a statewide law is ultimately going to be necessary,” Lawsky said in the interview last week. “The sharing economy is coming. I mean, it’s here,” he continued. “I bet you have Uber on your phone. I have it on my phone. Lots of people do…That is a market that people want.”