More Details Expected On Outside Income Limits

From the Morning Memo:

A special commission will limit how much money state lawmakers can earn outside of the Legislature, capping their non-legislative salaries at 15 percent of their public-sector income.

But there are more questions that were raised by the pay commission’s determination to limit lawmaker pay, a move the commission insisted will have the same force of law behind it as the hike in legislative salaries to $130,000 in the next several years.

It’s not clear if the commission, nevertheless, has the legal authority to make such a move.

A report to be released later today is expected to spell out the details of what an outside income limit can mean in practical terms. Can a business be transferred to a spouse? Will passive income through, say, investments count toward the cap?

Already, the limit is stoking concerns among lawmakers who have jobs on the side in addition to their work as legislators.

Limits to how much lawmakers earn outside of the Legislature have long been called for, with good-government advocates pointing to legislators who collect a public salary and also hold nebulous “of counsel” positions at law firms. The ostentatious practice withered a bit after the arrests and convictions of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and ex-Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, both of whom had jobs at law firms.

Allowing lawmakers to keep full-time jobs is a tacit acknowledgment the Legislature is an historically part-time job, even lawmakers’ workload has, over the last decade, risen to that of full-time responsibilities for constituent services when they aren’t in Albany.

The “part-time” Legislature is a throwback to a more agrarian society, when farmers and lawyers could meet and legislate, with up to six men sharing a single office and rotary phone. The six-month, January-to-June legislative session calendar is virtually built around a farmer’s planting and harvesting schedule.

Lawmakers in recent years have held jobs that reflect a broader stratum of society, be it dentists, veterinarians, pharmacists or even active duty reservists.

The outside income limit could lead to some soul searching: Give up the moonlighting work or retire from the Legislature?

Liberal Groups Push For End To Real Estate Donations

From the Morning Memo:

A coalition of liberal groups in a letter to be released on Monday called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers to no longer accept real-estate donations as an extension of rent control for New York City looms next year.

“As the housing crisis spirals out of control, voters want to know: whose side are you on?” wrote the groups, which include the Working Families Party, the Democratic Socialists of America and a host of tenants groups.

“We, the undersigned groups, call on you to reject any and all campaign contributions from all donors tied to the real estate industry from this day forward, and to prioritize passing comprehensive campaign finance reform to ensure tenants’ voices aren’t drowned out by big money.”

At the same time, the groups also pushed for an end to the ability of one donor to give virtually unlimited funds through a web of limited liability companies, commonly referred to as the LLC loophole while also enacting a system of publicly financed campaigns.

The letter pointed to the now-defunct Independent Democratic Conference and the loss of all but two of those lawmakers in the state Senate Democratic primaries as a cautionary tale.

“From the IDC to the the U.S. Congress, we saw Democrats and Republicans that side with landlords lose their seats to candidates that rejected tainted contributions from the real estate industry,” the groups wrote in the letter.

Democrats next year will have control of both chambers of the Legislature and are expected to pass measures like public financing of campaigns and other campaign finance reforms.

Cuomo has been supportive of the bills and has said a Democratic-controlled state Senate will enable their passage.

“For years the governor has proposed public financing and closing the LLC loophole, while also twice strengthening rent laws, ‎creating a tenant protection unit and enacting an unprecedented $20 billion affordable housing and anti-homelessness program,” said Rich Azzopardi, a spokesman for Cuomo.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public events yet announced.

A report from the legislative compensation commission on recommended pay raises for state lawmakers is expected to be released today.

President Donald Trump has lunch with Vice President Mike Pence at the White House. Later in the afternoon, Pence participates in a swearing-in ceremony for the Director of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is in Katowice, Poland to attend COP 24, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, where he will speak on a panel entitled, “Investor Agenda: Accelerating Action to Achieve the Paris Agreement.”

At 8:15 a.m., Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney and President and CEO of State Street Global Advisors Cyrus Taraporevala will join leaders from the NYC Commission on Human Rights and NYSE outside of the New York Stock Exchange to unveil the Fearless Girl statue in its new home.

At 9 a.m., the state Board of Regents starts the first of two days of meetings, State Education Department, 89 Washington Ave., Albany.

At 10 a.m., the NYC Council Committee on For-Hire Vehicles meets, Council Chambers, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 10:30 a.m., the NYC Council Committee on Civil and Human Rights meets, Committee Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., Food & Water Watch, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, and Riverkeeper hold a press conference and petition delivery asking Cuomo to support a full fracking ban in the Delaware River Basin, state Capitol, Million Dollar Staircase, Albany.

Also at 11 a.m., Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. greets Anela Cekic, mayor of the city of Gusinje in Montenegro, Cakor Restaurant, 632 E. 186th St., the Bronx.

Also at 11 a.m., over a dozen state elected officials – joined by advocates from the Housing Justice for All Campaign, tenants, and other stakeholders – pledge to pass sweeping statewide housing reforms for when the Legislature convenes early next year in Albany, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 1 p.m., the NYC Council Committee on Health meets, 250 Broadway, 14th floor, Committee Room, Manhattan.

Also at 1 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will deliver remarks at the Civilian Complaint Review Board’s 25th Anniversary Ceremony, City Hall, Blue Room, Manhattan.

Also at 1 p.m., the state Gaming Commission meets, Empire State Development Corporation, 36th Floor, 36-A Conference Room, 633 Third Ave., Manhattan.

At 2 p.m., the NYC Council Committee on Public Safety meets, Council Chambers, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 2 p.m., the NYC Council Committee on Education meets, 250 Broadway, 14th floor, Committee Room, Manhattan.

At 3 p.m., the NYC Council Committee on Technology meets, 250 Broadway, 14th floor, Committee Room, Manhattan.

At 3:30 p.m., Queens Borough President Melinda Katz holds the induction ceremony of Karina Alomar as judge of the Civil Court of the City of New York, Queens Civil Court, courtroom 101, 89-17 Sutphin Blvd., Queens.

4 p.m., riders and the #FixTheSubway coalition call for a fair funding, no fare hike plan to fix the transit system, outside Kumble Theater for the Performing Arts at LIU, 1 University Plaza, Brooklyn.

At 4:30 p.m., Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Assemblyman Sean Ryan voice support for local labor and jobs, New Era Headquarters, 260 Delaware Ave., Buffalo.

At 4:45 p.m., protesters gather for quality education and fair pay, with lighted picket signs outside the CUNY Board of Trustees meeting, Baruch College Vertical Campus, 55 Lexington Ave., Manhattan.

Also at 4:30 p.m., NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray will join the Commission on Gender Equity and the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender Based Violence at a vigil to mark the end of 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 6 p.m., the NYC bCouncil meets for the Charter Revision Commission 2019, Council Chambers, City Hall.

At 6:30 p.m., Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer speaks at the fourth annual CUNY Tech Meetup, John Jay College, ground floor theatre, 524 W. 59th St., Manhattan.

At 7 p.m., Borough President Diaz and NYC Councilman Andy King speak at the Co-op City 50th Anniversary celebration, Marina Del Rey, 1 Marina Drive, the Bronx.

At 7:45 p.m., Brewer speaks at a benefit night, West Park Presbyterian Church, 165 W. 86th St., Manhattan.

Headlines…

President Donald Trump has reportedly told Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to submit a $750 billion budget proposal for fiscal 2020, in a reversal from his pledge to trim defense spending.

Federal prosecutors are reportedly continuing to probe potential links between Trump Organization executives and the two hush-money payments that the president’s former lawyer Michael Cohen says the then-candidate helped coordinate.

After Cohen pleaded guilty in August to breaking campaign finance laws and other crimes — he will be sentenced on Wednesday — federal prosecutors in Manhattan shifted their attention to what role, if any, Trump Organization executives played in the campaign finance violations.

The prosecutors made clear that Cohen was less useful to their investigation because he would not fully cooperate, therefore he would not reap benefits, such as a government letter on his behalf.

Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, said that Trump might “face the real prospect of jail time” after prosecutors indicated last week that he directed illegal payments during his 2016 presidential campaign.

Former FBI Director James Comey asked American voters last night to end Trump’s presidency with a “landslide” victory for his opponent – whoever that may be – in 2020.

Nick Ayers, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, was viewed as the favorite to replace John Kelly as Trump’s chief of staff early next year. Instead, Ayers announced that he’s also leaving the White House.

Ayers’ decision leaves Trump to contend with fresh uncertainty as he enters the 2020 campaign amid growing danger from the Russia investigation and from Democrats who have vowed tougher oversight, and could even pursue impeachment, after they take over the House next month.

“I can’t breathe.” These were the final words uttered by Jamal Khashoggi after he was set upon by a Saudi hit squad at the country’s consulate in Istanbul, according to a source briefed on the investigation into the killing of the Washington Post columnist.

Trump mistakenly said that he was in St. Louis, Missouri, during a speech that was taking place in Kansas City, Missouri.

Trump crowed over violent protests in Paris, saying they prove he was right to withdraw the US from the global pact to fight climate change.

As smartphones have become ubiquitous and technology more accurate, an industry of snooping on people’s daily habits has spread and grown more intrusive.

A tense confrontation between cops and a domestic violence suspect in Staten Island late last night ended with an officer wounded by a police bullet and the suspect dead, authorities said.

An enraged gangbanger used a baseball bat to beat to death an off-duty firefighter by the side of a Brooklyn highway early yesterday, police sources said.

A recommended raise for Gov. Andrew Cuomo that would make him the nation’s highest-paid governor is no slam dunk, legislative insiders say, as lawmakers mull tying the boost to reforms.

Petr Kauffmann, a former campaign spokesman for Cuomo whose family has long lived in Long Island City, writes in the Daily News about why the state “can’t turn down Amazon,” bringing up the Great Depression in the process.

NYC Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, of Manhattan, joined the already crowded race for NYC public advocate.

As he heads into his third term, Cuomo has brought in one-time staffers to former President Barack Obama, ex-NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and the now defunct state Senate Independent Democratic Conference while also promoting from within.

With a New Year’s Day inaugural speech set for Ellis Island, Cuomo has decided to merge his subsequent State of the State and budget addresses rather than deliver them separately as is tradition.

More >

The Weekend That Was

The latest revelations by prosecutors investigating President Trump and his team draw a portrait of a candidate who personally directed an illegal scheme to manipulate the 2016 election and whose advisers had more contact with Russia than Trump has ever acknowledged.

White House chief of staff John Kelly will leave his job “toward the end of the year,” Trump said Saturday, part of a broad shake-up as the White House girds for a re-election bid and clashes with congressional Democrats.

After six hours of testimony on Capitol Hill, former FBI director James Comey gave a quick preview of what we will learn when the transcript of questioning is released. Comey said he was asked, “a whole lot on Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, which will bore you.”

Comey told members of Congress that he was concerned officials in the bureau’s New York field office had leaked sensitive information to prominent Trump supporter Rudy Giuliani in the closing days of the 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump went after Comey in a tweet this morning, saying he “must have set a record for who lied the most to Congress in one day.”

Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen says he “conferred” with Trump about setting up a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the early part of the 2016 presidential campaign, according to an explosive document filed by special counsel Robert Mueller in Manhattan.

Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said the most recent court documents on Cohen were “pathetic,” and that Cohen “can’t handle jail.”

Trump insisted that the sentencing memo filed by federal prosecutors in New York against Cohen “totally clears:” him of wrongdoing, insisting: “Totally clears the President. Thank you!”

The president’s pick to be the next attorney general, William Barr, was previously offered a position as Trump’s defense attorney, but turned the offer down.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, of Florida, said it’s time to re-think the reach of presidential pardons should Trump offer amnesty to embattled members of his inner-circle who may have interfered in the 2016 presidential election — specifically former campaign director Paul Manafort.

Bulldozers are expected to tear through a protected butterfly habitat tucked along the Rio Grande to make way for Trump’s border wall after the U.S. Supreme Court brushed off legal challenges from several environmental groups.

U.S. employers slowed their hiring in November, but wage growth matched the highest rate in nearly a decade and unemployment held at its lowest level in nearly half a century, signs of an economy that could be losing some momentum at the end of a strong year.

New York City schools and private academies across the state will be required to report allegations of sex abuse to public authorities under a new law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday, closing a massive loophole that left children vulnerable to predators.

Two young girls died after a fast-moving fire raced through an apartment in a century-old brick apartment building in Brooklyn on Saturday night.

An off-duty firefighter was killed in a road-rage attack after he got into a car crash on the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn early this morning.

The state’s predicted 9-to-1 return on its investment in Amazon’s new Queens HQ was based on a widely used economic model that compares the costs of tax incentives with expected tax gains, but it didn’t factor in the substantial costs of accommodating the company’s growth in the city, economic development researchers said.

After nearly four years, Dominique Sharpton, daughter of the Rev. Al Sharpton, scored a $95,000 settlement from the city over a sprained ankle — even though she had posted snaps of herself on social media climbing a mountain in Bali and strutting around in high heels just seven months after the fall.

A de Blasio donor on trial for cop corruption was heard on tape Friday blasting airport security for believing he was an actual member of law enforcement after he flashed a police badge that the feds say he got via bribes.

De Blasio has been skipping town with greater frequency than ever the past year, a NY Post analysis found. In all, he’s spent 80 days traveling since he won re-election in November 2017. That adds up to 20 percent of his second term far away from the city he ostensibly runs.

Despite the increasing numbers of petitions and attorneys volunteering their time to prepare them, the number of commutations has waned. In 2017, the governor granted only two. In 2018, Cuomo so far has not issued a single commutation.

Cuomo said that the incentives offered to Amazon are the same as those offered to “hundreds” of other companies. PolitiFact reviewed the history, and rated that statement “true.”

U.S. District Court Judge Valerie Caproni sentenced Aiello, the 60-year-old president of COR Development, to three years in federal prison for his convictions in two high-profile corruption trials. She also fined him $500,000.

More >

Extras

House Republicans interviewed James Comey behind closed doors today, hauling the former FBI director to Capitol Hill one final time before they cede power to Democrats in January, though they apparently weren’t entirely satisfied with his answers and might want him back.

John Kelly is reportedly expected to resign as White House chief of staff in the coming days.

As he prepares to depart, Kelly reportedly answered a narrow set of questions from investigators in recent months after White House lawyers objected to special counsel Robert Mueller’s initial request to do the interview earlier this summer.

Mueller’s office is expected to reveal more details about separate investigations that have ensnared Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, and his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

In a sentencing memo filed today, prosecutors at the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office said Cohen committed “four distinct federal crimes over a period of several years” and “repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends,” and so deserves a “substantial prison term.”

Trump confirmed he will nominate former attorney general William P. Barr to lead the Justice Department again, telling reporters that Barr was “my first choice since day one.”

Trump is expected to name Gen. Mark A. Milley, the Army chief of staff, to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the top-ranking military position in the country, administration officials said.

The president also said he would nominate Heather Nauert, a former Fox News anchor, as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, saying the State Department spokeswoman, a relative novice on foreign policy, is “very talented, very smart, very quick.”

Queens Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter to remind Donald Trump Jr. that Congress “will have subpoena power in a month” after he shared a meme implying that the socialism leads to people eating dogs.

Staten Island Congressman-elect Max Rose recently sent an email urging constituents to donate to his campaign, warning his base they needed to gear up because former Republican Congressman Michael Grimm, who once held Rose’s seat, is planning to challenge him in 2020.

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg said if he runs for president in 2020 he would completely divest himself from his finance and media empire, either putting it into a blind trust or selling it entirely.

Ex-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson teed off on Trump last night, saying the commander-in-chief didn’t like to read briefing papers and had to be talked out of taking actions that would be illegal.

Trump responded by denouncing Tillerson, calling him “dumb as a rock” and “lazy as hell.”

A federal judge sentenced Syracuse developer Steven Aiello to three years in prison and a $500,000 fine after he was convicted of fraud and conspiracy by juries in two state corruption trials.

A day after a panel voted to give New York lawmakers a significant raise for the first time in two decades, many questions remained, including what reforms state legislators will have to pass in exchange for future hikes – and whether the process implementing the raises is legal.

Even while some suggest it is unconstitutional, reform groups praised the commission’s decision to raise state lawmakers salaries for the first time in 20 years while also imposing restrictions on outside income and legislative stipends.

Hip-hop star Cardi B, hours after collecting five Grammy nominations, was all giggles and smiles today while exiting a Queens court appearance, during which she was released without bail in connection with an August brawl inside a borough strip club.

New York City Councilman Ben Kallos has introduced legislation that would allow candidates in the upcoming special election for public advocate to opt in to the new campaign finance system approved by city voters, even though it does not take effect until 2021.

Bill Hammond: “The already extraordinary cost of a proposed state-run single-payer health plan jumped even higher this week when the chief sponsor, Assembly Health Chairman Richard Gottfried of Manhattan, announced that it would be expanded to cover long-term care.”

Buffalo has finally received the $13.68 million in funding that the federal government owed the city since Oct. 1, and New York’s two U.S. senators are very happy about it.

Rick Cotton, the head of the Port Authority, rallied support today on Long Island for a planned $1.5 billion rail link between LaGuardia Airport and the Long Island Rail Road.

A year of record press for Buffalo has thrown a sudden spotlight on Brian Hayden, the sole communications manager for Visit Buffalo Niagara and the city’s little-seen hype man.

A man accused of using two minority-owned businesses as fronts to fraudulently obtain public construction contracts worth $1 million and then failing to properly pay more than 50 employees faces up to 12 years in prison.

Raise Ruckus

A handful of conversations with members of the Assembly reveals that many are very unhappy about the Compensation Committee’s proposed pay increase. “We got hosed,” says one lawmaker.

During budget negotiations last March, state leaders hastily created the committee which didn’t even hold it’s first meeting until last month. After taking public testimony ( of which there was very little ), the Committee Thursday proposed raises up to $110,000 in 2019, $120,000 in 2020 and $130,000 in 2021.  Legislators currently make $79,500.

But members of the legislature say this pay scale is unfair for several reasons. For beginners it doesn’t tie any future increases to inflation. That’s precisely how we got into this situation in the first place. Lawmakers haven’t had a raise since 1999. They feel the $130,000 figure is a bit arbitrary and didn’t consider the rising costs of housing, inflation or other critical indexes. Former New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson, who is a member of the committee said those factors were, in fact, considered when setting the rates.

The committee also voted to limit outside income. Some legislators believe that is an entirely different discussion that should be held outside the scope of the committee, which they believe was charged solely with evaluating lawmaker pay. There are real consequences to this change from a part time to a full time legislature. For example, Assemblyman John T. McDonald owns a pharmacy in the Capital Region. According to his financial disclosure form, he earns between $50,000 and $100,000 per year. If the pay commission vote becomes law, he may have to sell it because earning that much money is now prohibited. Reached by phone McDonald says,

The message I got from the Compensation Committee is that if you are a professional of any sort, you’re not welcome in the legislature.

Some lawmakers complain that there should at least be a distinction between earning outside income going forward, and business owners who worked in the private sector before they chose to run for office. Then there is the elimination of stipends, which lawmakers also find unnerving. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has not said so publicly but he was described to me as being “livid” about the committee’s vote Thursday.  In fairness, stipends have also traditionally been used by leadership as  an incentive to keep members happy, so a loss of such incentives takes away a critical tool of the Speaker’s, as he tries to maintain loyalty among members.

Finally, there is a provision that would require lawmakers to pass an on time budget in order to hit the final tier of $130,000 in year three. Some lawmakers consider that just straight up extortion. And they note that the Commissioners in the Executive branch, who will also get a sizable raise, are under no such parameters based on their job performance. Although if the budget is late in year two, the commissioners don’t get raises either.

I suppose the moral of the story here is this: be careful what you wish for. Creating a Compensation Committee under the cloak of darkness and sticking in into a $150 Billion budget just days before it passes is not exactly the best way to do government. Clearly there was not a meeting of the minds among the leaders about what exactly the scope of the commission should be. Governor Cuomo wants the pay raise attached to reforms, Heastie thinks that’s a separate issue. Incoming Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins thinks the raise should also be tied to reforms, but she did not take part in negotiating the process here, current Majority Leader John Flanagan did.

Lawmakers are back in Albany next week. The Assembly is set to conference Wednesday afternoon. Should be a doozy.

 

Conservative Party Blasts Outside Income Cap

Count the state Conservative Party among the dissenting voices when it comes to the pay raise and outside income limit for state lawmakers set in motion Thursday by a special commission.

Chairman Mike Long in a statement on Friday morning knocked the increase, which will be phased in over three years to $130,000 by 2021, and the limitation on outside income as “un-American.”

“America has always been a country that rewards hard work and if you choose to be an elected official there is no reason to restrict your ability to earn outside income. In fact, the Founding Fathers designed a part-time legislature in order for legislators to understand the consequences of the laws they passed,” Long said.

“Without outside employment, legislators become insulated in their world, thereby, unable to fully understand the ramifications of the legislation they pass.”

The cap on outside cap would be 15 percent of what a legislator’s public salary; a similar provision exists for members of Congress.

The recommendation by the commission, which has the force of law if lawmakers do not counter it by the end of the year, will be spelled out further in a report to be released on Monday.

Pay Hike’s Reforms Backed By Good-Government Advocates

From the Morning Memo:

Good-government groups largely backed Thursday’s decision by a compensation commission to increase the pay of state lawmakers and statewide elected officials over the next several years, pointing to the reforms that are due to come along with it.

The pay commission backed a 63 percent increase in pay for the 213 members of the state Senate and Assembly, boosting their pay from $79,500 to $130,000.

The pay hike is coupled with an end to stipends for most leadership jobs in the Legislature as well as a curb on lawmakers earning money outside of the Legislature, capping private-sector pay at 15 percent of their public salary.

Both of these were proposals backed by good-government advocates, as well as Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“The Commission has done an excellent job of balancing the public interest against the very real need to raise lawmakers’ pay,” said Susan Lerner of Common Cause.

“Common Cause/NY supports the commission’s recommendations to tie any pay raise to a ban on lulus and a limit on outside income. The public needs to know that the people representing them are there to serve them only, and no one else.”

Reinvent Albany had largely backed the changes as well, adding the pay increase, the first in 20 years, will help attract and retain talent.

“The limitations on outside income and stipends are long needed reforms to move New York toward a more effective and ethical government,” the group said.

“We hope the Committee’s actions today are the beginning of more reforms to come in ethics, campaign finance and voting that will fully restore confidence and integrity in New York State government.”

But not everyone was thrilled. NYPIRG’s Blair Horner told reporters Thursday there should also have been similar limitations on outside pay for the executive branch, where the governor is set to receive a pay boost to $250,000.

“They tackled some of those issues in terms of outside income,” Horner said. “But they didn’t tackle any of the others. So we’re disappointed. We think it’s flawed. We think the commission so go further.”

Erie County Bans Smoking In Bus Shelters, Cars With Kids

From the Morning Law:

The Erie County Legislature has passed a far-reaching bill that will dictate where people can both smoke and buy tobacco products.

The Public Health Protection Act Of 2018 has three separate parts. The Democratic conference said it’s the county’s most substantial anti-tobacco bill since the passage of the Clean Air Act in 1996.

First, the legislation will make it illegal for anybody to smoke in a vehicle with a child under the age of 18 present. Breaking the law would come with a $50 fine, and that penalty will increase by $50 for each additional offense.

The same penalty would apply to a stipulation banning smoking in or near Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority bus shelters.

“I am proud to sponsor this legislation,” said Erie County Legislature Chair Peter Savage. “We have known about the dangers posed by tobacco and tobacco related products for years. This law is the next logical step.”

“Public transportation users should not be forced to endure second-hand smoke. Protecting children’s health has been a prime motivation behind smoking regulation and they deserve to be protected in vehicles.”

Finally, the bill bans the marketing and sale of products containing tobacco or nicotine in pharmacies and other healthcare institutions. The provision includes e-cigarettes.

The bill passed unanimously although some legislators expressed concern parts of it could be considered government overreach. County Executive Mark Poloncarz has indicated he’s likely to sign the legislation, pointing out he proposed a portion of it in his 2016 State of the County.

NYGOP Names New NYC Finance Co-Chair

From the Morning Memo:

The New York Republican Committee named Anthony Kammas their New York City Finance Co-Chair.

“It’s my honor to serve the New York Republican Party in this capacity,” Kammas said.

“I have been incredibly impressed with the quality of the Party’s candidates and important issues they are advancing to make New York State a better place to live, work and raise a family. We have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but I’m optimistic and excited for the challenge. Whether it’s in Albany or New York City, the far-left Democratic policing are failing, and we need to ensure we have the resources to get our message out.”

An insurance executive, Kammas is a founding partner of Skyline Risk Management Inc., an insurance company.

“We’re thrilled that Anthony has stepped forward to take on this important role,” said Chairman Ed Cox. “Throughout his distinguished career, Anthony has built a reputation and network that will be a tremendous asset to our operations. The New York Republican Party is working hard to expand our outreach, and creating a strong fundraising operation in New York City is essential to our success.”

The current New York City Finance Chair is John Meserve.