The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled against three inmates who sought to ban the use of a drug used in lethal injections.

The court also moved to temporarily block a Texas law that could force the closure of abortion clinics in the state.

In a blow to the Obama administration’s environmental policy, the court struck down a key regulation for mercury pollution.

NBCUniversal has cut business ties with Donald Trump following his comments critical of illegal immigration.

NBC’s move to separate itself from Trump was praised by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.

Sen. Patrick Gallivan says the state Senate will conduct hearings on the escape from Dannemora.

The case of the second alleged accomplice in the Clinton Correctional Facility prison break will go before a grand jury next month.

Residents of Dannemora are decompressing following the three-week search for Richard Matt and David Sweat.

Newsday’s editorial board calls for a grilling of officials at Clinton Correctional Facility to determine how Matt and Sweat escaped.

Sweat was upgraded to “serious” condition at Albany Medical Center after he was apprehended by police.

Both sides are claiming victory in the fight over strengthening charter schools in New York.

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik last week backed a bill that would allow power plants to avoid compliance with clean air regulations.

An audit by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli found questionable payments and claims in the Medicaid.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is taking his family on a road trip through the west and southwest, his office announced.

A neuter-and-release bill aimed at controlling feral cat populations is heading to Gov. Cuomo’s desk.

Rep. Peter King is warning that Americans should be “extra vigilant” for terror threats on July 4.

CUNY plans to raise the salary of economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.

You are beautiful to me, world’s ugliest dogs.

Wage Board To Consider A Substantial Hike For Fast-Food Workers

The Department of Labor’s wage board on Monday indicated it would recommend a “substantial” hike in the minimum wage for workers in the fast-food industry, though no formal decision was announced.

The wage board, which held its first public deliberation following a series of hearings on the issue, also reached a consensus that hours for fast-food workers be more predictable and that businesses could be given an incentive to give employees more hours.

It’s not clear what the wage board will recommend for a minimum wage for fast-food workers as advocates call for a statewide minimum wage increase to $15.

New York’s current minimum wage is $8.75 and is due to increase at the end of the year to $9.

A broader increase in the minimum wage legislatively faltered in the Legislature during the session, leading Gov. Andrew Cuomo to convene the panel for the fast-food industry.

Cuomo had called for a minimum wage of $11.50 in New York City and $10.50 elsewhere in the state.

Last year, Cuomo convened a wage board to recommend an increase for tipped workers, which the Department of Labor ultimately approved.

Already, the business community is sounding the alarm over the potential increase for fast-food workers.

“A substantial increase in the minimum wage – as Governor Cuomo’s fast food wage board is preparing to put in place – will result in fewer jobs for fast food workers and higher prices for consumers. The board’s actions will be especially detrimental to young, low-skilled workers who are already struggling to enter the workforce,” said Unshackle Upstate Executive Director Greg Biryla. “It’s also troubling that the wage board appears to have decided to impose new labor regulations on an industry that it has yet to define. As if running a business in New York isn’t hard enough already, other employers will now have to wonder whether they will be the next the next target of the governor’s wage board.”

Cuomo On The ‘Very Hectic’ Session

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in an interview on Time Warner Cable News insisted that while the legislative session this year was a “hectic” one it also had a number of highlights, ranging from a bill designed crack down on campus rape as well as a $3 billion property tax rebate package.

“We had a very hectic legislative session in Albany,” he said in an interview earlier on Monday with TWC News. “We have a Republican Senate and Democratic Assembly, so it’s never easy. I always have to reach compromise between those two bodies.”

State lawmakers did not put the finishing touches on the end of the session until late Thursday, when they signed off on a four-year extension of rent control for New York City as well as a four-year sunset for the state’s cap on property tax increases.

Lawmakers stayed in Albany more than a week longer than they were scheduled to as they negotiated extending and altering rent control as well as a real-estate tax abatement for New York City.

The session, Cuomo, acknowledged, was a turbulent one, considering both legislative leaders in the Assembly and the Senate at the start of the year resigned after their arrests in separate corruption scandals.

“Having said all that, we had a great legislative session,” Cuomo said. “We got a lot of things done and I’m all about getting things done for the state of New York.”

Cuomo touted the property tax rebate program as a major achievement and claimed he “can’t do anything” about property taxes (this is likely disputed by both local government advocates when it comes to their call to curtail mandated spending from Albany as well as fiscal hawks, who would like to see reforms to regulations as well as pension costs).

“I can’t do anything about it because it’s not a state tax, it’s a local tax — town, village, county,” Cuomo said. “But we can do rebates because I think the property tax is what’s killing upstate New York.”

Cuomo said he had a brief respite this weekend when he fished with his brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, who posted a photo of their catches on Instagram.

“I’m looking forward, frankly, to slowing down a little bit,” Cuomo said.

The fishing trip with Chris was interrupted by the call that escaped convict Richard Matt had been shot and killed.

“I’m spending the day with my brother, and what happens, bing — the phone rings: Richard Matt is down,” Cuomo said. “That was the extent of the vacation, it was about 77 minutes in all.”

DEC Moves To Formally Ban Hydrofracking

The state Department of Environmental Conservation on Monday moved to official prohibit high-volume hydrofracking in the state, issuing a formal “findings statement” that ends a seven-year review of the controversial natural gas-extraction process.

“After years of exhaustive research and examination of the science and facts, prohibiting high-volume hydraulic fracturing is the only reasonable alternative,” said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. “High-volume hydraulic fracturing poses significant adverse impacts to land, air, water, natural resources and potential significant public health impacts that cannot be adequately mitigated. This decision is consistent with DEC’s mission to conserve, improve and protect our state’s natural resources, and to enhance the health, safety and welfare of the people of the state.”

The findings statement, a 43-page document posted to the DEC’s website on Monday afternoon, formalizes a ban on the process, which uses a mixture of chemicals and water to release below-ground natural gas.

“In the end, there are no feasible or prudent alternatives that would adequately avoid or minimize adverse environmental impacts and that address the scientific uncertainties and risks to public health from this activity,” the DEC wrote in the document.

The move is not a surprising one, given that Gov. Andrew Cuomo in December embraced the findings of a Department of Health report that concluded there was no guarantee fracking could be performed safely in the state.

The move to ban fracking in the state by the Cuomo administration was hailed as a major victory for the environmental movement that had sprung up in protest of the process, but was also to the bitter disappointment of the natural gas industry and landowners who could have benefited from granting permits.

“New Yorkers can celebrate the fact that we won’t be subjected to the toxic pollution and health risks fracking inevitably brings,” said Alex Beauchamp of New Yorkers Against Fracking. “By banning fracking, Governor Cuomo stood up to the oil and gas industry, and in so doing became a national leader on health and the environment. He set a standard for human health and safety that President Obama and other state leaders should be striving for.”

findingstatehvhf62015.pdf by Nick Reisman

Cuomo: Convicts Were Mexico-Bound

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday said both Richard Matt and David Sweat were initially planning to escape to Mexico, but changed course after a get-away vehicle failed to show up.

Sweat and Matt, who escaped from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora three weeks ago, did so allegedly with the aid of prison employ Joyce Mitchell, who is charged with providing material support to the two men.

But Mitchell declined to show up with a car to help the men flee and their focus shifting to escaping north instead.

“The plan was to head to Mexico, which would have been aided by Joyce Mitchell’s vehicle,” Cuomo said in an interview on The Capitol Pressroom on WCNY radio. “They would kill Mitchell’s husband and then head to Mexico on the theory that Mitchell was in love with one or both of them and then they would live happily ever after, which wasn’t a fairy tale I was read as a child.”

Matt himself is familiar with Mexico, having fled to the country after he murdered and dismembered his boss. Matt had also killed another American while in the country.

Matt was shot and killed by law enforcement on Friday, while Sweat was apprehending on Sunday after he was wounded by State Police Sgt. Jay Cook. Sweat is expected to remain at Albany Medical Center for several days as his condition improves, the hospital said in a statement on Monday morning.

Sweat was caught by police just miles from the Canadian border. Cuomo said Matt and Sweat had actually separated five days ago after the younger Sweat believed Matt was slowing him down.

Cuomo conducted a round of media interviews on Monday morning following the resolution of the nearly month-long manhunt for the men in the largely rural and sprawling North Country region of the state.

In an interview with Time Warner Cable News, Cuomo said Sweat had dug in for a long-haul to Canada.

“He had a backpack that was fully well equipped,” Cuomo said. “It had maps, it had bug spray.”

Cuomo in the interview with TWC News anchor Jon Dougherty praised Cook for his police work as well the effort by the State Police overall.

He added that a two-pronged investigation would be conducted into how Matt and Sweat were able to escape as well the broader probe into security at state prisons. Both Matt and Sweat were on the “honor block” at Clinton Correctional.

“I want to review all of those system to see if we haven’t gone too far,” Cuomo said. The investigation’s conclusions would then “apply those lessons to the prisons in the rest of the system.”

Gone, But Not Forgotten

From the Morning Memo:

The 2015 legislative is over and in the history books. For the moment, there appears to be little desire by state lawmakers in either the Senate or the Assembly to return to Albany later in the year, barring some sort of emergency.

But despite an end-of-session slate of bills passing that included needed extensions for rent control, the property tax cap, the 421a tax abatement and mayoral control of New York City schools, it’s likely unresolved policy questions will linger through the rest of the year.

For starters, there’s still the question of the 421a tax abatement and what changes will be made by January that both labor unions and developers can agree upon when it comes to the prevailing wage. If the question isn’t resolved in six months’ time, the abatement will expire.

In a more politically nettlesome area, there’s the minimum wage increase. A broader wage hike faltered during the session, despite a last-minute push from Gov. Andrew Cuomo with his allies in labor, the Hotel Trades Council.

Cuomo instead convened a wage board at the state Department of Labor to review potential changes to the minimum wage for workers in the fast-food industry, giving a nod to a growing campaign for better wages in that sector. Still, Cuomo himself has not embraced the campaign’s push for a $15 minimum wage. His proposal at the start of the year would have raised the state’s minimum wage to $11.50 in New York City and $10.50 elsewhere in the state.

New York’s minimum wage, now at $8.75, is due to increase at the end of the year to $9.

Whatever the wage board determines, advocates will likely be emboldened for a more expansive and larger wage hike in the future.

Senate Republicans have been in the past resistant to a minimum wage hike. Next year, however, is an election year and one that is due to be a politically difficult one for the GOP in New York with the White House on the line. Then-Sen. Nick Spano, a vulnerable Republican, carried a previous minimum wage increase bill as he faced a difficult re-election. It did him little good, however, when he was defeated by Democrat Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

And speaking of Senate Democrats, the rent control agreement could be revisited before it is due to expire. Stewart-Cousins told The Daily News that should the conference win a majority next year, the laws could be looked at for strengthening tenant protections before the 2019 sunset. The comment underscores the dissatisfaction among Democratic lawmakers in both chambers over the rent control agreement for not going far enough, especially when it comes to ending vacancy decontrol.

Finally, there’s the fall out from the negotiations themselves, in which Assembly Democrats viewed Cuomo as having ganged up with Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan against their speaker, Carl Heastie.

Cuomo concluded the legislative session with few, if any, Democratic allies in the Senate or Assembly, making governing for the remainder of his second term all the more challenging.

Here and Now

Good morning!

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is back in New York City today with nothing public planned.

At 11 a.m., the Department of Labor’s wage board on fast-food workers’ pay will meet, Harriman Campus, Building 12, Albany.

The headlines:

The mother of now-captured fugitive David Sweat gave an emotional on-camera interview to Time Warner Cable News’s Alexa Green.

Sweat was moved to Albany Medical Center following his capture near the Canadian border and is in critical condition.

Sweat was shot and apprehended by State Police Sgt. Jay Cook, who Gov. Cuomo called a “hero” for acting decisively.

Before he was shot and killed by law enforcement, escapee Richard Matt was “boozing on whiskey.”

Residents who live in the rural quiet of the North Country were taken aback by the three-week manhunt ending in climatic fashion.

Now that they’ve been caught, the question becomes how Sweat and Matt were able to evade police for three weeks.

Though rent control laws next expire in 2019, they may be revisited sooner should Democrats win control of the state Senate in 2016, Ken Lovett of The Daily News writes.

Cuomo was aligned policy-wise with Senate Republicans during the closed-door negotiations and moved to thwart Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposals during the talks, the Post’s Fred Dicker writes.

Capital New York’s Jimmy Vielkind: Despite kumbaya press conference with Cuomo and the legislative leaders “there were many other priorities, left unmentioned by the leaders, that weren’t acted on. And those unaddressed items say as much about the leaders’ abilities and approach as anything else.”

New York, as usual, won’t play a kingmaker role in the 2016 elections, but even western New York will provide candidates with much-needed cash.

Candidates who cite their record on Sept. 11 aren’t winning over victims’ families.

A new law will allow teachers and administrators to discuss some test questions on standardized examinations, but only those publicly revealed.

Cuomo’s aggressive push to end the AIDS epidemic announced this year hits a wall in Albany.

The mayor is quietly backing away from an effort to end member items on the New York City Council.

Cuomo took the Department of Education to task for not doing more to protect transgender students, and demanded an action plan from the new commissioner.

Among the bigger winners in Big Ugly were suburban property taxpayers, who will benefit from a $3 billion rebate program.

Rent control legislation approved last week in Albany ends the use of the so-called “poor door.”

The New York City Rent Guidelines Board is due to act today after Albany approved a four-year extension of rent control.

Both Dean Skelos and Sheldon Silver skipped out of the end of the legislative session early, and Silver declined to vote on the rent control and 421a tax abatement extensions.

New York is considering cracking down on trespassers who commit lewd acts while on other peoples’ property.

The NYT editorial board takes note of the Supreme Court’s affordable housing ruling and the broader debate over the placement of low-income housing.

A facet of NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton’s policing model will take cops out of their cars for a few hours and interact with the neighborhood.

Cuomo marched about a block ahead of de Blasio at the Pride Parade in New York City and “one-upped” the mayor by officiating a same-sex wedding.

Among the many targets of Jon Stewart to take part in a farewell bit lambasting The Daily Show host is Donald Trump.

Former House candidate Sean Eldridge and his husband Chris Hughes are selling their SOHO condo for $8.8 million.

The owners of Trump Plaza casino plan to keep the casino closed for 10 years as a tax-saving measure.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer is pledging to push new control legislation through Congress following the massacre at a church in South Carolina.

The governor of Puerto Rico says the island is in a debt crisis and the money owed is “not payable.”

Though diminished by scandal, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie could prove to be an unpredictable force when he launches his presidential bid.

Publishing giant Gannett on Monday will formally split its newspaper division from its TV broadcasting properties, creating two separate companies.

The city of Glen Cove is proposing a $100 million borrowing plan to help pay for a new housing development.

Demonstrators staged a protest at Seneca Lake to highlight the proposal to store liquefied propane gas at the site nearby.

A long-awaited septic system for Lake George will have to wait a little longer due to APA review.

The construction of a new convention center in Albany means big money for construction firms taking part in the project.

The Weekend That Was

Law enforcement has shot — and captured alive — fugitive convict David Sweat, ending a three-week manhunt. Stick with Time Warner Cable News for updates.

A photo revealed Sweat was shot several times by State Police and taken into custody.

Sweat was reportedly shot twice in the back as he tried to run from law enforcement.

No police or law enforcement personnel were injured while Sweat was apprehended.

An autopsy of the second fugitive, Richard Matt, reveals how he was killed by law enforcement on Friday.

Marchers at the Pride Parade in New York City celebrated the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide.

The parade saw a record turnout just days after the ruling.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo exercised his newly given authority to officiate weddings at the Stonewall Inn.

Gains made by the left in recent SCOTUS rulings could help Republicans in effect wipe the slate clean in 2016.

BuzzFeed’s roundup of the Republican presidential contenders’ reaction to the same-sex marriage ruling finds a subtle, but significant shift in their rhetoric.

Republican presidential candidate Lindsay Graham said the GOP should shift its position on an anti-gay marriage amendment and remove it as a party platform.

Mike Huckabee, meanwhile, indicated he wouldn’t enforce the same-sex marriage ruling.

The New York Post laments marriage for gay couples was legalized through the court, and not be legislative or a popular vote.

The New York Times editorial board, meanwhile, takes stock of the “profound” ruling for marriage by the Supreme Court.

Among the “losers” in the legislative session: Low-wage earners and upstate renters.

Yonkers schools got what they needed at the end of the legislative session, East Ramapo not so much, writes The Journal News.

Sandra Lee, the partner of the governor, may need a second surgery following her double mastectomy.

Cuomo pushed the Department of Education’s new commissioner in a letter to adopt a more aggressive stance on protections for transgender students.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio offered a largely muted response to the end of the legislative session compared to other city officials.

The mayor feted the changes to the 421a tax abatement, but says more work needs to be done on rent control protections.

Activist documentarian Michael Moore has offered to pay the bail of the woman who scaled a flagpole to remove the Confederate flag in South Carolina.


Breaking news in the three-week-old manhunt for the two Clinton Correctional Facility escapees, Richard Matt and David Sweat. According to multiple reports, Matt has been shot and killed by law enforcement, while Sweat is still on the run. Tune in to Time Warner Cable News for updates.

A trail camera in Whippleville took a photo of the two men earlier this week, according to law-enforcement officials. The camera captured both men, showing Matt holding a shotgun.

The hunt for the escapees hit its 21st day today, with State Police saying they were adding additional troopers near the Canadian border.

Searchers found new evidence at a second cabin, this time in Malone, a town in northern New York, near the Canadian border, as well as from a site outdoors.

City Hall in Lower Manhattan was festooned with rainbow flags to mark the US Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage across the nation.

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. “In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”

President Obama called the ruling “a victory for America.”

ICYMI: Obama led the congregation in “Amazing Grace” while eulogizing the Rev. Clementa Pinkney, one of the victims in last week’s South Carolina church shooting, and also expressed support for taking down the Confederate flag.

Former NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who advocates to get same-sex marriage legalized in New York, reflects on what today’s court ruling means to her.

Dan Janison: “Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan appears ready to come away with more political gains than losses from his first end-of-session deals as New York’s top elected Republican.”

Here’s how lawmakers voted on the Big Ugly.

AG Eric Schneiderman panned the Big Ugly for failing to include any additional ethics reforms.

EJ McMahon takes a look at which pension sweeteners made the cut – and which fell short – in the Big Ugly.

Democrat-turned-Republican supermarket mogul – and perhaps future tabloid owner? – is having a media moment.

The PEF election could end up in court.

Syracuse Common Councilor Pamela Hunter won the county Democratic committee’s endorsement for a vacant state Assembly seat, but the race for support among voters in her party has just begun.

Lorenzo Fertitta, UFC chairman & CEO, said in a statement that there were clearly enough votes in the Democratic-led Assembly to pass a bill that would lift the MMA ban in New York, but it never came to a vote.

The Chinese owners of the Waldorf, New York’s largest union hotel employer, have reached a record deal with the Hotel and Motel Trades Council union in which the hotel could pay almost $149 million in severance packages to its employees over the next two years.

Aiming to curb gender bias and harassment in New York City, officials are readying a plan that would require businesses to convert some restrooms to gender-neutral facilities.

Last night’s WFP gala became an anti-Cuomo fest, with party leaders expressing regret for endorsing him in 2014 and recommitting to flipping the state Senate into Democratic hands next year.

The Fast Food Wage Board, which wrapped up its public hearing schedule earlier in the week, is moving right along. The panel is set to meet Monday, at 11 a.m. Monday, on the Harriman Campus, building 12.

Half of New York’s power will come from renewable sources in the next 15 years, under a new state energy plan. The state will try to reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030.

Petitioning Open for Sam Roberts’ Seat

If you’re itching to be elected to a seat in the New York State Assembly, one is now available in the Syracuse area. Petitioning is officially open to replace Assemblyman Sam Roberts, who was confirmed by the Senate last week as the Commissioner of the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.

Roberts is consequently no longer a member of the state’s lower chamber. His page and name have already been removed from the Assembly’s website, less than 24 hours after the end of this year’s legislative session. Instead, his name as been added to the OTDA website.

Anyone seeking to take the 128th Assembly district seat has to submit their petition to the Onondaga County Board of Elections by July 9th – less than two weeks from today.

The county’s Democratic committee has already placed its bets on Syracuse Common Councilor Pamela Hunter. She won their endorsement during a vote Thursday night.

But two other Democrats are reportedly preparing a primary challenge against the committee favorite. Jean Kessner, another member of the Common Council, and David Scott, a former county legislator are also preparing their petitions for a run.

The district itself includes part of the city of Syracuse and a few surrounding municipalities, making it unlikely that a Republican would flip it in their favor.