Here And Now
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany.
At 10:15 a.m., he holds a “special ceremony” in the War Room of the state Capitol. (More on that here).
At 1:30 p.m., he delivers his third annual State of the State address in the Empire State Plaza Convention Center.
Anti-fracking activists plan to protest outside Cuomo’s speech, starting at noon.
The Senate and Assembly are both in session at noon.
Things should be pretty run of the mill in the Assembly, but expect the Senate Democrats to make a stink about the new rules released by the IDG and GOP shortly before midnight last night. It could get interesting in the upper house.
As per usual, there will be a variety of receptions held by elected officials and special interests/lobbyists to celebrate the official start of the 2013 legislative session.
Because Cuomo now delivers his speech in the convention center instead of the Assembly chamber, Speaker Sheldon Silver holds his must-attend downstate deli reception after the SoS in a meeting room at the plaza, rather than before the speech in the Assembly parlor.
Newly-minted Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Counsins is hosting a reception in the minority conference room at 3 p.m., (3rd floor, Capitol).
Also, unlike in years past, Cuomo will not be giving the legislative leaders a chance to speak before his speech on the convention stage. So, they’re returning to the tradition of responding to his SoS on their own after the fact.
Senate Republican Leader (not majority leader anymore, thanks to the power-sharing deal) Dean Skelos’ response speech will focus on some old chestnuts – spending, taxes, jobs – and also two new topics: His relationship with the IDC and “ways to improve the safety of our schools and communities,” according to a spokesman.
That last bit is code for gun safety, which Cuomo is widely expected to make a hallmark of his SoS today.
The Senate Republicans spent over four hours behind closed doors late yesterday afternoon, debating what their conference position on guns will be, and also discussing the chamber’s new rules.
As of late last night, sources were insisting the four sides (including the IDC) were so close to a deal that chances were good for the governor to be able to announce something at the convention center.
Of course, that would make Cuomo the first governor in the nation to get a gun control deal in the wake of the Dec. 14 Newtown, Conn. shooting. It would be a very big deal.
In the meantime, some headlines…
Tom Precious wonders if Cuomo, like former GOP Gov. George Pataki, will signal a shift to the left in his third year in office, looking both toward a re-election in 2014 and a potential White House bid in 2016.
According to the NYT, Cuomo “is considering not only rewriting the state’s assault weapons ban, but also proposing more expansive use of mental health records in background checks of gun buyers, lower limits on the capacity of magazines sold legally in New York and a new requirement that gun permits be subject to periodic recertification.”
Staten Island BP James Molinaro, a registered Conservative, is bucking his party to back Cuomo’s campaign for tougher gun laws, including a ban on assault rifles. “Assault weapons shouldn’t be sold to civilians,” he said.
Silver said the gun-control negotiations have also included talks on strengthening Kendra’s Law.
Cuomo’s speech is expected to include details of a LIPA privatization plan, including a five-year rate freeze and new borrowing to pay off the utility’s massive debt.
Casey Seiler reminds us: “State of the State speeches aren’t always accurate indicators of future accomplishments.” (Last year’s big idea – the nation’s largest convention center – never happened).
Why the new Senate rules released late last night don’t appear to change very much: “There’s a memorandum of understanding and there’s a working relationship of trust,” said Sen. Hugh Farley.
Assemblyman George Amedore and the Senate GOP are still waiting to see if a panel of appellate court judges will codify a lower court ruling that deemed him the winner of the 46th SD race. A decision could come today. In the meantime, it’s unclear if Amedore, who has been attending conference meetings, will vote. (See above link).
Despite the 2011 contract deals public employee unions struck with Cuomo that gave up pay raises for protection against layoffs, some jobs remain in jeopardy.
After weeks of name-calling and finger-pointing, the Bloomberg administration and the UFT are returning to the bargaining table today to hammer out a new deal over teacher evaluations ahead of the Jan. 17 deadline.
A new $365 million computer system that was intended to simplify National Grid’s operations has created chaos instead, screwing up paychecks for thousands of utility employees and delaying payments to vendors. There are lawsuits, and the attorney general is investigating.
Former NYC Councilman Larry Seabrook, a fixture in state politics for nearly three decades, was sentenced to five years in a federal prison for using his office to steer taxpayer money to ventures he controlled and staffed with family and friends.
An element of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practice was deemed unconstitutional by a federal judge, a ruling that may have broad implications for the city’s widespread use of police stops as a crime-fighting tactic.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may testify before Congress in two weeks on the deadly Benghazi attack, according to Sen. Bob Corker, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Rep. Steve Palazzo, a Gulf Coast Republican flogged for opposing Hurricane Sandy aid, unexpectedly popped up in Staten Island yesterday, and then announced that he will provide a key vote supporting $51 billion in storm relief next week.
Republican Sergio R. Rodriguez is seriously considering running for Buffalo mayor this year, potentially undermining the recent GOP strategy of suppressing turnout in heavily Democratic Buffalo to boost the party’s countywide candidates.
Just three weeks before the new state Gaming Commission will absorb several independent entities, John Sabini will step down as chairman of the Racing & Wagering Board.
A singer at NYC Comptroller John Liu’s birthday fundraiser sang him a rendition of Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy Birthday, Mr. President,” changing the lyrics to “Happy Birthday, Mr. Mayor.”
The Saugerties car dealer who sold Cuomo the 1996 Ford Bronco his 17-year-old twin daughters will drive told him: “It’s a macho vehicle. It’s something you or I would drive.”
Parents of Lake Avenue Elementary School students asked the Board of Education to support an online petition to cancel the upcoming Arms Fair at the Saratoga City Center.
New York wine and food will again be part of presidential inauguration in the celebration for President Barack Obama on Jan. 21.
Douglas Kennedy, a son of Robert F. Kennedy, is suing two nurses for defamation and malicious prosecution after his acquittal on criminal charges in a Northern Westchester Hospital maternity ward scuffle.
For the first time since it opened almost four decades ago, the James M. Hanley Federal Building in Syracuse will no longer house the offices of the local congressman. Rep. Dan Maffei moved out, saying the rent is too high.
Speaking of the rent (is too damn) high, Jimmy McMillan told Bill O’Reilly he used to be a stripper.
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