Nick Reisman

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One Day More?

From the Morning Memo:

Lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn the legislative session for the year today, but no agreement remains in place for the extension of mayoral control of New York City schools.

All day Tuesday, top lawmakers in the state Senate and Assembly gave no indication they plan to stay at the Capitol passed Wednesday — raising the possibility mayoral control could lapse for the first time since 2009.

Lawmakers have been working toward ancillary, less high-profile agreements such as an extension of Kendra’s Law, which requires mandatory treatment for some mentally ill patients.

The Legislature has also struck an agreement with Gov. Andrew Cuomo for legislation that would expand the state’s preferences for purchasing American-made steel and iron.

The Child Victims Act falling out of the negotiations as Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said on Tuesday is also a sign lawmakers are moving behind areas in which they can’t find agreement.

But the mayoral control agreement remains elusive.

This comes as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio — already presiding over a city annoyed and inconvenienced by transit delays being blamed on an agency controlled by the governor — is running for re-election.

Running for re-election this year, de Blasio could base the campaign, in part, on the city’s frustration with Albany.

In the meantime, there would be fallout from the lack of mayoral control for upstate and suburban counties that need sales tax and other local tax measures re-authorized. Those bills were packaged with the Assembly’s version of the extension.

That means local governments this summer (and potentially into the fall) will have a new level of uncertainty when setting their budgets for next year.

Legislators could always return to the Capitol later in the year — a prospect Cuomo raised last week when he was skeptical anything of significance could be accomplished this week.

Adding to the atmosphere of what could either be a short (or long) day at the Capitol, a coalition of progressive groups today will stage a New Orleans-style jazz funeral demonstration starting at a State Street church.

The event is meant to highlight legislation that “died” during this year’s legislative session.

Cuomo’s MTA Plan Pushed As Session Closes

From the Morning Memo:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday injected one final issue into the end of the legislative session with a bill that would remake the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority with two new seats controlled by the state.

Supporters of Cuomo saw this as the governor taking a need leadership role in the wake of continued subway delays and other transit problems in the New York City area.

Critics saw it has little more than window dressing for an agency Cuomo already has defacto control of and will do little to stem the brewing transit crisis.

“The problem is not MTA board structure; the problem is the absence of leadership and the lack of a credible plan from Governor Cuomo for how he will fix the subway,” according to a statement from John Raskin of the Riders Alliance.

“Riders don’t have the luxury of quibbling over MTA board governance when we know it’s not the real issue. We need a plan from the Governor and a reliable source of funding that can fix our disastrous commutes.”

That drew a rebuke from John Samuelsen, the president of the Transit Workers of America — which backed Cuomo’s bill.

“The Riders Alliance doesn’t get to have it both ways – they have repeatedly and publicly pointed out that control of the subway system belongs to Governor Cuomo,” he said in a statement. “Now when the Governor steps up and embraces that responsibility legislatively by assuming the appointment of a flat out majority of voting board members, John Raskin objects. Come on, really?”

It’s unclear if the bill will get a vote before lawmakers adjourn the session for the year.

Sen. Mike Gianaris, a Queens Democrat, said he backed the plan that would provide “more accountability” for the MTA’s board, but added there’s a broader issue that needs to be addressed.

No solution will be complete, however, unless we also address the historic underfunding that led us to the current emergency,” he said.

Klein: ‘Hopeful’ For 2-Year Mayoral Control

A two-year extension of mayoral control of New York City schools is under discussion, Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein said at the end of a meeting with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and top legislative leaders.

“We’re hopeful we can do a two-year extender of mayoral,” he said after the meeting. “We’re hopeful. That’s not a deal.”

The two-year plan would be longer than anything that’s been approved for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in recent years. It would also kick the issue out of the 2018 legislative session, when all members of the Senate and Assembly are up for re-election as is the governor.

“I’m hopeful we’re going to have a deal,” Klein said. “Mayoral control is very important to the people of the city of New York.”

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan was hesitant to endorse or discuss a timeframe for the extension. But he has sought an expansion of charter schools in the mayoral control talks, which is opposed by the Democratic-led Assembly.

Flanagan said there was a “full-blown discussion” on the mayoral control issue.

As for strengthening charter schools, Flanagan said, “I have not deviated from where we are in terms of that being part of the package.”

Cuomo Signs Bill Increasing Age Of Legal Marriage

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law on Tuesday a measure that increases the age of legal marriage to 17.

“This administration has worked tirelessly to defend exploited and disadvantaged New Yorkers, provide minors with the rights and protections that they deserve, and ensure that women are empowered to have control over their own lives, and with this legislation, we continue to help protect those who cannot protect themselves,” Cuomo said in a statement.

“This is a major step forward in our efforts to protect children and prevent forced marriages, and I am proud to sign this legislation that puts an end to child marriage in New York once and for all.”

The bill had been backed in the Assembly by Westchester County Democrat Amy Paulin over the last several years. The legislation would allow for 17-year-olds to receive judicial approval before receiving a marriage license.

“Current law allowing 14 year olds to get married is discrimination against women written explicitly in our statues,” Paulin said. “Victims of child marriage are forced and condemned to a life that they did not choose with no means of escape, resulting in physical and mental health problems, loss of education and economic opportunities, and an increased likelihood of experiencing violence. Today, we bring an end to forced child marriage in New York State and set a precedent that the rest of the states should follow.”

The measure was signed in a private ceremony in the Red Room, the ceremonial office of the governor at the Capitol. Press was not invited to attend, but the room was arranged in the way the administration has held press conferences, with the governor flanked by top aides and signs proclaiming the bill’s approval, according to photos from advocates in the room.

It’s also not unusual for any governor to sign a bill privately and announce it later via press release or email.

Flanagan: Child Victims Act Won’t Be Voted On

The Senate will not vote on a bill that would expand the statute of limitations that would make it easier for sexual abuse victims to file lawsuits, Majority Leader John Flanagan said after a closed-door meeting with legislative leaders and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“It’s under discussion, but the Senate is not going to be taking that bill up,” he said while being trailed by reporters.

Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein added the bill was not discussed in the meeting.

The bill’s potential demise comes a day before lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn the legislative session for the remainder of the year.

The Democratic-led Assembly has passed the bill and Cuomo last week introduced the same version of it as a program bill. But the measure has faced a steep uphill climb in the Senate. The Catholic Church and other groups, including the Boy Scouts, have signaled their opposition to it.

The development is sure to disappoint advocates and lawmakers who had pushed for the legislation and urged Cuomo to take a firmer role in its passage this week.

Adding PTSD To MedMar Program Goes To Cuomo’s Desk

Legislation that would add post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of illnesses that can be treated with medical marijuana will head to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk.

The Republican-led Senate on Tuesday approved the bill following passage by the Democratic-controlled Assembly in May.

“State lawmakers are standing up for thousands of New Yorkers who are suffering from PTSD and might benefit from medical marijuana,” said Kate Bell, legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project. “We hope Gov. Cuomo will do the same and sign this important legislation. With a single swipe of his pen, he can help countless people find relief.”

The legislation comes as New York has expanded over the last several years the list of applicable illnesses for its medical marijuana program.

If approved by Cuomo, New York would be the 27th state to allow PTSD sufferers be treated with medically based marijuana prescriptions.

Cuomo Urged To Push On CVA

State lawmakers are urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo push Senate Republicans into passing a bill that would make it easier for the survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file lawsuits by expanding the statute of limitations.

“The governor said in January that he wanted to see the Child Victims Act pass this year and we have been depending on his leadership to force the hand of the Senate,” said Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, a Democrat from Manhattan. “He’s done it with the SAFE Act, he’s done it with same-sex marriage. He’s done it with any number of issues where he professes to wanting to get it done.”

The push comes as Cuomo last week introduced a version of the bill that was the same measure that passed in the Assembly, but is yet to see a vote in the Senate. Cuomo said late last week he does not expect the bill to come up for a vote in the Senate. ​

Deputy Senate Majority Leader John DeFrancisco this morning indicated the measure remains up in the air in the final two days of the legislative session.

The bill was referenced in a private leaders meeting at the Capitol on Monday, said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. But its fate in the Senate remains unknown, he said.

“It was mentioned yesterday, but I don’t know where the Senate is on that,” he said.

Bill Banning Indoor E-Cig Use Goes To Cuomo’s Desk

A bill that would ban the indoor use of electronic cigarettes and vaping devices is heading to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk after a final version of the measure was approved Tuesday in the Democratic-led Assembly.

The Republican-controlled Senate had passed a revised version of the bill on Monday.

The bill adds e-cigarettes to the Clean Indoor Act, a proposal that Cuomo had initially backed at the beginning of the year.

“Adding e-cigarettes to our smoke-free law is an important, historic step forward to protect the lives and health of New Yorkers,” said Julie Hart, the government relations director of the American Cancer Society Action Network.

Anti-smoking advocates had also called this year for the passage of a statewide increase in the tobacco-purchasing age to 21.

Three-Way Deal Reached On ‘Buy American’ Bill

State lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo reached an agreement on Tuesday that would expand the state’s preferences for American-made iron and steel for seven state agencies.

The agreement, announced on the penultimate day of the legislative session in Albany, would impact the Department of Transportation, Thruway Authority, Bridge Authority, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Office of General Services, SUNY Construction Fund and Dormitory Authority of the State of New York.

A source familiar with the talks had said an effort by the Canadian government to exempt itself from the measure was rebuffed.

“When we Buy American, we support the continued growth of our manufacturing industries here at home, preserve and create jobs and invest in our future,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “This legislation will reinvest in the talent that made this state and this country what it is today and strengthen our role as a global leader in manufacturing for years to come.”

Cuomo had initially proposed a broadening of buy American measures in his budget proposal to include all state procurement, but that measure fell out off the negotiating table during the talks.

Legislative leaders on Monday evening had indicated an agreement was near on the buy American legislation after meeting privately with Cuomo.

Assembly Spends $250K In Citizens Union Lawsuit

The state Assembly is spending $250,000 as part of a lawsuit filed by Citizens Union challenging the legality of a disclosure bill approved in 2016.

The contract with the legal firm Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP was disclosed by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli on Tuesday in a list of major contract approvals.

The good-government group filed its lawsuit last year against the state’s main lobbying and ethics regulatory body, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, over a reform bill that aimed at increasing disclosure requirements on non-government entities like independent expenditure groups, lobbying clients and political consultants.

JCOPE in January was removed from the case and has agreed to not take any enforcement action while the lawsuit is pending.

A provision in the law also requires 501(c)(3) charities that make donations or in-kind contributions worth more than $2,500 to non-profit entities designated 501(c)(4) disclose their donors.

The good-government group Citizens Union has a dual structure can receive tax-deductible donations and spend money on political efforts that are aimed at promoting “social welfare.”