Nick Reisman

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NY-22: Gillibrand Endorses Brindisi

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Friday endorsed Democratic Assembly Anthony Brindisi in his bid for the 22nd congressional district.

“In Albany Anthony Brindisi fought to protect jobs for the people of Upstate New York. He worked across party lines to deliver results for our community,” Gillibrand said. “He has shown he is a true champion for children and families, making sure they have the resources they need to be successful. We need more of that in Washington—someone interested in solutions, not political games.”

The district, represented by Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney, runs from the Mohawk Valley to the state’s Southern Tier. Tenney was elected last year and is in her first term.

“I’m simply honored to have Senator Gillibrand’s support in this race,” Brindisi said. “She’s been a true leader for New York. I hope to work with her if I’m elected to Congress on critical issues that face this region like health care, education, and creating good-paying jobs for the people of Upstate New York.”

Cuomo Says He Backs Legal Challenge To Ending ACA Subsidy

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a statement Friday said he would support a legal challenge to President Donald Trump’s decision to cut off a key subsidy for purchasing insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Trump is ending the subsidy, which is meant to help low-income people purchase insurance in an ACA marketplace.

“We will not stand silently by as the federal government tries to take away health care from New Yorkers,” Cuomo said. “As President Trump executes on his mission to strip health care protection from those who need it most, we stand ready to join states across the nation to sue the federal government. We will not go backwards.”

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has signaled he will sue to block the subsidy, which has already been facing a legal challenge from House Republicans.

Trump on Friday before a conservative group said he is moving administratively to scale back aspects the law, known as Obamacare. That effort includes an executive order this week that loosens regulations for the measure, including allowing the purchasing of cheaper plans and pooled plans purchased across state lines.

“Unable to move the repeal of the Affordable Care Act in Congress, President Trump is now attempting to administratively dismantle the ACA bit by bit,” Cuomo said. “His actions will slash benefits and raise premiums in many health plans by 20 percent next year according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, and it will single handedly destabilize insurance markets. With a swipe of a pen, President Trump puts the health of New Yorkers at risk.”

Bill Would Expand Definition Of Private Information

State lawmakers have introduced a bill that would expand the definition of what is considered personal information to include birthdays, home addresses and telephone numbers in the wake of the Equifax data breach.

“Cyber-disasters like the massive Equifax breach are becoming too common and government must catch up to better protect consumers,” said Assemblywoman Pat Fahy. “Almost all of the data included in the Equifax breach could be used maliciously, yet the law only protects consumers for leaks of a narrow subset of private data.

Currently, if personal information is compromised, data breach protections are triggered. Expanding the range of what’s considered private can trigger those protections faster. Information such as social security numbers, driver’s license or state ID card numbers, credit card, debit card, or bank account numbers are considered private.

“Protecting consumers’ private information is critical to preventing identity theft,” said Sen. David Carlucci, one of the bill’s sponsors.

“New York’s current definition of private information does not go far enough and leaves consumers at risk. In order to hold companies like Equifax accountable and ensure the best possible response to a data breach, we need to make sure the definition of what information is considered private is as broad as possible. This legislation brings New York into the modern age by expanding that definition to fit changing times. Cyber criminals are always adapting – we need to adapt even faster to keep New Yorkers and their data safe.”

NYCOM Issues Voter Guide For Con Con

The New York Conference of Mayors has issued a voter guide ahead of the constitutional convention, weighing the pros and cons of holding the con con itself.

The organization is in favor of the convention, even as it notes some of the risks, as mayors see it, to village and city power.

“While acknowledging the potential negatives of such a convention – e.g., the risk of amendments being approved that would weaken the home rule authority of local governments – the Executive Committee viewed the opportunity to strengthen the position of municipalities in New York’s governmental structure as more important and voted to approve NYCOM’s support of a “Yes” vote on the constitutional convention question facing New York voters this November, with the additional stipulation that municipal officials would need to run for and be elected as delegates to the convention if our intended outcomes are to be achieved,” the guide states

NYCOM also dispels some myths about the coming referendum such as a blank vote will automatically be counted as a “yes” vote (it won’t) and assesses the cost of a con con, pegging the number at $56 million, which is in line with the estimate made by others, including Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

Overall, NYCOM is hopeful a convention would produce more influence for governments on the local level and a reduction in mandated state spending as well as help create a more efficient process for annexation.

2017 Environmental Scorecard by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Senate GOP Won’t Hold Events At Hotel Amid Labor Dispute

The top Republican in the state Senate on Friday said his conference won’t hold events at the Hilton Albany amid an ongoing labor dispute.

“As Senate Majority Leader, I believe it is incumbent upon me to stand up and be counted on this important quality-of-life issue,” Flanagan said. “Therefore, I am announcing today that unless and until this contract dispute is resolved in a responsible manner, neither I nor my Senate Republican colleagues will be holding any events at this downtown Albany hotel.”

The hotel, a block from the state Capitol, has been undergoing a labor dispute with its workers over less generous benefits. The demonstrations have drawn elected officials ranging from the mayor of Albany, Kathy Sheehan, to U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and state Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

“I am deeply troubled by the ongoing labor dispute that hardworking housekeepers, banquet, restaurant workers, bell persons, engineers and other employees are having with the management of the Hilton Albany hotel,” Flanagan said. “I strongly support allowing working men and women to seek a fair and decent wage that gives them the ability to provide for themselves and for their families. These workers are the backbone of the operations of this hotel, and they too should be afforded this opportunity.”

The hotel is a popular destination in Albany for fundraisers and trade shows.

The dispute has been backed by the Hotel Trades Council, a politically influential labor group.

Flanagan, in his statement, said he hoped the move would lead to a resolution the helps all involved, “especially the working men and women of this hotel who toil every day so that management can put its best foot forward and continue to serve the public while they visit our beautiful and wondrous state Capitol.”

DiNapoli: Schools Not Enforcing Anti-Bullying Law

New York schools have not implement key elements of an anti-bullying law, an audit released Friday by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli found.

“The Dignity for All Students Act was created to protect students but four years later, many schools remain unsure of what to do and make serious errors in reporting incidents of harassment and bullying,” DiNapoli said.

“All students deserve schools that support them and are safe and free from harassment and bullying. School districts must protect students’ rights and ensure thorough training for school staff. We appreciate that the State Education Department agrees with our recommendations and is taking steps to help school officials improve their ability to safeguard students.”

The requirements fall under Dignity For All Students Act, which was part of an effort to crack down on bullying with requirements for schools that include sharing contact information and making efforts toward training.

Many schools, however, are failing to do the necessary training and making errors when it comes to reporting.

The audit of a sample of 20 schools outside of New York City found some schools under reported or failed to report incidents, including cyberbullying, even though law enforcement had become involved.

In another case, a school failed to report bullying that had persisted before the victim’s attendance at a different school.

And 17 of the schools reported they had trouble interpreting or implementing aspects of the Dignity for All Students Act.

“No matter who you are, what you look like or where you come from, we all deserve full equality and the chance to succeed, especially within our public education system,” said Assemblyman Harry Bronson.

“We must do our best to teach students the importance of dignity and respect and to protect them from harassment and discrimination. I look forward to working with Comptroller DiNapoli and the State Education Department to help our schools meet DASA guidelines and reporting requirements.”

Hospitals Fret Trump Executive Order

From the Morning Memo:

The organization that represents New York hospitals in Albany criticized President Donald Trump’s move on Thursday to loosen requirements under the Affordable Care Act.

The administration and Republicans supportive of the move say the president’s executive order is designed to make it easier and cheaper to purchase insurance under the ACA, also known as Obamacare.

But opponents are worried it will leave sicker people in the regulated market, driving up costs of those plans.

In a statement, Healthcare Association of New York President Bea Grause said Trump’s order “undermined” a key part of the law. She pointed to allowing small groups to pool insurance and purchase plans across state lines, which would be exempt from ACA requirements and outside of state regulators’ jurisdictions.

At the same time, the order would expand short-term insurance that does not cover pre-existing conditions, undercutting insurance companies that are providing fuller coverage as mandated by New York law, she said.

“As a result, out-of-state companies offering products with less coverage and fewer consumer protections will undercut New York-regulated insurance companies providing comprehensive coverage by mandated by state law,” she said. “This approach will almost certainly serve to destabilize the insurance market in New York and lead to unaffordable coverage for the people who need it most.”

The Trump administration on Thursday evening, meanwhile, announced it would not longer fund a key ACA subsidy to insurance companies.

The moves come after Republicans in Congress could not reach an agreement to unwind the law, a signature domestic policy achievement under President Barack Obama.

Facing Criticism, Cuomo To Donate All Of Weinstein’s Money

All campaign contributions to Gov. Andrew Cuomo from movie producer Harvey Weinstein, who is facing a barrage of sexual assault and harassment allegations, will be donated, a top official in the state Democratic Committee said early Thursday evening.

The move comes after Cuomo hours earlier defended not returning all of Weinstein’s money that he had contributed to his campaigns over the years. He argued that some of the money had already been spent. And he pointed to broader issues facing women when it comes to assault on college campuses and harassment in the workplace.

Cuomo had previously said $50,000 of the $110,000 would be donated to groups that benefit women.

But Cuomo faced criticism for not donating the remaining $60,000 from Weinstein from his fellow Democrat and rival New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio as well as from Republicans. Democratic elected officials from around the country were called on to donate Weinstein’s campaign money and many followed suit within days of the allegations being reported in The New York Times.

“The allegations against Harvey Weinstein are disturbing, horrid and the debate should be on how to best root out this reprehensible behavior and protect women from harassment and abuse. It’s shameful that some have sought to use this matter to score political points, but the real issues are far too serious to allow any distraction to overtake them,” said state Democratic Committee Executive Director Basil Smikle. “For that reason, the extraordinary step will be taken of giving all contributions from prior campaigns whose committees have been closed for years so that we can dispense with the Republican ploys and focus on the real issues.”

In the statement, Smikle pointed reiterated issues Republicans should tackle, including equal pay, Title IX protections for sexual assault on college campuses and abortion rights.

“Will Republicans accept the support of a president who himself disrespected, demeaned and harassed women?” he said. “Will they support pay equity? Where do they stand on Betsy DeVos rolling back Title 9 protection for sexual assault on college campuses? Do they support Roe v Wade? These are the answers that the people of this country deserve.”

AG Raises Possibility Of Court Challenge To Trump Order

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on THursday raised the possibility of yet another challenge in court to President Donald Trump executive order that seeks to unwind parts of the Affordable Care Act.

“Let me be clear: if the Trump Administration takes any action that violates the law — or tramples on New Yorkers’ constitutional rights — we will take them to court,” Schneiderman said. “In the meantime, my office will continue to defend the vital ACA subsidies in federal court for the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and millions of Americans who rely on the quality, affordable health care they provide.”

Trump signed an executive order that allows for the purchase of cheaper insurance plans and for policyholders to participate in an insurance pool. Some health care advocates worry the move would result in sicker people in the regulated market and driving up costs in the process.

Schneiderman has sued Trump several times before on immigration policy as well as environmental regulations.

Stefanik Backs Trump’s Health Care Executive Order

Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik praised the executive order issued Thursday by President Donald Trump that is designed to loosen some regulations for the Affordable Care Act.

The move is aimed at allowing some people to purchase cheaper plans with less coverage and pool coverage in groups after Republicans in Congress failed to agree on a plan that would repeal or overhaul the law, known as Obamacare.

However, some worry the move could place sicker people into more expensive plans and driving up costs in the process.

“Families and businesses in my district deserve more choice in healthcare, and I applaud these efforts to lower costs,” Stefanik said in a statement. “Allowing employers to pool together and purchase insurance across state lines is commonsense and will allow more people to access affordable coverage. I will continue to work in Congress on bipartisan healthcare solutions to help lower costs, increase access and improve quality.”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in a series of statements knocked individual Republicans in the House over the issue.

“Rep. Elise Stefanik and the do-nothing Republican Congress has failed to do anything to address the rising cost of healthcare or the instability in healthcare markets created by President Trump’s erratic behavior and reckless executive order,” said DCCC spokesman Evan Lukaske. “Elise Stefanik should put politics aside and work with Democrats to make healthcare more affordable or be ready for voters to show her the door in 2018.”

The full impact of the executive order is not expected to be fully phased in for several weeks, if not months.