Assembly

Lawmaker Cites NFL’s Anthem Policy In Sports Betting Opposition

Assemblyman Walter Mosley in a statement Friday cited the National Football League’s policy restricting public protests of the National Anthem at games in his opposition to regulating sports gambling in New York.

“The issue of gambling facilities accepting sports betting is more complex than at face value,” Mosley said in a statement.

“The NFL, which is one of the organizations that has a vested interest in such legislation, also has a history of exploiting their athletes. Considering the impact that sports gambling has to benefit the NFL, I decided to vote against the legislation. The NFL should not be rewarded by the state legislature in light of the decisions they have made to suppress the free speech of their players of color. We must send a message that silencing people of color while profiting off them is unacceptable.”

A bill regulating sports gambling — allowing major sports leagues to crack down on illegal bets and for wagers to be placed on mobile devices — is not expected to be voted on before the legislative session concludes next week.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie told reporters this week the bill has not gained sufficient support in his conference to be brought to the floor.

The NFL has not been as active in lobbying lawmakers and state regulators for a sports gambling measure compared to representatives of Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association.

The bill was proposed after last month’s Supreme Court ruling striking down a federal ban on sports gambling, leaving the issue up to the states.

DAs Protest Conduct Panel Bill’s Passage

From the Morning Memo:

A bill that would create a conduct review commission for local prosecutors is being opposed by the District Attorneys Association of the State New York, with the group arguing it would undermine prosecutorial discretion and compromise independence.

The bill was approved Thursday in the Republican-controlled state Senate. It’s expected to receive a vote in the Democratic-led Assembly next week before the legislative session ends for the year.

“This bill is flagrantly unconstitutional and violates the separation of powers. DAASNY has already informed the Governor and his staff of the constitutional issues raised by this bill,” said DAASNY President, Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara. “The bill is so flawed that virtually every legislator who voted for this bill acknowledged during the floor debate that the bill already requires chapter amendments.”

The organization pointed to the existence of the Attorney Grievance Committee that oversees prosecutors.

But the panel the bill would create, its sponsors argue, would set up an entity similar to the judicial conduct commission, providing a new level of oversight. The governor would retain superseding authority to remove district attorneys from office, a power that rests in the state constitution.

“Prosecutors have substantial discretion over how to prosecute cases,” said Sen. John DeFrancisco said. “This commission would serve as an impartial forum for reviewing allegations made against prosecutors to determine whether they acted properly in certain criminal cases.”

At Times Raw, Assembly Debates Flag Day

The state Assembly debated the meaning of the flag in American life on Thursday, approving a resolution to recognizing Flag Day that also revealed the fractured, raw and heartfelt views of life in the United States in 2018.

The widely anticipated moment of the debate was in the beginning, when Assemblyman Charles Barron railed against the flag for what he saw as symbolizing slavery and the oppression of people of color. He concluded his remarks by walking to the well of the chamber, bent down on one knee and raised his fist in the air.

Barron’s remarks spurred angry asides from Assembly Republicans, who issue with him using a prop at one point. But not all were offended, pointing to the First Amendment right to demonstrate, to them symbolized by the flag itself.

But the conversation, stretching into the afternoon hours, highlighted the differing views state lawmakers hold over patriotism, the symbolism of the flag itself, military service police brutality, immigration, the policies of the Trump administration and the treatment of minorities and women and divided nature of the country.

The 150-member chamber is dominated by Democrats who have more than 100 seats. But both conferences, despite their differences in size, have a diversity of views and individuals, be it retired police officers, veterans, teachers or advocates who have now gained a seat at the table.

The Assembly is a reflection of New York: rural, urban, suburban, yes, but also gay, black, Latino, conservative and liberal. And, like the rest of the country, has individuals who each see something different when they look at the flag.

Assembly Approves Universal Health Care Measure

The state Assembly approved a bill Thursday that would create a universal health care system in New York based on the single-payer model.

The measure would combined state and federal funds used for Medicare, Medicaid and Child Health Plus to create the New York Health Trust Fund. The measure would also require the state to seek federal waivers allowing it to fold those programs into the trust.

And the bill’s backers point to the measure saving on property taxes, allowing the local government share of Medicaid funding to end.

“The health care system is rigged against working people, and Congress and the Trump administration are working to restrict health care access even more. New York can do better with an ‘improved Medicare for all’ single-payer system that covers all of us and is funded fairly,” said Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, the longtime sponsor of the bill. “Support is growing with the public and in the State Senate. Assembly passage is an important step as we continue to build support for universal health care to benefit everyone.”

But the bill is nevertheless expected to be costly for the state that already has one of the most expensive Medicaid programs in the country. It stands little chance of passage in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, has said he supports a Medicare expansion for all on the federal level.

Still, Democratic lawmakers in that chamber are hopeful it can gain traction, pointing to efforts by President Trump’s administration to undermine and gut the Affordable Care Act.

“With the White House and Republicans in Congress relentlessly attacking our right to healthcare and vigorously working to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, this vote is a critical step in our State’s efforts to ensure that every New Yorker, regardless of their wealth or status, has an adequate access to affordable healthcare,” said Sen. Gustavo Rivera.

“It is now time for the members of the New York State Senate to stand up for what is right and work towards the implementation of an efficient and universal healthcare system for New York State. As the Ranking Member of the Senate Health Committee and proud sponsor of the New York Health Act, I will continue to work to make healthcare in our great State a right and not a privilege.”

Sports Gambling Bill Fails To Gain Support In Assembly

A bill that would create a regulatory structure for sports gambling in New York appears to be on the ropes, as support remains insufficient in the Democratic conference in the Assembly to bring the measure to a vote.

“We had a pretty lengthy conference yesterday and members raised significant issues,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said on Thursday. “So, I would say at this point there isn’t enough support within the Democratic conference to go forward on sports gambling.”

A concerted push began last month on the bill after the Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on sports gambling, leaving the issue up to the states.

An existing law allows the state Gaming Commission to structure regulations now for allowing sports books in commercial casinos. Lawmakers would act on additional issues, shaping the regulations for major sports leagues to crack down on illegal activity and allow betters to make wagers on mobile devices.

Lawmakers, however, are running out of time to finalize an agreement. The legislative session ends on Wednesday.

“I don’t want to never to say never in this life, but I don’t know if a week is enough,” Heastie said. “Sometimes that can be a lifetime. But the broad spectrum of concerns members raised, I don’t know if that can be resolved.”

In the Senate, Racing And Wagering Committee Chairman John Bonacic said he’s tried to accommodate concerns raised by the Assembly.

“If (the Assembly) comes up short, then in my opinion the sports betting bill will be dead,” he said. “Everyday we get a new count. It’s a day by day, but we’re running out of time.”

Bonacic’s Assembly counterpart, Democratic lawmaker Gary Pretlow, said a range issues were raised in the closed-door conference, including the impact on state agreements with tribal casinos and questions of constitutionality.

“The real problem is time. Today is Thursday. We’re done in four business days, but anything could happen,” he said. “This is the New York state Legislature.”

Assembly To Vote On ‘Red Flag’ Gun Control Bill

The Democratic-controlled Assembly is expected to take up a bill Wednesday that is meant to keep guns away from those deemed to be too dangerous to themselves or others.

Known as the “red flag” bill, the measure is part of a campaign being undertaken by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to highlight the legislation in the final days of the session, scheduled to end on June 20.

“I think it’s important to tell the people of the state of New York how important it is to have sensible gun control legislation,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Bronx Democrat. “We want to make sure people who can observe young people who are closest to them, maybe they can intervene, and do something.”

The measure is expected to face little opposition in the Assembly, which is firmly controlled by Democrats.

In the Senate, narrowly controlled by Republicans, GOP lawmakers there are down one member, Sen. Tom Croci, who is away on military leave. His absence gives Republicans 31 members in a body that requires 32 votes to pass any legislation.

But Republicans maintain control and have been lukewarm to the bill and have pointed to efforts to bolster school security through additional resource officers, a move Assembly Democrats would oppose.

“We have done a lot of things already this year with regard to school safety,” said Sen. Cathy Young. “We’ve passed a package of school safety measures that the Democrats have failed to take up.”

Asked if she would specifically support the red flag legislation, Young said, “I think we need to focus on mental health and school safety in general.”

Cuomo, meanwhile, has been skeptical Republicans will take up the bill.

The Senate GOP did allow a vote on the first gun control measure since the 2013 SAFE Act to be approved in the chamber: A bill that tightens restrictions on gun possession for those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence.

Sports Gambling Measure Remains Up In the Air

A bill that would create a new regulatory system for sports gambling in New York remains up in the air as the legislative session counts down to its final day, June 20.

Sen. John Bonacic, the Republican chairman of the chamber’s Racing And Wagering Committee, said Wednesday he expects his bill would be considered by the chamber as early as next week.

His Democratic counterpart, Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, is expected to have a bill released soon, as well.

But the measure, which is being considered after the Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on sports wagers, still remains on uncertain ground.

“With seven days left, if we get a chance, we’ll talk about it,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. “Where it goes after that, I’m not sure.”

Some lawmakers want to act on the measure this month in order to put its stamp on sports gambling regulations and allow for bets to be taken on mobile devices.

At the same time, representatives of the major sports leagues have appeared in Albany in support of a regulatory plan that includes efforts to crack down on suspicious bets. Both former Yankee managers, Joe Girardi and Joe Torre, now officials with Major League Baseball, have appeared at the state Capitol to stress that any bill bolster the “integrity” of the game.

Bill Reforming Specialized School Admissions Won’t Be Taken Up This Session

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie on Thursday said a debate over reforming the admissions process to specialized high schools in New York City will continue into 2019, ensuring the measure won’t be taken up in the final days of the legislative session.

The decision to extend the debate over how to reform admissions comes as advocates and lawmakers from the rapidly Asian community in New York City worried about the impact of the effort to boost enrollment among black and Latino students at the prestige schools.

“After speaking to members of the caucus and also the Asian Pacific Task Force as well, we want to come up with something that is good for all students, so I think over the next few months and into the next session we’ll be having discussions with all of the stakeholders and all of the communities, including the Asian-American community, to come up with something that’s good for all students in the city of New York,” Heastie said.

The bill reforming admissions and phasing out an examination cleared the Assembly Education Committee on Wednesday, a move Heastie called a “first step” in the discussion.

But with the charged emotions surrounding the debate, Heastie cited the relatively short amount of time left in the legislative calendar. The session is scheduled to end June 20, but lawmakers have seven days remaining in the calendar.

The issue will be brought up again when lawmakers reconvene in 2019, the same year mayoral control of New York City schools will be up for renewal. Gov. Andrew Cuomo indicated earlier this week the issue would likely be discussed in tandem with specialized school admissions.

He was careful not to draw any links between the two issues, but mayoral control’s expiration has, in the past, been linked to other issues.

“These things, education policy, what happens in these specialized schools, what happens in middle schools and what happens in elementary schools is all policy,” Heastie said. “They’re all going to come up in the same year, but I don’t know if there’s a direct linkage or a dependency on one or the other.”

Building Blocks NY Pushes Public Work Definition Bill

The Building Blocks NY coalition on Wednesday announced the launch of a six-figure ad campaign aimed at boosting a bill that they say is meant to provide a definition of public works projects and enabling watchdogs at the state Department of Labor to apply prevailing wage requirements.

“New York has a history of protecting public work employees and making sure they receive the adequate wages in which they are entitled to,” said Patrick Purcell, the executive director of Greater New York LECET, the group that has led the Building NY campaign. “Yet, that remains in jeopardy due to the elusive language around the definition of public work in New York.”

The measure has previously passed in the Democratic-controlled Assembly, but is yet to be approved by the Republican-led Senate.

Building Blocks NY from Building Blocks NY on Vimeo.

Heastie Calls Admissions Reform Bill ‘First Step’

A bill that would phase out examinations used in admissions for specialized schools in New York City gained steam in the Democratic-controlled Assembly on Wednesday, passing the chamber’s Education Committee.

The measure, backed by Assemblyman Charles Barron and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, was proposed to address the under representation of students of color at the specialized high schools.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie called the bill “a first step” in tackling the issue. He vowed to have further conversations with lawmakers and others to determine the best course.

“The Assembly Majority will work deliberatively, speaking with all the affected communities, so that together we can find a resolution that benefits all of New York City’s students,” Heastie said.

It’s not clear if lawmakers will act on the issue before June 20, the final scheduled day of the legislative session.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday at a news conference indicated the measure would likely wait until next year, when mayor control of New York City schools is up for renewal.