Heastie Differs With Cuomo On Indian Point

HeastieschenectadyFrom the Morning Memo:

While Gov. Andrew Cuomo has supported closing the Indian Point nuclear power plant for years, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie on Wednesday said he had an opposite view.

“I’m never really been one to have issue with nuclear plants,” Heastie said during a visit to Schenectady. “But the discussion really is to make sure — particularly because Indian Point does supply a lot of energy to New York City — we have to make sure all the lights come on in the city.”

Cuomo’s criticism of the plant, which generates about 2,000 megawatts of power for the New York City area, intensified in May after a transformer caught fire at the facility. More >

Heastie: Test Scores Show ‘We Still Have Work To Do’

HeastieschenectadyAssembly Speaker Carl Heastie on Wednesday didn’t close the door to yet another revision of the state’s teacher evaluation law, though nothing is in the works to do so at this point.

“In the last few years, we’ve always made adjustments to education policy,” he said. “We’re not looking at anything I’d say right now, but that opportunity is always there. If something arises, I think we would do that.”

Heastie was in Schenectady earlier today to tour General Electric Co., Proctors and the site of the proposed Rivers Resort and Casino as part of a broader upstate tour with members of his Democratic conference.

State lawmakers earlier this year agreed to a package of education policy changes that linked test scores to evaluations as well as in-classroom observation and made it more difficult for teachers to obtain tenure. More >

Heastie: Reform Takes Time

carlheastieFrom the Morning Memo:

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie rose to power earlier this year, in part by promising he would change the secretive top-down practices of his predecessor, former Speaker Sheldon Silver, providing more involvement to rank-and-file members and overhauling the way the chamber does business.

Members seem pleased this far with Heastie’s approach, saying he went out of his way to listen to their concerns and communicate them to the governor and the Senate during the budget and end-of-session negotiations.

Heastie also signed off on reforms to the notoriously loophole-ridden per diem system, which had been criminally abused by several now-former lawmakers. Receipts and proof of travel to Albany are now required in order for lawmakers to be reimbursed for their expenses. More >

Assembly Dem Conference Grows By 1

Assemblyman John Ceretto is a Democrat — again.

The western New York lawmaker is bolting from the Assembly Republican conference and joining the large Democratic majority, Speaker Carl Heastie on Tuesday announced.

“Like the members of our conference, John is committed to working families and helping people climb the ladder of economic opportunity,” Heastie said in a statement. I have spent the summer traveling throughout upstate New York and learning about the needs of the communities I have visited, and I am excited that Assemblyman Ceretto will be bringing his views and experiences as a lifelong resident of Western New York to the Majority Conference.”

With Ceretto’s defection, the Democratic majority is growing its already large advantage in the chamber to 105 members. More >

A Summertime Focus On Upstate?

carlheastieAs he’s traveled across upstate New York this summer, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie says he’s learned a lot from visiting the urban, suburban and rural corners of the state.

“This has really been a fact finding and a learning and eye-opening experience for me,” Heastie said during a stop in Buffalo.

The newly elected speaker traveled the state this summer to familiarize himself with the regions north of his Bronx Assembly district.

Heastie says the trip could turn into some recommendations to address issues he’s seen in upstate New York. More >

Barron Proposing Grand Jury Ban

barronFrom the Morning Memo:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has spent a lot of time talking up his naming of a special prosecutor – state AG Eric Schneiderman – to investigate any cases that occur over the next year in which unarmed civilians die at the hands of law enforcement.

Advocates wanted this.

Or, at the very least, they preferred it to Cuomo’s initial criminal justice reform proposal made in the wake of the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases, which called for an independent monitor to review these cases after the fact and determine whether a special prosecutor is warranted in instances where a grand jury refused to indict.

But the Schneiderman solution doesn’t go far enough for some – including Assemblyman Charles Barron, an outspoken (and often controversial) Brooklyn Democrat – who has decided to go a step further by proposing a bill to ban grand juries in police-related death cases altogether. More >

Heastie: MMA Debate Will Return Next Year

MMAThe contentious debate over legalizing mixed-martial arts in New York will be revived next year as the lawmakers remain “close” on agreeing to allowing bouts in the state, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said on Wednesday in Buffalo.

“I think it’s very close to having the support in the Assembly, but I think it will be a big topic once we get back to Albany,” Heastie said of MMA.

Supporters of legalizing the sport were disappointed at the end of the legislative session when, despite word of a brokered compromise between the Assembly and Republican-led Senate on an MMA bill, the measure stalled in the final days.  More >

Push To Change Tax Cap May Revive Next Year

AssemblyFrom the Morning Memo:

Lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo this June agreed to another four-year extension of the state’s cap on property tax increases with minor changes.

But some lawmakers who are concerned with the impact of the cap on local governments and school districts after years of near-flat inflation may revive talk in the next legislative session of pushing for deeper changes to the measure than what was agreed to in June.

“Many cities depend on aid to municipalities,” said Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi in a Capital Tonight interview. “That has been flat for a number of years. We’re not expected to raise taxes, but you are limited on what you can raise. It certainly puts a strain on what a city or school district can provide.” More >

Assembly Bill Would Spend $50M On Testing For Legionnaires

legionnairescoolingAs state and city officials continue to monitor and contain an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the Bronx, a measure being introduced in the Assembly would spend up to $50 million to testing cooling towers of the Legionella bacteria.

At the same time, the measure being introduced by Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner would continue to fund testing and policing of the bacteria by various city agencies with the goal of preventing future outbreaks of the disease.

The money would be allocated to the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Department of Environmental Protection in order to conduct the tests. More >

Ethics and Guidance Committee to Meet in Albany

AssemblyThe Assembly’s committee on Ethics and Guidance will meet in Albany next week, according to the chamber’s committee schedule posted online.

The only item on the agenda is to move into executive session.

It’s unclear what members will be discussing in the closed-door meeting, but there is at least one possibility. The Assembly has been searching for an Executive Director of the New Office of Ethics and Compliance since May.

When Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie appeared on Capital Tonight last month, he said the chamber was continuing to search for the position, and that no choices had been made just yet.