Andrew Cuomo

Cuomo Urges Felder To Switch To Senate Dems

Key issues in Albany will stall in the Legislature unless Sen. Simcha Felder switches to the Democratic conference, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday in New York City.

Speaking at an unrelated news conference, Cuomo said it’s unlikely major issues will be resolved by the time the legislative session ends in June.

“If you don’t see a change in the leadership, I don’t see anything significant happening,” Cuomo said. “Everything that we could possibly get done we got done in the budget. The matters that have not yet gotten to the floor, let alone passed, the Republican leadership will not do.”

Democrats have 32 enrolled lawmakers in the Senate, but are short of a working majority with Felder remaining in the Republican conference. Felder announced Tuesday he would sit with the Senate GOP, hours before polls closed in two key Senate races that saw Democrats retain two open seats in the chamber.

Democrats have had 32 members in the Senate before, but that was as the Independent Democratic Conference’s alliance with Republicans in the Senate was still in place. The IDC this month disbanded and returned to the Democratic fold in the Senate.

Cuomo on Wednesday released a letter to Felder urging him to reconsider his decision to stay with Republicans. Felder has said he wants to avoid the “chaos” that would result from him switching to the other side of the aisle and empowering Democrats.

Asked if he would apply pressure to Felder, Cuomo joked, “I’m not a pressure kind of guy. I’m a charm, circle them with love kind of guy. I think the pressure will come from the reality.”

Cuomo Executive Order Blocks Immigration Status Question

A modified executive order issued Wednesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo blocks state agencies and officers from inquiring about a person’s immigration status — a move that dovetails with the state calling on Immigration and Customs Enforcement to stop “reckless and unconstitutional” enforcement actions in the state.

At the same time, Cuomo did not rule out legal action against the federal government. ICE agents in recent weeks have stepped up immigration enforcement around the country, including areas in New York state.

“The reckless and unconstitutional practices ICE is deploying in our communities violate everything we believe in New York and are an assault on our democracy,” Cuomo said. “I demand ICE immediately cease and desist this pattern of conduct, and if they fail to do so, I will pursue all available legal recourse and commit to doing everything in my power to protect the rights and safety of all New Yorkers. In New York, where Lady Liberty holds her torch high, we will defend our democracy and protect the rights and safety of all New Yorkers.”

The order issued by Cuomo on Wednesday is a modification of a previous order, blocking ICE arrests in state facilities without a warrant.

A bill that would declare New York a “sanctuary” state has been a difficult ask in the state Legislature, with the measure passing by a narrow majority in the otherwise Democratic-dominated Assembly and unlikely to come to a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Democrats Win, But Republicans Retain Power

From the Morning Memo:

There’s a new status quo for Democrats in the state Senate: The Independent Democratic Conference is dissolved and they have 32 enrolled members, enough for a narrow working majority after keeping two seats in their column following special elections on Tuesday.

But for now, that’s not the case. There have been 32 registered Democratic members of the state Senate in recent years, but the disbanded IDC is no longer keeping Republicans in power as either a key bloc of votes or in an outright majority coalition.

It’s now down to one man: Sen. Simcha Felder, who insisted on Tuesday, hours before the polls closed in special elections in the Bronx and Westchester County, that he would not go anywhere, at least until the end of the legislative session, which concludes in June.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, facing political pressure from the left to push Democrats to a majority, was similarly insistent on Tuesday evening at the victory party for Democrat Shelley Mayer that all Democrats in the Senate — Felder included — must work together.

“And my friends, today is just the beginning,” Cuomo said. “Because we now have 32 registered Democrats under the leadership of Andrea Stewart-Cousins and we expect and believe 32 registered democrats are going to come together and form a Democratic majority. And today is just the beginning, because we are going to go out and work every day until November, and we are going to send Washington a message and we are going to elect a Democratic House to stop this Republican president freight train.”

On social media, Cuomo went further, with his Twitter account posting “We now have 32 Democrats under the leadership of @AndreaSCousins.” As Republicans pointed out in a statement of their own, that’s not true.

“The New York City politicians who think it will be easy to flip the State Senate and impose their radical agenda on the people of New York should take heed,” said Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif.

“Our Majority represents the checks and balances, and the real accountability that hardworking taxpayers need and deserve. Without us it’s one party rule, higher taxes, runaway spending and New Yorkers will be less safe.”

It’s not clear at this point what Cuomo can do, exactly, to move Felder out of the Republican fold.

Felder does not face similar political pressures that Sen. Jeff Klein and members of the IDC faced that led them to rejoin the Democratic conference. He has made clear he will back whichever conference he feels is best for his constituents, many of whom are Orthodox Jews.

Democrats may well continue to look toward November, when their base is expected to turnout heavily in down-ballot races.

“To be certain: this is a great night for us and our shared New York Values as we add our State to the momentum of the “blue wave” as it heads into November,” said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, the chairman of the state Democratic Committee. “And, my friends, this is just the start of all the progress yet to come.”

Cuomo: Senate Control Remains Open Issue

Gov. Andrew Cuomo through a spokeswoman on Tuesday said push to reunify Democrats in the state Senate remains an open issue, despite Sen. Simcha Felder announcing his plans to remain the Republican fold.

“The Governor’s position is clear: the Democrats must unify to take back the majority,” said Dani Lever, a spokeswoman for Cuomo. “This conversation will continue in the morning.”

Felder’s announcement comes as two Senate seats are being contested in special elections in the Bronx and Westchester County today. Should Democrats win both, they would have a numeric majority in the chamber. Felder’s decision to stay with the GOP conference for the remainder of the session would ensure Republicans remain in power.

“We’re thrilled with Senator Felder’s decision to continue to caucus with our Majority,” said Senate Republican spokesman Scott Reif.

“Since 2012, he has been an important and trusted member of our conference, and an effective legislator for the constituents he represents. We look forward to continuing to work with to move his district and our entire state forward.”

As Nixon Rallies For Climate, Cuomo Proposes Bag Ban

As hundreds of advocates rallied in Albany against climate change and to push Gov. Andrew Cuomo to do more on the issue, his office announced legislation on Monday that would institute a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags by 2019.

The bill released Monday comes after the conclusion of a commission to study the issue, formed after Cuomo and state lawmakers blocked a fee on plastic bags in New York City from taking effect.

“The blight of plastic bags takes a devastating toll on our streets, our water and our natural resources, and we need to take action to protect our environment,” Cuomo said. “As the old proverb goes: ‘We did not inherit the earth, we are merely borrowing it from our children,’ and with this action we are helping to leave a stronger, cleaner and greener New York for all.”

The bill faces an uncertain future in the Legislature, where it remains unclear if the Senate will be controlled by Republicans or Democrats by the end of the legislative session, which concludes in June. The measure would impact single-use plastic carryout bags at any point of sale. Garment bags, trash bags and bags that are used to wrap or contain foods like fruit and sliced meets would be exempt.

Cuomo’s introduction of the bill comes as his rival for the Democratic nomination, actress and advocate Cynthia Nixon, appeared at the climate rally about a mile away from the Capitol.

Nixon didn’t assail Cuomo’s record on the environment, but insisted he could do more.

“Banning fracking in New York state is a good first step,” she said. “But if you’re allowing all this fracked gas infrastructure from the pipelines to the power plants to be built, you’re poisoning peoples’ communities.”

Nixon has her own plans for environmental policy, including a shift to 100 percent renewable energy in New York in the coming decades. It’s unclear how that would be accomplished, however.

Nixon has also taken notice of the whirlwind of policy activity from Cuomo’s office since she announced her campaign a month ago.

“There certainly seems to be in the last month a number of issues in which Gov. Cuomo has reversed himself rather startlingly,” she said.

Cuomo’s office has insisted the measures announced in the last several weeks remain consistent with his agenda. Proposals such as the legalization of marijuana, backed by Nixon, are being studied by the Cuomo administration, a move the governor announced at the start of the year.

“The Governor has led the nation in combating climate change from banning fracking to one of the most aggressive clean energy standards in the country to closing down dangerous Indian Point to the single largest procurement of renewable energy in our nation’s history and the first multi-state cap and trade system to lower carbon pollution,” said Cuomo campaign spokeswoman Abbey Fashouer. “We welcome anyone to this critical effort as we work to protect our environment for future generations and create a cleaner, greener New York.”

Plastic Bag Ban by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Cuomo: Westchester Race ‘First Battle’ In Push For Democratic Victories

From the Morning Memo:

A special election to fill an open Senate seat in Westchester County is the “first battle” toward a Democratic Party takeover of the state Senate in Albany and the House of Representatives in Washington, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday said.

Cuomo rallied over the weekend with Democrats in the northern New York City suburbs to boost Democratic state Senate hopeful Shelley Mayer, who is running for the open Westchester County Senate district in what is considered a key special election.

“And it’s the first battle in the war that continues every day until November,” Cuomo said at the rally. “Because we have to elect a Democratic House in November to stop this freight train that the President is now running, and the only way to stop that extreme conservative freight train is to elect a Democratic Congress that can stand up and stop it.”

The seat is one of 11 districts in the Senate and Assembly being considered in special elections on Tuesday. Republicans are contesting this district, having long eyed the seat as one that could be flipped.

A Mayer victory would give Democrats 32 enrolled lawmakers in the state Senate and, depending on what Sen. Simcha Felder does, a working majority in the chamber. There has been no indication from Felder if he will switch from the Republican conference to the Democratic fold.

Cuomo earlier this month announced a truce between the warring factions of Democrats in the Senate, leading to the dissolution of the Independent Democratic Conference in the chamber and their return to the mainline conference fold.

Cuomo has faced increasing pressure from the left to unite the party in the Senate, which liberals have blamed for blocking or helping to dilute reform legislation.

Republicans in the state Senate, meanwhile, continued to rack up law enforcement endorsements in the race. On Sunday, she was given the nod of the Supreme Court Officers Association.

“Our members respect Julie’s experience and support as a member of the public service community,” said Patrick Cullen, the organization’s president. “Julie’s ardor for duty and service is manifest throughout her life and career and that makes the Association proud to endorse Julie Killian for election as the next State Senator from the 37th District.”

Cuomo: Make NY The ‘Home Of The Rise Of The Resistance’ Against Trump

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in Albany on Friday rallied with members of the New York State Nurses Association, pledging that the state will show the country “the alternative to Trump’s America.”

The event Friday morning comes as Cuomo has taken an increasingly arch tone with President Donald Trump’s administration and policies, while also linking himself further to the labor movement in New York. The association scored a recent victory with the unionization of the workforce at Albany Medical Center.

“We’re going to come out, we are going to come out all 2.5 million members and their families and their in-laws and their neighbors and we’re going to speak with one voice. And we’re going to start by taking back the House and stopping this extreme conservative freight train in Washington,” Cuomo said. “We are then going to elect a State Democratic Senate and show those Republicans who bought onto the extreme conservative agenda it has no home in New York. Not upstate, not downstate, not on Long Island.”

Early after Trump was elected, Cuomo had initially signaled an interest to work with the new president, pointing to his New York roots and the shared desire to fund infrastructure.

But Cuomo has soured on Trump’s immigration and tax policies, while the president’s popularity with Democratic voters remains in the basement, especially in Democratic-dominated New York. Cuomo also faces a primary challenge this year against Cynthia Nixon, an education advocate and actress who has criticized the governor for working too closely with Republicans.

“What we’re going to do together is make New York State the home of the rise of the resistance. We’re going to show this nation the alternative to Trump’s America. And the alternative to Trump’s America is the great state of New York, the beacon of progressive values, the state that says we can all succeed together,” Cuomo said. “We don’t have to pick winners and losers, it’s not management or workers. It’s not black or white. It’s not gay or straight. It’s all of us together. That’s the New York way. And that’s what works for this country and we’re going to reject their division and reject their fear and we’re going to show them what unity can do and what the middle class and working families united can do.”

Cuomo Talks Up Hochul For Congress But Affirms Commitment To Her As Running Mate

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-NY, affirmed his commitment to Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul as his running mate this fall, during a press availability Thursday in Buffalo. That is, if that’s what Hochul wants to do.

Cuomo did discuss a push this weekend to get the lieutenant governor to replace Democratic candidate Nate McMurray in New York’s 27th Congressional District. He repeatedly said Hochul would be the best candidate to defeat incumbent Republican Chris Collins, but indicated he did not initiate the effort to push her off his own ticket.

“It’s all flattery for Kathy. (House Minority Leader) Nancy Pelosi, (House Democratic Caucus Chair) Joe Crowley, I got calls from all across the nation asking me to ask Kathy to run but I always said it was Kathy’s decision,” he said.

The governor also denied drafting embattled former Empire State Development official Sam Hoyt, who has been accused of sexually harassing a state employee, to gauge McMurray’s interest in dropping out of the race.

“But there’s no secret that many, many people have been trying to get Kathy Hochul to run and many, many people have said Kathy Hochul would be the strongest candidate and many, many people say that she would be a stronger candidate than Nate McMurray,” he said.

Despite calling the issue moot, because Hochul has continually said she does not plan to run for Congress (and McMurray, for that matter, has said he won’t drop out), the governor certainly seemed to be talking up his lieutenant governor as a House of Representatives candidate. He said he is not worried about her prospects in a primary for lieutenant governor against Brooklyn Council Member Jumaane Williams.

“She’s a very strong candidate in any position,” Cuomo said. “This congressional seat is key.”

The governor said he made it his priority to elect Democratic candidates to Congress this year. The effort seems to have zeroed in on Republican members who voted in favor of the federal tax overhaul.

Cuomo said by capping deductions on state and local taxes at $10,000 those members hurt their constituents and put New York at a structural disadvantage when it tries to attract new businesses.

Cuomo Says Driver’s Licences For Undocumented Immigrants A Local Issue

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday gave a non-committal answer when asked about whether access to state driver’s licenses should be given to undocumented immigrants.

Cuomo, speaking with reporters in Buffalo, said the issue was a local one.

“That is a county by county decision, or we would have to change the state law,” he said.

Advocates on Wednesday in Albany rallied with state lawmakers at the Capitol to push for the provision, which has also been embraced by Cuomo’s Democratic primary opponent, Cynthia Nixon.

The driver’s license issue has remained a controversial one for Albany to tackle. More than a decade ago, then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer proposed extending driver’s licences to undocumented New York residents. Spitzer later withdrew the proposal amid an outcry from Democrats and Republicans alike, but not before the issue was seen as tripping up Hillary Clinton in a presidential debate.

Cuomo has emphasized solidarity with the state’s immigrant community and contrasted his policies with those of President Donald Trump’s administration.

Pointing to his own family’s roots as Italian immigrants, Cuomo said earlier this month, “You want to deport immigrants start with me, because I’m an undocumented person.”

Cuomo Doesn’t Back Bell’s Release

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday he opposes the release of convicted cop killer Herman Bell.

“If I were on the Parole Board I would not have made that decision,” Cuomo said. “The Parole Board is an independent board and I would not have made that decision.”

Members of the state Parole Board are nominated by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate.

Bell, convicted of killing two police officers in 1971, was granted parole in March. A state judge has put Bell’s release on hold pending a review after one of the officer’s widows petitioned to stop it.

Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, have blasted Cuomo’s executive order to extend voting rights to those who are on parole, a move the governor announced Thursday.