Tenney Hopes For Compromise On SALT

Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney in a radio interview Friday said she hopes there will be a compromise that does not completely end the deduction of state and local taxes.

One compromise could eventual cap deductions, though it remains unclear if that deal would still impact those in the New York City area who have higher incomes that come with a higher cost of living in the region.

“You’re still going to have people caught in the middle,” Tenney said in an interview with Fred Dicker on Talk-1300. “We really want the middle class to enjoy the benefits. Allowing SALT to stay in there or changing gradually over a period of time would be great.”

Tenney echoed what Republicans and Democrats from New York alike have pointed out the state sends more in taxes to the federal government than it receives back in services.

“New York is one of the states that actually receives less than the federal government than they pay out,” she said. “The president wants to help the middle class, but who is paying for the bulk of those taxes, it’s the wealthy.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, too, has railed against the plan to end the deduction and in a statement on Thursday afternoon called on Republicans from New York to block it.

“Republican members of this state’s congressional delegation need to remember they represent the people of New York, and they should not sanction using New York as a piggy bank to finance tax cuts for other states,” Cuomo said. “They must put the interest of their constituents ahead of the interests of their political bosses and stop a reckless proposal that will decimate New York and our hardworking families.”

Molinaro Files For Gov Run

Republican Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro has filed papers with the state Board of Elections to run for governor in 2018.

Molinaro, a former state assemblyman, has created the campaign committee “Molinaro For New York” according to a post on Wednesday at the state Board of Elections.

The Citizen in Auburn reported earlier this week Molinaro is planning a potential ticket with Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb.

The Republican race for the gubernatorial nomination is a potentially crowded one next year: The party’s 2014 nominee Rob Astorino is expected to run and businessman Harry Wilson, a 2010 candidate for state comptroller, is also weighing a campaign for governor.

The party’s 2010 nominee, Carl Paladino, has not ruled out running again, either.

Democratic incumbent Andrew Cuomo is running for a third term next year.

Pence To Push For Tax Overhaul With Collins

Vice President Mike Pence will head to western New York on Tuesday to push alongside Republican Rep. Chris Collins for the administration’s tax reform proposals.

Pence and Collins “will meet with local businesses, community leaders, and New York families to discuss the need for tax reform in the United States,” the White House said on Monday.

The trip will also come with a fundraiser for Collins headlined by the vice president. Meanwhile, Collins is continuing to face scrutiny by the House Ethics Committee, which found last week there was reason to continue investigating whether he shared non-public information in the purchase of stock of a pharmaceutical firm.

New York elected officials in both parties have raised concerns with the proposals for tax changes on the federal level, including the plan to end the deduction of state and local taxes, a move that would impact high-tax states like New York.

Some lawmakers are introducing compromise measures that would cap the deduction, but that could still impact property owners in places like the New York City suburbs, where incomes and the cost of living is generally higher.

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.”

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.

Lanza: Where’s The Outrage For Opioid Deaths?

Republican state Sen. Andrew Lanza on Thursday compared the public outrage to mass shooting deaths and asked why there isn’t more for deaths caused by opioid overdoses.

Lanza was appearing with Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Staten Island to announce new efforts to combat fentanyl, which include block insurers from placing limits on the number of naloxone doses that are covered under a policy.

“Recently we watched in horror the Las Vegas shooting in which 59 of our fellow citizens lost their lives. That is described as America’s worst mass murder. But if you look at the math, it’s not true. There is a murderer who is more lethal, more prolific,” Lanza said. “That murderer is this opioid scourge who has swept across the country.”

Lanza, flanked by Cuomo and Democratic Assemblyman Michael Cusick, said there are 160 people who die each day due to an opioid overdose.

“If you look at the math, 59 people lost their lives in Vegas, 160 human beings lose their lives on average every single day in America. One-hundred-sixty people people died yesterday, 160 people died the day before and the day before that and the day before that,” he said.

“We saw after Vegas people screaming and yelling to do everything to call for martial law to throwing the bill of rights in the shredder. Where is the outrage here? Where is it? One hundred and sixty people die everyday. Perhaps because this problem doesn’t fit neatly within the political narrative of the left, it doesn’t fit neatly within the political narrative of the right.”

Efforts to combat heroin and opioid abuse over the last several years have totaled millions of dollars in new efforts as well as regulations placed on insurance companies to deal with the issue, marking one of the few bipartisan issues facing lawmakers at either the state or federal level. Unlike previous drug epidemics, this one has been dominated by policy discussions focused on prevention and treatment, not just enforcement.

Lanza is the Senate sponsor of a bill released the week of the Las Vegas shooting that would ban so-called “bump” stocks and other devices that when attached to a semiautomatic weapon mimic automatic fire. The device is believed to have been potentially used by the shooter, Stephen Poddock.

Local Races With A National Flavor

From the Morning Memo:

Election Day next month is shaping up to be a comparatively sleepy affair statewide, as ballot propositions for constitutional amendments, along with whether to hold a constitutional constitutional, the only issues all New Yorkers will face when they head to booth.

In most upstate cities, the mayor’s race is a cakewalk for the incumbent Democrat. The same goes for New York City.

But in the suburbs, bellwethers of New York’s political sentiment, two hotly contested races are underway for county executive that could shape 2018’s electoral landscape for the state.

In Westchester County, Democratic state Sen. George Latimer is challenging Republican incumbent Rob Astorino, the 2014 GOP candidate for governor who is believed to be considering a second run against Gov. Andrew Cuomo next year.

In Nassau County, an open seat for county executive is being fought over by former Sen. Jack Martins, a Republican, and Democratic County Legislator Laura Curran.

Both suburban New York City counties — traditional havens for Republican votes — have become more Democratic in recent years. But Republicans have hung on in the county executive posts, underscoring the low Democratic turnout in odd numbered years and the GOP’s drumbeat of a key local suburban issue: Property taxes.

Democrats have in part sought to link Astorino to President Donald Trump, hoping to bring out Democratic voters in an off-cycle year and testing liberal opposition to GOP power in Washington.

“If Rob Astorino were to lose that election, that would be seismic,” said Morgan Hook of SKDKnickerbocker on Capital Tonight’s Insiders on Tuesday.

Still, it’s possible issues for voters there will come down to the more traditional concerns of taxes and spending.

“What they vote on in that county is historically property taxes,” said Dave Catalfamo, a former spokesman for Gov. George Pataki who is now at Park Strategies. “The question is whether there’s going to be enough energy from those voters to counter whatever’s coming from the left energized by what’s going on in Washington.”

With a month to go, the Westchester County race has proved to be particularly personal, with Astorino blasting Latimer for taxes owned on a home owned by his wife stemming from estate issues following the death of his mother-in-law.

Astorino recently picked up endorsements from 20 labor unions in the area, including the Building and Construction Trades Council.

Latimer, meanwhile, has started airing a TV ad painting Astorino has someone doling out patronage jobs and who broke his promise to rein in taxes.

Curran has sought to link Martins to part of the county political structure’s corrupt bloodstream, including incumbent Republican Ed Mangano and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.

For now, Martins has sought to inoculate himself against those claims, quickly coming out of the gate with an anti-corruption platform.

Banning Bump Stocks In NY? Some Say Congress Should Act

There’s a push by some Democratic state lawmakers to explicitly ban so-called “bump” stocks and other devices that allow a semi-automatic gun to mimic automatic fire.

But other elected officials in New York believe Congress should act first.

Using a bump stock or any other device to mimic automatic fire is illegal in New York, according to both the State Police and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office. The possession or sale of a bump stock or similar device, however, is legal, and Sens. Brad Hoylman and John Brooks have a bill that would ban them outright in the state.

The push to ban the devices comes after Stephen Paddock was believed to have used a bump stock when killing 58 people and then himself at a Las Vegas concert.

A spokesman for the Democratic-led Assembly on Thursday indicated there’s support in that chamber for a bill that would specifically ban bump stocks.

“There is no legitimate reason for these types of devices and we will be discussing different options,” said the spokesman, Michael Whyland.

On Thursday afternoon, Democratic lawmakers in the Assembly introduced a bill banning bump stocks, calling it a “loophole.” The bill is sponsored by Sen. Andrew Lanza, a Republican from Staten Island.

“These types of conversion devices have no practical or innocent purpose,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. “They are intended to be used to kill large numbers of innocent people and we must do everything in our power to prevent these abhorrent acts of violence.”

A State Police spokesman this week pointed a state law that prohibits a “machine-gun or any other firearm or weapon simulating a machine-gun and which is adaptable for such use.” This ban pre-dates the SAFE Act, the State Police said.

Schneiderman’s office pointed to the “simulating” language has having captured firearms that don’t fall into the precise definition of a machine gun, but fit the same purpose.

A spokeswoman for the Independent Democratic Conference in the Senate said the onus now is on Congress to act, pointing to the 2013 SAFE Act. At the same time, the IDC interpret the law as having banned bump stocks, not just their use in modifying a firearm.

“Senator Jeff Klein sponsored the SAFE Act, considered the toughest gun laws in the nation, and through that New York State outlawed bump fire devices,” said IDC spokeswoman Candice Giove. “After the tragic mass shooting in Vegas, the New York State Police and our Attorney General reviewed the language of our law and concluded that bump stocks were banned. The IDC is proud to have banned these deadly devices. Now, it’s time for Congress to step up to the plate.”

A spokesman for Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan did not return messages seeking comment.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, too, has called on the Republican-led Congress and Trump administration to act on the issue.

“I think it is ludicrous for the White House to say now is not the time to talk about it,” Cuomo said at a news conference in New York City on Tuesday. “Now is precisely the time to talk about it.”

He added, “The lack of leadership and the lack of action is frankly disgusting. Warm wishes are nice. Press releases are nice. You know what’s better? Action.”

On the national level, Republican members of Congress indicated this week they would be open to a bump stock ban. The National Rifle Association in a statement indicated it was open to new regulations.

Pataki Endorses Martins In Nassau County Exec Race

Former Gov. George Pataki on Thursday endorsed Republican Nassau County executive candidate Jack Martins.

Pataki is the last Republican to have won a statewide race in New York, serving three terms as governor. The endorsement comes as Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to fundraise for Martins’s opponent, Laura Curran.

“Jack Martins has been a successful executive and legislator and has the right experience and integrity to lead Nassau County,” Pataki said. “As Mayor of Mineola, Jack restructured the finances, paid down debt, built infrastructure and expanded the Village economic base. This is what needs to be done here in Nassau, now. I am proud to support him for Nassau County Executive.”

Martins is a former mayor of Mineola and served in the state Senate until an unsuccessful bid for Congress last year.

“I am honored to have the endorsement of the last Republican Governor of New York,” Martins said. “Governor Pataki’s legacy is far-reaching here in Nassau County and across our state. Under his leadership, New Yorkers paid $140 billion less in taxes, we became the safest large state in America and preserved over one million acres of open space. Most importantly, for 12 years Governor Pataki led Albany with honest and effective government.”

Amid Grimm Challenge, Cox Appears With Donovan

donovanAs ex-Rep. Michael Grimm seeks a return to Congress, state Republican Committee Chairman Ed Cox is appearing on Thursday with Rep. Dan Donovan.

The event is billed as “cocktails and conversation” according to an invitation released by the state Republican Committee this week.

In addition to Cox’s appearance, the event also includes the state committee’s finance director, Ore Jacinto.

Grimm, who left Congress in 2015 after pleading guilty to fraud and tax evasion charges.

Now seeking a political comeback, he’s hired political consultant Michael Caputo, who has ties to President Donald Trump’s political circle. Underscoring the outsider status Grimm is seeking to convey in his campaign, Caputo on Wednesday tweeted a photo of Grimm with former Trump White House aide Steve Bannon.