State Senate

Senate GOP Could Conference Minimum Wage By November, Lawmaker Says

From the Morning Memo:

While Gov. Andrew Cuomo shot down the potential for a special session to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15, Senate Republicans could meet to take a position on the issue as early as November.

“I don’t know where the conference stands,” said Sen. Patty Ritchie. “Sometime later in November we’re going to have a conference and I’m sure that’s one of the issues that’s going to be discussed.”

Cuomo on Wednesday in Albany said he had not heard of a special session — potentially in December — being a point of discussion.

But sources say a potential end-of-year session has been in the preliminary discussion phase for raising the minimum wage, potentially coupled with a tax cut for businesses.

The GOP conference is yet to take a formal position on increasing the state’s minimum wage to $15, but has expressed dissatisfaction with the fast-food minimum wage being hiked through a wage board. More >

Akshar Boosted By GOPAC

aksharRepublican Fred Akshar’s state Senate campaign was endorsed by GOPAC’s election fund with an endorsement and $11,000 contribution from the group.

“Fred Akshar has proven to be a true leader in his community, and GOPAC is proud to support him for New York Senate,” said GOPAC Chairman David Avella. “Fred’s priorities will continue to focus on battling drug addiction and making our communities safer, as well as strengthening the Southern Tier economy, fighting for our fair share of economic development and education aid from Albany, and helping small businesses and manufacturers succeed and create jobs.”

Akshar already had a big fundraising advantage over his Democratic opponent, Barbara Fiala.

Buoyed by support from Senate Republicans and their campaign committee, Akshar last week reported having raised 429,548 in campaign contributions for his bid to win an open Senate seat in the Binghamton area next month.

He reported having spent $276,386, and has $153,162 in cash on hand with about a month to go before Election Day. More >

Discussions Held For Special Session On Minimum Wage Hike

senate1From the Morning Memo:

As Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposes a phased-in $15 minimum wage in exchange for a possible tax cut aimed at businesses, talk in Albany has swirled around the potential for a special session by the end of the year to deal with both issues, according to two sources familiar with the talks.

The conversations, initiated by the governor’s office, have been preliminary. At this point, the chances of the Legislature returning to Albany to deal with the issue are low, the sources cautioned.

Nevertheless, the move would potentially clear the minimum wage issue and its thorny politics before the start of the 2016 legislative session, one that will proceed what’s expected to be a pitched battle for control of the state Senate.

Senate Republicans, who have expressed weary dissatisfaction with another minimum wage increase, hold a narrow majority in the chamber.

Still, the GOP conference hasn’t definitively ruled out passage of a $15 minimum wage as Cuomo has floated the possibility of linking business friendly tax cuts to the phased-in increase. More >

Stewart-Cousins: Fiala “Best Candidate” for 52nd SD

ascFrom the Morning Memo:

Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins is continuing to publicly support Barbara Fiala, the Democratic candidate for the Southern Tier seat vacated by ex-GOP Sen. Tom Libous, even though the former Broome County executive is trailing badly both in a public opinion poll and the race for political dollars.

“I think that Barbara Fiala is an extremely strong candidate,” Stewart-Cousins said during a CapTon interview earlier this week.

“She is obviously a proven public servant,” the senator continued. “She is an excellent person for the Senate job. She is taking her message to the voters. Polls are polls, but the reality is, she’s got a good message. She’s got a great message, and she’s a terrific candidate.”

Stewart-Cousins repeated the line that the Senate Democrats have been using from the outset about the 52nd being a GOP-dominated district and uphill battle for Fiala to win against her Republican opponent, Broome County Undersheriff Fred Akshar, in the special election this November.

“She’s absolutely the best candidate for that district, and we are certainly hoping that she will prevail at the end,” the minority leader added. More >

Judge Rejects Libous’s Bid For A New Trial

libous1U.S. District Court Judge VIncent Briccetti has rejected an effort by Republican former Sen. Tom Libous to have his felony conviction tossed, determining the evidence in his trial was sufficient enough to determine that he lied in an interview with federal law enforcement.

Briccetti’s ruling, which came down late last week, is a blow to Libous’s legal battle and came after his attorneys filed motions in an effort to toss the July conviction or seek a new trial.

The ruling was first reported by Gannett.

Libous automatically lost his seat in July when he was convicted on a charge of lying to the FBI in a case stemming from his son receiving a job from a politically connected law firm.

Libous’s son, Matthew, earned $150,000 a year at the Westchester County law firm, was sentenced to federal prison for six months following his conviction on tax evasion charges. More >

Kaminsky Kicks In For Senate Dems

senate1From the Morning Memo:

Freshman Long Island Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky, whose profile rose in the wake of Speaker Sheldon Silver’s arrest earlier this year on corruption charges, contributed $5,000 to the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, a filing with the Board of Elections shows.

The contribution — listed as a transfer on the filing for the Senate Democrats — comes as Kaminsky is a potential candidate to run for the seat currently held by the other former state legislative leader awaiting trial for corruption charges: Nassau County Republican Dean Skelos.

In a statement provided to Capital Tonight, Kaminsky insisted the money was aimed at backing a Democratic takeover of the chamber, and he encouraged other New Yorkers to do the same.

“The Legislature’s number one priority should be to pass stricter, smarter laws to prevent corruption and make our government more accountable to New Yorkers,” Kaminsky said in the statement. “Albany cannot function as effectively as possible without improving our constituents’ trust in those elected and appointed to serve them. The leadership of the Senate Democrats has stood up for reform and has the will to make real change in Albany. I strongly support that effort, and I encourage other New Yorkers who care about reforming our government to support a leadership change in our state Senate however they can.”

More >

Senate Dems: $680K In The Bank

From the Morning Memo:

The fundraising arm of the Senate Democratic conference raised $172,558 and is holding $679,066 in cash on hand, a filing with the Board of Elections shows.

The conference, which had struggled for years with debt in their campaign account after losing the majority in 2010, has been debt-free for several fundraising cycles.

Senate Democrats are entering a position in which they have near-cash parity with Senate Republicans, whose coffers have typically dwarfed the mainlined conference in the chamber.

Senate Republicans reported late last week $1.1 million in cash on hand, but have spent heavily, especially to shore up GOP candidate Fred Akshar in the Southern Tier-area special election.

Nevertheless, Senate Democrats are encouraged by their chances in a presidential election, in which more Democratic voters come out, and tend to boost down-ballot races.

Senate Republicans Pitch In For Akshar

aksharState Senate hopeful Fred Akshar reported a whopping $429,548 in campaign contributions for his bid to win an open Senate seat in the Binghamton area next month, far more than his Democratic opponent, Barbara Fiala.

Akshar, the Broome County undersheriff and a first time candidate, has benefited from the largesse of Senate Republicans back in Albany, the filing made public on Friday evening shows.

The Senate Republican Campaign Committee alone has given Akshar’s effort $189,000 — nearly double the $100,000 Gov. Andrew Cuomo had reportedly stepped in to help raise for Fiala, a former DMV commissioner and ex-Broome County executive.

Akshar, too, has gotten help from rank-and-file members, including contributions from Brooklyn Sen. Marty Golden, Nassau County Sen. Kemp Hannon, Hudson Valley Sens. Bill Larkin and John Bonacic and former Elmira Sen. George Winner.

Akshar has put the money to use: He’s spent more than half of what he’s initially raised, $276,386, and has $153,162 in cash on hand with about a month to go before Election Day. More >

Source: Senate GOP Coffers At $1.2M In Cash On Hand

flanaganSenate Republicans are set to announce having $1.2 million in cash on hand, growing their campaign committee’s coffers by $640,000 since July, a source with knowledge of the filing told Capital Tonight.

The amount of cash on hand represents hard money in the campaign committee alone, and not the conference’s housekeeping account, which won’t be filed until January.

It’s unclear how much of the money represents transfers from individual lawmakers, but the source said the bulk of the money raised since July — about $500,000 — was pulled in from two fundraisers alone.

The GOP campaign account reported $847,316 cash on hand in July.

The healthy fundraising amount over the last several months is good news for the conference’s new majority leader, Suffolk County Sen. John Flanagan, who took over the leadership post in May after Sen. Dean Skelos stepped down from the leadership as he fights corruption charges.

The Senate Republican Campaign Committee is heading into what could be a challenging political year: Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing a $15 minimum wage increase, a proposal that has support among voters, while GOP lawmakers will be defending their thin majority in a presidential election year. More >

Fiala Raises $20K, Has $92K On Hand

Democratic Senate hopeful Barbara Fiala on Friday reported having $72,161 in cash on hand for her bid to flip a district long held by Republicans in the Southern Tier, a campaign finance filing with the Board of Elections shows.

Fiala had initially transferred $144,733 from an old campaign account used for her Broome County executive campaign, but her fundraising for the race, though, has been comparatively small. She reported raising $20,148 in contributions.

Since launching her bid for the seat, Fiala has $92,719, including $80,000 on television advertisements.

Fiala is running against Republican Fred Akshar, the Broome County undersheriff.

She received an early endorsement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the district held by Republican Tom Libous, who was ousted in July following a felony conviction.

Cuomo had reportedly stepped in to help raise money for Fiala’s bid.

A TWC News/Siena College poll released this week found Akshar leading Fiala among likely voters by 28 percentage points in the district that has a GOP voter enrollment edge.