State Senate

Bedford Supervisor Files For Latimer Seat

The town supervisor of Bedford has filed papers with the state Board of Elections to run for the state Senate seat being vacated at the end of the year by Westchester County Executive-elect George Latimer.

The filing shows Chris Burdick, a Democrat, filed on Monday to run for the district in Westchester County. Burdick ran unopposed for re-election as supervisor this month.

So far, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is yet to call a special election to fill the seat along with nearly a dozen soon-to-be or currently vacant seats in both chambers of the Legislature as a vacancy is yet to be created until the seat is vacated.

Along with Burdick, People for Bernie co-founder Kat Brezler has filed to run for the district. Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer and Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano, both Democrats, have also expressed an interest in running.

While the district has for the last decade been considered a battleground seat, Republicans have spent heavily to flip the district and have fallen short.

Barkan Fundraises With IDC Critics

BarkanfundraiserDemocratic state Senate candidate Ross Barkan is holding a fundraiser with critics of the Independent Democratic Conference on Dec. 5.

Tickets for the event range from $50 to $500.

Barkan is one of two Democrats vying to take on Republican state Sen. Martin Golden in Brooklyn.

Robert Jackson, a former city councilman from Manhattan, has already filed to run again for the state Senate seat held by IDC Sen. Marisol Alcantara. And Zellnor Myrie is considering a challenge against Sen. Jesse Hamilton, an IDC member from Brooklyn.

The IDC, meanwhile, has suggested it will play offense yet again, with an eye toward the Senate seat being vacated by Democrat George Latimer at the end of the year. Latimer was elected Westchester County executive this month.

So far, Democrats Shelley Mayer and Mike Spano have said they are considering running for the Westchester County district. Kat Brezler, a Democrat and supporter of Bernie Sanders, has declared she is running for the seat.

Schumer Calls On IDC To Align With Mainline Dems

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday joined the push for Democratic unity in the state Senate, urging the eight-member Independent Democratic Conference to align with the party’s mainline conference in the chamber.

“The IDC, they’re elected as Democrats and they should caucus with the Democrats and create a Democratic majority,” Schumer said on Monday morning. “That’s the right thing to do. I have worked very hard through the years to help elect democrats and create a Democratic majority in the senate. The IDC, they don’t run as republicans, they just caucus with the Republicans. That’s wrong. They ought to caucus and work with the Democrats.”

Speaking at an unrelated press conference on the New York City Housing Authority, IDC Leader Jeff Klein suggested the conference would play a role in filling the seat in the Senate being vacated by Sen. George Latimer, who was elected Westchester County executive earlier this month and leaves Albany at the end of the year.

“I have the utmost respect for Schumer but when elections come around I want to elect Democrats,” Klein told NY1’s Zack Fink. “And we will prove that as members of the IDC when it comes to the special election for George Latimer’s seat.”

Klein added, “that’s how you win a Democratic majority by electing Democrats in elections, something the Senate Democrats haven’t Been able to do in a long time.”

The Senate is narrowly divided, with Republicans maintaining control in the chamber with the aid of Brooklyn Sen. Simcha Felder, a Democrat who conferences with the GOP in the Senate.

The IDC, however, remains a key bloc in the Senate and has been under increasing pressure to form a new alliance with Senate Democrats.

“Senate Democrats have always had a great friend in Chuck Schumer and we appreciate his support,” said Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. “More and more Democratic leaders are standing up and calling on the IDC to respect the wishes of New Yorkers who voted numerous times for a Democratic Senate majority and want Democrats to work together. The Senate Democrats agree.”

Flanagan Touts Tax Cuts Taking Effect In 2018

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan on Monday touted a tax cut that’s due to take effect at the start of the new year.

In a statement, Flanagan says the Senate Republican conference deserves credit for the cut, worth $4.2 billion annually once fully phased in, and will reduce rates by 20 percent for middle-income earners.

“New York’s taxpayers need and deserve real tax relief and the Senate Republicans are not only listening, but delivering,” Flanagan said in a statement.

“We have led the way on controlling state spending, capping local property
taxes, and soon, millions of middle class taxpayers will get to keep more of their income to invest and spend as they see fit. This tax savings will continue to be key to creating better opportunities for middle class New Yorkers and ensuring our state is more affordable for both businesses and families.”

When the cuts are fully phased in, the state income tax rate will be at its lowest in 70 years, decreasing from 6.85 percent to 5.5 percent.

“This historic tax relief will allow middle class families to achieve a better quality of life because they will keep more from their paychecks,” said Sen. Cathy Young, the chairwoman of the Finance Committee in the chamber.

“Hardworking taxpayers will be able to afford to buy more goods and services, which in turn will grow more jobs and economic prosperity. Senate Republicans are fighting hard for taxpayers and leading the way so that every New Yorker has the opportunity to succeed.”

Hoylman Takes Up Lead GENDA Sponsorship

From the Morning Memo:

Democratic state Sen. Brad Hoylman is the new lead sponsor of legislation aimed at protecting transgender people from discrimination in a variety of key areas such as the workplace and in housing.

Hoylman is taking up the role of lead sponsor for the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, a spot previously held by former Sen. Daniel Squadron, who resigned earlier this year.

Hoylman is taking on the lead sponsorship on the same day as Transgender Day of Remembrance.

“On this annual day when we honor the memories of those who’ve lost their lives in acts of anti-transgender violence, it must be reiterated that New York doesn’t have laws to protect transgender people from hate crimes,” Hoylman said.

“At the same time, over the last year, there’s been a 40 percent increase in hate crimes against transgender people and a record 25 transgender people killed because of violence nationwide, including here in New York. The lack of protections against violence for transgender New Yorkers is a colossal embarrassment to the illustrious civil rights history of our state.”

Hoylman is the only openly LGBT lawmaker serving in the Senate.

GENA, as the bill is known, has stalled in the chamber over the last several years. Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2015 moved to enact the broad strokes of the proposal through protections of transgender New Yorkers in the state’s civil rights regulations.

Still, GENDA sponsors have called for the law’s passage, saying the protections need the force of law. The bill has passed 10 times in the Assembly, where it is sponsored by Assemblyman Richard Gottfried.

“It’s past time to make GENDA the law of the land so all New Yorkers enjoy the fairness, dignity and personal security they deserve,” Hoylman said.

Felder Renews Call For Armed Guards In Schools

Sen. Simcha Felder renewed his call — for the second time in the last several weeks — for armed New York City police officers in schools following a shooting at a California elementary school that left five dead, including the gunman.

“An armed guard outside would have neutralized this insane attacker the moment he arrived,” said Felder, a Democrat from Brooklyn who conferences with Senate Republicans. “It’s crucial that the students were in lockdown; but that is not the solution.”

Felder has made this call before, including earlier this month after a man killed eight people using a rental truck in New York City.

“New York public schools are protected by unarmed resource officers. But times have changed and the days of unarmed guards are over,” Felder said. “When a situation calls for immediate action, all they can do is call the police.”

The call so far has not been taken up, with officials citing the cost of staffing every school in New York City with a police officer.

DeFran Has Frustrations

Sen. John DeFrancisco isn’t pleased with the direction of the chamber.

His bills aren’t getting votes. The bills that do get votes are ones in which he has fundamental political disagreements.

These aren’t the gripes of a lawmaker confined to the minority or the back bench of the Legislature: DeFrancisco is the number two Republican in the Senate, the deputy majority leader.

In an interview on The Capitol Pressroom on Wednesday, the Syracuse Republican vented that his bill that had the aim of reforming the state’s procurement process — a measure Gov. Andrew Cuomo didn’t want to see approved — never got a vote.

“I’m frustrated with bills that make sense not getting on the floor for a vote,” he said.

The top-down nature of the Legislature in Albany has long frustrated lawmakers, even those with leadership titles. DeFrancisco, however, had sought the leadership post against Sen. John Flanagan, garnering support from a bloc of upstate lawmakers. He has not been shy to express his dissatisfaction with policy making since then.

DeFrancisco is still considering a run for governor next year and he insisted Wednesday he did not want to see the party enveloped in a primary for the nomination. The field for governor on the GOP side shrank this month with Rob Astorino’s loss in the Westchester County executive’s race.

Harry Wilson, a businessman and former member of President Obama’s auto industry task force, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro and Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb are also considering bids.

DeFrancisco said he will know by the end of December as to whether he’s going to run.

Spano Says He’s Considering Senate Bid

Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano in a phone interview Monday said he is considering running for the Senate seat being vacated by Westchester County Executive-elect George Latimer.

“In its early stages, it’s very early, there’s still a lot of conversation that has to happen,” he said. “It’s certainly something that I’m considering.”

Asked if he was the preferred candidate of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Spano said, “I haven’t gotten that sense.”

“I’m a big fan of the governor’s and I support his agenda,” he said. “I have not had a conversation with the governor. He is one of the people I would reach out to when I want to make a decision.”

Spano’s brother Nick held a neighboring seat in the chamber until 2006, when he was unseated by Andrea Stewart-Cousins, now the Senate minority leader.

But Spano, a former Republican turned Democrat, said he would support Stewart-Cousns as leader and push for a unified Democratic conference when asked about joining the Independent Democratic Conference. The IDC, a bloc of eight Democratic lawmakers, has come under pressure to form a new alliance with mainline Democrats in the Senate.

“My goal for us would be for us to have a unified Democratic caucus,” Spano said. “We have a lot of challenges presented to us by Washington. If I’m in the Senate, I would be supporting Senator Stewart-Cousins.”

Spano is term limited from seeking another four years as the mayor of Yonkers, a post he’s held since 2013, when he was elected out of the state Assembly.

Spano is not the only Democrat considering a run for the seat. Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer, a Yonkers lawmaker, is also weighing a run. Kat Brezler, a White Plains teacher and Bernie Sanders supporter, is fundraising.

The suburban district includes parts of Yonkers and runs to the shore of Long Island Sound in Westchester. Spano said the next lawmaker does not have to come from Yonkers, but shoul be a “global perspective” for the district.

“Obviously I have previous experience at the state Capitol,” he said. “I’m a mayor of a local government and I know now first hand what the effects are both hand that can be felt in a city like Yonkers or one of the towns and villages.”

Brezler Sends Out Fundraising Email For Senate Bid

Democrat Kat Brezler on Monday released a fundraising email in her bid for the state Senate district being vacated by Westchester County-elect George Latimer.

“I am running because we need universal health care, we need to ensure a quality education for every child, and we need to create real campaign finance reform on the state level,” Brezler wrote in the email. “I am a public school teacher and a lifelong activist. I’m proud of what I have accomplished but I know to affect real and lasting change in our community, I have to demand our message be heard in Albany.”

Brezler is a teacher and a co-founder of People for Bernie, a pro-Bernie Sanders organization.

Her fundraising email comes as Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer has expressed an interest in running for the seat. Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano is also considered a potential candidate for the suburban district.

Should be a special election to replace Latimer, the party nominees would be selected by committee members rather than in an open primary. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is yet to schedule one.

Brezler signaled her campaign would have an outsider flavor.

“I’ll be taking on the corrupt political system who funds Democratic campaigns,” she wrote. “I need your help.”

Sources: Spano Potential Candidate Senate Candidate

From the Morning Memo:

Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano is a potential candidate for the state Senate that will be vacated by Democrat George Latimer at the end of the year, sources late last week said.

A Spano spokeswoman did not return messages seeking comment on the potential bid.

Spano is term limited from running for re-election as mayor. He had been considered a potential candidate for Westchester County executive, a post Latimer won last Tuesday, unseating two-term incumbent Rob Astorino.

Spano, a former Republican, served in the state Assembly.

His brother Nick Spano is a Republican former state senator-turned-lobbyist in Albany. He was unseated by now-Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

Also considered in the mix for the Senate district are Democratic Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer and Kat Brezler, a People for Bernie founder and teacher.