State Senate

State Officials Mourn Death Of NYPD Officer

State elected officials on Wednesday mourned the shooting death of NYPD Officer Miosotis Familia, who was assassinated ambush-style while sitting an mobile-command unit.

“Officer Miosotis Familia ‎spent 12 years protecting her community as a member of the NYPD and all New Yorkers share in the pain and heartbreak caused by her death,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “Law enforcement officers across New York put their lives on the line to protect and serve their communities. This horrific and senseless assassination is a devastating reminder of the risks these brave men and women face each day.”

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie in a statement noted Familia’s ties to the Bronx, saying the borough and “all of New York” are mourning her death.

“Officer Familia selflessly served her community for 12 years and died tragically in a senseless and cowardly act of violence,” Heastie said. “On behalf of the New York State Assembly Majority, I extend my condolences to her family, loved ones, and the brave men and women of the NYPD who put their lives on the line every day to make our communities safer.”

Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein in his statement praised the NYPD as well in addition to praising the work of Familia.

“New York City lost a brave woman who for 12-years as an NYPD officer put her life on the line to protect all of us and keep us safe from harm,” Klein said. “My deepest condolences go out to the family of Police Officer Miosotis Familia and her extended family in blue. This chilling, deliberate assassination of an officer on duty in The Bronx is a reminder of the risks our officers face every day while on the job.”

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan in a statement extended sympathies as well and praised her colleagues’ response to apprehend the alleged shooter.

“Shortly after this senseless shooting, her fellow officers took swift action and prevented the criminal responsible for her death from harming any other innocent New Yorkers,” Flanagan said. “We are incredibly fortunate to have such capable and brave members of law enforcement serving in our communities, always placing the well-being of others before their own, and I thank them all for their service.”

Gianaris Blasts ‘Extraordinarily Embarassing’ Session

Democratic Sen. Michael Gianaris in a statement Wednesday blasted the lack of any agreement in the extraordinary session in Albany for bolstering New York City’s ailing subway system.

“This extraordinary session is extraordinarily embarrassing for our state,” Gianaris said. “Make no mistake, this sorry chapter represents a dereliction of duty by state leaders who are failing to perform their most basic responsibilities. Instead of saving our mass transit system and working on other important issues, we’re wasting taxpayer dollars so politicians can come to Albany and stare at each other. It is an outrage of epic proportions.”

Gianaris, a Queens Democrat, had urged state leaders to take up a plan that would have provided more funding for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority through new taxes on those who make more than $1 million in the New York City MTA service area as well as hotel occupancy taxes.

A plan related to the MTA does not seem to be in the mix in Albany as straphangers increasingly turn their ire on Gov. Andrew Cuomo following the latest subway derailment.

Cuomo, who has boosted MTA capital spending, on Tuesday in a statement pointed to the appointed of Joe Lhota as the authority’s new chairman who is being charged with turning the problems on the system around.

‘It’s Like We Never Left’

Negotiations continued today at the Capitol as lawmakers convene for an extraordinary session of the Legislature on Tuesday as talks continue over a potential broader deal beyond the extension of mayoral control for New York City schools.

Lawmakers are also considering an extension of a tax break for lower Manhattan real-estate that is favored by the Real Estate Board of New York and a provision to bolster New York City police and firefighter pensions.

But some lawmakers say a bigger agreement in an omnibus bill that could include a variety of measures left unresolved.

“It’s like we never left,” said Jeff Klein, the leader of the Independent Democratic Conference in the state Senate.

Top lawmakers met privately with Gov. Andrew Cuomo to discuss a potential package of measures that could include a variety of issues, such as a new agreement on upstate flood relief.

“I think that’s the intent,” Klein said. “But what the governor wanted to do and I believe him is continue mayoral control which is such an important issue for the city of New York.”

At issue has primarily been extending mayoral control of New York City schools, but upstate lawmakers are increasingly concerned sales tax provisions for county governments won’t be re-approved — losing billions of dollars in the process.

“I’ve been here for 35 years. Sales tax has not been an issue,” said Sen. Jim Tedisco, a Republican from the Albany suburbs. “That’s been general. We know it mitigates the property taxes. Nobody should be holding up the upstate county sales taxes.”

Frustration, too, is bubbling over a bit as Tedisco complained of Cuomo, “It seems like he thinks there are three branches of government: Me, myself and I.”

The sales tax measures were approved in May by the Assembly, but packaged with an extension of mayoral control for two years. The state Senate approved the bills in a traditional fashion, but pushed to expand charter schools — a non-starter for the Assembly.

Klein confirmed Wednesday talks surrounding charter school expansion had fallen off the table.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said there were “productive discussions, but no resolution” in the sales tax talks.

Lawmakers are also considering measures for financial relief for the Vernon Downs racino in the Mohawk Valley, speed cameras for New York City. Of course, a deal could still apart.

“They’re trying to resolve issues on how to proceed,” said Sen. John Bonacic. “The short question is are we going to gavel out and do nothing.”

Lawmakers aren’t ruling out staying beyond today and some lawmakers are already planning to stay here until at least Friday.

“I think we’re going to be here as long as the speaker feels we’re having productive talks,” said Democratic Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle.

Lawmakers have planned for multiple stays in Albany, booking more than one night at hotels and bringing a change of clothes.

“I always bring at least three suits,” said Republican Sen. Rich Funke.

Gianaris: Address Subway Funding

With lawmakers returning Wednesday for a special session of the Legislature, Queens Democratic Sen. Mike Gianaris wants both chambers to take up the issue of subway funding.

The concern comes amid a drumbeat of worsening news for the Metropolitan Transit Authority and the subway system, including a derailment just this morning.

“The MTA crisis is real and it is upon us,” said Senator Michael Gianaris. “New Yorkers are suffering the consequences of years of underfunding and mismanaging of our mass transit system. It would be irresponsible for state leaders to allow this to continue without finding a solution and that is what we should do with the urgency this crisis demands.”

Gianaris has unveiled a petition to call attention to the issue in Albany.

His proposal would create a temporary 3-year surcharge for MTA region taxpayers who make more than $1 million a year and on New York City motel and hotel taxes. A higher tax would be charged on those who earn between $5 million and $10 million as well as those who make more than $10 million.

Gianaris estimates the plan would generate more than $2 billion annually.

A tax on the MTA region would be controversial for Senate Republicans to swallow, however, amid their hammering away at the issue of a payroll tax in 2010, which saw them ride back to power later that year.

Planned Parenthood Group Disavows IDC Mailer

peraltaPlanned Parenthood Empire State Acts is disavowing a mailer released by a member of the Independent Democratic Conference the uses the Planned Parenthood logo and a quote from the group.

The mailer released by Sen. Jose Peralta, a Queens lawmaker who joined the IDC this year, touts his support for reproductive rights and “investing in Planned Parenthood.”

Under Peralta’s photo is the quote from a Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts earlier this year and the Planned Parenthood logo.

“PPESA does not endorse any New York State or local elected officials or parties,” said the group’s president, Robin Chappelle Golston. “We were blindsided and disheartened that the PPESA logo was used in a way that creates the appearance of an endorsement for a candidate or committee. This was done so without our consent.”

She added the group is registered as a 501(c)(4) non-profit that is meant to advance public policy.

An IDC spokeswoman defended the mailer, saying it was never meant to show the group was endorsing Peralta.

“This is an issue-based mailer, not a campaign mailer. It is meant to convey that the IDC is the only conference that universally supports a woman’s right to choose,” the spokeswoman said. “That’s why we are calling on the minority Democratic conference to state where they stand on women’s reproductive rights and call the roll.”

The IDC has been pushing for votes on key liberal measures in the state Senate, narrowly controlled by Republicans, amid pressure from left-leaning groups to rejoin the Democratic mainline conference in the chamber.

Assembly Considers Return, But Senate Says They Won’t Unless A Deal Is Ready

Late Wednesday night, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie insisted he had “no intention” of calling his chamber back into session to take up another extension of mayoral control for New York City schools

That changed 12 hours later, as the Assembly staffers reached out to individual members on Thursday morning to poll them on whether they would be available to return for a special session.

This comes as Gov. Andrew Cuomo has shown no signs of suggesting the legislative session is over or negotiations are done. His office has not released any post-mortem statements since the Senate and Assembly adjourned the 2017 session without taking up a mayoral control measure and extending local tax provisions.

The Senate, officially, is ruling out coming back Friday, or until a deal is in place.

“Senators are not being asked to return to Albany tomorrow,” said Senate Republican spokesman Scott Reif. “If and when there is an agreement to present to members will give them proper notice and take additional steps to ensure we do the people’s business as efficiently as possible.”

Mayoral control does not expire until the end of the month, while the sales tax measures for county governments are due to end at the end of the year.

At The End, Klein Sought Larger Deal

Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein on Wednesday night said he sought a legislative package at the end of the session that would have included three-quarters disability for first responders, design build for New York City an additional 50 speed cameras around schools.

But the bargain, which could have included extending mayoral control of New York City schools in the process, was ultimately not to be as lawmakers adjourned for what they said was the rest of the year.

“These are things that we need to get done, that we have to get done, especially with all the extenders we left undone,” Klein said after the Senate gaveled out late Wednesday night. “So we’re going to have a break, but it’s going to be a short one.”

There’s no time frame for when the Legislature would return and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie he had upheld what his chamber needed to do by passing a two-year extension of mayoral control in May. That measure linked the program to the extension of sales tax and other local tax provisions, meaning those measures could expire if not deal with by the end of the year.

Klein, meanwhile, believed the issues dividing lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo can still be solved.

“We were very, very close on a lot of these very important issues,” he said.

Feinman Confirmed At Court Of Appeals

The state Senate on Wednesday confirmed Judge Paul Feinman to the state Court of Appeals, making him the first openly gay judge on the state’s highest court.

Feinman, an appellate judge, replaces Sheila Abdus-Salaam, who died in April in what authorities believe was a suicide.

“Paul Feinman’s confirmation as Associate Judge on the Court of Appeals is a major step forward for the state’s judicial system,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “With decades of experience, Judge Feinman is a leader in his field and a trailblazer who joins the Court as its first openly gay judge. He has spent nearly his entire career serving New York courts and championing the principles of justice and fairness.”

His nomination, made Friday, was a relatively speedy process considering the winding down of the legislative session, with lawmakers scheduled to adjourn for the year today.

“Paul Feinman is an accomplished jurist who has spent his career serving others and the cause of justice,” said Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

“Not only is Justice Feinman an eminently qualified individual, but he also represents an amazing milestone for our state as the first open LGBT judge to ascend to the State’s highest court. Ensuring the Court of Appeals better represents New York’s diverse communities will help further its ability to protect and guarantee the rights of all New Yorkers.”

Senate Expects To Return Later This Year

Work is winding down in the state Senate on Wednesday as lawmakers take up a slew of confirmations and pass a flurry of bills.

Not done, however, is an agreement on extending mayoral control of New York City schools and extending sales tax provisions for county governments. At the same time, extending personal income taxes for New York City, which Senate Republicans linked to the creation of a tax cap, must also be taken care of before the end of the year.

One Senate lawmaker was optimistic they would be leaving the Capitol while the sun is still up. It is, however, the first day of summer and the longest day of the year.

Still, lawmakers in the Senate did not expect the mayoral control issue would be resolved and that they would back later on in the year to resolve the issue.

“I have no doubt that if too many more weeks go by that we’ll be back here to complete work on an additional package of bills that would include sales taxes for counties,” said Sen. James Seward. “I would predict that at some point in a few weeks we will return for a one-day session and resolve these issues once and for all.”

It’s not clear yet what the Assembly’s plan will be for the balance of the week. Initially officials had optimistically hoped for leaving by mid-afternoon. Some lawmakers privately bet by Friday.

Lawmakers Seek A ‘Grand Plan’ For Mayoral Control

Legislative leaders emerged from a closed-door meeting with Gov. Andrew Cuomo this morning with not much new to report on the progress of the talks over extending mayoral control of New York City schools.

“He’s still trying to push things forward,” Majority Leader John Flanagan said of the governor, “but we don’t have an agreement yet.”

Flanagan and Senate Republicans want to expand the number of charter schools in the state as a condition of extending mayoral control; Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie continues to oppose any effort to link charter schools to a deal.

“As I said before I’m not having a discussion on charter schools,” Heastie said after the meeting. “That’s the Senate’s desire.”

Senate IDC Leader Jeff Klein said a push for a two-year extension remains under discussion. A two-year extender for mayoral control would synchronize the sunset date with another high-profile New York City concern, rent control regulations, which will expire in 2019.

“We’re still talking about a grand plan to get it done,” Klein said. “I think it’s extremely important. At the end of the day it’s important we have mayoral control.”

Of course, this year’s final days of the legislative session do not appear to be the same as previous efforts that culminated with a “big ugly” agreement and an omnibus bill. Much of what Cuomo wanted this year was accomplished in the state budget.

Lawmakers have reached agreement on issues such as expanding the purchasing of American-made goods like steel and iron, while a bill that would make it easier for the survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file lawsuits has been shelved.

Legislative leaders, too, are hedging as to whether this will be the final day of the session for the year.

“There’s been talk of that, but we will probably work late into the night if we have a deal,” Klein said.