Agreements, Progress Made Over The Weekend

From the Morning Memo:

Progress on key issues facing the state Legislature was made over the weekend as staff for the state Senate, Assembly and Gov. Andrew Cuomo discussed end-of-session legislation.

“The governor has spoken to the leaders multiple times and staff has been working around the clock on our legislative priorities,” said Rich Azzopardi, a senior advisor to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “We’re making progress on all issues.”

Bills emerged over the weekend that included:

An amended version of a key environmental bill, the Climate Change and Community Protection Act.

-A bill designed to bolster upstate casinos

-A bill that would expand labor rights for farm workers include collective bargaining, overtime and other benefits.

-Lawmakers also introduced a new version of a bill meant to broaden the definition of sexual harassment from “severe and pervasive” which advocates say is too narrow.

-And a revised version of a bill decriminalizing marijuana was also introduced overnight.

It’s not clear if all of these new measures represent agreements between the Senate, Assembly and governor.

The measure legalizing marijuana hit roadblocks over the weekend amid a proposed “opt in” for local governments and how the revenue from the program should be spent.

Lawmakers are scheduled to end the legislative session on Wednesday.

Media Companies Oppose Bill Tightening Digital Likeness Laws

From the Morning Memo:

Media companies in New York are pushing back against bill in the final days of the legislative session that would make it harder for anyone to use a digital likeness or persona of an individual without written consent.

The measure is backed by the Screen Actors Guild, but opposed by the New York Broadcasters Association and the New York Publishers Association, which includes many daily newspapers in the state, ranging from The New York Times, the Times Union and Gannett-owned papers.

The media groups point out the measure was proposed despite existing copyright laws in the United States designed to provide protection against video and audio use of celebrities. They fear the measure could bankrupt radio and TV stations as well as newspapers in the state if approved, covering both deceased and living artists.

The concern is how broadly written the bill is: For example, an ad airing the likeness of Marilyn Monroe on a local station could face legal exposure from her estate.

For newspapers, publishers would need research tools to avoid publishing the likeness of a celebrity in an ad without permission.

“We urge the Legislature to more carefully consider the long-term effects of this issue before moving forward,” the New York Publishers Association wrote in a memo of opposition. “All media must be treated in a neutral manner, with both clarity and wide permissiveness that will not stifle innovation or create punitive and crushing legal liability for innocent errors.”

The bill was recently amended and is in the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

Surrogacy Measure Gets Backing

From the Morning Memo:

A measure meant to legalize gestational surrogacy has picked up support as the legislative session draws to a close.

The bill, which has the backing of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, was endorsed in recent days by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

“Legal surrogacy would mean so much to so many New Yorkers,” Johnson wrote on Twitter. “I urge my colleagues in Albany to pass it.”

The bill has the backing of LGBTQ groups and is part of Cuomo’s end-of-session agenda.

The measure was previously approved in the state Senate, but faces opposition in the Assembly, where some lawmakers have raised concerns with the bill for the potential to exploit women. Feminist icon Gloria Steinem this month wrote a letter in opposition to the measure.

Sponsors have said the bill includes safeguards against surrogates being taken advantage of if the legislation is approved.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is presumably going to be in Albany at some point as end-of-session talks continue, but his office has not yet released his public schedule for the day.

The state Legislature is in town for the final scheduled days of the 2019 session.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence meet for their weekly lunch at the White House. Later, Pence meets with the Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini.

At 10 a.m., Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, Workforce Development Director David Mathis, representatives from Black River Systems and other area employers and program participants highlight the growth and importance of the Oneida County College Corps Internship Program, Black River Systems, 162 Genesee St., Utica.

Also at 10 a.m., the NYC Council Committee on Housing and the Committee on Oversight and Investigations reports the results of a six-month investigation into the Third Party Transfer program, Council chamber, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., the NYC Council Committee on Fire and Emergency Management meets, Committee Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., Westchester County Executive George Latimer announces the reestablishment of the Westchester Urban County Consortium and the county’s application to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for federal grants, DeLuca Park, 28 N. Hillside Avenue, Elmsford.

At 10:30 a.m., NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams will speak to the graduating seniors and their families on the theme of P.R.I.D.E. (Professionalism, Resilience, Investment, Dignity and Empathy), 227 W. 27th St., Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., Rep. Joe Morelle will host a press conference detailing the findings of a Congressional Report on the skyrocketing cost of prescription diabetes medication and its effect on residents of the Rochester community, Highland Family Medicine, Farley Conference Room, 777 S. Clinton Ave., Rochester.

Also at 11 a.m., Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. speaks at a ribbon-cutting, 810 River Ave., the Bronx.

At 11:30 a.m., survivors of solitary confinement and other advocates will hold a speak-out on the 5th day of a hunger strike to protest the torture of long-term solitary confinement currently experienced by thousands of people in New York prisons and jails, outside Assembly lobby, 3rd Fl., state Capitol, Albany.

At noon, state legislators and former St. Clare’s Hospital employees and retirees rally to urge the state to launch an investigation of the St. Clare’s Hospital $53 million pension fund collapse, Million Dollar Staircase, 2nd Fl., state Capitol, Albany.

At 1 p.m., the NYC Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities and Addiction meets jointly with the Committee on Criminal Justice and the Committee on Justice System, Committee Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 2 p.m., Liberty Cab calls on Attorney General Letitia James to open a statewide investigation into Uber drivers engaged in manipulating fares to create artificial price surges at Reagan National Airport, Liberty Cab, Conference Room, 1580 Kenmore Ave., Buffalo.

At 3 p.m., the state Senate is in session, Senate chamber, state Capitol, Albany.

At 5 p.m., Diaz Jr. attends the 1199SEIU officers swearing-in ceremony, Sheraton Hotel, New York Ballroom, 811 Seventh Ave., Manhattan.

At 5:45 p.m., Williams will join Justice League NYC to put pressure on Manhattan DA Cy Vance to investigate Linda Fairstein’s past cases and remove Elizabeth Lederer from her post in light of their conduct in the Central Park Five case, 100 Centre St., Manhattan.

At 6 p.m., the NYC Commission on Gender Equity is hosting a Brooklyn Gender Equity Summit, BRIC, 647 Fulton St., Brooklyn.

Also at 6 p.m., climate activists protest Joe Biden outside of his campaign’s big donor fundraiser at the New York City home of billionaire James Chanos, 3 E. 75th St., Manhattan.

At 7 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will appear live on NY1’s “Inside City Hall” with Errol Louis.


President Trump said his tax cuts and cuts to government regulation, not the appointment of conservative federal judges, will be his lasting legacy when he leaves the White House.

Trump also said he’ll be rolling out a new health care plan in a couple of months, saying it will be a key focus in his 2020 reelection campaign.

The president is anxiously searching for a way to counter Democrats on health care, one of their central issues, even though many of his wary Republican allies would prefer he let it go for now.

“I think that we have a very real risk of losing the presidency to Donald Trump if we do not have a presidential candidate that is fighting for true transformational change in the lives of working people in the United States,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is not yet prepared to back any of the 2020 Democratic hopefuls.

Ocasio-Cortez called Trump’s “bluff,” responding to his earlier tweet citing her while defending himself against impeachment.

In a House that can be dominated by loud voices on the left – freshman Democrats who flipped Republican seats in 2018 — form the backbone of a quiet power center, and centrist “majority makers,” not liberals, will most likely have the final say on impeachment.

Trump’s re-election campaign has severed ties with some of its pollsters after the leak of months-old surveys showed him trailing former Vice President Joe Biden in key states, according to multiple reports.

Trump wanted to boot his chief of staff Mick Mulvaney out of the Oval Office for coughing during an interview, according to footage of the sit-down with ABC News that aired yesterday.

Indianapolis Mayor Pete Buttigieg doesn’t believe he’ll be the first gay president if elected in 2020. “I would imagine we’ve probably had excellent presidents who were gay — we just didn’t know which ones,” he said.

State Senate sources said the chamber plans this week to take up the Green Light bill, already passed already by the Assembly, that would permit individuals who are in the country illegally to apply for driver’s licenses in New York.

The Assembly and Senate reached a consensus yesterday on legislation to combat climate change that they plan to approve later in the week if negotiations with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office aren’t successful, according to two legislative sources.

Democrats in the Senate and Assembly also introduced two-way legislation that would reduce the penalties for possessing marijuana, allow for the expungement of some criminal records and expands the public health law’s definition of “smoking” to include marijuana.

Three-way talks with the governor on a marijuana deal continue, but so far haven’t resulted in a deal, and time is running out.

According to four sources with knowledge of the talks, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity, Senate officials say they don’t have enough votes to pass the bill unless there’s an “opt-in” provision requiring localities to affirmatively state that they will allow retail marijuana sales within their borders.

Also unresolved: how the hundreds of millions of dollars in anticipated annual revenues from marijuana taxes would be distributed.

Another obstacle to passage has been concern by Long Island’s six Democratic senators about the law enforcement and health ramifications of legalizing marijuana for recreational use by adults 21 years old and older.

Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said the marijuana bill had enough support to pass in her chamber.

Writing in the NYT, two high-level health care experts say states that legalize marijuana should set a minimum age of no younger than 25, impose stricter limits on THC levels and strictly monitor them, and launch educational campaigns to help the public understand that marijuana is not harmless

On separate issues, according to The Buffalo News’ Tom Precious, there were deals made over the weekend to raise the current, five-year statute of limitations for victims to report cases of second- and third-degree rape crimes – which are those in which a victim was physically or mentally incapable, or too young, to give consent.

There’s also a bill proposed to assist upstate casinos, which haven’t seen the financial success they initially projected and have been asking the state for help.

A measure the would end the so-called “gay panic” defense in New York is on the Assembly Codes Committee’s agenda for today.

After five months of tension, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie did an end-run around Cuomo to craft a sweeping rent-regulation bill that was approved last week, re-establishing some of the Legislature’s power the body has ceded to the executive for years.

Former Assemblyman Richard Brodsky says the real estate industry shouldn’t be shocked about the pro-tenant rent deal, adding: “It takes a certain kind of blindness and a certain kind of arrogance to have missed the changes that have swept the state Capitol. What happened to the rent laws was predictable to anyone who was paying attention.”

More >

Source: Senate To Hold Vote On Green Light Bill This Week

The state Senate will hold a vote on a bill that would extend access to driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants living in New York, a source familiar with the matter said on Sunday.

News of the vote was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The measure, known as the Green Light bill, previously passed this month in the Assembly. Both chambers are controlled by Democrats.

The Legislature is scheduled to conclude the legislative session on Wednesday and negotiations continued through this weekend on major issues left unresolved.

The bill has been long sought by immigration advocates, who argue the measure has merits that boost traffic safety and insurance while also enable undocumented immigrants to drive to work.

But the issue has long stoked political controversy. In 2007, then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer proposed and later withdrew a similar plan.

County clerks who operate local Department of Motor Vehicles offices have pledged to not issue licenses to anyone living in the United States illegally.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is supportive of the measure and has said he would sign it if it passes. On Friday, Cuomo raised concerns with the legislation in a radio interview, pointing to the potential of federal immigration officials to use lists generated by the DMV for enforcement actions.

The Weekend That Was

The U.S. is stepping up digital incursions into Russia’s electric power grid in a warning to President Vladimir Putin and a demonstration of how the Trump administration is using new authorities to deploy cybertools more aggressively.

President Trump accused The New York Times of committing a “virtual act of treason” by publishing the above story saying his administration has been targeting Russia’s power grid as part of an ongoing operation to counter cyber threats.

Trump’s campaign has decided to purge some of its pollsters after a leak of dismal internal polls for the president that he denied existed.

Trump said he did not order the White House counsel to fire special counsel Robert Mueller because that “didn’t work out too well” for former President Nixon during Watergate.

Jon Stewart ripped Mitch McConnell, saying the U.S. Senate Majority Leader has never acted with compassion when it comes to securing health-care funding for 9/11 first-responders.

Trump needled the “never Trumpers” on the fourth anniversary of him and First Lady Melania Trump descending the escalator at Trump Tower to announce his bid for the presidency.

Men, women and children from central Africa are showing up at U.S. borders after embarking on a dangerous, monthslong journey. Their arrival at points both north and south is confusing immigration officials and overwhelming local officials and on profits.

Across the country, education leaders have warned that Trump administration immigration policies that prevent parents from letting their kids attend classes for fear of deportation could send school budgets into tailspins.

Trump on Saturday resumed his 3,675-mile feud with the mayor of London, calling him “a disaster” who should be turned out of office after a spate of stabbings in Britain’s capital.

Secret Service agents stopped a person trying to cross a White House security barrier on Friday night.

In preparation for the three final days at the state Capitol, the weekend was busy with negotiations, vote-wrangling and last-minute tweaks for the unfinished agenda, which includes marijuana legalization, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, stricter sexual harassment standards, the Green Light bill, and expanded limo safety measures.

There could be new marijuana legalization language released by tonight, as three-way talks occurred throughout Saturday.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio weighed in on the pot debate today, saying: We have a small window to legalize marijuana the RIGHT way.”

One of the biggest sticking points was the effort by several legislators to make sure the heavily regulated marijuana industry would benefit poor neighborhoods with racial minorities, the groups that were most targeted in criminal enforcement of marijuana laws.

A lawsuit filed against Trump by a former campaign staffer who claimed that he “forcibly kissed” her in 2016 has been thrown out of a Florida federal court.

A 27-year-old man has been arrested after allegedly trespassing in the Queens office of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and barricading himself inside a closet.

Douala Hashi, 31, allegedly argued with security on the ground floor of the Jackson Heights building just before 5 p.m. Saturday and ran up to the third floor, where he refused to leave, according to police. He’s facing a series of charges.

Ocasio-Cortez turned up the heat on U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to push ahead with an impeachment probe of Trump.

A United Airlines jet skidded off the runway at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey leading FAA to temporarily halting all travel in an out of one of the nation’s busiest airports Saturday afternoon.

David Bellavia’s life is about to change. He will stand before Trump at the White House on June 25 and receive the nation’s highest military decoration – the Medal of Honor. Will he heed the president’s call to run for Congress in NY-27 if asked?

At a fund-raiser earlier this month on Long Island, Cuomo and Jay Jacobs, the leader of the state Democratic Party, met with five suburban senators and told them that voting for the Green Light bill would be politically perilous, according to two people familiar with the conversation.

A judge has ordered the NYPD to release videos from a 2017 fatal shooting, saying that keeping police footage from the public flies in the face of the key goal of the body-worn camera program: transparency.

With each successive budget, de Blasio and City Council leaders have spent more taxpayer money, hiring more workers and increasing city services, and this year is no different, despite warnings of revenue drops: The budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year, which begins July 1, weighs in at $92.8 billion.

The new spending plan slashes $20 million from first lady Chirlane McCray’s embattled “Thrive NYC” mental health initiative, with more than half of the money redirected to hiring licensed social workers to serve public schools.

More >

AG James Urges Marijuana Deal To Include Expungement

New York Attorney General Letitia James in a letter to legislative leaders urged them to back a provision in a marijuana legalization agreement that would expunge records for those who have been arrested, detained or convicted of marijuana-related possession.

The letter, sent Friday to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, comes as lawmakers are considering a bill that would legalize marijuana for retail and commercial sale in New York.

“Before we create a booming business for legal marijuana, we must provide relief to those individuals that have paid much more to society than what was due,” James wrote in the letter. “We must stop the cascade of social and human harms imposed by the Rockefeller drug laws and give individuals who have been held back a chance to succeed.”

James defines records expungement as “the extraction and isolation or destruction of all records on file.”

“We must guarantee that the door is shut forever and that pas policy mistakes do not further haunt the victims of over-policing,” she wrote.

During her time as New York City public advocate, James was supportive of legalizing marijuana.

Stewart-Cousins earlier this year said she supported expungement of records; Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to legalize marijuana supported sealing records.

Lawmakers, due to end the legislative session on Wednesday, were close to striking a deal on the issue as of Friday afternoon and continued to negotiate changes to the proposal this weekend.

2019.06.14 AG Letitia James Marijuana Expungement Letter by Nick Reisman on Scribd


Data from President Donald Trump’s first internal reelection campaign poll conducted in March, which he denied repeatedly even existed, showed him losing a matchup by wide margins to former Vice President Joe Biden in key battleground states.

It’s a big day for Trump – his birthday! And he’s bought nearly $1 million in Facebook ads to make sure it goes off with a bang.

Stephanie Grisham, Melania Trump’s current spokeswoman, is reportedly near the top of the internal list to replace outgoing White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Trump said that his own wife had taken over the mantle of former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, declaring that, “We have our own Jackie O, it’s called Melania, Melania T.”

The U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo is actively working with the FBI as they are trying to determine the cause of death of at least seven American tourists who died in the Dominican Republic, officials said.

One day after Trump said he would entertain the idea of accepting dirt on his political rivals from foreign nations, Federal Election Commission Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub released a statement making it clear that candidates for public office cannot accept assistance of any such kind.

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren proposed legislation that would allocate $7 billion in federal grants to help minority entrepreneurs start businesses.

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted a verse by what she and her colleagues called the “Congressional Destiny’s Child” in promotion of new legislation they released yesterday that seeks to make birth control more accessible and affordable to patients.

Hillary Clinton has created a new nonprofit to supplement her post-2016 advocacy work, corporate records indicate. The Onward Together Foundation was formed on June 3 by Ezra Reese, an attorney at Perkins Coie, Clinton’s longtime law firm, according to District of Columbia incorporation records.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio says he now believes Congress should start impeachment proceedings on Trump following his comments on accepting information on an opponent from foreign governments. He made the comments during an appearance Friday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

De Blasio and the NYC Council have agreed on a $92.8 billion city budget for the 2020 fiscal year that will put more social workers in public schools and bolster the city’s reserves.

EJ McMahon: “Many of the faces have changed, and so has the majority party, but the state Senate is more united than ever in its willingness to weaken disciplinary procedures for cops and firefighters accused of wrongdoing.”

A Manhattan Supreme Court judge has denied attorneys for Exxon Mobil Corp. access to former state AG Eric Schneiderman’s personal email account but agreed to consider a request from the company to depose a representative of the state Attorney General’s Office

An Albany bill that would legalize the recreational use of cannabis would allow up to six marijuana plants to be grown in a person’s home or yard. That’s a key difference from the legalization plan Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed earlier this year as part of his budget package.

New York City will spend $250,000 to help poor women who travel from other states to obtain abortions here, inserting itself into the increasingly contentious debate over access to the procedure. While the amount of money is relatively small, the allocation is a symbolic if provocative move as more conservative states take steps to all but ban abortion.

If Tiffany Cabán wins the Queens DA Democratic primary in late June and general election in November — and actually puts her plan in place — it would mark one of the biggest successes for the sex work decriminalization movement that, after years of struggling to gain mainstream traction, has growing popularity and political influence across the country.

Syracuse University announced that it had come to a new multi-year agreement with Nike that will keep the Orange wearing the Swoosh the next few years.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader and New York Senator Chuck Schumer wants to memorialize the first female sailor to die in combat in Syria by naming a U.S. warship after her.

Former state legislator Harvey Weisenberg received a rare honor this week when the Senate, where he never served, lauded him in a proclamation for his “unparalleled devotion” to people with disabilities in his long career representing Long Beach in the Assembly.

Sweeping Rent Control Changes Approved

State lawmakers on Friday put the finishing touches on a sweeping package of changes to rent control in New York, which allow communities outside of the New York City area to opt in to regulations designed to protect tenants.

The state Senate approved the package, announced earlier this week by the legislative leaders, 36-26. The Democratic-controlled Assembly followed suit soon after, 95-41.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bills shortly after they achieved final passage.

The governor, who faintly praised the agreement earlier this week at a news conference, released a more celebratory statement on Friday.

“At the beginning of this legislative session, I called for the most sweeping, aggressive tenant protections in state history. I’m confident the measure passed today is the strongest possible set of reforms that the Legislature was able to pass and are a major step forward for tenants across New York,” Cuomo said.

“As the former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Clinton, I know full well the importance of affordable housing and with the existing rent laws set to expire tomorrow, I have immediately signed this bill into law – avoiding the chaos and uncertainty that a lapse in these protections would have caused for millions of New Yorkers.”

For Democrats who gained control of the state Senate, the passage and forging of the deal was a victory. The measures permanently extend rent control laws and allow local governments to opt in and adopt their own local-level regulations.

The measures make it harder for landlords to evict tenants when rent is increased and raise rents when capital improvements are made to a dwelling.

“We made a commitment that the new Senate Democratic Majority would help pass the strongest tenant protections in history,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “The legislation we passed today achieves that commitment and will help millions of New Yorkers throughout our state. I thank my partner in legislative leadership, Speaker Carl Heastie and the Chair of the Senate’s Housing, Construction and Community Development Committee, Senator Brian Kavanagh for his leadership on this issue.”

Both Heastie and Stewart-Cousins announced the two-way deal on Wednesday, well ahead of the Saturday deadline for the current laws to expire.

The measures are expected to face a court challenge from real estate interests in court.

“For too long, power has been tilted in favor of landlords. But today we were able to level the playing field and bring stability to tenants across New York State, whether they live in an apartment in the Bronx, a single family home in Nassau County or a manufactured home upstate,” Heastie said. “The Assembly Majority will continue working to ensure every New Yorker can find quality, affordable housing.”

Cuomo Says Green Light Bill Could Create ‘Database’ For Feds

The passage of a bill meant to provide driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants could create a de facto database for federal immigration officers, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday in a radio interview.

Cuomo called the concern a “nuanced” but “more powerful” argument against the bill, which passed this week in the Assembly and is pending in the state Senate.

“You’re creating a database of undocumented people which a federal government that is trying to aggressively find quote-un-quote illegal people might actually seize and you might actually inadvertently end of creating a database the federal government might end up taking,” Cuomo said in the interview on WAMC public radio. “You might actually be hurting the people you’re trying to help.”

A similar concern has played out in California, where Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have gained access to records from the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles as part of recent arrests.

Cuomo reiterated he supports the bill and “on balance” it makes sense in order to bolster public safety and insure more drivers on the road.

The bill in recent days has gained support in the Democratic-led state Senate, including from Long Island Sen. Anna Kaplan, whose support is considered especially key given the opposition from some lawmakers in the suburbs and upstate districts.

Updated: The New York Immigration Coalition responds.

“For someone who says he supports granting all immigrants access to driver’s licenses, Gov. Cuomo sure seems to be trying to stop the bill from moving. This, just days after we learned his hand-picked state party chairman was telling certain senators that voting for the legislation would hurt them politically. Governor, we don’t need reasons why to kill the bill. If you truly support it, we need you fighting to get it passed.”