Liz Benjamin

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Posts by Liz Benjamin

The Weekend That Has Been So Far

There’s a $175 billion budget deal, as we’ve reported and the governor’s office formally announced via an early-morning press release.

Or, as Jesse McKinley of the NYT puts it: “In typical fashion for a State Capitol known for its peculiar and sometimes dysfunctional habits, the deal was announced after midnight via a five-page news release.”

Voting will take place today as lawmakers rush to beat the midnight deadline – and qualify for their next pay bump of $10,000 in the process. Below are are headlines form the weekend leading up to the budget – some of which are budget-related, others not.

The final sticking point in the budget talks: A publicly funded campaign finance system.

Ultimately, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers couldn’t agree on a campaign pledge to create public financing for those running for office, and so settled on establishing a commission that would have the power to develop and implement such a system.

The commission is to report back on such a finance system and other election-related matters by Dec. 1. and its ideas become law unless the state Legislature rejects them. Officials say the finance system won’t be in place, if enacted, until 2020.

In: Congestion pricing, MTA overhaul, a cash bail compromise – but not total elimination – changes to the discovery process, a so-called “mansion tax,” a plastic ban bag/paper bag tax (opt in optional for counties), a permanent 2 percent property tax cap.

Legalizing marijuana for adult recreational use didn’t make the cut.

Motorcyclists might avoid a new congestion toll for entering the core of Manhattan that would apply to other vehicles – one of many carve outs to the plan.

Albany’s congestion pricing plan will hit the wallets of all New Yorkers — not just drivers — because it impacts 5 million delivery trucks serving Manhattan retailers each year.

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority is in line for a $100 million state aid boost over the next five years to use for major infrastructure improvements on its deteriorating Metro Rail system.

New York lawmakers are closing in on agreements to raise overall school aid by about $1 billion, which is a smaller increase than educators and school advocates wanted but could be considered a victory given the state’s fiscal condition.

A small change in New York’s criminal law will spare thousands of illegal immigrants and green-card holders from being deported, detained or denied citizenship, officials said.

New York lawmakers are set to approve a measure that would allow police to withhold all arrest booking information from the public, including mugshots and charges brought against any individual – including elected officials who get arrested.

When state leaders rallied this month behind a tax on luxury second homes in New York City, it seemed to encapsulate the goals of the Capitol’s new Democratic leadership, but the real estate industry wasted little time in killing it.

Towns that dropped glass from their curbside recycling programs late last year will have to analyze the costs associated with the change or restart glass collection, according to a letter sent by the state DEC and statements from state officials.

Hawaii edged out New York in 2018 as the state with the most heavily unionized workforce. An estimated 22.3 percent of New Yorkers were union members in 2018, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday, down from 23.8 percent in 2017.

Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani hailed Fox News’ “Justice with Judge Jeanine” host Jeanine Pirro as a “crusader for justice” as she returned to her show Saturday.

Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick criticized the handling of the Jussie Smollett case in an appearance on “Justice w/ Judge Jeanine.”

Actor Robert De Niro reprised his role as Special Counsel Robert Mueller as “Saturday Night Live” dedicated the opening sketch of its return show to the fallout from the Mueller report’s conclusion.

Trump’s executive order reversing an Obama-era ban on offshore drilling in the Arctic Ocean is unlawful, a federal judge in Alaska has ruled.

When Florida authorities shut down 10 massage spas last month and charged hundreds of men with buying sex, they broke a longstanding pattern of meting out minor charges and punishment for owners, letting patrons off scot-free and turning a mostly blind eye to signs of human trafficking.

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Extras

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized Republican Rep. Devin Nunes’s leadership while chairman of the House Intelligence Committee as Republicans call for the resignation of his successor atop the panel, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff.

U.K. lawmakers rejected the government’s divorce agreement with the European Union for a third time, leaving Britain just two weeks to decide between a long delay to Brexit and an abrupt no-deal departure from the bloc.

Linda McMahon, the head of the Small Business Administration, is planning to announce that she’s stepping down, and is expected to rejoin the private sector, though her exact plans are unclear.

The president’s aides want McMahon to help raise money for Trump’s re-election effort, including for the primary super PAC supporting his campaign. She is close to Trump and his family, who are heavily involved in his re-election campaign.

Trump reversed himself and called for full funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, an Obama-era effort that’s been credited with cleaning up the Buffalo River and many other spots across the heartland waterways between the United States and Canada.

A former Trump family driver, Zoltan Tamas, who worked as a senior security guard at Trump National Golf Club in the town of Jupiter, FL and was licensed to carry a gun, has spent the past eight months in ICE custody as he fights a protracted legal battle to remain in the United States.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the GOP’s newest bogeyman, invoked to raise campaign cash and rally the base.

The gatherings planned for tomorrow evening in several living rooms around Erie County won’t approach the throngs that Democratic White House hopeful Beto O’Rourke is attracting in places like Iowa and New Hampshire, but they mark the first local stirrings of the 2020 contest for president,

A new survey from DrugAbuse.com, which offers educational content and recovery resources to people dealing with addiction, found that 23 percent of U.S. workers responding to the survey say they have used drugs or alcohol on the job.

A procession of wealthy parents, from a Napa Valley vineyard owner to a Hot Pockets heiress, appeared in court today to hear charges that they paid bribes to get their children into top colleges.

Despite Attorney General William Barr’s public summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, three in four Americans, including a majority of Republicans – 54 percent – want full transparency of the report’s details, and 75 percent of residents think the full report should be made public, according to an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.

With spring arriving and the snowmobiling season winding down, New York had the same number of snowmobile deaths (20) as Wisconsin – a state with twice the number of registered snowmobiles.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he’s planning to run for a fourth term — just months after cruising to re-election to his third term.

The application of New York’s law banning so-called gravity knives by the office of Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. was found unconstitutionally vague by a federal judge in Manhattan, who said in an opinion enjoining the statute that it presented “a high risk of arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.”

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio defended huge subsidies to the city’s ferry system and said that questions raised about the cost by the Citizens Budget Commission were “very short-sighted.”

The mayor is prepared to opt in to the 5-cent fee on paper bags when a new state law kicks in next year banning the plastic ones.

The growing list of potential candidates to replace Bronx Rep. Jose Serrano when he retires at the end of next year is short on one thing: Women.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, both Democrats, are fuming over Cuomo’s plan to implement congestion pricing for vehicles entering parts of Manhattan via bridge and tunnel crossings.

Patrick Foye, who has pushed for transportation improvements for Long Island Rail Road commuters since his days as Nassau’s representative on the MTA Board nearly a decade ago, has been tapped by Cuomo to lead the MTA as its new chairman.

The high-speed ferry that brought pride and then heartbreak to Rochester like nothing else in memory now rests, neglected and unusable, at a shipyard in the Venezuelan city of Puerto Cabello. And there, it could help topple a government.

Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro might have two challengers in his re-election bid.

The National Rifle Association could shut down “very soon,” according the four-page fundraising letter, signed by the group’s executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, who blames Cuomo for the revenue shortfall.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public events or interviews yet announced.

Expect a framework budget deal to be announced very soon, as news of deals on various fronts has been trickling out over the last 12 hours. Passage of budget bills is expected to start over the weekend, likely Sunday.

Vice President Mike Pence is traveling to Chicago, IL where he delivers remarks at Turning Point USA’s Midwest Conference before returning to D.C.

At 9 a.m., Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo and local elected officials will honor local Vietnam Veterans in commemoration of Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day in Monroe County, The Roger Robach Community Center, 180 Beach Ave., Rochester.

At 10 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will appear on Brian Lehrer’s WNYC radio show and take calls from listeners.

At 10:30 a.m., Rep. Joe Morelle will deliver remarks at the groundbreaking for the Golisano Autism Center, 50 Science Pkwy., Rochester.

At 11 a.m., sate Sen. Pete Harckham will be honoring Vietnam veterans from his district during the Senate session, for Vietnam Veterans Day, 3rd Fl., state Capitol, Albany.

Also at 11 a.m., Rockland County Executive Ed Day and Health Commissioner Patricia Schnabel will give a brief update on the county’s emergency measles declaration, Day’s office, 11 New Hempstead Rd., New City.

Also at 11 a.m., the state Senate is in session, Senate chamber, state Capitol, Albany.

At 11:15 a.m., NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams holds a press availability to respond to the governor’s recent $25,000-per-couple fundraiser and the “profane insults” directed by the governor’s spokesman at three female state lawmakers, 1 Centre St., Manhattan.

At 11:30 a.m., Rep. Carolyn Maloney is joined by nonprofit leaders to introduce new legislation to reverse the burdensome damage the 2017 tax law is causing nonprofits, Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York headquarters, 135 W. 36th St., 15th floor, Manhattan.

At noon, Ørsted, the global leader in offshore wind and Eversource, New England’s largest energy provider, will make a major announcement that could lead to new jobs on Long Island, spur economic growth, and put Suffolk County Community College on the map as an academic authority on green energy, Grant Campus, Learning Resources Building, Board Room, Crooked Hill Road, Brentwood.

At 4 p.m., Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano participates in a ceremony to pay tribute to those who died during the Vietnam War, Unity Fountain, Yonkers City Hall, 40 S. Broadway, Yonkers.

Headlines…

President Donald Trump took time during his campaign rally yesterday in Grand Rapids, Mich. to dispute the validity of some of the asylum claims from immigrants who wish to enter the United States.

Fresh off what he called “total vindication” in the special counsel’s Russia investigation, the president told supporters he had vanquished a corrupt cabal of Democrats, the news media and the Washington elite, who tried to nullify his historic election victory by painting him as an agent of Russia.

Trump also blasted Democrats for what he said were “ridiculous bulls–t partisan investigations.”

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló continued to fire shots at Trump, warning that “if the bully gets close, I’ll punch the bully in the mouth,” following a reported spat at the White House between his top aides and US officials.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized Attorney General William Barr over his handling of the special counsel’s report, pressing the case for the full release of the document as Trump and Republicans continued to claim vindication in the Russia probe.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to block a Trump administration initiative banning bump stocks, the attachments that enable semiautomatic rifles to fire in sustained, rapid bursts.

Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Ind., drew large, enthusiastic crowds in his first campaign visit to the early-voting state of Iowa over the weekend, and he’s moving up in the polls of potential 2020 Democratic contenders.

Timothy J. Sloan, the embattled chief executive of Wells Fargo, abruptly stepped down yesterday, the company announced.

New York state laid out one of the most detailed and sweeping legal cases yet against the family that owns Purdue Pharma, maker of the opioid OxyContin, as well as the companies that distributed alarming amounts of prescription painkillers.

Former Rep. Michael Grimm said he’s very close to launching a second bid for his old congressional seat in as many years, comparing his time in prison and the felony tax evasion charges that put him there to the “witch hunt” Russia investigation into Trump.

A lawsuit against Boeing Co. was filed in US federal court yesterday in what appeared to be the first suit over an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX crash that killed 157 people.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez appears to be rubbing voters the wrong way — if they’ve heard of her at all — with 36 percent of respondents in a new Q poll saying they have a negative opinion of her.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic 2020 contender, met with Ocasio-Cortez in D.C., but reportedly did not ask for her endorsement.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers in New York are set to advance legislation as part of the state budget to protect undocumented immigrants convicted of Class A misdemeanors from deportation by limiting the maximum sentence for those charges to 364 days—rather than one year.

The proposal was included in the first of many bills expected to be introduced last night and this morning that will eventually make up the entirety of the state budget, which lawmakers are set to pass on Sunday.

After three young female lawmakers called the governor a hypocrite for holding a high-dollar fundraiser while budget talks – including on a public campaign finance system – were taking place, a spokesman for the governor called them “expletive idiots.”

A controversial excise tax on the sale of opioids in New York is poised to make it into a final state budget deal, according to multiple sources briefed on negotiations.

A budget deal revealed last night gives Cuomo the authority to close two unspecified correctional facilities in the next 12 months with 90 days prior notice to the Legislature.

Also in: legislation that would prohibit the release of arrest records and mugshots.

Out: Legalization of marijuana for adult recreational use.

State lawmakers say budget agreements have been reached to give a sizable increase in state aid to public schools, ban single-use plastic bags while imposing a fee on paper bags and rejecting a plan by Cuomo to make Election Day a state holiday.

New York would become the third state to ban single-use plastic bags — like those handed out at grocery and convenience stores – coupled with a five-cent fee on paper bags for which counties and cities would have to “opt in.”

If they opt in, local governments get 40 percent of the revenues from the paper bag tax, while the remaining 60 percent would got to the state’s EPF. Localities must use the revenue to offset the impact on low-income communities by disseminating reusable bags, and food-stamp recipients would be exempt from the fee.

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Extras

As Republicans on Capitol Hill grapple with President Trump’s decision to thrust health care back onto their agenda, many are looking to the White House for guidance on a plan. But the White House doesn’t have one, and aides are suggesting it could be up to Congress to determine what would replace the Affordable Care Act should the courts strike down the law.

Every Republican on the House Intelligence Committee is calling on Chairman Adam Schiff to resign, accusing the California Democrat of weaving a “demonstrably false” narrative of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and “undermining” the credibility of the panel.

The first Democratic debate of the 2020 presidential primary will be held on June 26 and 27 in Miami, NBC News, the host of the debate, announced.

In the past two fiscal years, the Trump administration has requested restarting more than 18,000 deportation cases that immigration judges had suspended, according to statistics provided by the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, which oversees immigration courts.

RIP Starquest, AKA former NYC Parks Commissioner Henry Stern.

The FBI has reportedly interviewed two former board members of the Community Action Organization, with agents asking questions about the firing and reinstatement of CEO L. Nathan Hare, why Mayor Byron W. Brown tried to stop Hare’s dismissal, and financial operations of the agency.

Despite the headlines celebrating their passage by the state Legislature over the past two months, several high-profile bills have not been signed into law – and it’s making some advocates nervous.

The Democratic-controlled state Legislature has passed a measure to lower the legal blood-alcohol content threshold for hunting while intoxicated.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, a Democratic 2020 contender, said he “had to get up the courage” to ask girlfriend Rosario Dawson for her number after the actress didn’t give him “the time of day” initially.

A star-studded zombie movie filmed in the Hudson Valley now has a release date. “The Dead Don’t Die,” written and directed by Jim Jarmusch, will be released in theaters in June 14.

Bill Hammond: “If the entire Affordable Care Act were struck down as unconstitutional – as a federal judge ruled on Dec. 14 – the consequences for New York’s health-care system, and the state budget, would be significant.”

Trump is expected to pick Morgan Ortagus, who is currently a Fox News contributor, as the new State Department spokesperson, according to a senior administration official.

The Justice Department has grown increasingly hostile toward its own LGBT workers, causing top talent to quit as they experience discrimination and “declining morale,” according to a group of LGBT employees who confronted Attorney General Bill Barr in a letter this week.

Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam has joined the crowded Democratic presidential primary field. He will hold an afternoon kickoff rally Saturday at the historically black college Florida Memorial University, where he is expected to detail his policy on student loan debt.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloneywho co-chairs the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, introduced the Prohibition of Medicaid Funding for Conversion Therapy Act, which would ban Medicaid funding from being used for conversion therapy for LGBTQ people.

As Apple continues to fight legislation that would make it easier for consumers to repair their iPhones, MacBooks, and other electronics, the company appears to be able to implement many of the requirements of the legislation, according to an internal presentation obtained by Motherboard.

The NYC Council will consider removing Brooklyn Councilmember Kalman Yeger from his seat on the Committee on Immigration after his Wednesday Twitter declaration that “Palestine does not exist.”

A cousin of the Buffalo Police commissioner and a Buffalo firefighter were among eight people arrested this week after a state and federal investigation into a $420,000 identity fraud ring.

New York City, home to the biggest market for fur in the United States, would join places such as Los Angeles and San Francisco as cities that have passed laws banishing mink coats and coyote-trimmed jackets from sale under new legislation introduced today in the NYC Council.

EJ McMahon: “New York’s prevailing wage law is a relic of the late 19th century, designed to protect local firms and workers from lower-cost competitors from other regions. What survives is an increasingly costly protection racket for a shrinking but still politically powerful labor cartel.”

It’s not quite the jackpot but one lucky person is $1 million richer after buying a Powerball ticket in Cohoes.

One of the worst tax-delinquent properties in Syracuse is owned by a company with, of all things, alleged ties to a Kazakhstan corruption scandal.

The NYPD is opposed to all five bills in a package put forth by the New York City Council to crack down on the growing problem of parking placard abuse on city streets.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public events or interviews yet scheduled.

The state Legislature is in session. The state budget deadline looms.

Vie President Mike Pence travels to Naples, FL. today, where he delivers remarks at Ave Maria University and participates in a Trump Victory event. He’ll then proceed to Jacksonville, FL for another Trump Victory event before returning home to Washington, D.C.

NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray will deliver remarks at a Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City’s Board of Advisors convening, which is not not open to members of the press.

At 9 a.m., NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams speaks at the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce board meeting, 575 Fifth Ave., 14th floor, Manhattan.

At 9:30 a.m., Regent Judith Johnson will be visiting Kakiat Elementary School during the 2019 School Vision Health initiative, 465 Viola Rd., Spring Valley.

At 10 a.m., state Attorney General Letitia James will make an important announcement regarding the opioid crisis in New York and across the nation, AG’s office, press conference room, 28 Liberty St,, 23rd Fl., Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., the NYC Council Committee on Finance meets, Committee Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 10:30 a.m., the NYC Council Committee on Rules, Privileges and Elections meets, Council chamber, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 10:30 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will hold a media availability to discuss the City’s efforts to reduce its car fleet, Citi Field, Parking Lot D, 123-01 Roosevelt Ave., Queens.

Also at 10:30 a.m., state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli gives remarks at the New York State Government Finance Officers Association’s 2019 Annual Conference, Albany Marriott, 189 Wolf Rd., Albany.

Also at 10:30 a.m., Queens Borough President Melinda Katz holds a regular public hearing on land use, Queens Borough Hall, 120-55 Queens Blvd., Queens.

Also at 10:30 a.m., Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. hosts the Bronx Clergy Task Force Interfaith Breakfast, Bronx County Building, Veterans’ Memorial Hall, 851 Grand Concourse, the Bronx.

At 11 a.m., tenants and housing advocates protest in front of the midtown Manhattan offices of the Real Estate Board of New York, 570 Lexington Ave., Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., the Bring It Home Coalition holds its final rally as part of ongoing efforts to demand that Cuomo increase funding for mental health housing programs, 633 Third Ave., Manhattan.

At noon, advocates from the Fair Elections for New York campaign and leaders from all over the state will join elected officials in calling the governor and legislative leaders to fulfill long-standing commitments and finally pass binding small donor public financing legislation in this year’s budget, War Room, 2nd Fl., state Capitol, Albany.

At 12:30 p.m., Diaz Jr. speaks at the “Mobilizing Preachers and Community” monthly meeting, Union Grove Baptist Church, 1488 Hoe Ave., the Bronx.

Also at 12:30 p.m., NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson holds a pre-stated meeting press conference, Red Room, City Hall.

At 1 p.m., the Thomas Jefferson Young Democrats, with NYC Councilman Mark Treyger, speak to establish internet protection exchange locations to combat assaults, scams and robberies in the city’s thriving secondhand market, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 1:30 p.m., the NYC Council holds a stated meeting, Council chamber, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 3 p.m., the Campaign for Children holds a rally to call on de Blasio to expand after-school programs for elementary school students and provide funding for summer programs for middle school students, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at 3 p.m., de Blasio will join New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof for a live interview on Twitter.

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

At 6 p.m., City & State hosts the Above and Beyond Gala awards ceremony to honor 30 women who exhibit exemplary leadership in their fields and have made important contributions to society, Dream Downtown, 355 W. 16th St., Manhattan.

Also at 6 p.m., Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano presents the Yonkers’ “Women of Distinction” Awards, Ceremonial Courtroom, Yonkers City Hall, fourth floor, 40 S. Broadway, Yonkers.

At 7 p.m. and 11 p.m., “Inside City Hall” features Diaz Jr., NY1.

Headlines…

House Democrats raised concerns that President Donald Trump, newly emboldened after the conclusion of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, could seek to pardon associates and allies entangled in the multiyear investigation.

Trump told Fox News’ “Hannity” that FBI officials investigating possible Russia links to his campaign had “committed treason,” as he gave his first interview since Mueller’s investigation concluded.

Trump also said that Russia would “much rather” have Hillary Clinton as president of the United States.

Former FBI director James Comey said in an interview with NBC News that he thought Trump potentially obstructed justice when he admitted on the network that he was thinking about Russia when he axed him.

A federal judge blocked Kentucky and Arkansas from implementing a Trump administration policy allowing the states to require some Medicaid recipients to work, another legal setback for a plan other states are seeking to adopt.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand disclosed her 2018 tax filing, which showed she paid more than $29,000 in federal taxes and made her the first of the 2020 presidential contenders to release their latest tax return.

Gillibrand paid $29,170 in federal taxes on an income of about $214,000, her 2018 tax returns show.

The exact comparison is difficult because Gillibrand reported more in income in 2017 than in 2018, but an accountant says she saw “significant savings” from the federal tax reform bill on which she voted “no.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden is once again apologizing for the treatment Anita Hill received while publicly testifying against then-U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, saying:” “To this day, I regret I couldn’t come up with a way to get her the kind of hearing she deserved.”

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, a 2020 contender, accused Trump of being “complicit” in white supremacist violence.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat and the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, is seeking 10 years of Trump’s financial records as part of his committee’s efforts to follow up on former Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s testimony last month.

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos pushed back against bipartisan criticism over her plans to slash federal funding for the Special Olympics — but acknowledged that reporting on the matter was accurate.

The FAA concluded no retraining was necessary upon introducing the MCAS system in the Boeing 737 MAX 8 to commercial pilots, according to Acting Administrator Daniel Elwell, who said he didn’t believe the certification process of the aircraft included training for sensor malfunctioning or reporting of faulty data in flight simulations.

The ubiquitous plastic bag would be banned throughout New York state under a provision negotiated as part of the budget plan that Cuomo and the Democrat-controlled Legislature are trying to finalize before the April 1 deadline.

But imposing a fee on paper shopping bags, as some lawmakers and advocates support, could prove to be a thornier issue. Some legislators are concerned a fee would be a tax on consumers in poorer communities.

“We’re in the middle of baking a cake right now,” said Assemblyman Steve Englebright, a Long Island Democrat, regarding the lack of detail on a plastic bag ban. “I can’t tell you what kind of icing we’re putting on it.”

With less than a week to go before a new state budget is due, local rallies, carpools to the state Capitol, and assorted messages to lawmakers are among many fevered efforts underway to make a final pitch for legislators to increase state aid to schools.

A trio of state lawmakers called Gov. Andrew Cuomo a hypocrite for holding a $25,000 per couple fundraiser while refusing to act on campaign financing.

“These hypocrites should practice what they preach and take a look in the mirror,” responded Cuomo senior adviser Rich Azzopardi. “They and their colleagues hold fundraisers daily, a hop skip and jump from the Capitol.”

Despite the governor repeatedly insisting he won’t sign off on a budget without the program, and legislative leaders backing the concept, the issue of a pbluciy funded campaign finance system appears to be moving to the back burner during the waning days of budget negotiations.

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Extras

U.S. Senate Democrats are going back on offense on health care, trying to block funding for the Justice Department’s support of a lawsuit against Obamacare.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush didn’t consider herself a Republican after Donald Trump took office, according to a forthcoming book obtained by USA Today about the matriarch of a GOP political dynasty.

Facebook will begin banning posts, photos and other content that reference white nationalism and white separatism, revising its rules in response to criticism that a loophole had allowed racism to thrive on its platform.

Jussie Smollett’s lawyer didn’t rule out the actor filing a lawsuit after all charges against him in his high-profile attack case were dropped.

Chicago police released the investigative file involving the alleged hate crime hoax by Smollett, which lays out in detail the investigative steps taken by a team of detectives to unravel what happened to the “Empire” actor on the frigid January night in downtown Chicago when he claimed he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack.

Maple syrup producers say they’re contending with more unpredictable weather than they did decades ago.

From an office tower across the Potomac River from Washington, from the bowels of the RNC’s headquarters on Capitol Hill and from field offices across the country, Trump is assembling an army of operatives to fight for victory in what stands to be a legacy-defining political battle.

The Baldwin brothers plan to open a drug rehabilitation center in either Onondaga or Oswego County in the coming year.

A not-so-secret $25,000-a-couple/$15,000-per-person fundraiser for the governor held within weeks of the state budget deadline drew a whole slew of people with business before the state.

Seven former senior Trump aides, including the White House’s top ethics official, may have violated federal law by failing to disclose their future employment on financial reports, according to records obtained by POLITICO.

Written in bone-dry legalese, Attorney General William Barr’s summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the 2016 presidential campaign sounded like sweet music to the ears of East Aurora’s Michael Caputo. Or, to be more specific, it sounded like vindication.

Though Trump has claimed “complete and total exoneration” based on Attorney General William Barr’s summary of Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, the American public disagrees, according to a new CNN Poll conducted by SSRS.

The NRDC does not support the proposed bottle bill expansion in its current form, and urges a more deliberative approach with public hearings.

Students at the City University of New York are often homeless and have trouble finding food, according to a study out today.

Cynthia Nixon: “With the largest majority Democrats have had in the state Senate since World War I, this is not the time to be timid. This is the time to give the people the progressive government that they voted for. That’s why, this year, it’s time to fully fund every school, in every zip code.”

A former top official at SUNY’s Upstate Medical University was charged with two felonies for allegedly falsifying his professional background on the resume he had submitted when applying for the $340,000-a-year job.

With exactly one month to go until the start of the revised L train project, MTA’s leadership is officially reneging on their commitment to allow a third-party monitor to review the scope of the plan and present their findings to the board.

New York City is suing a company for displaying Times Square-style billboards on a barge that travels along the Manhattan and Brooklyn waterfronts, saying the water-based ads defy local laws.

Democrats who lead both chambers of the state Legislature in New York have each said their party groups have reservations about allowing judges to consider a defendant’s so-called “dangerousness,” or threat to public safety, as a factor for pretrial incarceration.

In the wake of the Schoharie limo crash, state Sen. Neil Breslin is pushing legislation that would significantly raise the minimum insurance requirements that upstate limousine companies carry on their vehicles.

A new interactive data tool from the Rockefeller Institute of Government displays average teacher salaries compared to the average salaries of bachelor’s degree holders in each state over a 15-year period to examine where teacher salaries are gaining and where they’re falling behind.

A Connecticut mom’s crusade to get the state to approve the use of campaign funds for child care expenses has drawn the attention of Hillary Clinton.

The Glens Falls Post-Star is the latest area newspaper to put its downtown headquarters up for sale, reflecting a national trend of newspaper downsizing and real estate liquidation.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public appearances or interviews yet announced.

The state Legislature is in session. The state budget is due Sunday at midnight.

At 8:30 a.m., Riders Alliance and Transportation Alternatives will gather with transit riders in Jackson Heights to rally for congestion pricing and ask passers-by to call their elected representatives, Roosevelt Avenue and 74th Street, Queens.

At 9:20 a.m., NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray and Mayor Bill de Blasio will appear live on Hot 97’s Ebro in the Morning.

At 10 a.m., the NYC Council Committee on Finance meets jointly with the Subcommittee on Capital Budget, Council chamber, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 10:30 a.m., Assembly Elections Chair Chuck Lavine, Assemblywoman Latrice Walker, and Sen. Jessica Ramos will join with Let NY Vote advocates to push for funding for early voting in the home-stretch of budget negotiations, LCA corridor, 3rd Fl., state Capitol, Albany.

At 11 a.m., “The Capitol Pressroom” features state Sen. Brad Hoylman, Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi and others, WCNY.

At 11:15 a.m., NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams will join AQE to demand the state fully fund schools in accordance with the 2006 Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit, marching from the NYS Supreme Court, Appellate Division to Cuomo’s Manhattan office, 27 Madison Ave. to 633 Third Ave., Manhattan.

At 11:30 a.m., as lawmakers debate which high-end luxury real estate tax makes the most sense for this year’s budget, lawmakers, analysts and advocates explain why the “Pied-à-Terre Tax” offers the best combination of predictable revenue and economic fairness, Assembly staircase, 3rd Fl., state Capitol, Albany.

At noon, the state Senate Ethics and Internal Governance Committee meets, Room 904, Legislative Office Building, Albany.

Also at noon, NYC Councilman Robert Cornegy Jr. is presented as Guinness World Records’ tallest male politician, City Hall, Blue Room, Manhattan. (De Blasio will deliver remarks at about 12:30 p.m.)

Also at noon, Williams will join the NYC Anti-Violence Initiative, Make the Road, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, and a broad coalition of advocacy groups to call for the state to fund the Hate Violence Prevention Initiative, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

De Blasio and NYC Council Member Koslowitz will meet with community leaders to discuss the city’s borough-based jail plan. This meeting is closed press.

Also at noon, elected officials and members of organized labor rally in favor of prevailing wage legislation, Million Dollar Staircase, state Capitol, Albany.

At 12:45 p.m., the NYC Council Committee on Transportation meets, Committee Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

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

Also at 3 p.m., Albany Law School hosts a discussion with alumnus David McCraw, ’92, top newsroom lawyer for The New York Times and author of the newly published book, “Truth in Our Times: Inside the Fight for Press Freedom in the Age of Alternative Facts,” 80 New Scotland Ave., Albany.

Also at 3 p.m., the NYC Council Committee on Consumer Affairs and Business Licensing meets, 250 Broadway, 16th floor, Committee Room, Manhattan.

At 4:15 p.m., Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz delivers his 2019 State of the County address, Albright Knox Art Gallery, 1285 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo.

At 5:30 p.m., “Max & Murphy” features Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., WBAI, 99.5 FM.

At 6 p.m., NYC Councilwoman Vanessa L. Gibson will host her annual Women’s History Celebration, Mullaly Recreation Center, 1020 Jerome Ave., the Bronx.

At 7:30 p.m., McCray will arrive at the 21st African American Women in Cinema Film Festival, where she will speak at about 8:10 p.m. and receive the 2019 Luminary Award, SVA Theatre, 33 West 23rd St., Manhattan.

Also at the festival, Williams will present proclamations to honorees, preceded by a red carpet media availability.

Headlines…

The U.S. Senate blocked consideration of the Green New Deal, ending a Republican effort to hitch Democratic presidential candidates to the climate plan and paint Democrats as out-of-touch socialists and fantasists.

The procedural motion simply to take up the Green New Deal failed to get a single vote. Democrats, including those who were sponsors of the resolution, voted “present” and denounced the move as a sham intended to divide their party and provide Republicans with election-season talking points.

Freshman Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez got into a heated exchange with a GOP congressman from Wisconsin after he called Green New Deal “elitist” during a committee hearing this week.

Ocasio-Cortez slammed Republican lawmakers for “climate delaying” after the Senate failed to advance her Green New Deal in a procedural vote.

The Bronx/Queens congresswoman said she no longer suffers from “imposter syndrome” after hearing Republican Sen. Mike Lee’s pronouncement that “babies” are the solution to climate change.

Lawmakers blocked the Department of Defense’s move to transfer $1 billion for the construction of a physical barrier along the US-Mexico border, the latest showdown in the battle over the border wall that Trump has vowed to build.

A new fight over the future of the Affordable Care Act burst onto the Capitol Hill agenda, as Democrats tried to move past the Mueller report and pounce on the Trump administration’s legal motion to have President Barack Obama’s signature health care law invalidated by the federal courts.

California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, said that Deutsche Bank has begun providing records of its dealings with Trump for the panel’s probe into the president’s finances.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, citing the multiple indictments of Trump associates produced by the Mueller probe, said he did not think the report’s findings would undermine local investigations.

Rep. Mo Brooks, an Alabama Republican, took to the House floor this week to portray Trump’s detractors as Nazis but ended up slurring them using an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory drawn verbatim from Adolf Hitler’s writings.

A couple arrested this month for paying bribes to get their son into an elite college were indicted in Boston, becoming the second and third parents to be accused by a federal grand jury in a wide-ranging admissions scandal.

George Papadopoulos, a ormer Trump campaign aide central to the early days of the FBI’s Russia probe, said the feds wanted him to wear a wire to record conversations with a professor who had told him the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton. (He turned them down).

Papadopoulos, the first person charged in Mueller’s Russia investigation, said his lawyers have applied for a pardon and that he may withdraw his guilty plea.

A Chicago police official suggested that Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx was behind the decision to drop all charges against Jussie Smollett — even though she recused herself from the case last month.

The announcement by Chicago prosecutors they were dropping all charges against the “Empire” actor was the latest turn in a strange and twisting case. And it enraged the city’s own mayor and police superintendent.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments over whether congressional district maps in Maryland and North Carolina were unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders — favoring Democrats in Maryland and Republicans in North Carolina.

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Max made a safe emergency landing yesterday in Orlando, Florida, after experiencing an engine problem, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

The question of whether the FAA has gone too far in allowing Boeing to regulate itself has emerged as one of the key issues after the crash of a Boeing 737 Max in Ethiopia this month, the second deadly crash of the new plane in less than five months.

Former Vice President Joe Biden acknowledged his role in the Anita Hill hearing, publicly reckoning with a moment from his past that has drawn criticism as he considers a third presidential campaign.

Barely 24 hours after a vote in the state Legislature to legalize marijuana in New Jersey fell apart because of a lack of support, lawmakers are already eying a potential vote this spring.

Supporters of adult-use recreational marijuana in New York are making a last-ditch plea to Cuomo and legislative leaders to include its legalization as part of the state budget amid ongoing uncertainty that the issue can be hashed out by Sunday’s budget deadline.

A new study has found that patients’ reasons for visiting emergency rooms are different for edible marijuana than they are for the inhaled form and that the visits are disproportionately high for the number of edible products that are sold.

Rochester City Council members have penned a letter backing recreational marijuana legalization with conditions.

Rockland County, a suburb of New York City, declared a state of emergency and is barring minors who are unvaccinated against measles from being in public places, the latest effort to fight New York State’s worst measles outbreak in decades.

More >

Extras

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report should be made public, American voters say, 84 – 9 percent, in a Q poll released today. Republicans say 75 – 17 percent the report should be made public and every other listed party, gender, education, age and racial group supports making the report public by even wider margins.

The Justice Department plans to take “weeks” and “not months” to provide a version of Mueller’s Russia report to Congress and the public.

Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, and its owners, the Sackler family, will pay nearly $275 million to settle a closely watched lawsuit brought by the state of Oklahoma, two months before the trial was set to begin.

The U.S. Supreme Court is so far declining to stop the Trump administration from enforcing its ban on bump stock devices, which allow semi-automatic weapons to fire like machine guns. The ban took effect today.

All criminal charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped after the “Empire” star was indicted on 16 felony counts of filing a false police report earlier this month.

“I have been truthful and consistent on every single level since Day One,” Smollett said. “I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I have been accused of. This has been an incredibly difficult time, honestly one of the worst of my entire life.”

Chicago Mayor Rohm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said they were sticking by the police investigation that found Smollett’s claimes of being assaulted on a street in Chicago was a hoax. “This is without a doubt a whitewash of justice,” Emanuel said. “There is no accountablity. It is wrong, full stop.”

The House failed to muster the votes to overturn Trump’s first veto, leaving his declaration of a national emergency over what he calls a “crisis” at the border in effect.

Is the future simply too horrific to bring children into? Some couples, frightened by the prospect of droughts, wars, famines and extinctions brought on by climate change, are making that decision.

Starting at midnight, anyone who is under 18 and not vaccinated against the measles will be banned from public places in Rockland County. This ban will last until the declaration expires in 30 days or until people are vaccinated.

Ruth Papazian, 61, a lifelong Bronx resident and medical journalist, has met with GOP officials who have encouraged her to enter what would be an uphill race against Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Investigators are so backed up in conducting background checks on new NYC workers that 1,900 people hired in 2016 still haven’t been reviewed, a top official said.

Cuomo and legislative leaders seem to be in agreement on the need for congestion pricing, a first-in-the-nation style of toll on drivers who travel into Manhattan’s business district. Now comes the tricky part: Deciding which bridges should be carved out.

NYRA announced that David O’Rourke is the new CEO and president of the organization. O’Rourke, 45, had been appointed to those post on an interim basis on Jan. 23, after Chris Kay was forced to resign.

Owing money for education is a trillion dollar issue nationwide and common in New York. The total student loan debt burden in the Empire State is more than $90 billion, according to a 2019 Student Loan Protection Center analysis of U.S. Department of Education data.

A new bill would prohibit anyone from using automatic dialing technology to contact a New Yorker for commercial purposes if they don’t have the person’s prior permission.

Staffers and students at sought-after Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Manhattan are reeling after a racist attack on an African-American freshman prompted an all-hands meeting of administrators and families.

One person was killed after an Amtrak train hit a car this morning in Columbia County.

New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard waived a flag of surrender in the Carrier Dome – a Syracuse University flag, to be exact – and instantly became an honorary Central New Yorker, despite his prior negative comments about ‘cuse.

Within hours of a devastating fire that heavily damaged a Glens Falls-area craft brewery, Conn Roots Brewing, fellow brewers from across upstate rallied to offer help, support and assistance.

The MTA board is set to move forward with a pilot program of forward-facing cameras on buses that can automatically ticket vehicles for standing or parking in dedicated bus lanes.

Conor McGregor, the UFC’s biggest star and one of the world’s highest-paid athletes, is under investigation in Ireland after a woman accused him of sexual assault in December. he also announced his retirement today, which a spokeswoman said was unrelated to the investigation.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public events or interviews yet announced.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is traveling to Albany today to meet privately with legislative leaders as they work to finalize a budget deal. He’ll be returning to NYC in the evening, and thus far doesn’t have any announced interviews or appearances.

Vice President Mike Pence travels to Huntsville, Alabama today, where he will participate in a subcommittee preparatory working session with members of the NSPC Users’ Advisory Group at the US Space and Rocket Center.

Pence will then deliver remarks at the 5th National Space Council meeting, and tour the center before returning home to Washington, D.C.

At 8:30 a.m., Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets will gather at 96th Street and Broadway on the Upper West Side to thank Manhattan elected officials who have stated their support for including congestion pricing in the state budget, handing out free coffee to passersby who pledge to call their representatives to thank them, too.

At 9 a.m., the state Senate Committee on Budget and Revenues meets, Legislative Office Building, Room 946A, Albany.

At 10 a.m., advocates for sanitation workers’ rights announce support for waste industry reform recommendations set forth in a new report by the Transform Don’t Trash NYC coalition, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., the state Senate Committee on Energy and Telecommunications meets, Room 124, state Capitol, Albany.

Also at 10 a.m., the NYC Council Committee on Justice System meets, Council chamber, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., the NYC Council Committee on Contracts meets, Committee Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 10:15 a.m., the NYC Council Committee on Public Safety meets, Council chamber, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 10:30 a.m., the state Senate Committee on Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business meets, Room 804, Legislative Office Building, Albany.

Also at 10:30 a.m., the state Senate Committee on Housing, Construction and Community Development meets, Room 123, state Capitol, Albany.

Also at 10:30 a.m., the state Senate Committee on Investigations and Government Operations meets, Room 816, Legislative Office Building, Albany.

Also at 10:30 a.m., JCOPE meets, 540 Broadway, Albany.

Also at 10:30 a.m., state Sen. Brad Hoylman, Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, and consumer advocates will host a press conference to urge passage of a bill that would effectively ban unwanted robocalls in New York, Albany.

At 11 a.m., the Bring It Home coalition will hold its fifth and final Albany rally at the state Capitol to demand that Cuomo increase funding for mental health housing programs, outside the governor’s office, 2nd Fl.

Also at 11 a.m., the NYC Council Committee on Land Use meets, 250 Broadway, 16th floor, Committee Room, Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., “The Capitol Pressroom” features state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, state Sen. Robert Jackson and Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, WCNY.

At 11:15 a.m., NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer and other elected official and voting rights advocates call for Albany to pass automatic voter registration during this legislative session, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At noon, Queens Rep. Grace Meng holds a press conference to announce the Menstrual Equity for All Act, which aims to make menstrual hygiene products more affordable and accessible, U.S. Capitol’s East Front, Washington, D.C.

Also at noon, the NYC Council Committee on Oversight and Investigations meets, Council chamber, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 12:30 p.m., the WELL Campaign, an advocacy effort to improve student health and well-being in New York, partners with Assemblymember Michael Benedetto and the American Heart Association to host a “School Wellness Policy Lunch & Learn,” LOB, Room 711-A, 198 State St., Albany.

Also at 12:30 p.m., Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, the Ready for Kindergarten Ready for College Campaign, other legislative champions, child advocates, parents and others make a final push to ensure that the proposals to bolster funding for early childhood education end up in the final budget, outside the Senate chamber, 3rd Fl., state Capitol, Albany.

At 1 p.m., the NYC Council Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities and Addiction meets, Committee Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 2 p.m., the NYC Council Committee on Finance meets, Committee Room, City Hall, Manhattan. The focus of this hearing will be NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray’s ThriveNYC program; she will be testifying. Public Advocate Williams will also make remarks.

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

Also at 3 p.m., the NYC Council Committee on Health meets, 250 Broadway, 16th floor, Committee Room, Manhattan.

At 3:30 p.m., faculty, staff and students from the College of Staten Island rally to demand an end the funding crisis at CUNY, College of Staten Island, 2800 Victory Blvd., Front Gate, Staten Island.

At 6:30 p.m., Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. speaks at the One Hundred Black Men Inc. of New York general membership meeting, Touro College of Medicine, 230 W. 125th St., Manhattan.

At 7 p.m., Stringer will hold a town hall meeting at the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, 1368 Fulton St., Brooklyn.

Also at 7 p.m., McCray will host a Women’s History Month Mentoring and Civic Leadership event, Gracie Mansion, 88th Street and East End Avenue, Manhattan.

Headlines…

President Trump and his Republican allies went on the offensive yesterday, vowing to pursue and even punish those responsible for the Russia investigation now that the special counsel has wrapped up without implicating him or his campaign in a criminal conspiracy to influence the 2016 election.

The end of Mueller’s Russia investigation did nothing to bridge the partisan divide in Washington, with Republicans and Democrats staking out opposite paths on what to do in response to special counsel’s findings.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked efforts by his Democratic counterpart to pass via unanimous consent a resolution to make public special counsel Robert Mueller’s report – the second time Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has tried to do so.

Rudy Giuliani is insisting CNN apologize for its extensive coverage of the Russian investigation, which Trump’s lawyer said amounted to an “overreaction” that “tortured” his client.

During the sometimes tense interview with Giuliani, CNN’s Chris Cuomo repeatedly insisted — in between the former NYC mayor’s jabs — that he had nothing to apologize for.

Giuliani said the line Mueller wrote in his report about not exonerating Trump on obstruction of justice is a “cheap shot” and “unprofessional.”

With his report filed, Congress clamoring for more of his findings and a polarized public picking over the remains of his work, Mueller, the tight-lipped Vietnam veteran and former FBI director, who will be 75 in August, remains a figure of mystery and fascination.

Former head of the CIA John Brennan admitted that he may have relied on “bad information” for his relentless attacks on Trump.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said there are no discussions about pardoning former aides of Trump following the conclusion of special Mueller’s investigation.

In a dramatic reversal, the Trump administration said in a filing with a federal appeals court that the entire Affordable Care Act should be struck down.

The Pentagon has approved the transfer of up to $1 billion to build 57 miles of Trump’s southern border wall, according to a Defense Department statement released last night.

Trump recently asked his top aides for ways to limit federal funding for Puerto Rico, reportedly broaching the subject during a Feb. 22 meeting that was held to discuss Department of Housing and Urban Development grants.

Michael Avenatti, the lawyer best known for representing the pornographic film star Stormy Daniels in her lawsuits against Trump, arrived in New York yesterday for a negotiating session with Nike executives that he believed could net him millions of dollars. He left in the custody of FBI agents.

Avenatti was released on a $300,000 bond. He was represented by two federal defenders, was not asked to enter a plea and did not do so.

NASA’s plans for an all-female spacewalk this week has been canceled due to “spacesuit availability” issues.

After years of hesitation, New York is poised to become the first city in the United States to introduce congestion pricing, which would put new electronic tolls in place for drivers entering the busiest stretches of Manhattan.

“As long as some certain criteria of inequities are met with members, I’d say it’s safe to say the Assembly is ready to go forward on congestion pricing,” Speaker Carl Heastie told reporters after meeting of his Democratic conference.

A monthslong effort to legalize marijuana in New Jersey collapsed after Democrats were unable to muster enough support for the measure, rejecting a central campaign pledge from Gov. Philip D. Murphy and leaving the future of the legalization movement in doubt.

Rep. José E. Serrano, who is currently the nation’s longest-tenured Hispanic congressman, said he would not run for re-election, citing the effects of Parkinson’s disease. There will likely be a massive primary battle for his Bronx seat.

Two powerful members of the Bronx political establishment praised Serrano while predicting a wide open race for his seat: Assemblyman Marcos Crespo and Councilman Ritchie Torres, who said last month that he was exploring a primary challenge to the congressman, but didn’t know at the time of his diagnosis.

Serrano said his son, state Sen. Jose Serrano, is not considering a run. Other potential contenders: Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez, elected last year; former Serrano staffer Amanda Septimo, who ran unsuccessfully for the Assembly last year; former NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who lost a recent special election for public advocate.

Armed guards filled the Staten Island courtroom as Anthony Comello, 24, was arraigned on murder charges for allegedly gunning down a Gambino crime family boss. Protecting him in jail is the next challenge.

MTA officials promised new action to crack down on farebeating New Yorkers after revealing that one in every five bus riders avoid paying for their ride, costing the agency $128 million last year.

More >

Extras

Federal prosecutors are charging Michael Avenatti, the former attorney for adult-film star Stormy Daniels, with bank and wire fraud relating to an alleged $20 million scheme to extort Nike.

Avenatti also is charged in a separate federal case out of Los Angeles, where he is accused of embezzling a client’s money “in order to pay his own expense and debts,” and of “defrauding a bank in Mississippi,” prosecutors said.

In his first remarks on special counsel Robert Mueller since his report was turned in Friday, President Donald Trump offered an opinion in sharp contrast to the past two years of insults he’s hurled at both the special counsel and his investigation.

Grim faced and simmering with anger, Trump repeated his assertion that a collection of partisan foes had effectively conspired to try to disrupt or even end his presidency with false allegations about his campaign’s ties with Moscow in 2016.

Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani said in media appearances that Mueller’s sweeping probe was “bad” for the country, and cryptically warned that whoever persuaded the feds to pursue it will soon be revealed.

Apple announced a new paid tier of the Apple News app called Apple News+ that includes magazine content for $9.99 per month. Apple is offering a month-long free trial to the service.

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter said Democrats should point out that Trump “hasn’t kept any of his promises” in the wake of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report that found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said it was a “mistake” for the Democratic presidential contenders to skip the annual meeting of AIPAC, the leading pro-Israel lobbying group in the US, and argued that Trump would try to use their absences to splinter the party.

Leaders of the New Jersey state Legislature cancelled a planned vote today on a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older in the Garden State, because there weren’t sufficient votes to pass it.

New Jersey is poised to become the eighth state to allow doctors to write a lethal prescription for terminally ill patients who want to end their lives.

Democrats cannot rely on investigations and impeachment to topple Trump in 2020 and must instead beat the Republican president “on the merits,” Cuomo said.

A century after the first two women arrived in Albany, New Yorkers elected a record number of women to state government. Here are the stories about how they made their mark.

Just as local supporters were ready to drop invitations in the mail, an April 11 fund raiser in Buffalo featuring Vice President Pence has been postponed. But the event is expected to still take place on a yet to be determined date, according to one of its organizers, Anthony H. Gioia, a retired businessman and former ambassador to Malta.

At a time when the New York Republican Party may have hit rock bottom, Erie County GOP Chair Nick Langworthy wants to be its chairman. He has issued no formal declaration of candidacy and keeps his efforts low-key, but is nevertheless mounting an all-out effort to replace veteran Ed Cox as state party leader.

Assembly Democrats say they’re ready to move forward on congestion pricing, moving a toll on vehicles in parts of Manhattan to help fund New York City transit repairs closer to reality.

As he faces sentencing on various corruption charges, disgraced lobbyist Todd Howe says he’s a changed man now that he has swapped what his lawyers refer to as “the snaking vines of the lobbying network” for the “salt-of-the earth goodness” of Idaho.

More than one in five New York City bus riders skipped paying in the last three months of 2018, according to new figures that show the Metropolitan Transportation Authority lost about $225 million to fare evasion last year on its buses and subways.

A county grand jury in Schoharie appears to have finally been presented with evidence in the criminal case against Nauman Hussain, the operator of the limousine company involved in the tragic Oct. 6 limo crash that killed 20 people.

Quentin D. Wheeler, the former controversial president of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, stayed on the state payroll for eight months after resigning from his post last summer.

New York City’s plan to close Rikers Island and move those incarcerated there into four borough-based jails is gearing up to move into its next phase, the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure.

The Internal Revenue Service is lowering its threshold for penalty waivers — a decision that could help many taxpayers who didn’t have enough federal income taxes withheld in 2018.

Poor Syracuse, it can’t get no respect. …though, here’s some good news: Cardi B is coming to town.