Dan Clark

Dan Clark joined the Capital Tonight team as Video Producer in August 2014. Dan is based at the state capitol in Albany, where he manages field production for the statewide political unit. You can most often find him roaming the halls with a camera looking for someone to talk to. Dan also generates interactive content on the blog. He put together our exclusive Race for Congress section, which you can find above in the navigation. He has outlined competitive races statewide and an overview of the state’s delegation. If you need to get in touch with Dan, shoot him an email at: Dan.Clark@twcnews.com

Posts by Dan Clark

Kolb Introduces Bill to Regulate Drones

droneWatch out drone enthusiasts – a bill introduced by Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb could limit where you’re able to fly your favorite unmanned aircraft.

The bill – introduced Wednesday by Kolb – would place restrictions on where and how you’re allowed to fly a drone.

Drones would not be allowed outside of specifically designated areas, more than 400 feet in the air, within restricted airspace, near stadiums, or where you can’t see it while you’re flying it. The punishment? You’ll be paying up to $1,000 in fines or spend 90 days behind bars.

In his memo on the bill, Kolb mentions an incident where a drone flew into the stands during the U.S. Open in September.

Drone regulations were also pitched by U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer earlier this year after a drone landed on top of the state capitol building. Schumer’s law would mandate geo-fencing for drones – where drones are programmed to stay away from certain areas, like a state government building for example.


State Launches $2 Billion Index for Low-Polluting Companies

dinapoli 1The state will invest $2 billion from the $184.5 billion pension fund into companies that produce low carbon emissions, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced today. The new investment will be weighted toward carbon-cutting businesses, and will reduce or exclude investments into high-carbon companies.

This comes on top of $1.5 billion that the state had already invested into sustainable strategies across the state.

The Comptroller initially announced the investment in Paris, where he’s participating in a panel at the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference this week.

“Low-carbon, sustainable investments are key to our future,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “Our pension fund has long-supported climate aware strategies, and this expansion of our commitment offers a sensible solution that will protect the Fund’s investments.”

The announcement does not mean that the state has completely divested from companies that produce high carbon emissions. There is a bill in the legislature that would require the state to divest from companies that produce fossil fuels, but it has not gained support among both majority conferences.

DiNapoli also announced an additional $1.5 billion toward the pension fund’s Sustainable Investment Program. That brings the Fund’s total investment in sustainable business to the $5 billion mark – an all-time high.

State Designates 11 More Brownfield Areas

The state has added 11 new sites to its list of Brownfield Opportunity Areas. That’s the program that uses state resources – up to 90 percent of the cost – to identify and redevelop areas tarnished by long-abandoned industrial activity.

The goal of the program is to take these areas and make them habitable for industry again. That includes everything from cleaning up any environmental hazards, to working with (and providing tax credits to) private-sector companies that may be interested in developing on the property.

Each project is specific to its area. Click for the full post, with a list of today’s announced areas, including links to the projects:

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Entergy Files to Close FitzPatrick

FitzPatrick 1Entergy has filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to close the FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Oswego County, Entergy Spokesperson Tammy Holden said Wednesday.

Holden says the filing is merely procedural. They’re required to file a letter with the NRC within 30 days of their decision to close the plant.  The plant will shut its doors in late 2016 or early 2017 after the end of the current fuel cycle.

Holden says Entergy has tried “to reach a constructive and mutually beneficial agreement to avoid a shutdown” with state officials over the past two months, but talks did not merit results. “Discussions have concluded,” Holden said.

More than 600 people will lose their jobs at the plant when it closes over the next year. The decision is a major economic blow to the area, which collects a generous amount of income tax from the large payroll at FitzPatrick.

Governor Cuomo and U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer both said they would work with Entergy to keep the plant open, but this latest development indicates that effort was not enough. A spokesperson for Entergy said earlier this month that regardless of help from the state, the plant was no longer economically viable in the region.

The plant has been operating in the Scriba area for four decades this year.

Senators: “Grave Concern” Over State’s Handling of Health Republic Shutdown

State Senators Kemp Hannon and Jim Seward sent a letter, Thursday, to the state’s health exchange and the Department of Financial Services “with grave concern” over how the state is handling the closing of Health Republic – a health co-op that was shut down by state regulators in September.

The Senators write in the letter that the top priority for the state in the immediate future should be to transition Health Republic customers to new health insurance plans.

The state has worked to alleviate the transition for customers by extending open enrollment in the state health exchange until November 30th for customers. The state also plans to auto-enroll some people in new plans, but “it is unclear how the mechanics of this will be implemented”, the Senators write.

The letter also brings up a new issue in the Health Republic debacle – group coverage. The Senators write that customers should be notified sooner rather than later if their employer will no longer provide small group health coverage.

This comes as the Department of Financial Services works to investigate the shutdown of Health Republic. Congressman Chris Gibson has called for an independent investigation into the closure, while Senator Chuck Schumer has said the state is best equipped to handle the investigation.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli also told us on Capital Tonight this week he’s considering his own investigation into the shutdown.

Read the full letter below:

Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin Not Running for Congress

mclaughlinRepublican Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin said Thursday he would not put his hat in the ring for the 19th Congressional District.

“I have agonized, as you know over this decision. It’s really difficult,” McLaughlin told Fred Dicker on Talk 1300. “I’m gonna say that I’m not going to run for Congress which is going to disappoint some people, probably make some people happy.”

McLaughlin said he wants to spend more time focused on his family and his time in the Assembly. He plans to run for re-election in 2016.

“I have a great desire to do it,” McLaughlin said, “but then there’s a part of me that says, you know what? This is not the right time.”

McLaughlin said holding a seat in Congress would limit his time with his children, two of which are heading to college. Another is leaving for basic training in the Air Force.

McLaughlin said he was also concerned about voter turnout and financing during a presidential election year.

“One of the things I was looking at was – the Democratic nominee is a factor in New York politics,” McLaughlin said.

Democrats historically have a higher turnout during presidential years, which could be boosted if Hillary Clinton – a former U.S. Senator from New York – is the Democratic nominee.

McLaughlin also said he wasn’t confident that funding would come through for his campaign.

“I don’t fully trust the Washington establishment that they wouldn’t cut bait on a seat like this,” McLaughlin said, “and leave you twisting in the wind and hanging.”

Former Assemblyman and candidate for governor John Faso is seeking the seat left vacant by Congressman Chris Gibson. Andrew Heaney is also seeking the Republican line in that district.

Regeneron to Expand Westchester Headquarters

RegenersonGovernor Cuomo announced, Thursday, that 300 jobs will be coming to Westchester County as part of an expansion to Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’s Tarrytown headquarters.

This comes on top of 500 additional jobs already created by the company as part of a recently completed expansion in Tarrytown.

Both projects come partly in thanks to tax credits from the state. As part of today’s announcement, Empire State Development will provide the company with $5 million in tax credits. The recently completed expansion received $10.2 million in tax credits.

Regeneron has based its operations in New York for more than two decades now and also houses a facility in Rennselaer County.

Today’s announcement comes as good news to the state, which has seen a collection of job loss announcements in recent weeks. Kraft-Heinz announced two weeks ago that it would close up to three factories costing workers close to 1,000 jobs. The Cuomo Administration and Sen. Chuck Schumer have since struck a deal with the company to save those jobs – including a $20 million investment from the state.

Alcoa also announced that it would be closing a plant in the North Country, with an expected loss of close to 500 jobs. Schumer and Cuomo have also said they’re working to keep that plant open, but no formal agreement has been announced.

Fiala Blames Low Numbers on Money, Poll Itself

FialaDemocrat Barbara Fiala is blaming her low poll numbers on being outspent four to one by her Republican opponent Fred Akshar, and on the quality of the poll itself.

Time Warner Cable News and Siena College released the results of an exclusive poll Wednesday evening that found Fiala trailing Akshar by 52 points.

Fiala says the poll’s method is partly to blame for the divide, but admitted to TWC News reporter Emily Lorsch Thursday afternoon “I really haven’t read it through.”

“After looking at the questions, I have to question how some of them were written and you know, I don’t put a lot of stock in polls,” Fiala said.

When prompted on which questions she was referring to, Fiala pointed to a local issue.

“One of the questions was, ‘who do you think would better fight heroin?’ … and that’s been what his whole campaign was about,” Fiala said.

Voters were asked in September who they thought would do a better job at combating the heroin epidemic if elected. In that poll, 67 percent of voters thought Akshar would handle the issue better, compared to 18 percent for Fiala.There were no questions regarding heroin on the poll released yesterday.

Included in yesterday’s poll was a high unfavorable rating for the former Broome County Executive, but Fiala says she’s not giving up just yet.

“Would I have liked to see different numbers? Absolutely. But that’s not going to change my focus and what I plan to do until Tuesday. I’ve said all along, you’re going to judge the candidate by their integrity and their honesty and I think that says a lot about the difference between our two campaigns.”

Another big difference between the two campaigns – money. As of last Monday, Fiala’s campaign had raised just a third of what the Akshar had, and the Broome County Undersheriff is burning through the money fast. He’s spent four times what Fiala has over the course of the campaign, according to the latest numbers from the State Board of Elections.

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Despite Uphill Battle, Fiala Confident in Her Chances

Fiala AksharDespite raising just a third of what her opponent has, and in the face of a 28-point trail in the latest Siena Poll, Democrat Barbara Fiala says she’s “looking forward to a win next week” for the 52nd Senate District.

Speaking before a public debate at the Binghamton Rotary Club Tuesday, Fiala told reporters that despite her endorsement from Governor Cuomo three months ago, she’s been able to maintain her roots in the Southern Tier.

“I’m proud of the campaign, grassroots campaign, you know, pleased with the donations,” Fiala said. “No big money from Albany. I was independent when I started this, and I’m still independent.”

She’s right – the only donation to Fiala that could be considered ‘big money from Albany’ would be an $11,000 contribution from Governor Cuomo last week. That’s little compared to the $267,000 given to her opponent Fred Akshar from the NYS Senate Republican Campaign Committee over the course of his campaign.

“Money didn’t fall from the sky, as it did my opponent,” Fiala said. “He’s already been bought and packaged and delivered to Albany. He’s already done that. They don’t invest a half a million dollars in somebody just because they like you. They expect something in return. I did not receive a half a million dollars from the State Democratic Committee.”

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Two File to Run Against Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney

MaloneyTwo former candidates for Assembly have filed to run for Congress against Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney in the 18th Congressional District.

Sakima Brown and Dan Castricone – both Republicans – have filed paperwork with the FEC to front a challenge against the two-term Congressman.

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