Nick Reisman

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Cuomo: No Marriage Bill If Votes Aren’t There

A bill that would legalize same-sex marriage won’t be introduced in the Senate unless the votes to pass it are available, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today.

Speaking at a news conference for the swearing-in of Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn Destito, the governor said votes were still be counted in the Republican-led chamber. Cuomo said the goal was to avoid a repeat of 2009, when a same-sex marriage bill was up for a vote in the then-Democratic-controlled Senate, but failed 38-24.

Cuomo, responding to a question about whether Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell jumped the gun on introducing his own measure and not wait for the program bill from the governor, said the focus remained on the Senate.

“This has never been about, on marriage equality, a vote in the Assembly primarily. The Assembly has passed it before. People expect it will pass again. The question is what’s going to happen in the Senate. The discussions that I’ve had with the collective group that is working on this in a unified way is we want to pass a bill. We don’t want to bring a bill up in the Senate that will fail, right? We don’t want to have an instant replay of last year. It’s not about having a vote for a sake of a vote. It’s about if it’s going to pass. and the conversations we’re having now will educate as to whether we’ll bring the bill to a vote.”

A coalition of advocacy groups was formed at Cuomo’s urging earlier this year with the goal of passing the bill this year. Cuomo himself has said same-sex marriage should be legalized by the end of this legislative session in June.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos told us on Monday that his GOP conference is yet to receive a bill from the governor’s office and has not discussed the measure.

The pro-same-sex marriage group, New Yorkers United for Marriage, are lobbying Democratic and Republican lawmakers considered to be on the fence in the debate.

Duffy: County Execs Should Look At Their Own Spending

Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy this morning called on county executives to take a hard look at their own spending before sounding alarms over mandate relief.

Duffy told Fred Dicker on Talk 1300-AM that that a strict limit on local property tax increases should be in place before mandate relief is approved — a reiteration of the Cuomo administration’s position.

“I would say that for the chief executives of the county, look at spending first,” Duffy said. Look at your own spending first. This is the first step. The mandate relief will come. The mandate relief isn’t easy. Some of this is in legislation. I hear a lot of excuses. My sense is you can’t take credit for dropping taxes and then blame someone else.”

School districts and local governments have voiced concerns that a 2 percent cap as proposed by Cuomo — and approved by the Republican-led Senate in January — would be too difficult to live within because of required spending for debt, health care administration and distribution and pensions.

But Duffy, the former mayor of Rochester, suggested as Empire State Development Corp. Chairman Kenneth Adams said yesterday that the cap would force a needed discussion on spending.

“We have a spending addiction, we have to curtail that spending,” he said.

Cuomo has sharpened his rhetoric toward legislators in recent days, saying on Tuesday in a web video they should approve a cap or “don’t go home.”

The governor and members of his administration are traveling the state to drum up support for the cap, along with an ethics bill and same-sex marriage legalization. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, has said he would introduce his own tax cap with some exemptions.

Silver said on Tuesday that the bill’s introduction would be soon rather than later.

Anti-Same-Sex Marriage Advocates Blasts O’Donnell Bill

Reporters late last night received in their inboxes statements from the Rev. Duane Motley and the Rev. Jason McGuire, who both knocked Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell’s introduction of a same-sex marriage legalization bill.

“Granting marriage licenses to same-sex partners would mean encouraging and promoting family structures that deny children of either a mom or a dad,” said McGuire, the CEO of New Yorker’s Family Research Foundation.

“One of the chief purposes of civil marriage is to connect children with their biological parents, and particularly with their fathers. Redefining marriage to encompass same-sex partnerships undermines that purpose.”

Motley, of the New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, said lawmakers voting in favor of the measure would be imperiled in their next election.

No doubt watching the steady stream of votes that had been for gay ‘marriage’ leave the State Assembly (some through last November’s lost election seats, others through retirement or appointments to the Cuomo administration) is causing some consternation in the lower chamber, he said.

Publicly, the Democratic leadership in the State Assembly is saying the votes are there, but the vote will certainly be much closer than it was last time. There is reason for gay ‘marriage’ advocates to be nervous.

But gay marriage advocates point to high poll numbers in support for the issue, with one showing 58 percent of voters believing same-sex marriage should be legalized.

It was assumed Gov. Andrew Cuomo would introduce the measure as a program bill himself. There is no Senate version in the GOP-controlled chamber.

Cuomo is trying to pass a same-sex marriage bill this year after the measured failed to be approved in 2009. It went down in defeat in the Senate, 38-24.

NRCC Knocks Davis For Obama, Pelosi Support

The National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee has a new web-only video out today knocking independent candidate Jack Davis for his endorsement of President Obama and for his support of a Democratic House majority.

“The most important thing voters should know about Jack Davis is that he is a Democrat,” said NRCC Communications Director Paul Lindsay. “He’s attempting to fool Western New York, but it’s clear that Democrat Jack Davis is a true Nancy Pelosi liberal who wants to make government bigger, taxes higher and our crushing debt more massive.”

The video comes as Democratic candidate Kathy Hochul is running uncomfortably close to GOP nominee Jane Corwin in the heavily Republican 26th congressional district. Polls show Davis playing a possible spoiler role to Corwin and Republican Party leaders, including Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy, are trying to portray the independent Davis as a Democratic also-ran.

Earlier today, former Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino released a scathing email blasting Davis. Paladino, who lost to Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year, carried western New York counties and remains a popular figure among the Republican base.

Senate Approves Anti-Prostitution Measure

Homework? Yes. Hookers? No.

The Senate today approved a measure sponsored by Democratic Bronx Sen. Ruben Diaz that would increase penalties for those who promote or patronize prostitution within 1,000 feet of a school.

The bill would make anyone involved in the sex trade close to schools with a felony.

Diaz said the bill was needed after parents, students and teachers at West Farms Elementary School in the Bronx discovered prostitutes in the nearby area. A tent used to conduct business was also visible to students at the school and school staff reported finding condoms and needles littering the ground.

Our Erin Billups caught up with Diaz to talk about the measure.

O’Donnell Introduces Same-Sex Marriage Bill

Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell introduced a bill today that would legalize same-sex marriage in New York, one day after advocates held a rally in Albany hoping to move the issue this year.

The bill and its supporting memorandum can be found here.

“It is with great pride that I am introducing the Marriage Equality Act. Since the Assembly last passed the bill in 2009, there has been an overwhelming groundswell of support for Marriage Equality across our state. Recent poll numbers have shown a strong majority of New Yorkers now stand firmly in support of Marriage Equality. However, nowhere was this powerful belief in equality more clear than at Monday’s ‘Equality and Justice Day’ rally in Albany, where citizens from across our state came together and demanded equality under law in one unified voice.

It’s unclear whether O’Donnell has the blessing of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. It was assumed that the governor himself would introduce the measure as a “program” bill.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, told us on Monday that the governor was yet to introduce the bill and that GOP lawmakers were yet to huddle on the issue.

O’Donnell, who is openly gay, sponsored the measure in the Democratic-led Assembly in 2009. That measure was approved in the Assembly, but it failed 38-24 in the then-Democratic Senate.

Adams: Cap Must Come First

While Gov. Andrew Cuomo was in Onondaga to kickoff his People First campaign, Empire State Development Corp. Chairman Kenneth Adams appeared before chambers of commerce leaders to deliver a similar pitch on same-sex marriage, ethics and a property-tax cap.

Adams framed all issues as business-friendly directives meant to make the state more competitive, saying that same-sex marriage legalization, for instance, would bring a “host of economic benefits.”

Speaking after his speech, Adams said the 2 percent cap would force a discussion on reducing spending at the local level.

The tax cap has to come first. People have called it a blunt instrument, you know, I don’t think it is necessary so blunt, but the point is, the cap comes first. It forces fiscal discipline, and out of that can come conversations about government efficiency and ways to reduce costs. But as the Governor said, the tax cap has to come first. And it will drive the rest of the discussion.

Carlucci Not Crying Over Onions

Though he was on the losing end of the onion versus sweet corn debate, Sen. David Carlucci is taking it all in stride.

Carlucci had proposed legislation that would make the onion the official state vegetable, competing against Sen. Michael Nozzolio’s legislation that would declare officialdom to sweet corn.

But it was revealed Monday that sweet corn will be taken up, not the onion.

The ever-earnest Carlucci, D-Clarkstown, Rockland County, said he was just glad the issue of New York farmers could be given huge, if somewhat lighthearted, play.

“I’m just glad the issue got so much publicity,” Carlucci said this afternoon.

Raising awareness of farms, small business and agriculture in New York was the point of his legislation, he said.

“We should be demanding that our local businesses owners be given preference and more room to enable people to buy locally,” he said. “That’s what we should be taking away from this — not the merits of onion versus sweet corn.”

Noisy Protests Erupt At Pro-Cap Rally

A noisy protest, which lurched from nearly violent to uncomfortably cordial erupted, at a rally for a tax cap in the Legislative Office Building’s Well this morning.

The rally, organized by Assembly Republicans, began with lawmakers speaking in favor of the 2 percent property tax cap, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo is trying to get approved this year.

We arrived there just as Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, R-Canandaigua, Ontario County, was trying to finish his speech when anti-tax cap protesters standing on a flight of stairs tried to shout him down.

One person was accused of being a “racist” while one woman dismissed the anti-tax protesters as “communists.” And then, strangely enough, one argument ended int two debaters shaking hands.

If anything, the incident served to show how high emotions are running on the issue. Though the property tax cap that Cuomo wants to pass the Democratic-led Assembly enjoys broad support in polls, concerns remain over the impact a “hard cap” without exemptions and mandate relief.

Skelos Applauds Tax Cap Push

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos today is applauding Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s renewed push for a property tax cap and is touting the Republican-led Senate’s Jan. 31 approval of the measure.

Senate Republicans first passed a property tax cap in 2008 to respond to the state’s property tax crisis, and New Yorkers everywhere continue to demand it. While I applaud the Governor for his continued leadership, it’s important that he utilize the bully pulpit to challenge the Assembly to act.

Skelos has been hesitant to negotiate a compromised cap, fearing it would be “watered down” by the Democratic-led Assembly. Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, has said he may introduce an alternative measure, including one that may exempt pensions, debt and an expiration date.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office quickly shot down the notion that the cap could expire, however. Cuomo is speaking today in Syracuse to push for the cap, along with gay marriage and an ethics bill — the kickoff of his “People First” tour.

Here’s the full statement from Skelos: More >