Nick Reisman

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Cuomo Signs Child Victims Act

The Child Victims Act, a measure that extends the civil and criminal statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, was signed into law Thursday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The governor held the signing in the newsroom of The Daily News, which had led an editorial campaign pushing for the measure’s approval over the last several years.

“We are here today because survivors who endured unimaginable pain came forward with great courage and sacrificed their own privacy to make change for others,” Cuomo said.

“This bill brings justice to people who were abused, and rights the wrongs that went unacknowledged and unpunished for too long. By signing this bill, we are saying nobody is above the law, that the cloak of authority is not impenetrable, and that if you violate the law, we will find out and you will be punished and justice will be done.”

The bill is meant to make it easier for the victims and survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file lawsuits, allowing a civil suit to begin before they reach the age of 55. Survivors and victims whose claims have been denied due to the passage of time can also have a one-year look-back window to begin a lawsuit.

“After years of unnecessary delay, the Child Victims Act is finally a reality and justice is coming for countless New Yorkers,” Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said. “Survivors who fought so long and hard deserve our love and admiration. With this new law, we are empowering those who have suffered unspeakable abuse and holding sexual predators accountable.”

Amazon Drops Bid For New York

Amazon has dropped its bid for a campus in Queens that would have brought up to 40,000 jobs to Long Island City tied to $3 billion in tax incentives.

A Siena College poll earlier this week showed broad support among voters statewide for the deal.

The move came amid opposition from elected officials on both the city and state level.

Senate Democrats last week nominated a prominent critic, Sen. Mike Gianaris, to a board that could have had a veto over the tax breaks for the company.

“After much thought and deliberation, we’ve decided not to move forward with our plans to build a headquarters for Amazon in Long Island City, Queens,” the company said in a statement.

“For Amazon, the commitment to build a new headquarters requires positive, collaborative relationships with state and local elected officials who will be supportive over the long-term. While polls show that 70% of New Yorkers support our plans and investment, a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City.”

Gianaris had been critical of the size of the incentive package. Critics also pointed to the company’s opposition to unionizing its workforce as a problem for New York City.

The move is a blow to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who had touted the plan as a major investment and boost for the state’s economy.

Cuomo had said Democrats in the Legislature would be blamed for opposing the deal.

The company selected both Queens and northern Virginia for the site of its new campus, dubbed HQ2 by the company.

For now, the company has no plans to reopen the search for another site.

Lawmakers Consider Next Steps After Harassment Hearing

From the Morning Memo:

The first sexual harassment hearing in more than 25 years in Albany could lead to changes in current policy and law, with lawmakers considering an end to the “severe and pervasive” definition.

“The New York state human rights law has myriad barriers for people who have sexual harassment claims,” said Miriam Clark, of the National Employment Lawyers Association. “For one thing, it’s not considered harassment unless it’s severe and pervasive.”

At the same time, the New York City human rights law could be a model for what can be adopted on the state level.

And replacing that standard with a more broad definition of harassment is backed by state lawmakers who want to see a bill passed this session.

“This would impact everyone,” said Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, a Queens Democrat. “What we’ve seen is the standard is pretty arbitrary, way too high, and doesn’t allow for victims to come forward.”

The day-long hearing, which began at 10 a.m. and stretched into the evening hours, featured testimony from survivors and victims of harassment, assault and sexual misconduct while working for state government. The Sexual Harassment Working Group, testifying jointly, had called for the hearing after last year’s sexual harassment law they said fell short.

Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, a Bronx Democrat who co-chaired the hearing, has not ruled out additional hearings on the issue.

Cuomo Launches Nationwide Push Against SALT Cap

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday announced he would launch a national campaign to repeal the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions.

The announcement follows a meeting Cuomo had on Tuesday with President Donald Trump about the issue.

“The disgraceful federal tax assault stole from 12 Democratic states to give to Republican states, and it was a gross injustice,” Cuomo said. “This is about money, plain and simple. As Governor of New York, I’m going to rally the other Governors and the other states to say it was a theft and to restore economic equity and fairness.”

Cuomo has blamed the cap on a $2.3 billion shortfall in tax revenue at the end of last year and start of the new year.

New York isn’t the only state that is impacted by the cap. Other high tax states, including Connecticut, California and New Jersey have been affected.

David Touts ‘Integrated’ Approach To Cannabis Management

The top counsel in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office on Wednesday pointed to the proposal that would combine the regulation of medical and commercial cannabis, as well as industrialized hemp.

The proposal is part of Cuomo’s plan for the creation of the State Office of Cannabis Management, which plans to regulate the retail aspect of the plan much in the same way alcohol is in New York.

“With this legislation, we have the opportunity to establish a strong framework that addresses the significant social justice, economic justice, public safety, and public health concerns that confront us today – concerns that will only increase in scope and complexity with the expansion of the illicit in-state market and legal markets in neighboring jurisdictions,” David told lawmakers at a hearing on the issue on Wednesday. “Taking no action and maintaining the status quo is simply no longer sustainable.”

At the same time, the law is meant to spur economic opportunities for communities impacted by prior drug laws, David said.

“The Office will accomplish these goals within a robust social justice and economic justice framework, ensuring the broadest possible inclusion in all aspects of this new industry,” he said. “In fact, the proposal requires that the Office administer a comprehensive social equity program to guarantee that disadvantaged communities have opportunities to participate.”

The effort to legalize cannabis for retail and commercial sale is also likely to be one of the more complicated criminal justice law reforms as well. Lawmakers are likely to call for the expunging of records for low-level drug offenses as paired with any plan for legalization.

David, questioned by lawmakers, said the legislation could also lead to the sealing of criminal records and allow some low-level cases to be re-heard.

State Senate Plans Transit Hearings

The Democratic-led state Senate on Wednesday announced plans to hold five public hearings on mass transit issues facing New York statewide.

The first hearing will take place next Tuesday in Manhattan, presumably focusing on the troubles facing the New York City subway system.

The rest will be held in the Hudson Valley, Buffalo, Syracuse and on Long Island. No dates have been given for those just yet.

The hearings will focus on the management of the MTA, issues facing ridership and upstate funding.

“Improving New York’s outdated and crumbling transit systems is a crucial challenge that we must meet,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “These hearings will ensure that New Yorkers throughout the state will be able to share their priorities and discuss these important issues directly with their elected leaders. I commend Senators Kennedy and Comrie for organizing these hearings and working with their Senate Majority colleagues to improve our state’s infrastructure, MTA, LIRR, Metro-North, Bee-Line Bus, Metro Rail, NFTA, CDTA, RTS, Centro, CEATS, C Tran, and other mass transit systems.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo this year is pushing a plan for congestion pricing in order to bolster the MTA’s funding as well as an overall of the authority’s structure.

Economic Development Reform In The Age Of Amazon

From the Morning Memo:

The plan to bring up to 40,000 Amazon jobs to Queens, tied to $3 billion in tax incentives, remains one of the largest potential economic development deals in the state’s history.

And while voters in a Siena College poll broadly support the proposal for Long Island City, the plan has stoked controversy for organized labor unions, local elected officials and others who are concerned with the size of the incentive package, the power of large corporations and the economic development race fueled between states.

The project also comes after economic development spending has been in the spotlight in state government due to bid rigging scandals in the Buffalo Billion, a signature economic development program for western New York.

Good-government groups once again on Tuesday called for a series of reforms, including a database of contracting deals for state programs and make permanent the comptroller’s authority to review and pre-audit state contracts. Both are provisions Gov. Andrew Cuomo has backed.

“Before the legislature appropriates a dollar for economic development, it needs to answer three questions: First, does the legislature and public know how economic development funds are being spent?” Alex Camarda of the group Reinvent Albany told lawmakers in testimony on Tuesday. “Second, do we know whether they are being awarded fairly and cleanly? Third, is the public getting a good return on their economic development investments? Unfortunately, at the moment, the answers to these questions is ‘no, no and no.'”

The group is also calling for public hearings on development efforts as well as clarifications for the state’s Freedom of Information Law so that it covers all economic development agencies. That provision was included in the budget resolutions of both the state Senate and Assembly.

Trump Brings Up Fracking, Abortion In Cuomo Meeting (Updated)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday traveled to the White House to call for a repeal of the cap on the state and local tax deductions.

What he got back from President Donald Trump was a conversation veering into issues like abortion and the state’s administrative ban on hydrofracking, according to a White House readout of the meeting.

Cuomo and Trump discussed the 2017 tax law that led to the cap provision, which the governor has blamed on a $2.3 billion tax revenue shortfall.

They also discussed infrastructure issues — a concern both men have expressed an interest in.

“The President discussed economic growth opportunities for the State of New York, including helping lower energy prices throughout the entire Northeast by allowing low-cost, American energy to thrive with fracking and pipeline systems,” the White House said. “The two also discussed the need to update America’s outdated infrastructure system. And, the President raised his concerns to Governor Cuomo about Democrats’ support of late term abortions.”

Trump in his State of the Union criticized New York lawmakers over the passage of the Reproductive Health Act, a measure that was meant to strengthen the state’s abortion law, leading to a rebuke by Cuomo in a New York Times op/ed.

Trump had previously ridiculed Cuomo over the fracking issue when he appeared at a fundraiser for Rep. Claudia Tenney last year in Utica.

Updated: Cuomo in an interview on WCBS 880 later in the evening said the president, along with economic advisor Larry Kudlow, indicated some reforms would be necessary to the tax law that could be up for further discussion. But he did not extract any promises on repealing the SALT cap.

“The president understands you hurt New York, you hurt California, you hurt the economic engine of the nation,” Cuomo said.

He added that Trump doesn’t want to pay for the Gateway Tunnel, an infrastructure project that’s been a top priority for the governor.

“There are some things that are just — I know we live in political times — but this is a train tunnel and it’s 100 years old and its collapsing,” Cuomo said. “Can’t we get past the politics?”

Biaggi: Sexual Harassment Hearing Just The Beginning

Lawmakers on Wednesday in Albany will hold the first-of-its-kind hearing on sexual harassment in state government, featuring testimony from former workers who have been harassed, assaulted and abused.

The hearing is likely just step one, Sen. Alessandra Biaggi said on Tuesday, saying there’s a possibility for more hearings as lawmakers craft new policies and bills to respond.

“It’s going to take more than one hearing or more than one day and that’s OK,” she said. “I think we have to ready for that. I think we also have to be OK with being uncomfortable because this an uncomfortable topic to talk about and it’s going to make a lot of people feel uncomfortable and that’s OK.”

So far, about 30 witnesses are expected to testify at the hearing, though the weather could prevent some people from attending. Witnesses will have 10 minutes to testify, not including follow-ups from lawmakers.

In addition to survivors and victims, expert testimony will be given from attorneys and others.

Among the changes Biaggi wants to explore is unifying sexual harassment reporting in the Legislature.

“There’s overlap and we’re just one body,” she said. “Right now, it’s very unclear.”

The hearing is being held in large part due to efforts by the Sexual Harassment Working Group, a panel of former aides who had worked for the Legislature and are victims and survivors of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace.

“The goal of the hearing tomorrow, which is incredibly important to highlight, is not have a trial, but to hold a hearing and to make sure we are informed as a Legislature how we can update our policies as well as our statutes,” Biaggi said.

Delgado Signs Onto Bill Repealing SALT Cap

Democratic Rep. Antonio Delgado on Tuesday announced he is signing onto a bill that would repeal the $10,000 cap on state and local taxes.

The announcement came after Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke to the New York House delegation on the issue last month and traveled today to meet with President Donald Trump about it at the White House.

“The 2017 tax law irresponsibly added more than a trillion dollars to the deficit while creating double taxation for middle- and working-class families in Upstate New York,” Delgado said. “Repealing the SALT cap is the right thing to do, and I’m glad to add my name to this bipartisan bill.”

Cuomo has blamed the cap for a $2.3 billion shortfall in tax revenue. He’s urged a repeal of the provision, which was part of the 2017 tax law.

Delgado last year defeated Rep. John Faso last year.