Andrew Cuomo

Cuomo Approves Bus Safety Measure

A bill approved on Wednesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo will expand the drivers education curriculum to include more school bus safety awareness.

The measure, sponsored by Assemblywoman Linda Rosethal and Sen. Anna Kaplan, is meant to give drivers more safety training when taking a license examination.

“Every day more than 50,000 motor vehicles illegally pass stopped school buses, endangering the lives of thousands of children who travel on these buses to and from school each day,” Rosenthal said.

“This common sense legislation will emphasize the importance of school bus safety awareness by requiring a school bus safety awareness component in the drivers pre-licensing course and by requiring that applicants for a drivers license demonstrate this knowledge on the written exam. This law will save lives,”

The new law also requires that at least one question in the test by the Department of Motor Vehicles includes is about school bus safety.

“As lawmakers, we have a solemn duty to ensure that we take every step necessary to ensure the safety of the children in our communities,” Kaplan said. “So when we have a situation where an estimated 40,000 drivers in New York are illegally passing school buses each day, we have a crisis on our hands that demands attention.”

Cuomo Vetoes DEC Reporting Measure

A bill that would have required the Department of Environmental Conservation to issue reports every other year that list high environmental impact zeons in New York was vetoed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

In a veto statement, Cuomo noted similar legislation had been vetoed by then-Gov. David Paterson in 2010 and issues raised at the time continue with the proposal.

“For instance, the bill would require DEC to locate data sets not held by the state, regardless of whether such data sets are obtainable by DEC or can be incorporated into DEC’s database,” the veto message stated.

At the same time, Cuomo raised concerns with the extensive effort that would be required to collect the data the bill requires.

Still, environmental groups, including the Environmental Advocates of New York, were disappointed with the legislation not being approved.

“We are disappointed in this veto because it means we lose a real opportunity to provide critical information about potential hazards that New Yorkers—especially those in minority and low-income communities—may be facing,” said the group’s deputy director, Kate Kurera. “With several more pieces of environmental legislation still awaiting executive action, we urge the Governor to be a true green leader and sign these remaining bills into law.”

Second Vaping-Linked Death Confirmed

The second death in New York believed to be related to vaping was confirmed Wednesday by state officials.

The death was of a man in his 30s from Manhattan who had a history of vaping and e-cigarette use, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

“Based on an investigation and medical record review, DOH has determined the death to be vaping related,” Cuomo said. “DOH is continuing its robust investigation into the cause of these illnesses, but in the meantime our message on vaping remains unchanged: if you don’t know what you’re smoking, don’t smoke it.””

Cuomo has moved to administratively ban flavored tobacco products used with vaping, but the move was delayed amid a legal challenge from an industry association.

On Tuesday, Attorney General Letitia James announced New York is suing JUUL, a prominent manufacturer of vaping products, over false advertising claims.

“We are taking every step possible to combat this crisis on the state level, but the federal government needs to take action now,” Cuomo said in the statement.

“President Trump has already backed down from his vow to ban the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes – despite widespread evidence that these flavors are used to target our teens and young adults – and put the interests of the vaping industry over the lives of Americans. This is Big Tobacco all over again. Make no mistake: this is a public health crisis and until our ‘leaders’ in Washington do something to stop it, more lives will be lost.”

Cuomo Says Up To $60M Will Be Committed For Census

New York will spend up to $60 million for resources to ensure the U.S. Census will be conducted properly, using resources from agencies, public authorities and the public college campuses.

The filing made public on Tuesday was first reported by Josefa Velásquez of The City.

“Counting every New Yorker in the 2020 Census is critical to ensuring we are accurately represented in Congress and receive the federal funding we deserve,” Cuomo said. “While the federal government has thrown up road block after road block – spreading fear among immigrant communities in the process – in New York we will break through and make sure that even our most difficult to reach communities are counted.”

The statement in support of the spending was released amid concerns from advocates and state lawmakers $20 million in Census spending by the state had not been allocated by October.

The Cuomo administration said the formal process for spending that money will begin next week, with the funding due to be spent on “trusted voice” non-profit entities. The money will be targeted on reaching communities considered difficult to count, including those with high immigrant populations, older people and children under the age of 5.

Adoptees Will Have Access To Birth Certificates Under New Law

Adoptees will be able to obtain a certified copy of their birth certificate when they turn 18 under a new law approved on Thursday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The measure will provide New York adoptees the right to information about their birth and biological parents.

“Where you came from informs who you are, and every New Yorker deserves access to the same birth records – it’s a basic human right,” Cuomo said. “For too many years, adoptees have been wrongly denied access to this information and I am proud to sign this legislation into law and correct this inequity once and for all.”

The new law is meant to remove the restriction placed by government agencies on information made available to adopted people, which in turn would give them a better chance of identifying medical data that can detect and prevent diseases.

The measure was sponsored by Assemblyman David Weprin and Sen. Velmanette Montgomery.

“I am so proud to have been the Senate sponsor of the Clean Bill of Adoptee Rights and I thank Governor Cuomo for signing this historic piece of legislation,” Montgomery said. “This has been long overdue. We owe our success to the advocacy of thousands of adult adoptees who have fought tirelessly on this issue for over 20 years. The level of support I received for this legislation from adult adoptees all across the state and the nation was astounding. It is important that they have the right to seek answers about their health, their family history and their heritage.”

Cuomo Signs Bill Aiding LGBTQ Vets Denied Honorable Discharge

LGBTQ veterans who were booted from the military without an honorable discharge due to their sexual orientation will have their benefits as veterans living in New York restored, based on a measure signed Tuesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The new law is meant to aid LGBTQ veterans who were discharged under before they could serve openly in the military.

“Countless service members were discharged from the military simply because of who they are. Adding insult to injury, they were then denied the services and benefits they earned as members of our armed forces who fought to protect our country and defend our ideals,” Cuomo said. “With this measure we are righting that wrong and sending a message to LGBTQ veterans that we have their backs, just as they had ours.”

The measure allows affected LGBTQ veterans in New York to access state VA services and pension credits, among other benefits that had been previously denied them.

The measure was sponsored by Sen. Brad Hoylman and Assemblywoman Didi Barrett. Hoylman in a statement pointed to the more than 50 benefits for New York veterans denied to LGBTQ individuals who served, but did not receive honorable discharges because of military policy at the time.

“Even as gay and lesbian Americans have been able to openly serve in the military for nearly a decade, generations of LGBTQ Americans are still unable to access many veterans’ benefits due to the status of their military discharge,” Hoylman said. “We are finally addressing this injustice by passing the Restoration of Honor Act, thanks to a new Senate majority led by Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins that stands resolutely in favor of LGBTQ rights.”

Cuomo Says Adding More Transit Cops Is About Public Safety

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a NY1 interview Tuesday morning defended the push to hire more transit officers for the New York City subway, saying the move was meant to bolster public safety.

Criticism from criminal justice reforms and some commuter groups has questioned enforcement efforts at subway stations lately, including an effort to crack down on fare evasion. Backlash is also mounting after women selling churros at different subway stations were arrested in separate incidents by the NYPD.

“You know we need a little common sense in the New York City discussion,” Cuomo said on NY1. “What does a human body need? Oxygen or water. But you know, that’s not really the choice, right? We need both. We need to be safe. We need public safety. We’re a city and nation of laws and they have to be enforced and people need to be safe on the subways.”

Cuomo wants to add 500 transit officers, which coincides with the MTA’s push to curtail fare evasion. The policy has come under fire from advocates who say the effort disproportionately hurts poor people.

But Cuomo said efforts to reduce the number of police in one of America’s safest large cities is misguided while there also needs to be a balance with the police respecting members of the community.

“It’s just the environment now, you’ve had these incidents with police and now people are saying we don’t need anymore police,” Cuomo said. “We need public safety. What they’re really saying is we think the relationship between the police and the community is stressed and frayed.”

National Grid Could Lose License In Downstate Supply Fight With Cuomo

New York officials are giving utility National Grid two weeks to resolve supply issues for downstate customers or have its gas franchise in the New York City area revoked, Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned in a letter sent Tuesday morning.

National Grid has insisted that its supply problems for natural gas stem from the state’s reluctance to grant the construction of a new pipeline and has declared a moratorium on new natural gas hookups.

Cuomo in his letter, however, called the moratorium a “fabricated” issue or one created out of incompetence.

“There is no legitimate need for it in the first place,” he said.

“There are existing short-term options to contract for non-piped gas from other sources, which National Grid either deliberately, negligently or incompetently did not secure. National Grid should have explored all options before denying service. Gas can be trucked, shipped, or barged, and other infrastructure could be proposed or additional unloading facilities installed. Electric service and demand response measures could be proposed. Heat pumps and renewable sources could be proposed. These options should have been explored and weighed by National Grid and made public for consumers to evaluate before National Grid denied gas service.”

Speaking on NY1 soon after the letter was released, Cuomo called the discussion around the pipeline “speculative” given it would take years to build.

“My job is to protect consumers, protect the citizens of this state,” he said. “National Grid’s job is to protect its shareholders. I get it, but I’m not going to let the people of New York be bullied and exploited. I’m not going to do that. Not as long as I’m in this seat.”

National Grid last month announced it would reconnect 1,000 customers in the metropolitan region amid an ongoing investigation from the Public Service Commission.

Cuomo Signs Measures Boosting Veterans Support

A package of bills signed Monday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo are meant to boost support for New Yorkers who have served in the armed forces, with more than a dozen measures bolstering aid for educational opportunities, employment and health.

All told, Cuomo signed 14 bills as the nation reflected on Veterans Day.

“Our veterans put their lives on the line to defend our nation, and we must honor them and support them just as they supported us,” Cuomo said.

“This package of bills includes a wide range of protections and benefits to help ensure the veterans across our state get the services, educational and employment opportunities, and respect they have earned through their many sacrifices.”

The measures include a program to help veterans earn high school diplomas. The bill expands Operation Recognition, a program allowing World War II, Korean and Vietnam vets who served prior to graduating from high school be awarded diplomas to those who served in Operation Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan.

And a measure will require employers to indicate prominently if a job is set aside for disabled veterans. One new law will require the state Division of Veterans’ Services and other state agencies to count the number of homeless veterans living in New York in order for policymakers to better address the issue.

Another new law will make military voting provisions available for school district elections. And four new laws will enable the waiving of fees and a property tax exemption extension.

SUNY And CUNY Application Fees To Be Waived For Vets And Spouses

Veterans and their spouses will have their application fees to New York’s public colleges and universities, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday announced.

The move, announced a day before Veterans Day, applies to applicants for the state and city university systems.

Fees for state and city campuses can range from $50 to $65.

The Board of Trustees for both SUNY and CUNY will include resolutions at their next board meetings implementing the change.

“Generations of New Yorkers have fought to preserve the freedoms and ideals of this state and nation at great personal sacrifice, and we must do everything we can to support them once they get home,” Cuomo said in a statement.

“Waiving the SUNY and CUNY application fees for veterans and their spouses will help these brave men and women and their families take the next steps in adapting back to civilian life and will help ensure they have the tools they need to succeed. And in honor of all those who served in our nation’s military, landmarks across the state will be lit in the colors of the American flag on Veterans Day as a reminder of their service, bravery and sacrifice.”

Meanwhile, the lights of the World Trade Center, the Kosciuszko Bridge, the Alfred E. Smith building, SUNY Central, the State Education building and the State Fair Expo Center will be lit in red, white and blue in honor of Veterans Day.