Andrew Cuomo

Cuomo Administration To File $2B Opioid Suit

The Cuomo administration on Tuesday announced plans to file a sweeping $2 billion lawsuit against opioid makers, distributors and pharmacy benefit managers.

The money is meant to benefit health consumers who have borne the broad cost of the effort to fight the opioid epidemic through higher insurance premiums.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a news conference call the opioid crisis the result of a system-wide “fraud” in the drug manufacturing trade.

“I’ve seen a number of schemes and frauds, but the opioid scheme is as diabolical, as brazen, as obnoxious and as offensive as anything I’ve seen,” Cuomo said.

“These drug companies knew what they were doing. It was not accidental – it was an industry-wide conspiracy. The damage they have caused has been immeasurable – it has cost thousands of human lives and billions of dollars, and they have gotten away with it for decades. These drug companies are not going to get away with murder, and we are taking a series of actions to ensure that they don’t.”

Attorney General Letitia James’s office has filed a separate lawsuit against opioid makers and distributors. Oklahoma last month won a $570 million ruling against Johnsons & Johnsons in an opioid-related case.

The suit the Cuomo administration announced is being led by insurance regulators at the Department of Financial Services, which pointed to the estimated $2 billion overpayment in in insurance premiums in the last decade, which it attributed to opioid addiction.

“Any intentional misrepresentation by the manufacturers and distributors of opioids and PBMs would have led to great financial burden for consumers and New York State-licensed health insurers,” said Financial Services Superintendent Linda Lacewell.

“DFS is charged with oversight of New York’s insurance industry and rate review for consumers and express authority to investigate insurance fraud. DFS will use every tool at our disposal to take appropriate action to protect consumers and the health insurance industry in New York.”

Cuomo And 11 Governors Call For Gun Control Measures

A dozen governors, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, on Tuesday called on President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to take action on gun control legislation that includes a red flag law, strengthened background checks and a ban on assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines.

“Putting an end to the gun violence epidemic is not a Republican or Democratic issue, it is an American issue. Gun deaths do not have to be the norm,” the governors wrote. “The time is now to break the cycle by enacting four common-sense measures.”

The letter was signed by Cuomo, along with the governors of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Washington.

The letter comes after another spate of mass shootings around the country. Cuomo has challenged the Democratic candidates for president to make gun control a central issue of the campaign.

Cuomo Says More Workers Should Be Classified As Employees

Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a news conference on Monday said more workers should be classified as employees, not independent contractors, in order for them to receive benefits like health care and retirement.

The classification question is coming to a head in California, where a bill aimed at addressing the so-called “gig economy” of independent contractors could classify many workers as full-time employees. The move would affect companies like Uber and Lyft that classify drivers as independent contractors.

“I think we have to look at how we define employee versus independent contractor going forward,” Cuomo said. “I think, in my opinion, forget the specifics, more people should be considered employees because what has been happening is companies have been going out of their way to hire independent contractors to get out of those obligations.”

Cuomo noted there is a “legal question” surrounding the definition of workers set by the Internal Revenue Service, calling it “a federal determination by a federal definition.”

Cuomo said he’ll likely push again for expanded worker protections.

“Part of that is redefining a worker as an employee as opposed to an independent contractor,” he said.

Cuomo Wants To Ban Flavored E-Cigarettes

New York officials on Monday announced plans to strengthen regulations of vaping and e-cigarette products amid heightened public health concerns surrounding the use of the products.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a news conference in New York City announced the state Department of Health would investigate companies that produce vaping substances and the materials used in making them.

Health officials will also require shops that sell vaping products to post warnings about their use. State officials late last week moved to warn people about using e-cigarettes amid the growing number of reported illnesses believed to be related to vaping.

And Cuomo once again indicated he will push for a ban on flavored e-cigarettes. He had initially proposed a measure allowing the Department of Health to ban the products earlier this year in his State of the State address in January.

The proposal did not pass by the end of the legislative session in June, where the measure has been sponsored by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal for the last two years. Lawmakers earlier this year boosted the minimum age for purchasing tobacco products from 18 to 21.

“It’s attracting thousands of young people to an activity, and again, we don’t know exactly what they are smoking or what the consequences are,” Cuomo said.

“We don’t know what a lot of these substances. If you don’t know what it is that you are smoking, don’t smoke it.”

The proposed ban amid reports of vaping use causing illnesses among some, potentially due to a chemical contained in the devices or by mixing the device with THC.

“I don’t think you will get a public health official who will say to you vaping is safe,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo Signs Law Establishing 9/11 Remembrance In Schools

A law establishing a remembrance day in New York schools in commemoration of the Sept. 11 attacks was signed into law on Monday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The measure allows for a brief moment of silence in public schools on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks. Wednesday marks 18 years since the attacks in New York City, Washington and Pennsylvania.

The new law takes effect immediately.

“9/11 was one of the single darkest periods in this state’s and this nation’s history, and we owe it to those we lost and to the countless heroes who ran toward danger that day and the days that followed to do everything we can to keep their memory alive,” Cuomo said.

“By establishing this annual day of remembrance and a brief moment of silence in public schools, we will help ensure we never forget — not just the pain of that moment but of the courage, sacrifice and outpouring of love that defined our response.”

The measure was sponsored by Sen. Joe Addabbo and Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato.

Cuomo Wants Permanent Extension Of Buy American Law

A law that requires road and bridge projects in New York to use structural steel and iron made in the U.S. should receive a permanent extension, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday at the New York City Labor Day Parade.

The current law, first approved in 2017, expires next April. The law applies to construction contracts worth more than $1 million.

“What Buy America has shown, what Buy America says is the steel that we buy, the concrete that we buy, the iron we buy must be American made,” Cuomo said in his remarks.

“That does two things: Number one, it protects American jobs and it grows New York jobs. Manufacturing is now five percent of the New York economy and it makes sure that we have the best quality steel, concrete, and iron going into our infrastructure projects.”

The proposal announced Saturday is a preview of what Cuomo has in store for his budget proposal next year, due to be released in full in January. Cuomo indicated in his remarks that the permanent extension is a priority for him in 2020.

“We are building more than any state in the United States of America. No state is building what we are building here – over $250 billion in infrastructure,” Cuomo said. “And we want to make sure that these projects last 100 years and to do that you have to know that steel, that concrete, that iron is top quality material and you only know that if that is made right here in the good old USA.”

Cuomo Admin: Consolidate Primaries To April 28

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration on Friday floated the idea of holding the state, congressional and presidential nominating contests in New York on April 28.

Consolidating the two primaries would boost turnout and save money, said Dani Lever, the governor’s communications director.

“The Governor believes the best governmental practice is to consolidate the presidential, congressional and state primary elections on one day making it easier to vote and saving tens of millions of taxpayer dollars rather than holding multiple elections,” she said in the statement released Friday afternoon.

“That was the rationale for moving the September statewide primaries up to coordinate with the June federal primaries. The presidential primary of April 28 this year adds a new element and the easiest solution is to hold the state and congressional primaries on that date: April 28. Governor Cuomo believes we should want as many voters to participate in the process as possible, and everything we have done since Democrats have taken full control in Albany has been to make it easier for people to vote, including enacting early voting.”

The current calendar has the state and congressional primaries scheduled for the final Tuesday in June, with the presidential primary scheduled for April. Previously, due to a disagreement between majority Republicans in the state Senate and the Democratic-controlled Assembly, the state had up to three primary elections scattered through the year.

New York unified its state and congressional primaries earlier this year with a new Democratic majority in the state Senate.

“A state and congressional primary election held two months after a presidential primary is an unnecessary obstacle to voter participation,” Lever said. “At least 15 other states have a single combined primary for presidential, federal and state races for exactly this reason. Ideally New York would have an earlier presidential primary date to be more relevant to the national dialogue but that is not under consideration as it is not politically feasible at this point.”

Holding a primary earlier the year for state legislative races would come less than a month after the state budget is due to pass in Albany.

Here’s The New License Plate Design

newplate

Winning nearly half of the overall vote total, New Yorkers have picked a license plate that depicts Niagara Falls, the Adirondack mountain range and the New York City skyline.

The plate was one of five potential designs put to New Yorkers for a replacement program that has been mired in controversy over the last several weeks.

Overall, the winning plate design received 49.7 percent of the votes online, with various iterations of a large outline of the Statue of Liberty receiving 16 percent, a smaller Lady Liberty at 9.7 percent and a Statue of Liberty torch at 14.9 percent. The design that showed the outline of the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge received 9.7 percent of the vote.

The new plates will be available in April.

State Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy was in Albany Friday to file a Freedom of Information Law request seeking more information on the vote the Cuomo administration announced last month for New Yorkers to pick the next license plate.

“I think that kind of is pretty all encompassing,” Langworthy said. “Hopefully we get something back in fairly short order, but I have no expectations in cooperation from down the hall.”\

The replacement program as initial announced would require drivers with plates 10 years old or older to turn them in starting next April. It costs $25 to replace the plates, a fee set before Cuomo was elected.

The law as written allows the administration to lower the fee itself. But Cuomo in a radio interview on Friday morning blamed lawmakers.

“The legislators who now say it shouldn’t be $25 — you hypocrite. You voted for the budget,” Cuomo said. “You were in the majority.”

In a statement, Cuomo senior advisor Rich Azzopardi called Langworthy a two-bit conspiracy theorist, noting a compromise to have many drivers avoid the fee for new plates has been proposed. As announced by DMV Commissioner Mark Schroeder, older plates that are not damaged or peeling may be able to remain on the road pending an inspection.

“It’s sad that the New York Republicans have gone full tilt Trump and given its reigns to a two-bit conspiracy theorist,” Azzopardi said.

“No amount of grandstanding , hypocrisy and cheap press hits can hide the facts, which are the cost of a replacement license plate was changed from $15 to $25 by a vote of the legislature in 2009– before this governor took office– remained the same for the last 10 years and that Langworthy’s fellow Republicans did nothing to change it when they held the Senate. As the ‎DMV commissioner already said he wants to work with the legislature to come up with a cost-effective system before April that adapts to changing technology to ensure that plates can be read by both cashless tolling and law enforcement‎.”

Cuomo Is Not A Presidential Candidate, But He’s Playing Role Anyway

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a radio interview this morning was asked about whether New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio should drop his long-shot bid for the party’s presidential nomination.

He pretended his phone line went dead, eventually eliciting a long chuckle at his own joke.

De Blasio is almost certainly not going to be the Democratic presidential nomination. U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, once considered a rising star in the Democratic Party, dropped out of the race after only eight months after failing to qualify for next week’s TV debate.

Elected nine years ago, Cuomo is now the longest-serving governor in the country. He has a resume that in most presidential election cycles would make for a strong front-running candidate from the centrist-to-liberal wing of the party (Cuomo has a complex relationship with the progressive-advocacy left and how that would have played in a hypothetical presidential run by the governor is best suited for a blog post all its own).

And yet, Cuomo spent much of this summer in Albany, zip lining at the beach, hitting up the state fair, betting on the ponies at Saratoga or fishing on Lake Ontario, not in the sweaty confines of Iowa or New Hampshire.

Running for president is a lot like trying to get called up to a major league baseball team. A lot of people want the job, think they’d be good at it, only to fall on their faces and come away a little diminished as a result.

Cuomo, like anyone in public life, seems to have little appetite for being publicly diminished.

He’s not running for president, and yet he seems to be filling a role in national politics anyway. He’s in line next year to become the head of the National Governors Association. He’s challenging Democrats who are actually running for president to take a stand on gun control.

And, this week, he’s floated the idea of combining the presidential primary scheduled for April with congressional and state legislative races, potentially holding both nominating contests earlier.

New York rarely matters in presidential nominating politics. But imagine an early New York primary in the beginning of 2020, the still unwieldy field of Democratic candidates trooping to the executive mansion to pat Captain the dog on the hand and talk with Cuomo about the direction of the Democratic Party.

Cuomo is adept at finding ways of projecting power, especially when it comes to the inherently powerful governor’s office. Why not project New York’s power as well?

Cuomo is famously something of a homebody. He rarely travels out of state, and when he does, it’s rare he’s spending more than a night or two away. But that doesn’t mean he can’t leverage his own influence on the national stage.

Cuomo Sees Benefit To Combining Legislative, Presidential Primaries

Combining New York’s two primary dates in one election would have multiple benefits, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a radio interview on Friday morning, including making the state a bigger player on the national stage and saving taxpayer money.

NY1 reported Thursday Cuomo had reached out to legislative leaders in the Assembly and state Senate about potentially moving the primaries to February. The presidential primary is currently scheduled for April, with primaries for state and federal elections in June.

Cuomo backed off the idea of a February primary, questioning whether it would be “a viable date politically.” New York would be punished by the Democratic National Committee for moving its presidential primary, likely losing delegates as a result.

“It is a politically, there is great opposition to reducing the number of delegates of the state,” he said on WAMC. “For a microreason they don’t want to have fewer slots for delegates. The other states won’t be happy if you go earlier.”

But Cuomo indicated he would be open to an earlier date for both, and combining them as well.

“First, I think we have to at least coordinate the presidential primary and the congressional and the state races,” he said. “I don’t see how as a matter of good government how you defend the two taxpayers we’re going to have two separate elections.”

New York often plays little to no role in presidential politics, beyond its wealthiest residents being used as a source of campaign contributions for candidates in either party. The state has voted Democratic in each election since 1988 and its primary is often held so late in the calendar it has little effect on the broader primary.

An early primary date would be potentially beneficial to former Vice President Joe Biden, whose candidacy the governor has been supportive for much of the year. And combining the presidential primary, which would draw a broader cross-section of voters, with down-ballot offices, would aid incumbents in the Legislature and House of Representatives, many of whom are facing intraparty challenges from the left next year.

Cuomo indicated in the interview this morning the combined primary would boost turnout.

“Who votes in that second election, right?” Cuomo said. “You just go through a presidential primary and now I’m supposed to come out and vote two months later for the my Congress people and my Assembly and Senate?”

Any change in the primary schedule would have to be done by the state Legislature, which is not due to return to the Capitol until January.

New York for several election cycles had as many as three primaries in a single year due to a federal law governing access to military and overseas ballot and a failure by lawmakers in the Democratic-led Assembly and the state Senate under GOP control to unify a state primary date. As a result, the presidential primary would be held in April, a federal primary in June and a state and local primary in September.

Earlier this year, with the state Senate flipped to Democratic control, lawmakers approved a bill setting the last Tuesday in June as the state primary date to match the federal calendar.

But now Cuomo believes that even two primaries is too many.

“You have to least coordinate the schedules in my opinion or it’s all a mockery,” he said.