Andrew Cuomo

Cuomo Signs Bill Adding Hairstyles To Anti-Racial Discrimination Law

A bill adding hairstyles and traits to the state’s anti-racial discrimination laws was approved on Friday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The measure amends the state’s human rights law and the Dignity For All Students Act to add new sections on the definition of race, including “traits historically associated with race, including but not limited to hair texture and protective hairstyles.”

“For much of our nation’s history, people of color – particularly women – have been marginalized and discriminated against simply because of their hair style or texture,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “By signing this bill into law, we are taking an important step toward correcting that history and ensuring people of color are protected from all forms of discrimination.”

The measure will take effect immediately.

“The way one chooses to wear their hair should be legally protected and supported – and in New York, now it will be,” said Sen. Jamaal Bailey, one of the sponsors of the bill in the Legislature. “I thank Governor Cuomo for supporting and signing this bill that makes New York State a leader when it comes to ending racial discrimination based upon natural hair and hairstyles.”

Cuomo: Trump Lost In Citizenship Question Bid

The U.S. Census is moving forward without a citizenship question — a development Gov. Andrew Cuomo said was good for the state.

President Donald Trump announced Thursday he would not seek other avenues of including the question on the census after the U.S. Supreme Court said the administration had failed to provide a good rationale for why it was being included.

Trump said the information will be taken from other sources, which will not affect federal funding and congressional reapportionment.

“The president lost his politically motivated quest to pursue his anti-immigration stance in the Census,” Cuomo said in a conference call with reporters. “And it’s good news for New Yorkers.”

The census question was challenged by New York and other states over concerns the effort would have led to immigrants not participating in the survey and leading to an undercount.

Still, those who opposed the question are worried the episode will lead to a lack of participation in the census.

“Let there be no misunderstanding: Every New Yorker, regardless of their citizenship status, can and must fill out the census form without fear,” said Jim Malatras and Rosanna Rosado, the co-chairs of New York’s census commission. “Completing the census will not compromise anyone’s safety and privacy, regardless of their immigration status.”

Cuomo Signs Pay Equity Bill, Bans Salary History Question

Bills expanding the definition of equal pay for equal work and a ban on prospective employers from asking about salary history were signed into law on Wednesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo approved the bills as the U.S. Women’s World Cup soccer team was preparing to march down the Canyon of Heroes. The team’s success has spotlighted their own pay inequity with the U.S. men’s team, which does not have the same track record of winning matches.

“We stand with them in solidarity and New York will once again lead the way and I’m going to sign a law today that says it’s not just the right thing to do, it’s not just the moral thing to do, it is also the law in the State of New York,” Cuomo said after signing the bills. “And my friends, it is now the law in the State of New York. Equal pay for equal work.”

The equal pay bill is meant not just to address disparities not just between genders, but also women of color.

“From soccer fields to board rooms, Americans across working sectors are standing up for their right to equal compensation and today New York is answering that call,” said bill sponsor Sen. Alessandra Biaggi. “Every New Yorker deserves equal pay for equal work regardless of race, sexual orientation, disability, or however they choose to identify.”

And the salary history question is meant to take on a more endemic concern that workers who are paid less inevitably lose out of earning more money at a new job.

“The first step in closing the gender pay gap is ending the salary history question so low salaries do not follow women throughout their career,” said Sen. David Carlucci.

Cuomo: ‘I Am The Left’

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a radio interview on Tuesday vociferously defended his track record as a progressive, arguing that he “is the left” in New York politics.

Cuomo in an interview with WAMC pointed to his successful efforts on issues like the $15 minimum wage in the New York City area, a newly approved sexual harassment law, and the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Cuomo, as he has done before, pointed to the root of the word “progressive.”

“I would challenge almost everything you just said, but to be selective and helpful and constructive – the, I am, I believe I am the most progressive, or one of the most progressive leaders in the state,” Cuomo said.

“It depends on how you define ‘progressive,; and that, my friend, should be the discussion in this Democratic presidential primary. What does that mean, ‘progressive’? OK we don’t want to say “liberal,” anymore so we say ‘progressive.’ How do you define ‘progressive’? By pontification, by rhetoric? By aspirational goals with no realistic plan or knowledge or analysis? And who, doctor, has actually gotten more done. See I like to say you can’t be a progressive without making progress.

Asked by host Alan Chartock if this was a “shot at the left” in New York, Cuomo turned it around.

“No, I am the left,” he said. “I am the left. Who says that progressives are more progressive than other progressives? You know what I mean? What is this? It’s all self-proclaimed and self-described.”

Cuomo in the past has hitched himself to other amorphous objects. In a 2011 interview, Cuomo said, “I am the government” when discussing how he is looked to as being the one taking responsibility for the executive branch.

Cuomo over the last eight years has had a truculent relationship with progressive advocates, who have nudged him primarily on economic issues facing the state, including spending more for education, increasing taxes on the rich and banning hydrofracking.

And, during this time, the state has renewed higher tax rates on the wealthy, increased school funding and placed an administrative ban on hydrofracking. But, progressive advocates have said, the efforts haven’t gone far enough.

Cuomo has faced primary challenges from his left flank in 2014 and 2018, defeating Zephyr Teachout and Cynthia Nixon by similarly comfortable margins each time.

Cuomo Hedges On Biden Support

Gov. Andrew Cuomo stopped short on Tuesday of saying he would provide financial support to the campaign of former Vice President Joe Biden.

Cuomo at the start of the year had heaped praise on Biden, calling him the best positioned of the Democrats to defeat President Donald Trump next year.

But Biden over the last several months has undergone a series of stumbles since launching his campaign, facing questions over his previous opposition to the federal government requiring busing for school districts and for touting his work with segregationist senators.

“I have not made an endorsement yet,” Cuomo said after an event at Albany International Airport. “I believe he is the strongest candidate against Trump. I know him personally, he’s been a great help to the state of New York as you know. But I have not made a political endorsement yet.”

Cuomo had reportedly planned to aid Biden’s fundraising efforts as well, opening up a deep-pocketed network of donors in New York. Cuomo confirmed that in April saying in a radio interivew, “Will I be helpful to Joe Biden in any way I can? Yes.”

But on Tuesday, asked again if he would provide support for Biden’s campaign, Cuomo hedged.

“I will endorse a candidate and I will support that candidate,” he said, “but I have not made a political endorsement yet.”

Cuomo’s comments on Tuesday have largely been in line with what he’s said in recent months: His kind words for Biden are not a full-blown endorsement just yet, but he believes the former vice president is best positioned to challenge the incumbent president.

Cuomo: ‘Tough Legal Question’ Over Feds Seeking Driver’s License Data

President Donald Trump’s administration will be “more aggressive” in pursuing information on undocumented immigrants, Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned on Tuesday, as federal immigration officers have sought to use facial recognition technology in other states has part of an effort to find people living in the U.S. illegally.

Meanwhile, local government officials who run county Department of Motor Vehicle offices have filed or signaled plans to file lawsuits challenging the state’s new law that will allow undocumented immigrants to apply for and receive driver’s licenses in the state.

“I want to see what happens between now and the day before the law goes into effect, but I think the federal government is going to aggressively continue,” Cuomo told reporters after an event at Albany International Airport. “I think this is now going to play into the president’s politics.”

Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit to block the enforcement of the provision, known as the Green Light law. Rensselaer County Clerk Frank Merola said in an interview with Spectrum News he plans to file a separate legal challenge.

On top of it all, reports this week found the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency had used facial recognition technology to comb through state databases in order to identify undocumented immigrants who have driver’s licenses.

The governor called the use of the technology, which has been criticized for misidentifying women and people of color, “really obnoxious.”

Cuomo last month hesitated in the final push to pass the Green Light measure, pointing to a legal challenge over driver’s license records in California. The law’s supporters, as well as Attorney General Letitia James, have said sufficient safeguards are in place to block the federal government from gaining access to the state’s database.

“They say their confident of victory, I hope they’re right,” Cuomo said.

The governor on Tuesday did not directly answer a question over whether he would remove county clerks from office who are refusing to issue licenses.

Immigration advocates, including the New York Immigration Coalition, have urged him to do so. In a statement, the group’s executive director, Steven Choi, pushed Cuomo to be a more forceful advocate for the law.

“If Gov. Cuomo wants to be the champion to immigrant New Yorkers that he claims to be, he needs to stop throwing cold water on a crucial legislative achievement that he signed into law,” Choi said.

“For months we heard how the governor supports this law, and yet he and his staff have done everything they can to undermine it. The Green Light NY law the governor signed has the strongest protections in the country to protect immigrants. We hope the Governor will stop the charade of scaring hard-working immigrants into staying in the shadows by continuing to evoke the ICE boogeyman. If he has that much time on his hands, we can think of plenty of things he still needs to do before the summer ends.”

New York Sets New Drinking Water Standards For Chemical Contaminants

New York officials on Monday announced new drinking water standards for the chemicals PFOA, PFOS and 1,4-dioxane, curtailing substances that have been at the epicenter of prominent contamination crises around the state.

The levels cap PFOA and PFOS at 10 parts per trillion for what is considered safe drinking water. A standard of 1 part per billion has been set for 1,4-dioxane, the first-ever level set for the contaminant.

“We’re proposing the most protective levels in the nation for three emerging contaminants to ensure we are regularly testing and fixing water systems before they ever rise to a public health risk in any part of the state,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

“New York State will continue to lead in the absence of federal action by ensuring all residents have access to clean drinking water and by investing in critical projects to assist municipalities in treating these emerging contaminants.”

The water standards were set after water contamination crises arose in communities that include Hoosick Falls, Newburgh and Petersburgh as well as municipalities on Long Island.

The next step is for the Environmental Facilities Corp. and the state Department of Environmental Conservation to work with the state Department of Health to fund and overhaul water systems that test above the new maximum contamination levels.

Meanwhile, Cuomo’s office also announced $350 million in funds for through water infrastructure improvement programs to fund needed upgrades.

The development on Monday was cheered by environmental and clean water groups. But the Environmental Advocates of New York said the effort should go further.

“This long-awaited first step puts New York on a path to cleaner drinking water. Establishing Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for PFOA, PFOS, and 1,4-dioxane will require all public water systems in New York to test for these chemicals and take action when elevated levels of contamination are discovered,” said Maureen Cunningham, the group’s senior director for clean water.

“However, recent science shows that there is likely no safe level of these chemicals, and the state MCLs must reflect this. Environmental Advocates will continue to urge the Department of Health to bring their MCLs in line with the most recent science during the public commenting period.”

Cuomo Says State Police Will Investigate White Supremacists Flyers In Troy

White supremacist flyers found posted in Troy will be investigated in part by the State Police Hate Crimes Task Force, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday in a statement.

The flyers discovered in recent weeks are believed to be linked to the Hundred Handers, an online community that has posted anti-immigrant, white supremacist statements on social media.

One flyer found in Troy urged, “You are hated. You have no rights. You are disrespected. You are white. Strike back.”

“I am deeply disturbed by the white supremacist materials that were found plastered on telephone poles and mailboxes in downtown Troy,” Cuomo said in the statement.

“These materials are not just spreading hate speech, they are inciting fear and division within our communities, and we must all stand together and disavow this hate-fueled rhetoric immediately.”

No new flyers were seen in Troy as of Monday. Cuomo said the State Police would assist in the investigation.

“I am directing the State Police Hate Crimes Task Force to assist local authorities in their investigation to ensure those responsible are found and held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” he said. “These acts are not just disgusting – they are illegal, and we will never allow hate and discrimination to divide us in New York.”

Cuomo Says Resources Available For Those Detained By ICE

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday legal resources are available to those who could be detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers ahead of an expected enforcement action.

ICE had planned raids last weekend, but those plans were dropped after President Donald Trump touted the nationwide crackdown.

Now, federal immigration officers are expected to once again move ahead with the plan to arrest and deport up to 1 million people living in the U.S. illegally.

Trump on Friday said the raids would occur “fairly soon.”

“Once again, the Trump Administration is reportedly gearing up to send ICE agents into our cities with plans to deport 1 million people,” Cuomo said. “This is the latest example of this administration’s politicization of immigration in this country and constant assault on the civil rights and dignity of individuals and families.”

Cuomo pointed to the Liberty Defense Project hotline, a legal defense program for immigrants.

“If any New Yorker, regardless of their immigration status, needs legal assistance, we urge them to make full use of the Liberty Defense Project, our state’s public-private project to assist immigrants with free access to legal services and process,” Cuomo said.

“If you or someone you know requires legal assistance, call the Liberty Defense Project hotline at 1-800-566-7636. Service is provided in over 200 languages and all call information is kept confidential.”

Cuomo Signs Bill Allowing Congress To Access Trump’s State Tax Returns

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday signed a bill that would allow congressional investigators to access the New York state tax returns of President Donald Trump.

“Tax secrecy is paramount – the exception being for bonafide investigative and law enforcement purposes,” Cuomo said. “By amending the law enforcement exception in New York State tax code to include Congressional tax-related committees, this bill gives Congress the ability to fulfill its Constitutional responsibilities, strengthen our democratic system and ensure that no one is above the law.”

The measure, approved by the Legislature in May, is meant to counteract efforts by the Trump administration on the federal level to force the release of his federal returns.

The measure allows the chairs of the House Ways & Means Committee, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, or the Joint Committee on Taxation to request in writing New York tax returns. So far, congressional Democrats have not embraced the New York bill, insisting they would rather see his federal filings.

Trump has broken with decades of tradition by not releasing his tax returns as a candidate, but no law requires a presidential candidate to do so.

“Our republic has endured for over 200 years thanks to the system of checks and balances provided in our Constitution,” said Assemblyman David Buchwald. “Consistent with this tradition, New York State now stands ready to assist Congress as it challenges the Trump Administration’s refusal to provide his tax records. The legislation we passed in New York will provide Congress with a direct path to what the President clearly wants to hide from the American people. No one is above the law.”

Sen. Brad Hoylman, the Democratic sponsor in the state Senate, said the measure is bigger than just the president.

“Moving forward, this new law helps Congress perform one of its most important responsibilities: oversight of the Office of the President,” he said.