Andrew Cuomo

Cuomo Signs Bill Adding Protections For Borrowers

Gov. Andrew Cuomo approved a bill on Friday that’s meant to close what amounts to a legal loophole allowing creditors to use state courts as a means of securing judgments against borrowers and seizing their assets in cases where the borrower has no connection to New York.

The measure addresses the ability of creditors to use New York’s court system to freeze or seize the assets of a borrower by obtaining a court judgment when the borrower doesn’t even live in the state or have a connection.

“New York courts exist to uphold the rule of law, not to give unscrupulous creditors a means to prey on consumers,” Cuomo said. “By closing this loophole, we are strengthening our state’s legal system and helping to ensure both in-state and out-of-state borrowers will not fall victim to these opportunistic schemes.”

The bill was backed by Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz and Sen. Brad Hoylman.

“Where there’s a loophole, there’s a bad actor willing to exploit it to make money, no matter the cost to ordinary Americans,” Hoylman said.

“The entire business model of lenders who exploited New York’s court system and laws to prey on out-of-state small businesses through confessions of judgment was immoral. Today, with Governor Cuomo’s signature on my legislation, we’re closing New York’s courts to their predatory tactics. I am grateful to the Governor, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz, and the Office of Court Administration for their partnership on these essential reforms.”

Cuomo Admin Moves To Ease License Plate Controversy

A statement issued under Motor Vehicles Commissioner Mark Schroeder on Thursday blasted “certain legislators” for “hypocrisy and misstatements” surrounding the replacement program for license plates starting next April.

But at the same time statement indicated a willingness to work with lawmakers and potentially reduce costs and allow people with older plates in good condition to keep them.

The proposal appears to be lifting the window to something of a way out of the controversy surrounding the replacement plan for license plates that are a decade old through a inspection program.

The DMV earlier this month announced plates that are 10 years old or older — at this point the blue and white license plates — will be replaced with a new design beginning next year. The replacement fee is $25, which was set 10 years ago by the Legislature under then-Gov. David Paterson.

The Schroeder statement reiterates what Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a radio interview earlier in the day: Lawmakers complaining about the $25 fee could always return to Albany in a special session and lower it through legislation.

“Some legislators have now expressed an interest in lowering the fee,” Schroeder said. “The Governor would like to lower the fee. If the legislators are sincere and want to lower the fee immediately, although they haven’t in the past decade, the Governor has made clear he invites them back for a Special session to do it.”

The law approved in 2009 authorizes the DMV to set the license plate fee at a rate “not to exceed” $25 — language that indicates the department could administratively change the fee itself without legislative action.

Schroeder’s statement further adds the reasoning behind the plate replace plan: The decade-old plates need to be replaced in order to for the new ones to be recognized by cashless tolling cameras. And he offers the framework of a proposal that could defuse the controversy.

Here’s that part in full:

“The second issue is to make sure license plates are in good condition especially as we are now moving to statewide electronic tolling which uses cameras reading license plates to charge tolls. If a plate is damaged or the reflective coating is degraded the camera will not work and the person will not be charged the toll,” Schroeder said.

“The revenue loss will be borne by other drivers which is unfair. The national standard by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators is that 10 years is a license plate’s useful life. It is possible that a plate may still be in good condition after 10 years but that determination would need to be made on a plate by plate basis after inspection. If the legislature can agree to a cost effective and practical plate inspection mechanism to determine what plates are still in good operating condition after the 10 year life and thus do not need to be replaced we would welcome the opportunity to be cooperative. The 10 year life replacement program does not go into effect until next April so we have time to work with the legislature to explore alternatives. We support reducing costs wherever possible.”

Cuomo Signs Erin’s Law Requiring Sex Abuse Education

A measure that would require public schools to teach kids about sexual abuse and provide exploitation prevention classes to students in kindergarten through eighth grade was signed into law on Thursday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The measure, known as Erin’s Law, is named after abuse survivor Erin Merryn, who has sought to pass similar laws in other states around the country in the last decade.

“Sexual abuse is a nationwide epidemic that has inflicted unimaginable pain on countless children, and we must use every lever at our disposal to stop it,” Cuomo said.

“Many children who have been a victim of these horrific crimes or who are still suffering from abuse don’t have the information or emotional tools they need to fight back. By requiring schools to teach kids how to recognize and ultimately thwart this heinous behavior, we are giving our most vulnerable New Yorkers a voice and empowering them to protect themselves.”

The law was sponsored by Sen. Alessandra Biaggi and Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz.

“The passage of ‘Erin’s Law’ in New York State is a monumental win that is long overdue,” Biaggi said. “For years lawmakers and advocates fought for our children’s access to critical preventative resources to stop childhood sexual abuse, and today that battle is finally won.”

Cuomo Calls On Republicans To Condemn Rockland GOP Video

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a statement Thursday condemned the anti-Semitic criticism of the Hasidic community in Rockland County by the Rockland County Republican Committee in a since-deleted video, and called on New York Republicans to denounced it as well.

In the statement, Cuomo called the video “disgusting” and an act of incitement against the Hasidic community.

“There is no excuse for anti-Semitism masquerading as concerns over zoning or development,” Cuomo said.

“While this video has since been removed, its impact will still be felt by the members of the Jewish community targeted by their own neighbors. This video is the latest example of the politics of division and hate permeating the nation and it must be called out. Every single member of New York’s GOP must openly denounce this hateful rhetoric immediately and make clear that we will not tolerate this despicable behavior.”

The video, which was removed from Facebook earlier Thursday morning, warns of a “takeover” of Rockland County that “threatens our way of life.”

Republican Rockland County Executive Ed Day also also blasted the video and called for its removal.

Cuomo Challenges Lawmakers To Change License Plate Fee

Gov. Andrew Cuomo continued to push back on Thursday against the criticism of the plan to replace old license plates starting in April with new ones, requiring drivers to pay a $25 fee.

Cuomo in an interview with WAMC public radio said lawmakers hold the responsibility for the fee, which was last increased in 2009 under then-Gov. David Paterson. He challenged lawmakers critical of the replacement plan should return to Albany and take up the issue.

“It’s been in law every year for 10 years,” Cuomo said. “Why didn’t you change the fee? I didn’t set the $25. It’s been there since before I was governor. You passed it. It’s your fault. You want to come back on a special session and change it? Come tomorrow. I would welcome you.”

Cuomo was also critical of the reporting surrounding the criticism of the license plate replacement plan as “the greatest scam and lack of reporting accuracy.”

The law approved in 2009 enabled the the state Department of Motor Vehicles to increase the license plate fee that is “not to exceed” $25, which has been interpreted as allowing the DMV to lower the fee as well.

Republican Sen. Jim Tedisco earlier in the day on Thursday called for a public hearing on the issue.

“Before the administration fleeces taxpayers any further, the public has a right to give input on this plan to force millions of motorists to turn in their current license plates and buy new ones,” Tedisco said. “And as legislators, we have a sworn obligation to represent our constituents and hold a public hearing to hold the Administration and DMV accountable and get answers as to what happened with the old plates, why they believe the mandatory license plate fees are necessary, and where the money is going.”

Cuomo has said the new license plates are needed in order for them to be recognized by cashless tolling sensors on the Thruway. The design of the new plates is being decided by an online vote announced earlier this month.

Reed’s Office Open To Helping State And Senecas Mediate Thruway Issues

Rep. Tom Reed, R-NY-23, said he will refer to the Department of Justice moving forward on a request he made for a federal investigation into Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-NY, and his administration.

The congressman said he did have a positive first impression from U.S. Attorney J.P. Kennedy about how his office will handle concerns about the disrepair of a section of Thruway that runs through Seneca Nation territory. The governor acknowledged last week there was a connection between the lack of repairs and an ongoing dispute between the Senecas and the state over casino revenue.

Reed believes Cuomo may be abusing his authority and misusing federal funds by tying together unrelated issues. He voiced those concerns in a letter to Attorney General William Barr and hand-delivered Tuesday to Kennedy in Buffalo.

“(Kennedy) understands that this is a serious request that what we’re trying to do here in regards to holding the governor’s office but at the same time that our priority mission throughout all of this is to make sure the traveling public is safe,” Reed said.

Cuomo’s office dismissed the request for a probe as a cheap stunt and insinuated Reed was “weaponizing law enforcement to score dumb political points.” The congressman said it is absolutely not a stunt.

“When it comes to the lives of the traveling public, we are going to make sure that the shenanigans of political vendettas and political warfare do not risk the lives of people out there on a day-to-day basis,” he said.

The issue has become a bit of a war of words between spokespeople for Reed and Cuomo. The congressman said he is not concerned with being called names, like patsy.

However, he said some people who have expressed concern about the state of I-90 have said they are worried about retribution from the governor who is known to take a hard line with his political opponents.

“We’ve had people come to us and even express concerns about the situation on the highway but did not want to publicly have their information released because their employers told them that they were afraid of losing state contracts and other issues with it,” Reed said.

Finally, the congressman has said he does not believe Cuomo’s explanation that the Senecas will not allow the state on the territory to make repairs. But he said if that is the case, his office is open to mediating a negotiation between the two parties.

Marijuana Expungement Takes Effect

A key provision of the marijuana decriminalization law took effect today as records of low-level marijuana arrests and convictions are expunged.

“For too long communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by laws governing marijuana and have suffered the life-long consequences of an unfair marijuana conviction,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

“Today is the start of a new chapter in the criminal justice system. By providing individuals a path to have their records expunged, including those who have been unjustly impacted based on their race or ethnicity, and reducing the penalty for unlawful possession of marijuana to a fine, we are giving many New Yorkers the opportunity to live better and more productive, successful and healthier lives.

The decriminalization measure was approved by lawmakers in June after a more expansive bill to legalize marijuana with a retail market faltered at the end of the legislative session.

Lawmakers expected next year to try again on the legalization bill.

Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a group that opposed the legalization push, cheered the decriminalization measure taking effect.

“We applaud New York’s rejection of legalization, and we also support the state’s efforts at real reform – clearing low-level convictions for marijuana,” said Kevin Sabet, the group’s president. “By doing so, it allows many more people to enter the job market and go to school. That is real progress. Legalization, on the other hand, would have consigned millions more to addiction, while enriching Big Marijuana — an addiction industry keen on exploiting low-income and minority communities for profit.”

Cuomo Wants Regulators To Broaden Probe Of National Grid Moratorium

National Grid’s continued moratorium on natural gas hookups is leading Gov. Andrew Cuomo to push for an expansion of an investigation by state regulators.

Cuomo in a letter to the Department of Public Service released Tuesday pointed to reports the moratorium is affecting affordable housing developments.

“If these reports are accurate, National Grid is delaying, if not denying, services needed to shelter disadvantaged families,” Cuomo wrote in the letter.

Cuomo raised the possibility of the utility’s franchise being in jeopardy if the situation continued.

The moratorium is taking place amid an ongoing battle over the 23.5-mile Williams pipeline. The utility says the project is needed in order to meet energy needs and growing demand.

The moratorium mainly effects residences and businesses in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and on Long Island.

Cuomo Signs IDA Transparency Bill

Industrial development agencies will now be required to livestream their meetings in real time and provide video recordings of public events and meetings, according to a law signed Tuesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The legislation tackles the transparency issues that often surround local development agencies that can operate in an opaque fashion while doling out public dollars to boost business growth.

Under the new measure, the IDAs must post the recordings within five business days of a meeting or hearing. They are required to remain available for at least five years.

“Industrial development agencies are tasked with revitalizing communities and fostering economic growth at the local level, but most New Yorkers don’t have time to attend meetings and participate in the process,” Cuomo said. “This new measure will help foster civic engagement and get more residents involved in the meetings and hearings that will ultimately have a huge impact on the future of their communities.”

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Todd Kaminsky and Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages.

“IDAs make critical decisions that can have profound impacts on the communities they serve,” Kaminsky said. “Like any similar governmental body, the public should be engaged in their decision-making and this law will easily enable that to happen. I am grateful to the Governor for signing this law that will help shine light into the world of IDA-tax breaks.”

Cuomo Signs Bill Strengthening Martin Act

A bill strengthening a weapon to fight financial fraud was approved on Monday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The measure strengthens the Martin Act, restoring the statute of limitations for investigating and prosecuting fraud from three years to six.

“At a time when the Trump administration is hell-bent on rolling back consumer financial protections, New York remains dedicated to preventing and prosecuting fraudulent financial activity,” Cuomo said in a statement.

“By restoring the six-year statute of limitations under the Martin Act, we are enhancing one of the state’s most powerful tools to prosecute financial fraud so we can hold more bad actors accountable, protect investors and achieve a fairer New York for all.”

The statute of limitations had previously been shortened by a Court of Appeals ruling. The new law is meant to empower the state attorney general’s office to investigate fraud cases.

“If Main Street has to play by a set of rules, then so must Wall Street,” Attorney General Letitia James said. “This law strengthens two of our most critical tools in holding corporate greed accountable and delivering justice for victims of financial fraud. As the federal government continues to abdicate its role of protecting investors and consumers, this law is particularly important. New York remains committed to finding and prosecuting the bad actors that rob victims and destabilize markets.”

The measure was sponsored by Sen. Mike Gianaris and Assemblyman Robert Carroll.