Democrats

DCCC Targets 3 NY Republicans In Digital Ad (Updated)

image001From the Morning Memo:

As the partial shutdown of the federal government continues, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is knocking Republican Reps. Peter King, Lee Zeldin and Chris Collins, over the impasse.

The committee is releasing digital ads in the three congressional districts — two on Long Island and the third in western New York — over the issue.

The ads are set to appear on Facebook and aimed at potential swing voters.

“When you work hard to keep our country safe, you should receive your paycheck, period,” said DCCC Spokesperson Cole Leiter.

“But now, workers who risk their lives everyday are about to miss another paycheck as Republicans in Washington continue to play games with the lives of hardworking Americans, and their families’ livelihoods and financial security. Republicans’ recklessness threatens our national security, and it’s critical that voters know exactly who is putting Americans’ lives at risk in pursuit of a wasteful and deeply unpopular partisan agenda.”

Collins, who is facing insider trading charges, won a close re-election against Democrat Nate McMurray. King, too, faced a challenging re-election against Democratic opponent Liuba Grechen Shirley.

Zeldin’s seat has been considered a relatively safe seat for the Republican since he won in 2014, but the district has been trading off between the two parties over several cycles and district reapportionments.

Updated: Michael McAdams, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, responded.

“Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats need to stop playing politics and start doing their jobs so federal workers can get paid and get back to work,” he said. “Voters are seeing the extreme measures Pelosi is willing to take to please her radical caucus of Trump haters and won’t forget Democrats put political games before the nation’s security.”

Business Groups Fete Permanent Tax Cap Passing Senate

From the Morning Memo:

The passage of a bill in the state Senate on Wednesday that permanently extended the state’s cap on property tax increases drew bipartisan praise, as well as backing from the business community and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Having the bill’s passage on record could be a boon for Democrats elected last year to moderate swing districts, especially on suburban Long Island.

Kevin Law of the Long Island Association specifically named-dropped Sen. Jim Gaughran, who was elected to a Republican-held district.

“The property tax cap is working and we commend Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins and our Long Island delegation, especially Senator Jim Gaughran, for getting this bill approved,” Law said.

It’s not yet clear if Assembly Democrats will take up the legislation. Speaker Carl Heastie at an unrelated news conference on Wednesday acknowledged the sky-high property taxes in New York, but also noted the conference was sympathetic to the concerns of local governments.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, meanwhile, urged for the full passage of the permanent cap in a statement.

“This year, while the federal government raises taxes on New Yorkers with its devastating cap on state and local tax deductibility, I once again called on the Legislature to make our local property tax cap permanent to continue our progress easing the burden on New Yorkers,” he said. “I applaud the Senate for heeding my call and supporting this critical tax relief legislation for middleclass families. The property tax cap should be made permanent once and for all by the end of the budget process.”

The bill caps property taxes at 2 percent increases or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower.

For President, Bloomberg Tops Among New York Voters

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is the top choice for president among voters in New York, a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday found.

Twenty-eight percent believe Bloomberg would make the best president. The ex-mayor, who recently changed his party affiliation to Democrat, is considering a run for the presidency.

Meanwhile, 17 percent of voters believe Gov. Andrew Cuomo would make the best president, followed by 11 percent for U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, 7 percent for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and 5 percent for Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Of those officials, only Gillibrand is a declared candidate for president. Ocasio-Cortez is not yet 35 and cannot run.

Cuomo has insisted several times he is not running for president.

“While Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand sailed to re-election in November, New Yorkers aren’t showing as much enthusiasm about her presidential bid in 2020. Even though she has served in the Senate for a decade, roughly a quarter of New Yorkers say they don’t know enough about her to form an opinion. That number jumps to 48 percent among young voters,” said Mary Snow, polling analyst for Quinnipiac.

Gillibrand, meanwhile, has a 46 percent to 35 percent approval rating and a 41 to 30 percent approval rating, the poll found.

The poll of 929 registered voters in New York was conducted from Jan. 16 through Jan. 21. It has a margin of error of 4.1 percentage points.

Lawmakers To Consider DREAM Act, But Will It Be Enough For Advocates?

From the Morning Memo:

The Legislature later today will consider a bill that would extend state tuition assistance to undocumented immigrants, but immigration advocates will be pushing for more.

The New York Immigration Coalition, along with affiliated groups later today will call for additional protections for immigrants in New York, with driver’s licenses for undocumented residents a key priority.

The group called the pending passage of the Dream Act a victory, but not enough. The bill is being named in honor of the late Sen. Jose Peralta, a lead sponsor of the legislation who died late last year.

The group also wants more funding committed to outreach for the Census as well as a bolstering of legal services.

“New York State must do more to protect and empower immigrant New Yorkers in the wake of unprecedented attacks on immigrants by the Trump administration, by expanding access to driver’s licenses, committing $40 million to Census outreach and education, and increasing funding for legal services statewide,” said Steven Choi, the executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “Immigrant New Yorkers deserve nothing less than a bold legislative agenda in 2019 to foster their growth and safety.”

Some of the newly elected Democrats in the state Senate agree.

“Although this bill is a good step, my office will not rest until we see to it that undocumented residents are granted full rights under the NY State Constitution,” said Sen. Julia Salazar, a Brooklyn Democrat. “That includes amongst others the right to have a driver’s license, to be protected from being profiled in State institutions, voting rights, and for the right to apply to professional licenses.”

The Democratic Party has shifted on the issue in the decade since the proposal of extending driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants was first made by then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer, to disastrous political consequences.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul has changed her view on the issue, as has U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, now a president candidate.

Still, county clerks who run local Motor Vehicle offices are once again expected to oppose the effort.

Nixon, Advocates: Cuomo’s Education Funding is Stingy

From the Morning Memo:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s one time primary challenger Cynthia Nixon blames him for inequities in the state education system.

“Every year, Andrew Cuomo and the Senate Republicans stood in the way and opposed the funding for our schools,” said Nixon Tuesday at the state Capitol.

She was flanked by education activists and progressive lawmakers who argue over $4 billion in direct aid is owed to school districts around the state.

Lawmakers like Sen. Robert Jackson, one of the original plaintiffs in the now settled Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit that established the Foundation Aid formula, say without the funding, a divided system perpetuates the broadening gap between wealthier, white children and poorer, minority students.

Nixon, billed as a spokeswoman for the progressive Alliance for Quality Education, says the extra $338 million included in the state budget is pennies compared to the $1.66 billion increase in Foundation Aid requested by AQE and the State Board of Regents–not to mention, a three year phase in period.

“The governor’s refusal to address educational inequity has had devastating circumstances. New York schools are the second most unequal in the entire country and New York schools are the single most segregated system in the entire country.”

Cuomo has pointed to weaknesses in district level funding, arguing there’s an issue with how wealthier districts distribute dollars to poorer schools. But his counterparts contend that method is all wrong, and the state, not local districts, is at fault for not providing enough funding.

A spokesman from the Governor’s Office pointed to Cuomo’s thoughts on the matter expressed last week in a WAMC radio interview where the Governor essentially expressed a tough love attitude imploring advocates to be thankful for what they have.

“When you advocate for your agenda that’s what you should do,” Cuomo said last week.

“The job of government is then balancing those needs. Education, we spend more than any state in the United States, double the national average. ‘Well, we want more.’t I know, but it’s double the national average.”

Democrats, Advocates Take Victory Lap

More than a decade ago, the Reproductive Health Act was introduced in the state Legislature by a relatively new lawmaker: Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

The bill waited for passage in the state Senate over three governors and three changes in power of the state Senate. Today, it’ll pass, with Sarah Weddington, the attorney who argued the Roe v. Wade case in the Supreme Court, on hand.

“We are coming to a point where we are ensuring women will be making their own decisions about whether or when to become a parent,” said Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, a Manhattan Democrat.

The bills are passing on the 46th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. Lawmakers say they are needed because the balance of power on the Supreme Court has shifted on the issue.

“We also know that whenever you have something that is that momentous there is always someone who wants to go back to the way things were,” Stewart-Cousins said at a joint news conference with lawmakers from both the Senate and Assembly.

One bill, the Reproductive Health Act, bill would shift language for abortions from the state’s penal code to the public health law, change abortion’s status as an exception to homicide and allow abortions in the third trimester of a pregnancy under certain circumstances. The legislation was not brought to the floor for a vote under Republican control in the Senate, which flipped after the November elections.

Nevertheless, Republicans acknowledged it would pass.

“There are so many things wrong with this bill, there a lot of questions and concerns, it’s not ready for prime time,” said Sen. Cathy Young.

Republicans want amendments to the bill that include protections for pregnant women who are assaulted. Democrats insisted those measures were not necessary.

“We have very strict criminal statutes for when people attack people, whether it’s men who attack pregnant women, women who women, men who attack men,” said Sen. Liz Krueger.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to sign the bills passed today. He also wants the passage of an amendment enshrining Roe v. Wade in the state constitution.

Democrats said Tuesday they were yet to see the proposed language for the amendment.

Dems Will Continue To Flex Muscle

From the Morning Memo:

The first two weeks of a Democratic-controlled Legislature have largely gone as expected: The state Senate, along with the Assembly, has passed a bill after bill that up until last Election Day represented a wish list for progressives in New York.

The Legislature has approved bills that are designed to make it easier to register to vote and cast ballot, closing the LLC loophole and protections for transgender people and a ban on conversion therapy.

This week, the Legislature is expected to take up and pass bills meant to strengthen abortion laws and access to contraceptions in the state. Later on in the session, gun control measures will likely pass as well.

For now, these bills have been passing like butter through a knife.

Not everything will be this easy.

Senate Democrats this week will move make the state’s cap on property taxes permanent — a provision their governing partners in the Assembly have been skeptical of over the years. Assembly Democrats could seek some changes to the cap, which limits property tax levy hikes to 2 percent or the rate of inflation, that would make it easier to override or workaround.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not been willing to back major changes to the cap, however.

Cuomo, meanwhile, has indicated the biggest sticking point for lawmakers will be the broad-based ethics reforms he’s proposed such as lobbying law changes, calling them essential to the budget he’s submitted. He also believes congestion pricing and changing the structure of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will be difficult lifts as well.

Conflict is still a little ways off for Democrats in Albany, but not that far off.

Senate Dems To Back Permanent Property Tax Cap

The Democratic-led state Senate next week is set to vote on a bill that would make the state’s cap on property tax increases permanent.

The measure, first approved in 2011, is set to expire this year.

The cap limits local and school property taxes to year-over-year increases of 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower.

The Senate’s version of the tax cap legislation is backed Sen. Jim Gaughran, a freshman from Long Island elected to a Republican-held district in November.

“I ran for State Senate on the promise that I would fight tirelessly for overburdened and overtaxed Long Islanders,” Gaughran said in a statement. “Today I took the first step and introduced vital legislation to make the property tax cap permanent. No more temporary extensions. A permanent tax cap for permanent relief.”

The tax cap remains a signature economic measure for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who included a provision for a permanent tax cap in his 2019-20 budget proposal that is due at the end of March.

Cuomo and state lawmakers alike have pointed to the $10,000 federal cap on state and local tax deductions that makes the state’s tax cap all the more key for those who pay among the highest levies in the country.

Gov’s Budget Omits Male Contraception Coverage

From the Morning Memo:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $175 billion budget plan does not include insurance coverage for male contraception, explicitly omitting language that would include condoms and vasectomies.

It’s one of the key differences from the legislature’s version, the Comprehensive Contraception Care Act, which offers equitable coverage.

“The legislature feels very strongly that contraception is a two way street, men and women, and of course, when you’re talking about condoms that’s a public health issue that protects women and men from sexually transmitted diseases,” said Sen. Liz Krueger Tuesday night in a Capital Tonight interview. She is a co-sponsor of the Legislature’s version of the contraception bill.

Both versions read: “All FDA-approved contraceptive drugs, devices, and other products. This includes all FDA-approved over-the-counter contraceptive drugs, devices, and products as prescribed or as otherwise authorized under state or federal law.”

But the Governor’s version immediately tacks on, “notwithstanding this paragraph, an insurer shall not be required to provide coverage of male condoms.”

The legislature’s bill allows “voluntary sterilization procedures,” where the executive proposal specifies solely “voluntary sterilization procedures for women.”

“We’re legislators. We need to read, we need to review, we need to make the decision whether we agree with something or we need to change it and we have the ability,” Krueger said. “Now, thanks to both houses being Democratic, to pass the kinds of bills we believe are literally in the best interests of New Yorkers.”

Both versions are congruent in covering up to 12 months of contraception, education and counseling services and follow up services.

Next week the state Senate is expected to pass the CCCA along with the Reproductive Health Act.

Paterson Not Surprised By Gillibrand Bid

From the Morning Memo:

Former Gov. David Paterson was not surprised U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is running for president, telling NY1’s Inside City Hall on Wednesday he expected big things from her when he appointed her to fill Hillary Clinton’s seat in 2009.

“I did see in her the possibility that she would become a real star in the U.S. Senate,” Paterson said.

Gillibrand’s appointment, plucking her from relative obscurity in a Republican-leaning upstate House district was controversial at the time, given Paterson’s decision to pass over better-known figures who wanted the seat, including Caroline Kennedy, who stumbled during her rollout for the seat.

But Paterson said he believed upstate New York deserved a statewide voice with Gillibrand, who lives in Brunswick.

“Upstate New York had not had a senator in 42 years since Charles Goodell, so I thought it was a good concessions to the upstaters,” he said.

Paterson was not as thrilled with how Gillibrand has handled questions surrounding misconduct accusations leveled against former Sen. Al Franken and former President Bill Clinton, cautioning not to “anachronistically rejudge history.”

Gillibrand’s call for Franken to resign has led to some criticism from liberals within the Democratic Party.

“I think sometimes people in politics want to demonstrate they’re not make decisions based on who’s involved and that’s a really good way to think,” Paterson said.

Gillibrand joined the growing Democratic field for the presidential nomination this week, launching her campaign on The Late Show and then outside of a diner near her home with her family by her side.

Paterson also warned that the Democratic Party should not go too far to the left with its nominee against President Donald Trump.

“What you really want are people who can accomplish the same, but are not pushing as if this is a far more progressive country than it is,” he said. “I was always a progressive, but I know what the facts are.”

But for now, Paterson is not on the bandwagon for the campaign.

“I’m not supporting anyone for president,” he added, jokingly, “I’m in the witness protection program, which doesn’t allow for political activity.”