Delgado Introduces Bill Aimed At Hiring Military Spouses

A bill that is meant to spur the hiring of military spouses was backed on Thursday by Democratic Rep. Antonio Delgado.

The bill was introduced with Democratic and Republican lawmakers. The goal of the measure is to provide incentives to businesses and employers to hire those who are married to members of the armed forces.

“Military families make immense sacrifices for our country, yet military spouses experience an unemployment rate of nearly 30 percent,” Delgado said. “Supporting military families is a top priority, and I’m proud to introduce legislation to address the military spouse unemployment crisis and empower thousands of families in Upstate New York and across the country,” said Rep. Delgado. “I thank my co-leads on both sides of the aisle for joining me to introduce the Military Spouse Hiring Act today.”

Lawmakers want to address the unemployment rates for military spouses, which exceed the national average. The proposal would expand the Working Opportunity Tax Credit to include hiring qualified military spouses. It would allow employers to claim a tax credit equal to the portion of the wages paid.

Jacobs Says He’s Taking Langworthy Seriously

Jay Jacobs, the state Democratic committee chairman, is not yawning at the news of his new counterpart.

Indeed, Jacobs said in a Capital Tonight interview on Wednesday he is taking incoming Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy seriously.

“A new chairman worries me,” Jacobs said. “I ought to be worried, because I want to make sure we do everything right and smart and keep the people of New York state believing they did right by making us a majority party.”

Langworthy will officially be installed as the party chairman in July after waging a leadership battle against outgoing Chairman Ed Cox. Both men appeared at the Republican headquarters in Albany to formally announce the transition..

Langworthy plans to make an effort to increase party enrollment, expand its small-dollar donations and, eventually, elect a Republican governor for the first time since 2002.

Democrats hold a 2-to-1 enrollment advantage over Republicans in New York and hold the Legislature and all statewide offices.

Jacobs, in the interview, said he was mindful of what former Republican Chairman Joe Mondello told him.

“He taught me politics is a cyclical business,” Jacobs said, adding, “I believe we can’t be arrogant in the Democratic Party. We can’t take our winds and believe we’re always going to win.”

LGBTQ Groups Urge Lawmakers To Pass Surrogacy Bill

From the Morning Memo:

A coalition of LGBTQ organizations on Thursday will release a letter to top legislative leaders in the state Senate and Assembly urging them to pass a bill that would legalize surrogacy in New York.

The bill has gained some momentum this week as Gov. Andrew Cuomo told donors on Tuesday that he wanted lawmakers to make the measure a priority before the session ends next month.

“The past thirty years have opened doors to LGBTQ families that had never before existed,” the letter states, sent to Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

“Medical advances have made it possible for couples and individuals to build families in new ways; simultaneously, the success of the marriage equality movement resulted in deep legal protections for families headed by same-sex couples who have chosen to marry, including protections related to bringing children into their family. Unfortunately, New York’s outdated laws lag far behind most other states in protecting these modern families.”

Signing on to the letter includes prominent advocates and organizations: former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Evan Wolfson Roberta Kaplan, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, Human Rights Campaign and the Stonewall Democratic Club, among others.

New York is one of three states that do not allow commercial surrogacy. Some women’s organizations and religious groups have raised objections to the proposal.

The state Democratic Committee on Wednesday adopted a resolution backing the surrogacy legislation, saying it would further the cause of “complete equality.”

Cuomo on Tuesday at a fundraiser with LGBTQ donors urged lawmakers to take the measure up as the session winds down next month.

“If this Legislature leaves this session without passing surrogacy, it will be a disgrace to the progressive tradition of the state of New York,” he said. “We need them to hear that loud and clear. Don’t come back from Albany and tell me how progressive you are if you didn’t pass the surrogacy laws and you should send them right back up to pass it, because their job isn’t done.”

Lgbtq Letter Cpsa Final by Nick Reisman on Scribd

State Dems Move Up Party Switch Deadline

New York Democrats on Wednesday moved up the deadline for voters to switch parties or register as Democrats ahead of next year’s presidential primary.

The state committee voted to move the party switch deadline to 60 days before a primary, rather than more than 190 days. At the same time, the party will also now allow voters unaffiliated with a party — registered blanks or small “i” independents — to register as Democrats 25 days before a primary.

New York’s presidential primary is scheduled for April 28.

The date switch comes after voters in 2016 were frustrated by the voter registration rules for party affiliation as the nominating process entered New York without a clear nominee for either Democrats or Republicans. At the time, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was waging an insurgent bid against Hillary Clinton; Clinton ultimately won the New York primary by 10 percentage points.

State Democratic Committee Chairman Jay Jacobs said the change was meant to satisfy ideological wings of the party.

“It was part of a compromise between the more moderate progressives on the one hand and the far left on the other,” he said. “We worked this out. The governor asked us to make sure things were more agreeable in the state party.”

Ocasio-Cortez Releases Fundraising Email For Cabán

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Wednesday released a fundraising email for Queens Democratic district attorney candidate Tiffany Cabán ahead of the crowded June primary.

In the email, Ocasio-Cortez seek small dollar donations — as low as $3 — for Cabán’s campaign. Ocasio-Cortez endorsed Cabán’s bid earlier this week.

“Tiffany can’t win without you,” she wrote. “In these local elections, entrenched power and corporate PACs are especially hard to beat — will you counteract their influence and fight for criminal justice reform with a $3 contribution today?”

And the email frames the push around an effort to change the state’s criminal justice laws and a renewed approach to prosecution.

“For too long, the Queens DA has stood by as mass incarceration has ravaged our communities. New York pays $143,000 every year to keep someone incarcerated — just imagine what we could do if we instead invested that money in health care, infrastructure, or education,” the email states.

“Tiffany sees it the way we do. She’s spent years as a public defender in the city — defending some of our most vulnerable communities against a criminal justice system that just wants to throw folks behind bars. Countless people that she’s defended would tell stories about how Tiffany would walk them through issues with immigration, research job opportunities, and build a stable life for themselves.”

Marijuana Legalization Wins Labor Backing

A push to legalize marijuana in New York was endorsed on Tuesday by the labor unions as the bill remains in limbo.

The legalization push was endorsed by 1199SEIU at a rally at the Capitol, while lawmakers have retooled the bill in an effort to win more votes and entice Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“The criminalization of marijuana has disproportionately hurt young people, and people of color,” said Ozzy Harris, a member of 1199 who works in the Mental Health Department at Columbia Memorial Hospital in Hudson.

“I know this personally. When I was 17, being charged with a criminal offense for having a small amount of marijuana caused me a lot more harm than smoking pot ever could. It took a lot of money and time until I was able to work my way back to the life I wanted to lead; having a family and a job that is important.”

The retooled bill has elements of what Cuomo proposed at the start of the year, such as regulating marijuana retail sales through an Office of Cannabis Management.

Cuomo has been skeptical lawmakers have the votes to pass the legislation after the issue fell out of the budget talks.

“Big Marijuana, Big Tobacco and the alcohol industry are showing their desperation by bringing in union leaders to shill for their push to put profits over people,” said Kevin Sabet, the president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana New York, which opposes marijuana legalization.

“Union members should be outraged that their leaders are standing with an industry that intentionally targets and victimizes low-income and minority communities. It is truly a disgrace to see the healthcare workers’ union chose to ignore parents, medical professionals, and addiction treatment specialists to support a dangerous pot-for-profit industry.”

Morelle Endorses Curry Mitchell For Monroe DA

Democratic Monroe County district attorney candidate Shani Curry Mitchell on Tuesday was endorsed by Rep. Joe Morelle in her bid for the office.

“We deserve a District Attorney who puts the people of Monroe County first,” Morelle said.

“Shani Curry-Mitchell has the experience, knowledge, and passion necessary to keep Monroe County families safe and protect our community. I am proud to support her candidacy and know she will work tirelessly to uphold the integrity and transparency of our justice system.”

Incumbent District Attorney Sandra Doorley, a Democrat-turned-Republican, was backed in February by the county GOP to seek re-election.

“I’m honored to have support of Rep. Joe Morelle,” Curry Mitchell said.

“Rep. Morelle is a strong advocate for working people and committed to building a safer and healthier Monroe County. Our county deserves a District Attorney who will hold companies accountable for wage theft, ensure local pharmaceutical companies are not taking advantage of vulnerable patients, and address unscrupulous business practices that hurt workers and hurt our local economy.”

TWU Local 100 Endorses Katz For Queens DA

From the Morning Memo:

Queens Democratic district attorney candidate Melinda Katz on Monday will receive the endorsement of TWU Local 100.

The labor group represents more than 41,000 workers in New York City public transportation as well as public bus lines.

“Transportation workers are the backbone of our city’s infrastructure and every single New Yorker relies on them day in and day out,” Katz said.

“They need a dedicated advocate in the District Attorney’s office who has a history of listening to their concerns and standing up on their behalf. I’m proud to have their support and I’ll keep pushing new ideas to make the DA’s office an ally to workers across the Borough of Queens.”

Katz, currently the Queens borough president, is running for the Democratic nomination in a crowded field for the Democratic nomination next month.

“Melinda Katz has an impressive track record of standing up for union workers,” said TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano.

“The detailed plans that she has laid out will give the District Attorney’s office the right tools to protect our members at worksites, ensure they are paid a fair wage, and hold employers who break the rules accountable. Melinda has our full support because her platform puts working people first, and I’m confident that she has the experience necessary to make real change in the DA’s office.”

Katz has previously won the backing of labor unions including 32BJ SEIU, the New York Hotel Trades Council, CWA Local 1180, IUEC Local One, IUOE Local 15, Teamsters Local 237, among others.

Brindisi Fires Aide Arrested On Prostitution Charge

Rep. Anthony Brindisi’s office on Friday said an aide arrested on prostitution charges has been fired.

The State Police on Friday afternoon said John A. Stemen, a 57-year-old Utica man, was charged with a third-degree prostitution charge, a misdemeanor.

Stemen admitted to police he had attempted to meet a 17-year-old he contact on the internet and paid $200. He previously worked for the state Assembly, both in Brindisi’s office and for former Assemblywoman RoAnn DeStito, according to his LinkenIn profile.

Stemen served as a case worker in Brindisi’s office.

“As soon as we were made aware of the charges, John Stemen was immediately terminated from his position,” said Brindisi spokeswoman Macey Matthews.

Stemen was issued an appearance ticket and is scheduled to appear in Utica City Court on May 20.

Brindisi, a Democrat, was elected last year, unseating Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney in the district that includes the Utica and Binghamton areas.

NY-24: Misso Says He Won’t Take Money From Fossil Fuel Companies

From the Morning Memo:

Democratic congressional candidate Roger Misso announced Thursday he would not take donations from fossil fuel companies in his bid for the 24th congressional district in central New York.

Misso has also pledged to reject support from corporate political action committees and lobbyists.

“We are proud to be the first completely grassroots campaign in NY-24. Central New Yorkers deserve a member of Congress who will lead by example,” Misso said. “By rejecting money from corporate PACs, lobbyists, and the fossil fuel industry, we are fighting to end the corrupting influence of money in politics.”

Rejecting donations from monied interests has gain steam within the Democratic Party and with candidates, especially in the presidential nominating contest where candidates have vowed to reject aid from super PACs.

Misso and 2018 candidate Dana Balter are both competing for the nomination next year to unseat Republican Rep. John Katko.