Kathy Hochul

Hochul Says She Wants To Stay LG

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul told reporters Tuesday she was flattered by the talk of her running for the congressional seat vacated by Republican Chris Collins, who had unseated her in office in 2012.

But she wants to remain the state’s lieutenant governor, she said, and won’t seek the Democratic nod in the race for the district, likely to be decided in a special election to be called by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“I’m going to stay as lieutenant governor,” Hochul said during a stop in western New York at the picket line of striking UAW workers.

“I’ve been honored and flattered by the individuals who have asked me to look at this. But, again, representing the entire state of New York is something that I’ll continue to do because I’m fighting for the men and women of New York and I can have a bigger impact on a larger scale.”

Hochul had last been spoken of as a candidate for Congress a year ago amid rumors Cuomo wanted to replace her on the ticket with New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres. Ultimately, Hochul won her primary challenge against Jumaane Williams, then a Brooklyn Council member and now the city’s public advocate.

“I was just elected in the last year,” she said. “I plan to continue my service there and also remind people that integrity and honesty in government matter.”

Hochul won a previous iteration of the district in 2011, jumping into a special election after the resignation of Rep. Chris Lee, who stepped down after he was found to have posted shirtless photos on Craigslist.

Hochul lost a bid for a full term in a redrawn district against Collins, the former Erie County executive.

Collins pleaded guilty in federal court on Tuesday two counts related to an insider trading case. Hochul said Collins lied to voters when seeking re-election last year that he had done nothing wrong.

“That’s unconscionable,” she said. “Whether you are a member of Congress or the president of the United States you have to be honest, you have to be truthful, you cannot abuse the power of your position and if you do that you can no longer serve.”

LG Hochul Says It Would Be Troubling If Buffalo Diocese Files Bankruptcy

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, D-NY, said when the governor signed the Child Victims Act on February 14, which created a one-year look-back window for civil litigation, the legislation was about more than just money for victims.

She said the act give victims a chance to have their day in court. However, when it comes to the Buffalo Catholic Diocese which has had nearly 100 suits filed against it already since the window opened Wednesday morning, could potentially derail that opportunity for many people.

“Bankruptcy would basically put a stop to that,” she said. “We’re hoping that that is not the outcome. It has happened in some of the diocese throughout the country.”

Courts across the state, including in Western New York, have prepared for the new caseload, designating judges and liaisons. Attorneys have said they’re preparing to take each case to a jury, even though many will likely reach settlements first.

However, if the diocese files Chapter 11 for instance, a bankruptcy court would then take oversight of the cases – potentially stopping cases from going to trial.

“I think it would be very troubling,” Hochul said. “It would certainly slow down the process and what would be most hurtful to the people who waited for decades to finally have their day in court and face their accusers is that they’d be denied the full opportunity to have discovery and to go through the normal process that the current system would allow.”

Although there has been quite a bit of speculation, the church hasn’t said whether it plans on filing bankruptcy.

LG Agrees Stretch Of Thruway Through Seneca Territory Needs To Be Fixed

Regardless of political affiliation, Western New York politicians seem to agree a portion of the NYS Thruway which runs through Seneca Nation territory needs to be fixed.

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said she recently investigated the stretch near Chautauqua County herself. She said it is being addressed at the highest levels of state government.

“We want to get that road fixed,” Hochul said. “I have traveled on that road. It needs work. The motorists who travel the Thruway deserve better.”

The lieutenant governor discussed the deteriorating road with reporters a day after Rep. Tom Reed, R-NY-25, called on the governor to take care of it. Reed said it has become dangerous to motorists and he believes the governor’s office is not rehabilitating the stretch because of non-related political reason, like the ongoing dispute between the Senecas and the state over casino revenue.

“The dispute is independent from this,” Hochul said. “That is going on and has been going on.”

She reaffirmed a statement from the Thruway Authority that the state is working with the Seneca Nation toward moving forward with repairs. Hochul did not say specifically what is backing things up but pointed out the Thruway runs through sovereign territory where the state can not simply bring in contractors.

She maintained things are being “worked out” though.

“A lot of it has to even just do with pothole repair so it doesn’t take a year to do,” Hochul said.

The LG said she could not give a firm timeline because it depends on the work needed, and how much can potentially be done before the season changes.

State Transfers $5 Million To Niagara Falls As Casino Dispute Continues

Earlier this week, the state of New York transferred $5 million to the city of Niagara Falls to help alleviate cash flow issues.

It is part of the $12.3 million the governor promised the city in September 2018. The shortfall comes as the Seneca Nation of Indians has refused, now for more than two years, to pay a portion of its slot machine revenue to the state in exchange for gaming exclusivity.

The Senecas argued it’s obligation is up under a compact with the state but an arbitration panel ruled that was not the case. They now want a federal judge to vacate that ruling.

“Fair is fair. The arbitrators said they owe the state of New York at the time $225 million. The meter is still running. Those numbers are only going up,” Hochul said.

Once the state receives funds from the Nation, it shares them with the three cities where the casinos are located, Buffalo, Salamanca and Niagara Falls. Hochul said Buffalo and Salamanca could potentially see advances come their way as well.

“Certainly conversations are ongoing,” she said. “We don’t want to leave any of these communities hanging and Niagara Falls was particularly hard hit.”

Hochul said the $12.3 promised to Niagara Falls was to be transferred as needed at the city’s request. There’s no timetable on when the city might get the remaining $7.3 million and that will be allocated “upon conference with the city comptroller, the state comptroller and others.”

“We have to get this resolved,” Hochul said. “I don’t have an answer right now in terms of a timing because this has to happen as soon as possible and we are doing everything we can as an administration to force that to occur.”

The Seneca Nation has indicated it has no plans to make payments while the litigation is ongoing. It has also asked the Department of Interior to review if the arbitration panel made an illegal amendment to the compact in its judgement.

Hochul Says Legal Counsel Reviewing Gun Bills Before Governor Will Sign

Roughly six months since the state Legislature passed a series of new gun laws, four key measures remain unsigned by the governor.

Bills banning bump stocks, banning teachers from having firearms in schools, establishing up to a 30 day waiting period in order for background checks for some firearms, and another establishing a state police buyback program all remain with the state Senate. The Governor’s Office indicated it expects those bills to be transmitted and signed in the near future.

“I don’t have a time frame but we also want to get this done as soon as possible as well,” Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said.

Hochul said the hold up has to do with making sure the legislation can sustain any court challenges once they are signed into law.

“His office his had hundreds and hundreds of bills passed. This is exciting. We promoted these. These were many of our ideas and worked with the Legislature to get forward. They will be signed but I assure you they have to analyzed very closely by our legal counsel department to make sure that when they become law, that if they are challenged in court, that they are not struck down.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D, New York has 30 days to sign a law after it reaches his office when the Legislature is not in session. He must sign laws within the same calendar year they are passed.

Hochul Wants REDCs To Address Child Care

A letter sent this week by Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul to the co-chairs of the Regional Economic Development Councils called on them to consider issues like child care and community needs as part of a broader plan for economic growth and development.

“As a mother, I know how important it is to have access to quality child care to help balance responsibilities at work and at home,” Hochul said in a statement.

“We want to ensure that working families are provided with the resources for safe, accessible and affordable child care. By promoting and investing in child care, we know it can improve women’s participation in the workforce and narrow the gender wage gap.”

Hochul, who is chairwoman of the statewide councils, called on the co-chairs to encourage applicants seeking funding for projects to address and consider solutions to child care, like providing on-site services, child care co-ops and other business as well as flexible scheduling and remote work options, like working from home.

Child care is a $4.3 billion industry in New York, but a lack of child care options can be costly, Hochul wrote in the letter.

“Insufficient child care options cost U.S. businesses more than $3 billion annually and negatively impacts the New York State economy,” she wrote. “We also know that child care contributes to the gender wage gap.”

Hochul at the end of last year was named co-chair of the state’s Child Care Availability Task Force by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Lieutenant Governor Letter to REDC Co-Chairs Re – Child Care Final by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Hochul Discusses Contribution To Gillibrand 2020 Campaign

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, D-NY, has not revealed which Democratic candidate she’s supporting in the horse-race for the 2020 presidential nomination.

“I’m not making any endorsements at this time,” she maintained Friday.

However, the LG is letting her money talk. Specifically, she made a $2,700 contribution to the campaign of one of the state’s other most influential women, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

Hochul said the two of them go way back.

“Senator Gillibrand has been a friend of mine for a long time. In fact, when I ran for Congress in 2011, I think she gave me my first check. So we’ve been good friends. We’ve played softball together. We’ve worked together in Washington,” Hochul said. “So I just wanted to let her know I support her financially and she’s been a great spokeswoman for women in New York State and all across the country and that’s something I care deeply about.”

Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-NY, meanwhile is backing and assisting the campaign of former Vice President Joe Biden.

Hochul Tired Of People Making Comments About The Appearance Of Powerful Women

From the Morning Memo:

A tweet from Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul is going viral.

Hochul has been documenting her busy schedule traveling across the state this year with the hashtag #HowSheDoesIt. However, Wednesday she posted a video discussing something that bothers her during those travels.

The lieutenant governor said recently a male elected official told her she looked like she gained a few pounds but “that was good because she was too skinny before.” Not surprisingly that didn’t go over well.

Hochul said she often is told she looks better in person than on television or people make comments on how tired or awake she appears. She said she drinks plenty of cucumber water and puts cucumbers on her eyes.

“I was trying to make light of the fact that someone just had made a comment this week and I said, ‘You know there’s a lot of women who can relate to this,” Hochul said.

Beauty tips aside, the lieutenant governor said that wasn’t the point. Rather she said any woman in politics or other high-profile positions consistently has to deal with comments on their appearances.

That’s what’s she’s actually tired of.

“A lot of women just want to be judged by their performance, how hard they work, how they value their jobs and let’s get to that place in society as well, so that’s what my message was,” Hochul said.

The video has been watched thousands of times and retweeted hundreds more.

LG Hochul “Very Confident” Voting Reform Coming ASAP

The Cuomo administration has made voting reform its first priority for this upcoming election.

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, D-NY, doesn’t expect any hold up when it comes to getting a number of those bills passed. She told reporters in Buffalo to expect “robust reforms” to pass starting Monday.

“Oh I’m very confident,” she said. “I’m very confident.”

The LG said the first priorities of the Legislature will be to pass early voting. She expects the legislation will allow voters to case their ballots for at least ten days prior to the November election.

The September primary may soon be coming to an end, as well. Hochul said it doesn’t make sense to hold two primaries, a federal one in June, and state and locals three months later.

By moving everything to June, she said it will remove a costly burden for local boards of election and increase voter participation.

“It is disgraceful that we are one of the last states, the lowest performing states when it comes to voter participation,” she said.

Finally, she said “same day registration” will be among the early priorities. The measure she said will make it easier for everybody to vote.

She blamed the Legislature’s past inaction on the state Senate formerly controlled by Republicans.

“It’s been one of our highest priorities and now we have the votes we needed in the Senate,” Hochul said. “I believe it’s going to happen almost immediately. It’s one of our first priorities to get more participation in our democracy and make sure that there’s access to the ballot box.”

The lieutenant governor said other measures like voting by mail are in the administration’s sights, but will take a little bit longer because they need a constitutional amendment in order to become law.

Hochul Calls For Patience In NY-27 Race

From the Morning Memo:

The campaign for Rep. Chris Collins has called his Democratic opponent Nate McMurray’s refusal to concede the NY-27 race a desperate and futile exercise.

In fact, it has repeatedly pointed to the 2012 election in which then-incumbent Democratic Rep. Kathy Hochul, facing a similar vote deficit to Collins, did concede without delay.

Now-LG Kathy Hochul, however, seemed to have no issue with McMurray’s decision to wait until every ballot is counted.

“We can be patient,” she said. “No one gets sworn in as the next Congress person until January and let this process play out. It’s only fair to all the people who took the effort and the time to stand in line, often times, to get the absentee ballot.”

Hochul endorsed McMurray and campaigned vigorously on his behalf. She was asked yesterday if she was disappointed voters may have elected Collins despite the fact he faces a federal insider trading trial in 2020.

“I’m not going to question why voters do what they do,” Hochul said. “It is certainly their prerogative and that is what’s so great about America.”

“I certainly am surprised because I think this district really deserves to have someone who’s not going to be spending most of their time defending allegations of a federal crime that was committed in a very public way, literally on the White House lawn.”

The lieutenant governor was referring to video and photos of Collins on the phone at roughly the same time, the indictment alleged, he learned of privileged information about an Australian pharmaceutical company for which he owned stock, and apparently sharing that information with his son. The congressman has repeatedly called the charges meritless and said he believes he will be exonerated.