Cuomo Admin Says Early Voting Will Be Paid For

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office in a statement Thursday sought to allay concerns local governments would not have the funding to pay for the cost of early voting, pointing to a provision that would collect sales taxes on internet purchases from out-of-state retailers and the plan to consolidate the state and federal primaries into one day.

The primary consolidation is expected to save $25 million, while the sales tax enforcement would take in an additional $390 million.

County governments are charged with running elections through local boards of election. Local government advocates have raised concerns with the early voting bill not being coupled with a funding in the governor’s budget proposal for the measure.

“While the federal government works to disenfranchise voters, in New York we are committed to making voting easier and ensuring every New Yorker has an opportunity to exercise this sacred democratic right to make their voices heard,” said Dani Lever, the governor’s communications director. “”This year, Governor Cuomo proposed a comprehensive set of reforms to improve our democracy, including making Election Day a State holiday, synchronizing federal and state elections, and enacting voting by mail, same day and auto registration, and early voting.

“The Budget more than covers the cost of early voting by merging state and federal primaries to save counties $25 million and eliminating the internet tax advantage to ensure collection of sales taxes, delivering $390 million to local governments.”

State lawmakers last week approved the early voting legislation, which has been sent to Cuomo’s desk for his signature.

State To Assist Furloughed Federal Workers

New York officials are moving to provide support for the federal government workers who have been furloughed or have missed paychecks due to the ongoing and record-long shutdown in Washington.

“It is unconscionable that the President is holding hostage the wages and livelihoods of hard-working Americans in an attempt to advance his hateful and regressive political agenda,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

“While the federal administration steps on the backs of workers, New York State is stepping up to help in any way we can. These measures will ensure furloughed federal workers in New York receive prompt and special one-on-one services so they can obtain the vital safety-net benefits they need during this hard time.”

Federal workers will receive back pay once the government re-opens. But until then, workers have missed at least one paycheck due to the shutdown. Some workers, like airport security workers, are at work without pay.

The Department of Labor has been called on to speed up the application process for unemployment insurance and extend the hours of its call center. At the same time, Cuomo called on the department to coordinate with federal public workers unions to make members aware of the benefits that are available.

Some workers on furlough or working without pay may be eligible for emergency assistance in order to meet basic needs through the state’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.

Cuomo Wants A Tax Return Disclosure Law For Candidates

Candidates for statewide office and the Legislature should disclose up to a decade’s worth of tax returns in order to qualify for the ballot, according to a provision in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal.

Candidates for statewide offices — governor, attorney general and comptroller among them — would have to disclose 10 years of state and federal tax returns.

Those running for state Senate or Assembly would have to disclose 5 years of returns.

The provision cannot apply to candidates for federal office, such as president, Senate or the House of Representatives.

“While this federal administration seems intent on operating in secrecy and darkness, New York State is working to provide the public with more information to better inform their choice at the ballot box,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Mandating that this critical information be made public will shed sunlight and sunshine on potential conflicts of interest and increase the ethical standards of public officials serving New Yorkers.”

Typically statewide officials, including Cuomo, disclose their tax returns every April by making copies of them available to the press, as part of a long-standing custom dating back to the post-Watergate era.

During the 2018 re-election campaign, Cuomo pushed his Democratic primary opponent Cynthia Nixon and later his Republican challenger Marc Molinaro to release 10 years’ worth of tax returns.

Ultimately, Nixon released one year five years of tax returns; Molinaro released one year.

Child Victims Act Supporters Step Up Efforts

Supporters of bill that would make it easier for the survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file lawsuits are ramping up their push in the new legislative session to see the measure approved in the coming weeks.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week released a budget proposal that included the provision, including a one-year look back provision advocates have sought.

“The Child Victims Act is a no brainer,” said Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple. “This legislation will not only give survivors an opportunity to seek justice, but it will also protect our communities. 2019 is the year we stop valuing money over of survivors of child sexual abuse.”

Apple, along with survivors and victims of abuse, held a news conference at the Capitol on Thursday morning to back the measure.

“#KidsToo – every 8 minutes a child is sexually abused. Our current NY legislators and Governor are the allies our children need. I look forward to extending the restrictive statute of limitations and allowing all NY survivors an opportunity to hold abusers and any aiding institutions accountable. Now is the time to address #KidsToo,” said Bridie Farrell, CEO of NY Loves Kids and survivor of child sexual abuse.”

Meanwhile, another advocate for the bill, Greene County businessman Gary Greenberg called for the measure’s passage within the next 30 days — leaving the measure outside of the budget.

“Survivors around the state have spoken clearly: We must pass the Child Victims Act in the first 30 days of the legislative session,” he said. “Over a thousand kids are abused in this state every week, that has gone on long enough.”

Greenberg released a Facebook ad calling for the bill’s passage.

Cuomo Says He’s A ‘Fan’ Of Gillibrand

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a radio interview Thursday said he is a “fan” of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, insisting he was not endorsing any of the Democrats running or potentially running for the presidential nomination.

Cuomo had previously called former Vice President Joe Biden the Democrat with the most “credibility” and presents the “best case” among the field of potential candidates to run against President Donald Trump.

“My two cents, I think of all the names that are out there, I think Joe Biden has the best base,” Cuomo said in an interview on WAMC radio in Albany earlier this month. “I think Joe Biden brings most of the secret ingredient you need for a Democrat to win, which is credibility.”

Gillibrand, who worked for Cuomo as a top attorney at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, filed an exploratory committee this week.

“We’re personal friends for more years than I care to remember. I also know Joe Biden and what I said about him I believe,” Cuomo said in an interview with WNYC’s Brian Lehrer this morning. “There will be more people getting in the race, so it’s way to early to talk about who’s in, who’s out and preferences.”

Cuomo said his comments about Biden, whom he has had a long-standing relationship with, are “not mutually inconsistent” with Gillibrand’s candidacy.

“I haven’t endorsed anyone. What I said about Joe Biden was not an endorsement,” Cuomo said. “It was a statement of fact. Let’s see who gets into the race.”

Cuomo Explains Opt-Out Clause For Marijuana Sales

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday defended the proposal that would allow local governments to opt out of the law allowing for adult-use marijuana sales in New York, calling the issue a still-controversial matter in some parts of New York.

“This is a controversial area,” Cuomo told WNYC’s Brian Lehrer this morning. “Some people think it’s a no-brainer, so to speak. Some communities have real concerns and my opinion is democracy still exists, especially on an issue like this where people still have differences of opinion.”

The opt out clause would allow both large cities and counties to vote on whether to allow the program.

“They would affirmatively have to vote to opt out,” Cuomo said. “The main question is whether they would have to opt in or opt out.”

He predicted that “New York City is going to opt in.”

Not everyone is pleased with the opt-out clause. Sen. Julia Salazar called the provision “unacceptable.”

“New Yorkers have been enormously harmed by criminalization,” she wrote on Twitter. “Alleviating that harm must be our top priority.”

Cuomo’s proposal would decriminalize marijuana everywhere, but the opt out would prevent retail sales in the areas that choose to do so.

Marijuana purchases would be limited to those age 21 and older. Lawmakers and Cuomo are also likely to move toward some form of criminal justice law changes related marijuana convictions.

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.”

Peoples-Stokes Ceremonially Sworn In As Majority Leader

From the Morning Memo:

Buffalo Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes made history last night.

She became the first woman and the first African American to hold the position of Assembly majority leader. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie picked Peoples-Stokes late last year, but she was officially sworn in during a ceremony at True Bethel Church in Buffalo.

She said she hopes to be an inspiration to others.

“I sure hope that every little girl who is in school today and maybe being told by their guidance counselor, like I was, that I wasn’t college material, that they will pursue whatever goal it is that they desire based on what they have within themselves because they see me here,” she said. “I hope that it does motivate people to want to go higher.”

A number of Peoples-Stokes’ Assembly and state Senate colleagues from Western New York attended the event, as well as Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul – also a Buffalo native.

The LG said she was proud Heastie had picked the “very best,” adding: “(Peoples-Stokes) is the most experienced, qualified, passionate, and energetic person – who happens to be a woman, and a woman of color.”

The majority leader said that outside of supporting the speaker’s agenda, her priorities remain the same. At the top of that list is legalizing the adult use of marijuana, which the governor has came around to embracing, and included in this budget proposal.

Protections for Journalists in 2019 Budget

From the Morning Memo:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo included a proposal in his 2019 budget address drawing journalists into a protected fold.

It elevates the penalty for assaulting a journalist from a misdemeanor, to a class D felony offense.

“Reporters have a tough enough job as it and it is unacceptable and unconscionable that they increasingly have to endure the threat of physical harm for just for doing their jobs,” Cuomo said in a statement. “While the current federal administration is fostering an environment that normalizes and even encourages attacks on the press, New York is taking a stand. It is my hope that other states join us in enacting these protections into law once and for all.”

Cuomo cited the Trump Administration as the proposal’s root cause, noting an increased level of animosity towards reporters and chastising the President’s favored phrase “fake news” bestowed upon certain members of the media and outlets.

Here and Now

Day 27 of the partial federal government shutdown.

Vice President Mike Pence and President Donald Trump make a Missile Defense Review announcement in Arlington, VA at 11 a.m.

Pence in the afternoon – 4 p.m. – participates in a pro-life advocates roundtable in his ceremonial office at the White House.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public events or interviews yet scheduled.

At 7:45 a.m., former NYC Council Speaker and public advocate candidate Melissa Mark-Viverito greets commuters at the Brook Avenue 6 train station, the Bronx.

At 9 a.m., NYC Councilman Robert E. Cornegy Jr., fellow elected officials and community members unveil a scale model of a statue of Shirley Chisholm in honor of the 50th Anniversary of her election to U.S. Congress in 1968, becoming the first black woman to hold that post, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, 145 Brooklyn Ave., Brooklyn.

At 9:30 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray host an Interfaith Breakfast, The New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, Celeste Bartos Forum, 476 Fifth Ave., Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., the NYC Campaign Finance Board meets, Joseph A. O’Hare S.J. boardroom, 100 Church St., 12th floor, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., the NYC Council Committee on Higher Education meets, 250 Broadway, 14th floor, Committee Room, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., the NYC Council Committee on Consumer Affairs and Business Licensing meets, 250 Broadway, 16th floor, Committee Room, Manhattan.

At 10:30 a.m., NYC Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr. holds a press conference against Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement about the Reproductive Health Act, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple, and Albany area survivors of child sexual abuse, will join together to explain why the Child Victims Act is essential for local law enforcement, outside state Senate chambers, 3rd Fl., state Capitol, Albany.

Also at 11 a.m., “The Capitol Pressroom” features state Sen. Brad Hoylman and others, WCNY.

At 11:30 a.m., de Blasio holds a media availability to provide an update on the federal government shutdown, Blue Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 11:30 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul outlines the governor’s 2019 “Justice Agenda” laid out in his budget proposal, Onondaga Community College, Coulter Hall Community Room (Library), 4585 W. Seneca Turnpike, Syracuse.

At noon, leading women’s and immigrants’ rights advocates hold a Pre-Women’s Unity Rally press conference with advocates telling their stories, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 12:15 p.m., Mark-Viverito visits the ARC Central Harlem Senior Center, 120 W. 140th St., Manhattan.

At 12:30 p.m., Guillermo Linares, acting president, NYS Higher Education Services Corp, delivers a State of the State address/budget presentation, Alpha Phi Alpha Senior Center, 220-01 Linden Blvd., Cambria Heights.

At 1 p.m., the NYC Council Committee on Governmental Operations meets jointly with the Committee on Technology, Council Chambers, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 2 p.m., Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh presents the 2019 State of the City address, Redhouse at City Center, 400 S. Salina St., Syracuse.

Also at 2 p.m., Hochul announces the completion of upgrades at the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source, 161 Wilson Laboratory, Synchrotron Drive, Ithaca.

At 3 p.m., McCray will meet with women at the Queens Family Justice Center to commemorate the anniversary of its mental health program, 126-02 82nd Ave., Queens.

At 3:15 p.m., Hochul gives another overview of the governor’s executive budget, Cornell University, Stocking Hall, PepsiCo Auditorium, 411 Tower Rd., Ithaca.

At 7 p.m., Karim Camara, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Faith-Based Community Development Services, gives a State of the State/budget presentation, Red Oak Apartments, Community Room, 135 W. 106th St., Manhattan.

At 8 p.m., state Sen. Julia Salazar, Assembly members Maritza Davila and Joseph Lentol, New York City Council members Stephen Levin and Antonio Reynoso rally for a Better Loft Law, San Damiano Mission, 85 N. 15th St., Brooklyn.

Headlines…

After launching her presidential campaign, the first question U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand fielded was one about likability.

Gillibrand was described by one writer as a “younger, more relatable” version of another onetime Democratic presidential candidate from New York: Hillary Clinton.

She’s now headed to Iowa – the first-in-the-nation caucus state – for a three-day tour.

Gillibrand’s response to the fact that during her re-election campaign last year, she pledged to serve out an entire six-year term in the Senate: “I believe the urgency of this moment now is we have to take on President Trump and what he is doing.”

Reporters asked Gillibrand again and again about her shifting stances – which, Republicans said, could be her undoing. Once a relatively conservative House member from the Hudson Valley, she’s now among the Senate’s leading liberals.

After once opposing it, for example, Gillibrand said she now supports granting driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.

“Look at my heart,” Gillibrand said when asked about her evolving stances on issues like immigration and gun control. “I think it’s important to know when you’re wrong, and to do what’s right.”

Gillibrand also said for the first time that she was uninterested in having a political action committee devoted to her bid. “I don’t think we should have individual super PACs, and I don’t want one,” she said.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked President Trump to scrap or delay his Jan. 29 State of the Union address amid the partial government shutdown, an extraordinary request that escalated the partisan battle over his border wall even as bipartisan groups of lawmakers pressed him to reopen the government and make room for compromise.

In a letter, Pelosi noted that both the Secret Service and the Homeland Security Department are stretched thin thanks to the shutdown and requested the commander-in-chief consider postponing the event — or just deliver it in writing. He did not immediately respond.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg backed out of a scheduled appearance next month at the 92nd Street Y while she continues to recover from a recent early-stage lung cancer surgery, the organization said.

Doctors say they expect the justice to be back on the bench in February, and until then she will review transcripts from her home and participate in the court’s decision-making remotely. Critics say the 85-year-old Ginsburg should retire.

A federal judge has breathed new life into questions surrounding former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and the 2012 attack that killed U.S. officials in Benghazi, Libya.

U.S. Attorney General nominee William Barr’s claim that more should be done to investigate the Clinton Foundation, and his related correspondence with a reporter on that issue, has caught the attention of his critics and raises fresh questions on how he’d handle the issue if confirmed.

Queens Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez fired a warning shot at the big banks after securing a seat on the House Financial Services Committee.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had four freshman congresswomen chasing him all around the Capitol yesterday – including Ocasio-Cortez – seeking action on the government shutdown.

Trump signed a law that will guarantee that government workers who aren’t getting paid during the partial shutdown will get back pay when it’s over.

The White House joined the growing chorus of Republicans in condemning recent comments by Republican Iowa Rep. Steve King about white supremacy, labeling his language “abhorrent.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to hold up to $7.3 billion earmarked for the MTA in order to press lawmakers into passing congestion pricing and other policy in his executive budget.

New York’s sky-high campaign contribution limits would be dramatically lowered under a plan put forward this week by Cuomo.

More >