New Bill Would Increase Access To Immunization Data

State lawmakers want to increase the ability of the public to gain access to immunization data, requiring all schools in the state to report specific information on their students’ immunization rate against disease that require vaccinations.

The bill, backed by Democrats Brad Hoylman in the state Senate and Jeffrey Dinowitz in the Assembly, would also require the state Department of Health to create a searchable database on its website that contains information on each school’s rate of compliance with immunization.

Much of the data lawmakers want to make public is already available on a searchable database at the Department of Health.

At the same time, the bill would require state health officials to analyze trends in immunization rates and medical exemptions from immunization over time in order to identify parts of the state that could be vulnerable to diseases.

The legislation was introduced this week after some school districts struggled to ensure students had received their required vaccinations after the state ended the religious exemption for vaccinations. The challenges facing schools led to some state lawmakers worrying about the amount of time education officials had to implement the new law.

That measure, also backed by Hoylman and Dinowitz, is being challenged in court by anti-vaccination advocates.

“Parents have a right to know. As New York continues to recover from the worst measles outbreak in four decades, parents deserve to be informed about whether their child’s fellow students are up to date on all their required vaccines,” Hoylman said in a statement.

“The legislation I carry with Assemblyman Dinowitz will equip parents, policy-makers, and public health officials with accurate data that will help them understand whether a specific school is in compliance with immunization requirements. No parent should have to worry for the safety and health of their child when sending them to school.”

Lawmakers approved the bill ending the vaccine religious exemption following a measles outbreak in Rockland County and Brooklyn, which state and local officials say has now been largely brought under control, with no new cases reported over two incubation periods.

After First Vaping Death In NY, Cuomo Urges Federal Action

Gov. Andrew Cuomo reiterated on Tuesday his push for the federal government to act on curtailing the use of vaping products following the first death in New York of a 17-year-old resident in the Bronx believed to be linked to e-cigarette usage.

“The federal government should act,” Cuomo said at an unrelated press conference on Tuesday. “The President had talked about taking action. I don’t know how many people have to die before he takes action, but the State is already taking aggressive action. We moved to ban flavored e-vaping, et cetera. It’s now pending in the courts.”

Cuomo through executive action last month moved to ban flavored tobacco products used in e-cigarettes, a ban that was later expanded to include menthol.

But the vaping industry has challenged the ban in court, and a state judge last week moved to delay the ban from taking effect while the lawsuit is heard in court.

Cuomo on Tuesday compared the fight over vaping to the push against cigarette usage

“We went all through that with cigarettes,” he said. “All those people had to die before we found the truth. And now the tobacco company goes into the vaping business and targets young people and markets to young people with a product that might actually be more dangerous than a cigarette. A cigarette didn’t kill you in year one. These vaping products – 1,000 cases.”

The nationwide total of deaths believed to be linked to vaping is now at 19. A Siena College poll released this week found majority support for a ban on vaping products.

Releasing Scorecard, Environmental Group Praises ASC And Heastie

The top Democratic leaders in the state Senate and Assembly were honored by Environmental Advocates’s annual scorecard, giving both Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Carl Heastie the Legislator of the Year award.

Environmental groups this year have had a lot to cheer about following the first session in a decade in which Democrats controlled both chambers of the Legislature. The Legislator of the Year award had not been handed out by the group for several years.

The group pointed to the passage of long-sought environmental legislation, which included a congestion pricing toll plan, $500 million for water infrastructure and a ban on single-use plastic bags.

At the same time, the group’s scorecard assessed measures that barred garbage incineration in the Finger Lakes, ending access to state marine and coastal lands to off-shore drilling, a measure meant to prevent over fishing and a measure limiting the idling of school vehicles on school grounds.

“What we saw during this past legislative session was nothing short of amazing,” said Environmental Advocates Executive Director Peter Iwanowicz.

“The ‘New’ New York Senate, led by Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, has proven itself skillful, capable, and up to the task of leading New York to a greener future. The transformation from a place where good green bills went to die to an efficient, vibrant, and forward-thinking house was tremendous. Having them partner with an Assembly—that had long been carrying the environmental torch—made several pieces of game-changing legislation possible. New Yorkers will live longer lives because of bills that were passed this year and signed into law by Governor Cuomo.”

Sen. George Amedore, a Republican, was given the group’s lowest marks and its “Oil Slick” award.

AG’s Office Finds No Criminal Culpability In Trooper Shooting

The death of a 41-year-old Hudson Valley man was not the result of criminal culpability on the part of a state trooper, Attorney General Letitia James’s office said in a statement released Tuesday.

James’s office released a 65-page report on the September 2018 incident that resulted in the death of Jaime Lopez-Cabrera during an interaction with State Police.

A video recording shows Lopez-Cabrera walking toward Trooper Kevin Wolensky and did not put his hands up. Wolensky fired two shots, striking Lopez-Cabrera.

“We offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Lopez-Cabrera on the loss of their loved one,” James said.

“The Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit is committed to providing the public with an exhaustive and transparent inquiry into any death over which it has jurisdiction. The Unit conducted a comprehensive investigation regarding the death of Mr. Lopez-Cabrera and encourages local and state law enforcement agencies to implement the recommendations set forth in the report.”

Convicted Collins Moves To Florida, Asks For Character References

From the Morning Memo:

Convicted former Congressman Chris Collins will await his sentencing for federal crimes related to insider trading from the Sunshine State.

In an email to friends and acquaintances, the Western New York Republican said he is now a Florida resident and will be there for awhile “as the press settles down and moves on.” Collins pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit securities fraud and making false statements last year. The charges carry up to five years each as well as fines, although court guidelines suggest between 46 and 57 months.

He is set to be sentenced in January 2020 and is asking for character references.

“It is important for us to get letters of support from those who know me best and can attest to my character and years of service and accomplishments. I’m asking you to help in this endeavor,” Collins wrote in the email, obtained by Spectrum News this week.

He thanked everyone for their continued support and said the experience had been “mortifying” for him and his family. Collins’ son Cameron and Stephen Zarsky, the father of Cameron’s fiancé, also pleaded guilty for unloading their stocks of Australian pharmaceutical company Innate Immunotherapeutics after being tipped off by the then-Congressman about a failed clinical trial.

“I feel like I’ve let everyone down, but our decision to plead guilty is the right decision for Cameron and the family. I know I always did my best to serve the community and the nation,” Collins wrote.

“And I am proud of our many accomplishments in Erie County and in Congress. You were a critical part of our success and I know the congressional office will continue to provide exceptional service to our constituents in my absence. We will get through this.”

He also told recipients they could feel free to pass the email on to anybody who “could be helpful.”

All the letters to the judge may not necessarily be in Collins favor though as some constituents and critics suggested mounting a counter campaign Monday on social media.

Long Island Dems Get Business Backing In Williams Pipeline Support

From the Morning Memo:

When the Democratic state senators who represent Long Island backed the Williams pipeline project with conditions, the move had real political and governmental implications.

Consider how potent environmental issues are for progressive Long Island voters. Consider also how key issues are like utility bills for residents, a major component of the debate over the pipeline.

And, needless to say, Long Island Senate districts are often closely watched battleground districts for control of the chamber as the suburbs are often a bellwether for the rest of the state.

The move was considered craven by Senate Republicans, including Minority Leader John Flanagan.

Once again, Long Island’s Democrat Senate delegation wants to have their cake and eat it too,” Flanagan said in a statement. “First, they pass so-called ‘Green New Deal”’legislation that will make it far more expensive for businesses and consumers to access the energy they need to live and work on Long Island — this after raising energy taxes by more than $100 million in this year’s budget.

Flanagan pointed to the push by the business community to gain Democratic support.

“We’ve known that this project is critical to homeowners, small businesses, and major infrastructure projects that are key to Long Island’s future,” he said. “Senate Democrats were silent during the entire application process, threatening billions of dollars of investment, and their policies are only going to make things worse.”

But Long Island’s business community is pleased the Senate Democrats from Long Island acted in support, emergency basis or not.

Kevin Law of the Long Island Association praised the lawmakers’ backing of the pipeline.

“The NESE project is critical for Long Island’s continued economic prosperity. We applaud the Long Island delegation for recognizing its importance to the region and we urge the DEC to approve this project immediately,” Law said in a statement.

“Long Island businesses and residents are facing an energy crisis and over three hundred billion dollars of economic development is at risk. NESE will ensure continued economic prosperity in the region and emissions reductions.”

And the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, a labor union that has backed both Republicans and Democrats over the years, also praised their support.

“I applaud the Long Island delegation for standing up for what makes sense,” said President Gary LaBarbera.

“The Northeast Supply Enhancement Project will increase our access to a clean and affordable energy source which can spur economic growth in Long Island. NESE will create long-term middle-class job opportunities that will put our state back to work — good family-wage jobs that represent the economic future for many communities across Long Island. These communities will stand to benefit the most as it will create thousands of union construction jobs and much needed revenue put back into our local economies.”

Still, there’s no guarantee the pipeline will be approved, support from suburban Democrats for the project or not.

But the move — and subsequent backing of the business community — is a sign of where power lies in the state Senate at the moment.

Pay Equity Legislation Takes Effect

From the Morning Memo:

Updated: This post has been updated. A previous version reported another bill is taking effect today that would end a salary history question. That measure does not take effect until January.

A measure that would expand definition of “equal pay for equal work” is taking effect today.

The provisions bolster an executive order Cuomo had previously signed meant to eliminate the wage gap between men and women.

“We are at a critical point in history when this country is finally recognizing the long-term discrimination against women and taking action to right the wrongs of an unfair system,” Cuomo said.

“There is no rational reason why women should not get paid the same as men, and these common sense measures will take us one step closer to true equality. Now it’s time for businesses across the state to take a hard look at their pay policies and ensure women employees get paid the same as their male colleagues if they are doing substantially similar work.”

Here And Now

Good morning and happy Tuesday! Here’s the news.

Happening today:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with nothing public planned.

At 10 a.m., New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray will deliver remarks, City Hall Rotunda, New York City.

Also at 10 a.m., Westchester County Executive George Latimer will sign a bill creating an advisory council on people with disabilities. Westchester Disabled On The Move. 984 North Broadway, Yonkers.

At 11 a.m., New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will deliver remarks, NYPD Police Academy. 130-30 28th Ave., Queens.

Also at 11 a.m., Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will deliver remarks at the Fallen Firefighters Memorial Ceremony. Empire State Convention Center. Albany.

At 12:30 p.m., Hochul will highlight clean energy investments. Albany Capital Center, 55 Eagle St., Albany.

At 2 p.m., the Association of School Business Officials will hold their annual finance symposium. LOB Room 711A. 198 State St., Albany.

Headlines:

Mayor de Blasio joined Errol Louis from Gracie Mansion to respond to criticism over replacing Rikers Island with four jails, and discuss his bill to force most employers to provide paid vacation.

A physical therapist at Rikers Island has been charged with sexually abusing an inmate.

Tensions between the NBA and China over a tweet by the Rockets general manager criticizing the response to the Hong Kong riots has led the government to cancel an event for the Brooklyn Nets.

Critics say Mayor de Blasio’s revamp to combat homelessness in New York City should begin with First Lady Chirlane McCray’s Thrive NYC program.

New York City’s homeless population is seeking an elusively safe refuge in the subway system.

New York City Council members are backing legislation meant to rein in the use of facial recognition technology.

Some of the democratic socialists who are launching primaries against incumbent Democrats in Albany are backing proposals like abolishing private property.

The New York Times charts the rise of Chris Collins as a prominent supporter of Donald Trump in Congress to convicted felon.

A federal judge rejected President Donald Trump’s claim to be immune from all criminal investigations Monday and dismissed his lawsuit challenging a state grand jury subpoena for eight years of his tax returns sought by Manhattan’s district attorney.

The Trump campaign is crediting a change in New York’s election law with easing the president’s path to re-election.

Meanwhile, the Trump campaign is also pouring nearly $1 million into a digital advertising effort in New York.

Gov. Cuomo has signed a bill that would ban pelvic examinations on sedate women who have not given their consent.

The State Liquor Authority is weighing rule changes that would alter what food delivery apps like GrubHub, DoorDash and UberEats can charge.

Former Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano has been disbarred after he was convicted in a corruption scheme.

New York City has agreed to pay $560,000 to 2,800 911 operators as part of the class action lawsuit.

The subsidy for New York City’s commuter ferry is the second-most expensive in the country.

Comptroller Tom Dinapoli sent a letter to General Motors’ CEO last week calling for a quick end to the dispute. He says the 21-day strike by thousands of union members is costing the state money.

A vigil is being held this morning for the four victims of the deadly beatings on the streets of Chinatown over the weekend.

The state legislative calendar for the 2020 session was released on Monday, showing state lawmakers are scheduled to be in Albany for 57 days next year.

For the better part of a decade, UAlbany has been training students how to counter hacking and cyber attacks through its emerging cybersecurity program.

A bill that would bar ambulance and first response service providers from disclosing or selling the information of patients to third parties was signed into law on Monday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

A half dozen good-government organizations on Monday in a letter to the commission determining the contours and specifics of New York’s system of publicly financed campaigns urged the panel to release a draft report of its recommendations.

Attorney General Letitia James’s office is urging an appellate court to renew a criminal case against former Rensselaer County District Attorney Joel Abelove over his handling of a fatal police shooting.

The state’s blossoming CBD industry is growing at a rapid rate, but is also at something of a crossroads.

New York’s roadmap for handling the coming 2020 Census will be considered at a meeting of the state commission overseeing the effort today.

Both Democratic Rep. Antonio Delgado and Republican Elise Stefanik decried the U.S. withdrawal of troops from Syria as a major blow.

Employees at WBAI woke to some bad news Monday morning: the longtime station was being shut down by the Pacifica Foundation, the nonprofit organization out of California that owns WBAI.

A Brooklyn homeless shelter could evict all the homeless families and rent the apartments at market rate because of a dispute with the city.

The Department of Defense has told New York’s senators a long-delayed filtration projection for the Hudson Valley is set to begin.

There are renewed calls from local lawmakers for Ulster County Legislator Hector Rodriguez to step down, after seven women came forward earlier this year accusing the legislator of inappropriately touching them or making suggestive comments to them.

A number of civil lawsuits have been filed on behalf of the families of some of the Schoharie limousine crash victims.

It was more than two weeks ago members of the Erie County Legislature asked for information from Western Regional Off-Track Betting about the corporation’s “high-rollers” or “Suitestakes” program. Government Affairs Committee Chairman Kevin Hardwick gave OTB an informal deadline.

Lawmakers in Syracuse have agreed to a plan to reduce the city’s deer population.

What started as a Facebook event Monday morning asking people to put up blue lights outside their homes quickly took on a life of its own. The community is rallying support for office Denny Wright as he continues to recover in the hospital after suffering multiple stab wounds.

Rochester Police have made an arrest three days after Officer Denny Wright was stabbed while responding to a call on Peck Street.

A top official at the State Education Department is backing an effort to have the state monitor the school district in Hempstead.

Few leaf peepers and hikers are abiding by a parking ban in the Adirondacks and the result is something of a mess.

There’s always a local angle, even for the Nobel Prize.

In national news:

President Trump’s decision to pull troops from Syria has blindsided national security officials in the federal government.

The president’s decision also led to a warning and rare rebuke by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

Bernie Sanders’s heart attack has stoked questions over the future of his candidacy in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

House Democrats are considering steps that would continue to conceal the identity of the whistleblower from Republican allies of Trump’s in Congress.

Subpoenas from House Democrats have been issued to the White House Budget Office and the Pentagon, a sign the investigation is expanding.

The U.S. has added more Chinese firms to a blacklist, citing the repression against a Muslim minority.

From the editorial pages:

The New York Times wonders whether New York City, a city built on big ideas, is now an empire in decline with a narrower vision.

The Times Union blasted a local government in Saratoga County for failing to comply with the state’s Freedom of Information Law.

The Buffalo News says a lawsuit against Niagara University suggests a toxic culture against the college’s women’s swim team.

Newsday endorses in the race for East Hampton town supervisor.

From the sports pages:

Yankees swept the Twins and advance to the pennant series.

New York Republicans Seek To Counter Impeachment Talk (Updated)

The New York Republican Committee on Monday launched a new effort to blast the impeachment drive in Congress, appearing outside of the district office of Democratic Rep. Max Rose to give a counter narrative.

Rose last week became the latest Democrat from a district carried by President Donald Trump in 2016 to back the impeachment proceeding amid allegations he has sought to influence foreign governments, including China and Ukraine, to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

“Max Rose completely flip-flopped on his position, saying impeachment was bad for the country, yet the moment he was threatened with a primary from an AOC-wannabe, he caved like a cheap suit and sold out his constituents,” Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy said.

“We are putting Max Rose and the rest of his congressional comrades on notice that we are organized and ready to harness the support for President Trump to send them packing next November.”

Dovetailing with this effort has been a series of TV ads launched by the Republican National Committee this month knocking Democratic Rep. Antonio Delgado for backing impeachment, part of a $2 million ad buy in key districts considered competitive in 2020.

Updated: Rose’s office responded in a statement.

“I didn’t fight our enemies overseas so that our leaders would invite them to interfere in our elections back home. It’s disappointing to see the Republican Party put China and Russia ahead of America,” he said. “My job is to get the facts, not play politics—and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”

Schumer: I’m The Juror, Pelosi’s The Prosecutor

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is making a courtroom analogy for impeachment: He’s just a juror, trying to keep his head down.

Schumer in central New York on Monday declined to take a specific stance on whether President Donald Trump should be impeached, insisting the Senate’s literal role in the process is to act as a jury.

Schumer has said he wants the members of the Democratic caucus in the Senate to do the same.

“Don’t take a position now,” he told reporters. “A good conscientious juror doesn’t take a stand, they wait until all the facts are presented. That’s what I am doing and I believe every senator, Democratic and Republican, should do the same.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Schumer said is “a prosecutor. I’m a juror. I’m not saying anything. I’m not commenting on the specifics.”

This is stretched analogy only partially true: The House of Representatives is similar to a grand jury in impeachment proceedings, voting to forward articles of impeachment in a similar way that a grand jury approves an indictment.

An impeachment trial is held in the Senate, where senators vote on whether to remove the president from office. Senators and House members can also act as lawyers to defend or prosecute the president.

Either way, Schumer said he approved of Pelosi’s handling of the events as they unfold, with Trump accused of seeking to pressure foreign governments to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

“I think Nancy Pelosi is pursuing it in the right way,” Schumer said. “She’s trying to be fact-driven.”

And either way, Schumer is treading very cautiously on the impeachment question. In a way, he can afford to: It’s not up to minority Senate Democrats to impeach. Should it reach that point, focus will turn to the Senate and whether there are the votes to remove the president from office.