Federal Aid for the Unemployed Faces Renewal

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Federal aid for people who have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic is set to expire at the end of December unless Congress acts in the coming weeks.

At the same time, New York along with other states will be seeing additional effects of federal support sunsetting, including support for hospitals amid a surge of coronavirus cases that is expected to crest through the holiday season.

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Bill Would Exempt Volunteer Firefighters from Jury Duty

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Volunteer firefighters would be exempt from serving on juries under legislation proposed by Democratic Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara.

The measure was proposed this month amid a shortage of volunteer firefighters in New York and during the COVID-19 pandemic, making it harder to keep volunteer fire departments staffed, especially in rural areas.

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Cuomo: Expect More COVID-19 Cases Through Holiday Season

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

COVID-19 cases will increase through the holiday season, Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned on Sunday in a conference call as New York recorded its highest daily positive rate since May.

Meanwhile, Cuomo cheered the announcement from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio some schools would reopen by Dec. 7 after they closed last week.

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Cuomo Reacts to High Court on House of Worship Restrictions

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 1:21 PM ET Nov. 27, 2020

A Supreme Court ruling striking down New York's capacity limits on gatherings in houses of worship during the COVID-19 pandemic is "moot" because it dealt with restrictions that have since been lifted, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday said.

The U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision late Wednesday night ruled in favor of Brooklyn Diocese and two synagogues, which had challenged the state's restrictions on capacity inside houses of worship. The ruling comes as COVID-19 cases are on the upswing across the country.

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Once Approved, Cuomo Says He'll Be Among First for COVID Vaccine

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 1:20 PM ET Nov. 27, 2020

Governor Andrew Cuomo will be among the first to take a COVID-19 vaccine to show that it is safe, he said on Thursday in a conference call.

"I want people to feel confident, that's why I am willing to be one of the first ones to take the vaccine," Cuomo said in the call. “I would never ask the people of the state to take a vaccine that wasn’t safe."

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How Cities Can Survive Post-COVID Pandemic

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 1:20 PM ET Nov. 27, 2020

Liz Farmer is not ready to write off cities just yet. Though the American city, especially in New York, is taking its blows during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Farmer, a researcher at the Rockefeller Institute of Government, argued in a report for the think tank that cities need to start ways of figuring out how to bring back workers and residents.

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Former Prosecutor Michael Koenig: The Rule of Law Triumphed

BY Susan Arbetter New York State
UPDATED 4:07 PM ET Nov. 25, 2020

Michael Koenig, a former U.S. Justice Department federal prosecutor who also served as outside council to the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, told Capital Tonight that President Trump’s legal team is out of legal options in its pursuit of a legal ruling proving election fraud.

“There are no facts, there is no evidence and there is no proof to support the allegations of voter fraud that is claimed. What we saw time and time again is spectacular failure by the Trump administration to offer any facts to support their allegations,” said Koenig, who is currently a partner at the firm Hinckley Allen.

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FPI’s Recommendations to Help Immigrants During Pandemic Recession

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

A new brief out from the Fiscal Policy Institute titled "The Pandemic Recession" underscores what we have been hearing for months now: That the pandemic recession is having an outsized impact on immigrants and people of color.

Authors Brent Kramer PhD, Shamier Settle, Jonas Shaende PhD, and David Dyssegaard Kallick report that the unemployment rate for immigrant New Yorkers had been lower than their U.S.-born counterparts prior to the recession, but that it’s no longer the case. Today the rate is 15% for immigrants and 12% for U.S.-born.

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Pandemic Has Hit Immigrants, People of Color Hardest, Report Finds

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has hit immigrant communities and people of color the hardest, impacting sectors like hospitality and leisure that predominantly employ low-wage, working class people, according to a report released by the progressive Fiscal Policy Institute.

At the same time, many low-wage workers were deemed essential and went to work during the worst of the pandemic earlier this year, leading to a disproportionate death toll among Black and Brown people.

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Corrections Officers Union Raises Alarm Over COVID Case Spike

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The union that represents corrections officers in state prisons on Wednesday raised concerns with about the spread of COVID-19 in the state's prison system.

New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association in a statement pointed to the rising COVID-19 positivity rate in the state heading into a holiday season that is expected to only increase the spread of infection.

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Cuomo Says New York Developing a Winter COVID-19 Plan

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York officials will develop a wintertime plan for the coronavirus pandemic that aims to expand hospital capacity, keep schools open and begin a distribution effort for the coming COVID-19 vaccine.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday in Rochester acknowledged it was inevitable COVID-19 cases will rise as many people plan to travel this year for the holiday as the virus is on the upswing in nearly every part of the country.

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New York City Continues to Lead Unemployment in State

BY Nick Reisman New York State

New York City continues to take the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic's economic pain as joblessness remains stubbornly high compared to the rest of the state.

Regional unemployment rate numbers released on Tuesday once again showed a tale of two states, only in the reverse of what's usually the case of wealthy New York City and economically troubled upstate.

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What Progressive Advocates Hope Senate Supermajority Will Do

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Progressive advocates have their dream Legislature in New York: supermajorities in both the state Assembly and now the state Senate.

Democratic domination of Albany, they hope, will give added heft to the major priority for virtually any progressive organization next year of increasing tax rates on the rich.

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SUNY Wraps Up Testing Students Before Thanksgiving Break

BY Morgan McKay Albany/Capital Region

SUNY wrapped up testing 152,788 students and staff for COVID-19 on Tuesday, before they left for Thanksgiving break.

“This was a big challenge,” SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras said, making the announcement at SUNY Schenectady County Community College. “By putting this mandate in, we didn’t know exactly how it was going to go, being the largest system of public higher education in the nation.”

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Senator Pete Harckham on Indian Point, Taxes, and his 2021 Priorities

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Westchester-area Democrat, Pete Harckham was the forty-second Democrat to declare victory this cycle, meaning he’s credited pushing the Dems into supermajority territory. Ironically, on the spectrum of progressive politics, Harckham represents constituents who are, generally, more middle of the road than his New York City counterparts.

During a Capital Tonight interview, host Susan Arbetter asked Harckham about progressive policies like raising taxes and the New York Health Act, the NRC’s approval of Entergy’s sale of Indian Point to Voltec, and dealing with a tactician like Governor Andrew Cuomo.

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LG Kathy Hochul: “Everyone Is Making Sacrifices”

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

During World War II, the U.S. mobilized almost every sector of its economy to prepare for war. Detroit stopped making cars and started manufacturing tanks, dress manufacturers pivoted to parachute canopies, families bought Victory bonds, and women went to work on assembly lines in numbers never seen before in history.

Add to this the ultimate sacrifice that so many families made by sending their husbands and sons into battles thousands of miles from home.

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Hunger for Thanksgiving, Anxiety for Small Business Owners This Thanksgiving in COVID-19 Economy

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

No one was talking about the Dow hitting 30,000 when Pastor Ronnie Mills on Tuesday began handing out turkeys to hungry people on Lark Street.

"So many people are out of work with the COVID disease and so many people are dying," he said through a blue mask around his face. "We've been doing it for five years and so it's an ongoing thing with us."

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Cuomo Tries to Depoliticize Pandemic Guidelines

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Put aside the politics of the pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged New Yorkers on Tuesday as COVID-19 cases continued an end-of-the years surge around the country.

New York's COVID positive rate in the last day was 2.9%, including "cluster" zones where cases have been high. There were 47 people who were confirmed to have died of the virus in the last 24 hours. And hospitalizations have now reached 2,856 people.

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Cuomo: Sheriffs Acting Like Politicians When Ignoring 10-Person Limit

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday continued to blast county sheriffs who have said they will not enforce a 10-person limit on gatherings in homes.

"This is not a political situation," Cuomo said on Long Island, pointing to the federal government's recommendation that people do not spend Thanksgiving with people outside of their immediate homes.

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Cuomo Signs Ban on Burning PFAS Foam

BY Nick Reisman Cohoes

A measure that bans the burning of foam with the chemicals perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl in the city of Cohoes was signed into law Monday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The bill addresses the burning of PFAS foam in the Capital Region city amid concerns of its potential to create adverse health effects in the surrounding community. Foam containing PFAS was disposed of at the Norlite facility in the city.

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A Long Road Back to Power for New York Senate Democrats

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Around this time 10 years ago, Senate Democratic leader John Sampson held a news conference to tout his conference's accomplishments. The issues he highlighted — measures like reforming Off-Track Betting parlors in New York — were paltry.

Democrats had been turned out of power in the state Senate weeks earlier in the tea party wave election and had become the laughingstock of state government. They were concluding a single, two-year term in the majority mired by dysfunction and a paralyzing leadership coup.

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Siena Poll: Voters Say COVID-19 Pandemic Top Concern

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Addressing the COVID-19 pandemic is the top concern for New York voters heading into 2021 as the virus is resurgent across the country, economic turmoil is expected to continue, and a vaccine is on the horizon, a poll released Monday by Siena College found.

The poll found nearly half of voters surveyed, 46%, called the pandemic a top priority for Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature.

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Cuomo Administration “Will Work With Districts” To Reimburse Them for Coronavirus-Related Transportation Costs

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Watervliet City Schools, like hundreds of other school districts across the state, used its district-leased buses to transport food, devices, and students' property to households throughout the city.

Capital Tonight has learned that the Cuomo administration has agreed to work with school districts like Watervliet to reimburse them for at least some of the costs associated with transportation incurred in the spring.

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Cuomo: Income Tax Hike for Rich Likely if No Federal Aid Arrives

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York would be forced into hiking its income tax on its wealthiest earners if a federal aid package fails to materialize in Congress, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday warned.

"If we don't get funding from Washington, there will be an income-tax increase," Cuomo said in an interview with WAMC's Alan Chartock.

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New York Business Leaders Urge Trump to Begin Transition

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Nearly 200 business leaders from the world of finance, real estate and other major employers in New York City on Monday urged President Donald Trump to begin a transition effort that would allow President-elect Joe Biden's administration a smooth takeover in January.

"America is being ravaged by a deadly pandemic with enormous social and economic consequences," the business leaders wrote in an open letter to Trump, signed by 164 CEOs and executives from a variety of real estate and financial companies. "The attention and energy of public and private sector leaders should be entirely focused on uniting our country to fight the coronavirus, provide aid to those in need, prevent further business disruption and loss of jobs, and invest in our economic recovery and revitalization."

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More Upstate Areas to Enter COVID-19 "Orange" Zone

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Parts of Syracuse and Rochester and the outlying areas will enter an "orange" zone designation as the coronavirus continues a resurgence in New York and across the country, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday, leading to new restrictions and school closures.

Cuomo added Erie County is on the "warning track" for a red zone designation that could include more restrictions and leave only essential businesses open.

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Dozens of Education Groups Urge Against School Cuts in New York

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Dozens of education organizations on Monday urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo to not cut or withhold aid to schools in the coming weeks as the state faces a budget reckoning in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We are asking you to provide stability, not fear," the groups wrote in the letter to the governor.

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Cuomo Urges Congress to Act on Unemployment Aid

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Congress needs to act to extend and expand support for people who have lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Sunday.

Cuomo, in a letter to top lawmakers in Congress, urged them to take up a package of measures meant to, at the least, extend pandemic-related unemployment programs that are set to expire at the end of the year.

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Hinchey's State Senate Win Could Mark New Era for Democrats

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The history of the 46th state Senate district is an oddly tortured one: Drawn in the 2012 round of redistricting by Republicans for a Republican, it stretches from the Mohawk Valley to suburban Albany County and then down through the Hudson Valley.

And now it's the center of a major Democratic win that could solidify the party's control of the state Senate in a new way.

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Should NYS Make COVID-19 Vaccine Mandatory? The State Bar Weighs In

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

The New York State Bar Association’s Health Law Section Task Force on COVID-19 has released a series of resolutions related to the pandemic. One of the resolutions, copied below, recommends that the state consider the possibility of enacting a vaccine mandate.

“To protect the public’s health, it would be useful to provide guidance, consistent with existing law or a state emergency health powers act as proposed in Resolution #1, to assist state officials and state and local public health authorities should it be necessary for the state to consider the possibility of enacting a vaccine mandate. A vaccine must not only be safe and efficacious; it must be publicly perceived as safe and efficacious. Diverse populations, including people of color, older adults, women, and other marginalized groups, must be represented in clinical trials. The trials also must follow rigorous protocols that will establish a vaccine’s safety and efficacy through expert consensus of the medical and scientific communities.”

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YMCA Says It Can Stay Open Safely

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

YMCA facilities say they can continue to operate safely amid rising coronavirus cases, pointing to only a handful of contact tracing events in New York.

It's a precarious time for gyms as the pandemic is resurgent in parts of New York and around the country.

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Cuomo: "Good Conversation" With Biden and Harris

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a video conference with governors from around the country spoke with President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Thursday about the logistics of vaccine distribution and a stimulus to aid states.

Cuomo on Friday afternoon called the discussion a "good conversation" with the incoming administration as coronavirus cases are on the rise across the country.

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Cuomo to Receive International Emmy Award for COVID Briefings

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Gov. Andrew Cuomo next week will receive an International Emmy Founders Award for his televised briefings conducted during the coronavirus pandemic, the Television Academy on Friday announced.

Cuomo is being recognized for his briefings that "effectively created television shows with characters, stories, plot lines and stories of success and failure," said Academy President Bruce Paisner.

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Gillibrand: Infrastructure for COVID Vaccine Storage Needed

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Federal officials need to bolster the nation's ultra-cold storage infrastructure ahead of the distribution of a potential COVID-19 as soon as next month, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Friday said.

Gillibrand in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield wrote that the federal government needs to provide a detailed guidance for the chain of supply, funding projects, and other risks with transportation and storing vaccine doses.

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SUNY Extends Free COVID Testing with Staff Union

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Officials at the State University of New York have reached an agreement with the union that represents public college and university staff to extend free COVID-19 testing through the spring.

The agreement with United University Professions comes as SUNY campuses are completing a fall semester as students leave campus for Thanksgiving, following a testing program meant to prevent COVID-positive cases spreading from some schools.

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Medical Society of New York Cheers PPE Bill

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The Medical Society of New York on Thursday cheered a bill in the U.S. Senate that would provide personal protection equipment like N-95 masks for community physicians as the coronavirus pandemic worsens in many parts of the country.

The group pointed to a recent survey of its members finding two thirds of doctors that say they at least sometimes have trouble finding personal protective equipment. Nearly all of those who responded said it takes them at least four weeks to obtain protective equipment when they order it.

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Education Groups: Schools Need State to Cover Transportation Costs

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A coalition of education organizations that represents parents, teachers, and school officials on Thursday urged New York state to cover transportation costs incurred last spring at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At issue is schools using their buses for other transportation costs, including meal distribution, picking up and dropping off instructional material, and using them as mobile hotspots for students to access the internet. Many buses were also paid to be on standby in case schools were reopened.

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PEF’s Spence on Administration’s Decision To Bring Some State Workers Back to the Office

BY Susan Arbetter Albany/Capital Region

In September, the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations (GOER), which is the office that deals with state employee unions, extended a telecommuting agreement until the end of the year. But a few weeks later, the Public Employees Federation started receiving complaints from members who claimed some state agencies were bringing them back to work in spite of the agreement and in spite of the surge in COVID-19.

While the agreement with the state gives agencies discretion when it comes to safely returning employees to work, according to Wayne Spence, the president of PEF, the agencies never sought any union input when developing those plans, and haven’t been responsive to questions.

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Schumer: Medicaid Money at Risk for New York Hospitals

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Hospitals across the state that rely on a combined $6 billion money from a program within Medicaid could be out of luck if Congress fails to fund the government by next month. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday in Fulton County action is needed.

"The need to do it is more urgent than ever because of the desperation that COVID creates," Schumer said.

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Assemblyman Sean Ryan: Cuomo’s Comments "Inartful," but Necessary

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Governor Andrew Cuomo sounded the pandemic alarm in Western New York on Wednesday saying the region, "never lived the full pain of COVID’s wrath."

While COVID-19 rates in Western New York have spiked in recent weeks, some local residents weren’t happy with what they characterized as a "lecture" or a "scolding" from the governor.

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DEC Expert Offers Safety Tips for Hunters During Hunting Season

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Regular deer and bear hunting seasons in New York's Southern Zone begin at sunrise this Saturday, November 21, and continue through Sunday, December 13.

According to the Department of Environmental Conservation, the Southern Zone regular season is New York's most popular hunting season, with participation from about 85 percent of New York's 550,000 licensed hunters.

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New York's Unemployment Rate Barely Budged in October

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The pace of what had been an improving jobless rate in New York slowed in October as the coronavirus charges back in the state and across the country.

Numbers released on Thursday by the state Department of Labor show New York's private-sector job count grew by 45,600 positions in October, keeping the state's unemployment rate largely flat from September.

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Schumer Optimistic on COVID Stimulus

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday he is optimistic an agreement can be reached for a pandemic stimulus measure that has stalled since the spring.

Schumer, speaking at an unrelated news conference at a hospital in Fulton County, pointed to staff-level talks that are underway that includes Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office.

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Cuomo Expands Yellow Zone Restrictions in Three Counties

BY Morgan McKay New York State

Governor Andrew Cuomo, on a press call Thursday, says the COVID-19 positive infection rate for the state dropped to 2.7% yesterday. It was 3.4% the day before.

COVID-19 hospitalizations increased to 2,276 New Yorkers yesterday and 31 people passed away from the coronavirus.

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Lawmakers Call On Governor To Finish Signing Legislation Passed in July

BY Morgan McKay Albany/Capital Region

New York lawmakers and advocates held a press conference on Wednesday, calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign four pieces of legislation passed in July.

The Driver’s License Suspension Reform Act would end the practice of suspending a person’s driver’s license if they cannot afford to pay their traffic fines.

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Lawmakers Want to End Delay on COVID-19 Stimulus

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A bipartisan group of congressional lawmakers on Wednesday called for the passage of a coronavirus stimulus measure as positive cases are resurgent in every state in the U.S.

And they want it done sooner rather than later.

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Cuomo: 'Defund the Police' Stuck in Voters' Minds

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Calls to "defund the police" earlier this year in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis stuck with voters when they cast ballots this year and may have hurt Democrats at the polls, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday said in a radio interview.

"I think 'defund the police' went too far," Cuomo said. “I think law and order makes a difference in people's lives."

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Has the Pandemic Accelerated Criminal Justice Reform?

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The upheaval surrounding the pandemic is playing out amid another crisis for the criminal justice system. But now the coronavirus pandemic could accelerate those changes.

Advocates like Katie Schaffer believe the coronavirus pandemic is also leading to a greater awareness in the public's mind about a key issue her group pushes for: Reducing the number of people in prison.

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MSSNY President: COVID-19 Disinformation Hurts Medical Community

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Over the last few weeks, there have been multiple reports of doctors and nurses railing against falsehoods being perpetrated around the coronavirus.

Tuesday on CNN, the president of the American Medical Association described health care workers as fighting a war on two fronts: The virus and misinformation.

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Governors Nudge Colleges to Test Students Before Thanksgiving

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Governors of seven northeast states on Wednesday in a joint statement urged colleges and universities to test students for the coronavirus before returning home for a Thanksgiving break.

The call for increasing testing comes as coronavirus cases are increasing around the country and amid concerns the holiday season will further the spread of the virus.

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Cuomo Says He Will Defer His Pay Raise for 2021

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will forgo a pay raise for himself and other officials in New York for 2021, he said on Wednesday at a news conference.

Members of the state Legislature and the judiciary in New York will not receive salary hikes in 2021 as part of a determination by a salary commission empowered to make the decision.

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Cuomo: Sheriffs Should Enforce 10-Person Limit on Gatherings

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

County sheriffs should enforce the 10-person limit on gatherings in home as set by New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.

Upstate county sheriffs in recent days have signaled they would not enforce the limit, which is also advised by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a way of limiting the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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New York's Revenue Has Dropped $3B During Pandemic

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

State tax revenue was down $3 billion in October compared to this time last year as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take its toll on New York's finances.

The report on the state's cash situation released Wednesday by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli found New York's tax revenue through last month reached $43.8 billion.

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NRA to Pay $2.5M Fine for Violating New York Insurance Laws

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The National Rifle Association has been hit with a $2.5 million fine stemming from charges it violated New York insurance law by failing to obtain a license to sell insurance products in New York.

The fine was announced Wednesday morning by Financial Services Superintendent Linda Lacewell, a top insurance regulator in New York state government.

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House Votes to Block Suspicious Opioid Shipments

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

House lawmakers on Tuesday backed a bill that is meant to make it easier for blocking suspicious opioid shipments.

The measure comes amid concerns the opioid epidemic is continuing unabated amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a twin public health crisis brought on by stress and economic dislocation.

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Democrats Gain Ground in State Senate Races

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

On Monday evening, Democratic state Senate candidate Elijah Reichlin-Melnick felt like he was in a good position. He likely had enough absentee votes in hand to declare victory in a Hudson Valley State Senate seat.

“As I have said since Election Day, I’m incredibly confident that once all of the votes are counted, I will finish in first place,” said Reichlin-Melnick in a statement. “After seeing today’s preliminary results, I am now even more confident that we will soon be able to declare victory.”

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Vaccines Could Be Here by Spring, But Don't Put the Mask Away

BY Morgan McKay City of Albany

There are now two vaccines in late-stage trials that are showing promise in protecting people against COVID-19.

What sets these two vaccines apart, besides being the first of a kind, is the fact that proteins from the virus were not used in these vaccines.

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Upstate Sheriffs Say They Won't Enforce 10-Person Limit

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino wanted to clear something up right away in an interview on Tuesday: The concern he's raising about New York officials wanting to limit gatherings in homes to no more than 10 people isn't rooted in politics.

His trouble with the order is rooted in the constitutional issues it has raised among upstate sheriffs.

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Hospitalizations Surpass 2,000 Patients in New York State

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

There are now more than 2,000 people hospitalized in New York due to COVID-19 for the first time since the spring, according to numbers released on Tuesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office.

COVID-19 positive cases continued to also increase as the state and the rest of the country experiences a resurgence of the pandemic that had slowed over the summertime in New York.

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Morelle Bill Would Create "Family Friendly" School Hours

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The coronavirus pandemic has scrambled everyday life, including how kids learn and how families ensure students can be taught.

Rep. Joe Morelle on Tuesday announced his backing a bill that would examine how school schedules can be altered so they align with parents and guardians, especially in low-income families.

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Cuomo Wants Social Equity for Vaccine Distribution

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a radio interview on Tuesday said he was not so much concerned with people skeptical the COVID-19 vaccine would be safe, but whether they would have access to it.

Cuomo, speaking with Hot-97 in New York City on Tuesday morning, said people will want the coronavirus vaccine, but he's concerned with ensuring there will be a "social equity" for all to access it.

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Millions Spent for One State Senate Race

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

How much is one state Senate seat worth? For outside organizations seeking to influence policy in Albany, it runs into the millions of dollars.

Big time spending in state Senate races is not new. Businesses and labor unions alike recognize the policy outcomes in Albany, especially in the state Senate, carry potentially more weight for their interests than a gridlocked Congress in Albany.

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Small Businesses Fear Another Shutdown As COVID Cases Rise

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Coronavirus cases are on the rise across the country and in New York while Congress continues to stall on another injection of money into the economy to aid small businesses and workers.

It's that combination -- a resurgent pandemic and a lack of money to soften the landing for the economy -- that has small business groups like the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) worired.

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Mental Health Service Providers Seek Free COVID Testing

BY Morgan McKay City of Albany

Addiction treatment and mental health service providers wrote a letter on Monday to the Department of Health asking for the state to set up free rapid testing for COVID-19 at treatment centers across the state.

“As COVID-19 surged, many addiction facilities responded by doubling as urgent care facilities, which unfortunately increased the risk of exposure to their residents and staff,” the letter states. “Tragically, some from our community died while providing critical care.”

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County Leaders Press Federal Lawmakers To Find "Courage" and "Decency" To Provide Relief

BY Morgan McKay Albany/Capital Region

Sales tax revenue for local governments in New York dropped by 5.2% last month compared to the previous year, according to State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy says the state’s shutdown of businesses and the economy early on in the pandemic still has a ripple effect and is expected to continue for the next few years.

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Top New York Officials Won't Get Pay Raises Due to COVID Pandemic

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The coronavirus pandemic has scuttled the chances of statewide elected officials, state judges and the 213 members of the state Legislature receiving pay raises in 2021, a salary commission on Monday determined.

The commission's report is not wholly surprising; state officials had previously signaled the planed pay raises were unlikely to take effect at the turn of the year. Pay raises for top-ranking New York officials were due to be phased in, but a commission was empowered to consider the state's economic climate.

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Groups Fret Medicaid Prescription Drug Change

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Prescription drugs for people living with compromised immune systems are more important than ever during this pandemic. But a little-noticed change set to take effect in New York could make it harder for people who need that medication as well services provided by non-profit entities.

At issue is a "carve out" in the Medicaid prescription drug program. State officials say it is expected to save $87 million as New York seeks to streamline a costly Medicaid program.

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DiNapoli Agrees With Cuomo: "Wait for Stimulus Before Cutting Services or Raising Taxes"

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

The state’s top fiscal watchdog is in no hurry to cut services or raise taxes.

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli acknowledged that some groups, including the Citizens Budget Commission, have urged the Cuomo administration to act sooner rather than later to address the current year $15 billion budget gap. But instead, he’s urging patience.

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Cuomo Plans Birthday (And Virtual) Fundraiser

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

If you have $10,000 you can be among the choosen few for a video chat with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The governor's re-election campaign is planning a Dec. 17 virtual fundrasier, according to an invitation for the event. Additional tickets range from $1,000 to $5,000 for a main reception. There is also a $50 ticket for young professionals.

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New Law Speeds Repairs for Tenants in New York

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Landlords will be required to make court-ordered repairs on the properties within two months as part of a new law that was inspired by the death of an 8-year-old child in the Bronx 18 years ago.

The measure, signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week, will require judges to set a maximum 60-day deadline for property owners to make repairs. The proposal was first made after 8-year-old Jashawn Parker died in a Bronx fire in 2002 in a building where tenants had long complained of the lack of repairs.

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New York's COVID-19 Positive Rate Stands at 2.8%

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Hospitalizations in New York are approaching 2,000 patients for the first time since the spring months as the state's coronavirus positive rate stood at 2.8% in the last day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday.

New York's positive rate in high-case "micro cluster" areas was at 4.19%, while 25 people in the last day have been confirmed to have died of COVID-19.

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Why the COVID-19 Restriction Valve Could Continue to Tighten

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Governor Andrew Cuomo in an interview with MSNBC on Monday morning did not rule out making further changes to New York City indoor dining rules as COVID-19 cases continues to rise in New York and around the country.

At the moment, indoor dining in New York City is limited to 25% occupancy.

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New York Needs Money for Vaccine Distribution, Cuomo Says

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday vowed a robust vaccination distribution plan in New York amid a dispute with the Trump administration over how to do so, while also raising concerns the state needs the resources for the undertaking in the coming weeks.

So far, federal resources have amount to $140 million; the Centers for Disease Control believe it will cost more than $6.6 billion.

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COVID-19 Hospitalizations Grow, Cuomo Pledges Vaccine Access for Communities of Color

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 2:32 PM ET Nov. 15, 2020

Hospitalizations due to the coronavirus pandemic have increased by a net of 57 people in the last day to 1,845 patients as the positive rate in New York continued to be above 2%, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office.

Cuomo, meanwhile, embroiled in a dispute with President Donald Trump over a potential COVID-19 vaccine, pledged on Sunday communities of color would be given access to any vaccination.

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Governors Summit With Cuomo Will Continue Through Weekend as COVID-19 Cases Grow

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 12:29 PM ET Nov. 14, 2020

Conversations with northeast governors on coronavirus policy that could lead to new restrictions will continue through the weekend as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country and in New York.

"They're going to be going on all weekend," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a conference call on Saturday. "There's numerous topics that we're dealing with. Part of it is looking at the information and where it's going."

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New York Lawmakers Hope Nursing Home Problems Will Be Avoided in Second Wave

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Last spring, the coronavirus pandemic tore through nursing homes in New York, leading to the deaths of thousands of residents and controversy over what, exactly, went wrong for congregate care facilities.

Now as COVID-19 cases rise again in the cold weather months, lawmakers are hopeful nursing homes are better prepared.

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Trump Says He Won't Send Vaccine to New York Unless Cuomo Approves

BY Nick Reisman and Zack Fink New York State
UPDATED 9:05 PM ET Nov. 13, 2020

President Donald Trump on Friday said he would delay sending an approved COVID-19 vaccine to New York until Gov. Andrew Cuomo authorizes it.

“We won't be delivering it to New York until we have authorization to do so, and that pains me to say that," Trump said, pointing to criticism Cuomo has made of the federal government's vaccination distribution plan.

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"No Silver Bullet": State Seeks to Reverse Decline in Volunteer Firefighters

BY Morgan McKay New York State

New York has roughly 1,800 volunteer fire departments across the state, but over the past few decades, there has been a steady decline in not only the number of people willing to jump in and volunteer, but also in the number of volunteers these departments are able to retain.

This week, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that will create a New York State Recruitment and Retention Task Force.

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President Trump’s Post-Election Activity: How Worried Should We Be?

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Professor David Bateman isn’t all that concerned about the lawsuits or the president’s decision to replace some Pentagon staffers with loyalists.

“The only really troubling aspect, is the refusal to concede while there may be litigation ongoing,” Bateman said. “I have no major worries about this. If it came down to one state, it would be problematic.”

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Local Sales Tax Revenue Dropped 5.2% Last Month

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Sales tax revenue for local governments in New York dropped 5.2% last month compared to the same period last year, continuing a trend of plummeting revenue during the coronavirus pandemic.

The drop is the eighth straight month sales tax collections for local governments have seen a year-over-year decline.

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Anna Kelles Wins 125th Assembly District Race

BY Morgan McKay Tompkins County

The Associated Press declared a winner on Thursday in the 125th Assembly District race.

Democrat Anna Kelles will represent this district after maintaining her lead over Republican challenger Matthew McIntyre.

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Cashless Tolling to Begin Saturday for Thruway

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 1:04 PM ET Nov. 13, 2020

A cashless tolling system for the New York State Thruway will begin on Saturday morning, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in an interview with Spectrum News.

Workers will put the finishing touches on the new system Friday night, with drivers noticing the change the next day.

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A Concession Message: The Election is Not Rigged

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

When Republican Dave Catalfamo conceded to Democratic Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner on Friday, he included this message: The mechanics of conducting an election are not perfect, but the vote was not rigged.

"Our democracy is our most precious gift as Americans, and our continued shared faith in that system is essential to our future," Catalfamo said in a statement. "While our voting system is imperfect, it is not rigged. This election result is fair, I accept it without reservation and I strongly urge all my supporters to do the same."

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What DAs Want in the Coming State Budget

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The state association that represents local prosecutors is seeking more money to support prosecuting repeat offenders, more aid for online training, and funding for processing evidence through cloud computing.

Those are among the priorities in the coming state budget year for the District Attorneys Association of New York ahead of what's expected to be a difficult season for negotiations surrounding the spending plan.

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Comptroller: Improvements Needed to Combat Problem Gambling

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York generated nearly $3.7 billion from gambling last year, more revenue than any other state. But what's the human cost of this money?

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli in a report released Thursday called for improving efforts to combat problem gambling in New York, pointing to the relatively low amounts of money contributed to treatment programs.

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Restaurants Concerned Over New Restrictions Starting Friday

BY Morgan McKay Albany/Capital Region

Starting on Friday, restaurants, bars, and gyms across the state will have to close every night at 10 p.m., due to the sharp rise in COVID-19 cases.

Melissa Fleischut, president and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association, says these businesses are concerned with what this means moving forward.

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Veterans Bills Signed Into Law in New York

BY Susan Arbetter City of Albany

For years, simply being gay was a legitimate reason to be dishonorably discharged from the military. Unfortunately, if a veteran is discharged dishonorably, he or she can be refused dozens of state benefits. But that excuse ended in New York yesterday when Governor Cuomo signed into law the Restoration of Honor Act, which went into effect today.

Assemblymember Didi Barrett, chair of the Assembly Committee on Veterans Affairs, spoke with Capital Tonight host Susan Arbetter about three of the bills (below) that she sponsored, as the first woman to chair this committee.

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Stefanik Fundraises for Coming Georgia Runoff

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik is turning her considerable fundraising efforts toward the coming runoff for the two U.S. Senate seats in Georgia as the outcome could determine who controls the chamber next year.

"The consequences would be disastrous," Stefanik said in a fundraising appeal. "If we lose the Senate and Joe Biden is sworn in as our nation’s 46th president, there will be NO WAY to stop the Democrats’ most extreme agenda items.

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Redistricting 101 With Susan Lerner of Common Cause

BY Susan Arbetter City of Albany

With your kids learning remotely, COVID-19 hospitalization numbers back up, and the chaos around the presidential election, you might not remember that we had a census count just three weeks ago.

On Capital Tonight, Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause explained how the census count is used to determine how many members of Congress the state will have, and how district lines will be drawn.

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