Pro-Marijuana Legalization Rally To Be Held in Albany

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 4:47 PM ET Jan. 27, 2020

A rally and news conference in support of marijuana legalization on Tuesday will be held at the Capitol as lawmakers once again are determining how to move forward on the issue.

The rally, to be held by the Start SMART NY coalition, will include lawmakers who back the measure, including Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes.

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Bill Would Ban Facial Recognition Software For Law Enforcement

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Democratic state Sen. Brad Hoylman on Monday introduced a bill that would ban the use of facial recognition software and biometric surveillance by law enforcement in New York.

The bill comes after The New York Times revealed this month an app licensed to law enforcement agencies around the country, called Clearview AI, has scrapped millions of photos from social media sites.

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New York Will Hold Conference To Bolster Recovering Property Looted By Nazis

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York will hold an international conference to help recover property stolen during Nazi persecution in Europe, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday announced.

The conference, to be held in May, was announced on International Holocaust Remembrance Day as Cuomo is in Poland to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

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Jacobs Gets Key Endorsement From Stefanik In NY-27 Race

BY Ryan Whalen Buffalo

Days after getting the GOP nomination for New York's 27th Congressional District special election, the campaign for Chris Jacobs announced a key endorsement.

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-NY-21, is supporting Chris Jacobs' bid to fill the seat vacated in the fall by convicted former Congressman Chris Collins. Stefanik is an honorary co-chair for the Donald Trump 2020 campaign in New York as well as a member of the White House impeachment defense team.

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Gestational Surrogacy Supporters Release Poll

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A coalition of groups backing the legalization of commercial surrogacy on Monday released a poll it commissioned finding New Yorkers support the move 63 percent to 13 percent.

At the same time, the poll found women support commercial surrogacy legalization 71 percent to 7 percent.

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Serino Wants Lyme Disease Funding Added To Budget

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Sen. Sue Serino in a statement on Sunday called for more funding to be added to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budget plan to combat Lyme and tick-borne diseases.

Serino, a Republican who represents the Poughkeepsie area, wants the money to be added into Cuomo's 30-day budget amendments, due out next month.

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Curbing Traffic in High Peaks Showing Early Results, Adirondack Council Says

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

The effort to control overuse of the high peaks region of Adirondack Park is showing early results even as the total number of visitors to the park continued to increase, the Adirondack Council on Monday said.

Environmental groups and state officials over the last year raised concerns about overuse of the park as video and photos showed rows of cars parked along trailheads at popular destinations.

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Cuomo, Joined With Survivors, Departs For Poland

BY Nick Reisman New York State

As he departed for Poland to take part in the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, Gov. Andrew Cuomo pointed to the need of educating young people about the Holocaust.

Cuomo is the only elected U.S. leader traveling to the commemoration ceremony in Poland Monday amid heightened concerns over anti-Semitism in the New York City metropolitan area.

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Here and Now - Jan. 27

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Good morning and happy Monday! State lawmakers are kicking off the first of a series of hearings on the governor's $178 billion budget proposal. Here is what's happening today.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Poland, a full schedule of his day there is yet to be released.

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Cuomo Will Travel to Poland for Auschwitz Liberation Anniversary

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

Governor Andrew Cuomo will travel to Poland for the 75th anniversary ceremony of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi concentration camp.

Cuomo will be departing on Sunday afternoon with Eric Gertler, the Empire State Development Corp. president and CEO and Melissa DeRosa, his top aide. The trip comes amid a rash of anti-Semitic hate crimes in New York and the metropolitan area.

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3 Things We Learned in Budget Week

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 6:08 PM ET Jan. 24, 2020

Gov. Andrew Cuomo laid out his $178 billion spending plan for the coming year.

The budget proposal, once again, includes plans to legalize marijuana and a boost in education aid that is, as usual, not enough for education advocates. Meanwhile, a push to alter the state's new cash bail law inched along.

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Bill Would Crack Down On 'Faithless Electors'

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Democratic Sen. James Skoufis is pushing legislation that would require New York electors to vote for the winner of the state's presidential election, or face being removed.

The bill is meant to crack down on so-called "faithless electors" -- members of the electoral college who, in effect, go rogue and vote for a candidate other than the winner of the state's vote.

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Lawmakers May Face Limiting Outside Income, Or Tax Disclosure

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

We wrote earlier this week here about how Gov. Andrew Cuomo's push to have lawmakers release their taxes was, potentially, an effort to squeeze them in the budget negotiations.

But, as Cuomo suggested in his budget presentation, the efffort is also a direct result of lawmakers being able to continue earning their outside income.

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AG James Sues Trump Over 3-D Guns

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York is part of a multi-state lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump's administration over allowing 3-D printed gun files to be made available on the Internet.

In all, 20 states are suing over the availability of the plans to manufacture the firearms.

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Criminal Justice Advocates Criticize AG James Over Bail Law

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

A collection of progressive groups in a statement criticized Democratic Attorney General Letitia James for being open to changes to state's cash bail law.

The statement, signed by Citizen Action of New York, Communities Voices Heard - Power, Long Island Progressive Coalition, New York Communities for Change, Make the Road Action and VOCAL-NY, comes as lawmakers are pushing to making alterations to the law.

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Q And A: 5 Questions Surrounding New York's Cash Bail Law

BY Nick Reisman New York State

The law ending cash bail for misdemeanors and non-violent felonies could be in for an overhaul in the state budget.

The measure, over less than a year, has stirred controversy as people have been released from police custody after being arrested, and Republicans and law enforcement officials have raised concerns with how the measure is being implemented.

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Long Island's Gordon Raises To Flip King Seat

BY Nick Reisman Long Island

Democratic House candidate Jackie Gordon on Friday will announce having raised more than $260,000 in the final fundraising quarter of 2019 as she seeks to flip the district being vacated by Republican Rep. Peter King.

Gordon's campaign will report raising the money from 1,660 contributors and have more than $289,000 in cash on hand.

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Will Collins See Prison Time?

BY Ryan Whalen Buffalo

Former Congressman Chris Collins is due to start his more than two year prison sentence in mid-March.

Yet, some are still skeptical the Republican will serve time due to his close alliance with President Donald Trump. The fact is Trump does have the power to pardon Collins but he has shown no indication over the year and a half since the former lawmaker’s indictment that he’s inclined to do so.

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After School Programs Seek Funding Boost

BY Morgan McKay New York State

According to the New York State Network for Youth Success, for every student that participates in after school, two more would participate if a program were available.

After school advocates are calling for $30 million in additional funding for these programs, just so they can keep up with actual program costs and not lose any students.

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Here and Now - Jan. 24

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Good morning and TGIF! Here is today's schedule.

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

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Katko Says He'll Vote for Trump

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 4:34 PM ET Jan. 23, 2020

Swing-district Republican Rep. John Katko has his reservations with President Donald Trump, but the pros Katko identified in continuing Trump's presidency for a second term are a strong economy, trade agreements, and national security. He says these outweigh the policy platforms of Democrats seeking to run against him.

"As much as I am sometimes frustrated by the president's approach, I believe our country is in a better place today than it was four years ago," Katko said. "We cannot afford the extreme policies being championed by the left — which would result in higher taxes for every American and a guaranteed debt crisis for our country. Given this choice, I will support President Trump this November."

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Marijuana Bill Gains Traction in State Senate

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 3:03 PM ET Jan. 23, 2020

A bill legalizing marijuana in New York picked up the support of the suburban Democratic lawmaker on Thursday who had not previously backed the legislation.

Westchester County Sen. Peter Harckham announced he would support the legislation alongside the bill's Senate sponsor, Manhattan Sen. Liz Krueger. Harckham pointed to changes he had sought with the measure, including spending for substance abuse programs as well as increased enforcement of DUI laws.

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Cuomo Says He's "100 Percent" Open To Bail Law Changes

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday said he is "100 percent" willing to make changes to the state's new cash bail law, but questioned whether adding a "dangerousness" standard would take the law back to the original proposal.

State lawmakers, including increasingly Democrats from suburban and upstate legislative districts, have called for changes amid the implementation of the measure, which ended cash bail requirements for misdemeanors and non-violent felony offenses.

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Cuomo Formally Launches Census Push

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday formally launched a campaign to promote participation in New York for the U.S. Census later this year.

At issue is the concern New York's immigrant population will be hesitant to participate in the once-a-decade headcount amid a federal government crack down on illegally living in the United States.

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NY-17: NARAL Endorses Fine In Race To Replace Lowey

BY Nick Reisman New York State

NARAL Pro-Choice America on Thursday will endorse Democratic House candidate Allison Fine in the race to replace Rep. Nita Lowey.

Fine is also a former chairwoman of NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation's board.

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Aaron Gladd Won't Run Again for State Senate Seat

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

Democrat Aaron Gladd will not run again for the state Senate district he sought in 2018.

Gladd ran a competitive race against Republican Daphne Jordan, who at the time was running to replace Republican Sen. Kathy Marchione.

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256 Women Write in Support of Surrogacy Law

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

A letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo and the top legislative leaders in the Senate and Assembly urges them to legalize gestational surrogacy in New York.

The letter was signed by 256 women who have been surrogates themselves. The letter is being released later Thursday amid a renewed effort this year to legalize the process, which is backed once again by Cuomo as part of his agenda in the new year.

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Bipartisan Push Made for Bail Law Changes

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

Democratic Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner and Republican Sen. Sue Serino are jointly backing efforts to alter the state's bail law that, in part, would provide more power to judges and add domestic violence charges among the offenses that would require bail.

But over the last several months, Republicans, law enforcement and local prosecutors have raised concerns with the measure and its implementation.

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Here and Now - Jan. 23

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Good morning and happy Thursday! It's a get-away day for the legislature in Albany, but there's a lot going on:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is yet to release a public schedule.

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Uncoding School Foundation Aid, and Cuomo's Proposal to Change It

BY Susan Arbetter City of Albany
UPDATED 4:34 PM ET Jan. 22, 2020

The Foundation Aid formula was put into place during the tenure of Governor Eliot Spitzer after the resolution of the 13-year long Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit. It’s the most important formula of the handful of calculations that are used to fund schools.

But Foundation Aid is tempered by other, older political motives like “save –harmless” which was put into place during the Carey administration, and the “shares agreement” that the governor referenced in his budget address, and which former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos once referred to as “sacred.”

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Cuomo Wants Permanent Fracking Ban

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A permanent ban on hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking, is a provision Governor Andrew Cuomo included in his state budget.

The proposal, if approved, would lead to the restriction of permits for high-volume hydrofracking to being a matter set in law.

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Senate Democrats Met With NYPD Commissioner and Sheriffs To Discuss Cash Bail Law

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and members of the Democratic conference this week met with key law enforcement officials amid the ongoing controversy surrounding the state's new cash bail law.

On Tuesday, Democratic lawmakers met with New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea to discuss the law. Earlier in the day on Wednesday, they huddled with sheriffs, including Ulster County's Juan Figueroa and officials from the state sheriff's association.

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Pro-Marijuana Group Says Legalization Must Help Communities

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The Drug Policy Alliance is happy Gov. Andrew Cuomo's $178 billion budget plan will once again include a provision to legalize marijuana.

But the pro-legalization group is concerned that there is no provision guaranteeing revenue from marijuana sales would be directed to communities negatively impacted by harsh drug laws.

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AG James Pushes Back On Interest Rate Regulation

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Attorney General Letitia James is leading a coalition of Democratic and Republican attorneys general to oppose a proposed rule change they say would undermine efforts to crack down on predatory lending.

The move would essentially allow some lenders to charge high rates beyond state-based caps or usury laws that are alreadty in place.

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Will Tax Disclosure Squeeze State Lawmakers?

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

State lawmakers would be required to reveal their tax returns under a proposal in the $178 billion budget by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

You might be asking yourself, as do some lawmakers themselves, what do their taxes have to do with a state spending plan?

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NYSUT Says Education Spending Falls Short

BY Morgan McKay New York State

School districts are owed billions in foundation aid, according to education advocates. And even though the state is facing a $6 billion dollar budget deficit, school districts remained hopeful.

Yet, the Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposal for education aid fell far short of expectations.

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Here and Now - Jan. 22

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

Good morning! It's another chilly one for upstate New York. We're still shifting through the governor's budget proposal. For now, here's what is happening today:

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

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Caputo Has Role In Pro-Trump Documentary

BY Ryan Whalen Buffalo

A documentary film starring and produced by Western New York political consultant Michael Caputo will air on the One American News (OAN) network this weekend.

The documentary, titled The Ukraine Hoax with guest host Michael Caputo, explores the United States foreign relationship with the Eastern European country. According to the release, the exposé prominently features the Maidan Massacre, “a mass murder still unsolved in Kyiv” which led to the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014.

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Budget Would Empower Cuomo to Close Prisons Within 90 Days

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

A provision in the state budget proposal released on Tuesday night would give Gov. Andrew Cuomo the power to close prisons in New York with three months’ notice.

There are no specific savings outlined for the closures, and the number of prisons that could close is left to be determined.

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Another Candidate Joins NY-27 Race

BY Ryan Whalen Buffalo

The Republican field for New York’s 27th Congressional District has one more, and likely it’s final, candidate for the upcoming special election.

Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw, who has been mulling a run for months, made it official Tuesday night, launching a website and campaign video. Mychajliw muddles a field even more, that already includes GOP state senators Chris Jacobs and Rob Ortt, Fox News contributor Beth Parlato and health care administrator Frank Smierciak.

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Cuomo's Budget Hikes School Spending

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's spending plan wants to avoid both spending cuts and tax hikes — while also making sure key areas are covered.

"This budget every area gets more," Cuomo said.

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Cuomo Raising Cash Bail in the Budget is Potentially Significant

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 5:09 PM ET Jan. 21, 2020

Changing the state's bail laws is an "ongoing process" that needs to be addressed in the coming weeks, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday in his budget address.

That Cuomo mentioned the bail law, which has stirred controversy among law enforcement officials across New York in recent months, is significant: The bail law was first included in the 2019 budget agreement. And the governor raised the possibility of altering it in the one due on March 31.

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How Cuomo Wants To Tax Marijuana Sales

BY Nick Reisman NY State of Politics Blog

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budget proposal would create a taxation and regulatory system for selling marijuana in New York.

As proposed, Cuomo's plan estimates raising $20 million in the coming fiscal year and $63 million in revenue from the sale of cannabis in the coming years.

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Part Of Sheldon Silver's Corruption Conviction Upheld

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's federal corruption conviction was partially upheld by an appeals court in a ruling handed down on Tuesday.

The ruling upheld Silver's conviction for money laundering charges, but at the same time vacated additional charges stemming from a theft of honest services charge.

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Moody's Says Tax Cap Will Constrain School Districts

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A cap on school property tax increases of less than 2 percent will reduce financial flexibility for districts around New York, a report released on Tuesday by Moody's found.

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced earlier this month school districts in New York will be limited to a 1.81 percent increase in their overall levy. The cap, in place since 2012, limits property tax hikes at 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower.

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Skoufis Gets A GOP Endorsement

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Democratic state Sen. James Skoufis on Tuesday was endorsed by George Meyers, the Republican supervisor of the town of New Windsor.

Skoufis is running for a second term in a Hudson Valley seat that he flipped in 2018. The district had been represented for a generation by the late Republican Sen. Bill Larkin, who retired from the chamber that year.

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5 Questions For Cuomo's Budget

BY Susan Arbetter Albany/Capital Region

During Monday’s conference call about census funding, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was asked an off-topic question about Medicaid.

The reporter asked if he intended, in any way, to increase the local share that counties pay toward Medicaid.

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Voters Back Marijuana Legalization, but Suburbs Remain Split

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

There is both good and bad news for supporters of retail cannabis legalization as Gov. Andrew Cuomo today is expected to announce renewed plans to legalize marijuana in New York.

The move to broadly do so has reached its largest amount of support in a Siena College poll.

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Here and Now - Budget Day Edition

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

Good morning! It's budget day in Albany as Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveils his proposal for the new year.

It's a pretty important day. Capital Tonight and Spectrum News will have the blow-by-blow and analysis of it all.

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Stefanik Named to Trump's Impeachment Defense Team

BY Nick Reisman New York State

New York House Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik, as well as Rep. Lee Zeldin, of Long Island, were named Monday to the White House's impeachment defense team.

Both Stefanik, a North Country lawmaker, and Zeldin have been staunch supporters of President Donald Trump.

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Siena Poll: Support For Cash Bail Law Collapses

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

Support for ending cash bail for many criminal charges in New York has collapsed among voters in less than a year, a Siena College poll released on Tuesday morning found.

The poll found voters by a margin of 49 percent to 37 percent believe the law is bad for the state. That's a switch from April, when most voters, 55 percent to 38 percent, were in support of the law, which ended cash bail requirements for those with misdemeanor and non-violent felony charges.

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Cuomo Says "Structural Issues" With Medicaid Need Fixing

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 3:53 PM ET Jan. 20, 2020

Shifting some costs of the Medicaid program from local governments to the state has had "consequences," Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a conference call on Monday with reporters.

Cuomo is set to unveil his 2020-21 state budget proposals on Tuesday as New York faces a $6.1 billion budget gap largely due to a $4 billion hole in the Medicaid program.

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Seward Won't Seek Re-Election to State Senate

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 3:46 PM ET Jan. 20, 2020

Republican Sen. James Seward on Monday announced he would not seek re-election to a central New York seat he's held since 1987.

Seward is the latest GOP state lawmaker to announce plans to not run again this year or retire.

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Cuomo Wants $10M In Census Funding

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will propose spending an additional $10 million on state-based efforts to have people respond to the coming U.S. Census, he said Monday in a conference call.

If approved, it would bring the state's total spending to $70 million on Census-promoting efforts.

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Lawmakers Urge Cuomo to Spend More to Fight Lyme, Tick Diseases

BY Morgan McKay Albany/Capital Region

A bi-partisan group of Assembly lawmakers is urging Governor Andrew Cuomo to restore funding to combat Lyme and tick-borne diseases in his state budget plan.

The letter released Friday by Assemblywoman Didi Barrett calls for at least $1 million in funding to research Lyme and tick borne diseases to help combat this "pandemic."

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NY-20: Langworthy Endorses Joy For Congress

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

New York GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy on Monday is set to endorse Republican congressional candidate Liz Joy to run for a Capital Region House district.

Joy is vying for the GOP nomination to challenge Democratic Rep. Paul Tonko this fall. Republican Michael Seney has also filed paperwork to run for the GOP nomination in the June primary.

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Siena Poll: New Yorkers' Views on Race Relations Have Dimmed

BY Nick Reisman New York State

About a third of New Yorkers believe race relations in the state are good or excellent, a steep decline from a decade ago when more than half of voters had a positive view of relations, a Siena College poll released on Monday found.

The poll found only five percent of New Yorkers think race relations in the state are excellent and 28 percent rate them good. Sixty-four percent say they are fair or poor.

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Here and Now - MLK Day

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Good morning! It's Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and most government offices will be closed. But a number of events honoring the civil rights leader are being held around New York.

Here's what's happening today:

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Three Things We Learned at the Capitol This Week

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 4:39 PM ET Jan. 17, 2020

Governor Andrew Cuomo's re-election campaign continued to chug on, Republicans continued to hammer away at the state's criminal justice law changes, and we got a good reminder about how what happens in Albany does matter to people and can touch their lives.

Here are three things we learned this week in Albany.

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More Than 3,000 Adoptees Apply for Birth Records Under New Law

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 4:14 PM ET Jan. 17, 2020

More than 3,600 people outside of New York City have filed to receive their pre-adoption birth certificates, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office said on Friday.

The new law allowing adult adoptees age 18 years or older to apply to receive the documents took effect on Wednesday.

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Two More Vaping-Related Deaths Reported in New York

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 3:48 PM ET Jan. 17, 2020

New York health officials on Friday announced two more deaths due to vaping-linked illnesses had been confirmed.

One of the deaths was a woman in her 20s in New York City and the other was an adult woman in her 50s in Ontario County, Governor Andrew Cuomo said. The deaths, the third and fourth reported in New York, come after the state's administrative ban on flavored vaping products was rejected in court.

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DiNapoli Audits Find $790M In Medicaid Savings

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

How can you close a $4 billion Medicaid gap? One audit at a time.

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office on Friday released a package of audits of aspects of the Medicaid program, finding $790 million in potential savings. The four audits come as New York faces a $6.1 billion budget gap in the coming fiscal year, which begins April 1.

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A Guide to Albany-Isms at the Capitol

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

New York state government can seem like a nonsensical place at times.

There’s a whole set of terminology devoted to the state Capitol that to non-insiders can seem confounding and, well, downright weird.

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Here and Now - January 17

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

Good morning! It's going to be a cold day for many of us before the snow comes this weekend.

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

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Republican Mike Martucci Launches Campaign for Hudson Valley State Senate

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 4:46 PM ET Jan. 16, 2020

Republican Mike Martucci on Thursday launched a bid for the Hudson Valley state Senate district represented by freshman Democrat Jen Metzger.

“I’ve been traveling throughout the district for the last few months, meeting with friends and neighbors, and the common theme I am hearing is people feel New York state is headed in the wrong direction and our current state senator is out of touch with the needs of the people of the 42nd Senate district, and this is why I have decided to run for New York state Senate," Martucci said.

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Santabarbara: Altering the New York Seal Is a Waste of Time

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 4:35 PM ET Jan. 16, 2020

A Democratic state lawmaker on Thursday blasted the idea of altering New York's flag and seal as proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo, in his State of the State address, proposed adding the Latin phrase "E Pluribus Unum" to the seal and flag. The flag has not been changed in about a century and would require the consent of the legislature.

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Democrats Hold Advantage In Once-Competitive Senate District

BY Ryan Whalen City of Buffalo

What has traditionally been one of the most competitive state Senate districts in New York is starting to look like it could be a runaway for Democrats in 2020.

The incumbent Republican in the 60th District, Chris Jacobs, is considered one of the favorites to get the GOP nod for New York’s 27th Congressional District. Meanwhile, Democrat Sean Ryan, currently in the state Assembly, is making a strong push to replace him.

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Cuomo Paid Artist $6,550 For Political Poster

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Gov. Andrew Cuomo paid the artist who helped him put the finishing touches on his throwback political art poster $6,550, according to a newly released campaign filing.

Cuomo handed out the artwork last week at the Capitol to lawmakers as an expression of his vision for where New York is at in the new year.

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Hudson Valley Democrats Bolster Campaign War Chests

BY Nick Reisman New York State

The Hudson Valley is once again expected to be a contested battleground area for Republicans and Democrats in the state Senate this year.

And, accordingly, Democrats are raising money to run with an eye toward being competitive.

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Coalition Pushes Housing Plan For New York

BY Nick Reisman New York State

More than a dozen organizations this week are unveiling a coalition pushing for the bolstering of affordable housing in New York in the coming years.

The 14 groups, composed of entities like New York State Association for Affordable Housing, AARP New York and CSH, outlined a set of housing priorities that stretch into the new decade.

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Cuomo Says New York Will Provide Engineering Help To Puerto Rico

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

More engineering help, mental health care and fire inspectors were among the action items Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday before he departed from Puerto Rico following a series of earthquakes that rattled the island in recent weeks.

Cuomo announced New York State is deploying eight engineers and utility workers to help address power outages caused by the earthquakes.

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Serino Proposes Repeal Of Warrant Wait Time

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

A bill that would allow judges to issue warrants immediately after a person fails to appear at their scheduled hearing was announced Thursday morning by state Sen. Sue Serino (R-Poughkeepsie).

The bill is meant to scale back a provision of the state's new cash bail law, which ended cash bail requirements for misdemeanor and non-violent felony charges.

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Here and Now - January 16

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with nothing public planned.

At 10:30 a.m., the Public Service Commission will meet. 19th Floor Board Room of its offices located at Three Empire State Plaza, Albany.

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Cuomo Raises $4.5M for Re-Election

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 5:00 PM ET Jan. 15, 2020

Governor Andrew Cuomo's re-election campaign in the last six months has raised $4.5 million for a race that is two years away.

Cuomo's campaign on Wednesday reported a total cash balance of $11.9 million and spent $938,116 over the second half of the year. The governor raised a similar amount during the first six months of 2019.

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Republicans Continue to Press for Bail Reform Changes

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 3:36 PM ET Jan. 15, 2020

This week in Albany for lawmakers concluded much as it began: With yet another pitched battle over the state's new cash bail law.

Assembly Republicans on Wednesday at a news conference were joined by the cousin of a woman who was killed in a hit-and-run crash by an unlicensed driver who was later released. Criminal justice advocates, in turn, urged Democratic leaders in the state Legislature to stand firm on the law amid calls to roll it back.

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Bill Would Require Immigrants Facing Deportation To Have A Lawyer

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

State lawmakers on Wednesday introduced a bill that would create a legal right to a lawyer for New York residents who are facing deportation.

The bill, sponsored by Democratic lawmakers Sen. Brad Hoylman and Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz, was put together by the New York State Bar Association and the New York Immigration Coalition.

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Judge Has Questions for Collins Ahead of Sentencing

BY Ryan Whalen New York City
UPDATED 1:38 PM ET Jan. 15, 2020

The federal judge responsible for sentencing former Congressman Chris Collins has some questions before he makes his final decision.

Justice Vernor Broderick filed a court order Wednesday with dozens of inquiries for both the prosecution and defendants. He said these are answers he still wants after finishing his initial review of the presentence report and both parties' sentencing submissions.

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Trump 2020 Campaign Announces New York Team

BY Ryan Whalen New York State

New York's Republican Congressional delegation will take the lead on Donald Trump's 2020 campaign effort in the state.

The campaign announced its New York team Wednesday. Congress members Peter King, Elise Stefanik, Tom Reed, and Lee Zeldin have all been named honorary co-chairs.

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Here and Now - Jan. 15

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

Good morning! Here is what's happening around New York today.

At 10 a.m., Assembly Republicans will be joined by victims impacted by the new criminal justice reforms and law-enforcement officials to call for Assembly Democrats to address bail reforms that recently went into effect. LCA Press Room, Room 130, Legislative Office Building, Albany.

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Hoylman Wants Tax Officials To Review Sales Tax Collection For Food Delivery Apps

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

Online food delivery companies should be collecting sales tax from their customers, Sen. Brad Hoylman urged in a letter this month to New York tax officials.

Hoylman, a Democrat from Manhattan, was raising the concern after a Recode article found popular food delivery services like UberEats and Door Dash were not collecting sales tax.

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In Albany, Byford Has Blunt Talk About Bus Routes

BY Nick Reisman New York State

New York City Transit Authority President Andy Byford in Albany on Tuesday met for more than an hour with Assembly lawmakers in what was described as a blunt and occasionally contentious session.

Byford came to Albany at the request of Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie made a day earlier to meet with the Queens delegation about a proposed overhauling of the borough's bus routes.

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Benjamin Raises $260K In Comptroller Bid

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Democratic New York City Comptroller candidate Brian Benjamin has raised more than $260,000 in the last three months.

Benjamin, a state senator from Manhattan running for citywide office, received contribution from 1,171 donors and most gave $50 or less.

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Cash Bail Concerns Continue For Buffalo Common Council

BY Ryan Whalen City of Buffalo

Members of the all-Democrat Buffalo Common Council continue to voice concerns about New York’s new laws which eliminate cash bail and detention for most crimes.

Last week, the body unanimously passed a resolution asking state lawmakers to restore a judge’s discretion to institute bail. At a police oversight meeting Tuesday, Council Member Rasheed Wyatt reiterated he was shocked by some of the details of the law he’s heard so far and said his constituents are apprehensive as well.

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Stewart-Cousins Says She Wants To Assess Cash Bail Law On Facts

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins told reporters on Tuesday she wants to be guided by fact and not "fear mongering" over the new cashless bail law now in effect in New York.

The law ended cash bail requirements for those with misdemeanors and non-violent felonies.

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Cuomo, Lawmakers Back Limo Safety Measures

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

One of the first agreements of the legislative session coalesced on Tuesday with a deal announced to bolster limousine safety.

What was initially termed a two-way Senate and Assembly deal was backed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, who had supported the broad outlines of plan that includes requiring seat belts, the creation of a task force to study the issue, boosted penalties for illegal U-turns, and new commercial driver's licenses requirements for limo drivers.

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Erie County Executive To Testify At House Budget Hearing

BY Ryan Whalen Buffalo
UPDATED 1:44 PM ET Jan. 14, 2020

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz will be in the nation's capital Wednesday testifying at a House Budget Committee hearing about the importance of federal investments in state and local governments, particularly during recessions.

The county executive said he is one of five speakers. There are three high-level commissioners representing state government from Maine, Arkansas and Ohio, a tax policy expert from the Brookings Institution and Poloncarz.

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School Property Tax Capped At Less Than 2 Percent

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The amount school districts can raise in property taxes in the 2020-21 fiscal year will be capped at 1.81 percent, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office announced Tuesday.

The limit is a reduction from the 2 percent ceiling from the prior two years.

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CWA Backs Gianaris For Re-Election

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The Communications Workers of America District 1 on Tuesday endorsed the re-election of Sen. Mike Gianaris.

“Senator Gianaris has been a steadfast leader in the State Senate for nearly a decade,” said CWA Vice President Dennis Trainor. “He’s never been afraid to stand up to powerful corporations, including advocating for and helping us pass the NY Call Center Jobs Act last year to protect call center jobs in New York."

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Ulster County Executive Endorses Pete Buttigieg For President

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan on Tuesday endorsed former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination for president.

Ryan and Buttigieg share some commonalities: Both are military veterans. And Ryan is the youngest county executive in the state, while Buttigieg, 39, is running to be the first president elected from the millennial generation.

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Here and Now: January 14

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

Good morning! It's going to be a busy first lobby day of the new year in Albany. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, meanwhile, is departing for Puerto Rico. Here's today's schedule: At 8:15 a.m., Gov. Andrew Cuomo will hold a press briefing before departing for Puerto Rico. JFK International Airport, Queens.

At 9:30 a.m., Assembly Real Property Taxation Committee Chair Sandy Galef will take testimony to examine changes to the STAR Program provided in the State Fiscal Year 2019-20 budget. Hearing Room C, Legislative Office Building, Albany.

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Lawmaker Introduces Bills To Combat Hate Crimes

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

The rise in the number of anti-Semitic hate crimes in New York is leading lawmakers to back new legislation meant to address the problem.

Democratic state Sen. Anna Kaplan on Monday announced the introduction of four measures meant to combat bias crimes in New York while also backing Gov. Andrew Cuomo's stated plan of bolstering anti-terrorism laws to include hate crimes.

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Collins Could Face Up To 5 Years

BY Ryan Whalen New York State

Unsurprisingly there are a lot of different opinions about former Rep. Chris Collins upcoming sentencing.

The Republican pleaded guilty to federal insider trading charges in October and is scheduled to learn his fate Friday in New York City.

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Stefanik Wants To Study Pre-Trial Release

BY Nick Reisman Northern NY

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik is calling for a national accounting of pre-trial services amid the ongoing controversy surrounding New York's cashless bail law.

Stefanik announced Monday she is backing legislation that would require the Government Accountability Office to review how people under pre-trial release are supervised.

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Lawmakers Air Medicaid Worries

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The concern that local governments may be tapped to help fill a budget gap has trickled up to some state lawmakers in Albany.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in his State of the State address, without details, pointed to the state in recent years capping Medicaid growth for local governments. The comments drew concern from local government officials because they came in the broader context of a $6.1 billion budget gap, and a multi-billion Medicaid shortfall.

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