New York settles on case that will ensure equal school funding

BY Morgan McKay City of Albany

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that New York has finally settled on a court case it has been fighting for years that requires the state to pay schools the money they have been owed for decades.

The New York Court of Appeals ruled 15 years ago that the state was unequally funding school districts and owed schools in low-income communities billions of dollars.

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With SNAP aid expanding in New York, human service groups seek input

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

This month, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced an expansion of how the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, works in New York: Recipients could soon be able to use the benefit at restaurants and the monthly aid per family will grow.

With the condition of federal approval, the benefit could soon be used at participating restaurants. But for those who are already providing meals to needy people, more can be done in New York.

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AG James joins CWA at Mercy Hospital picket line

BY Ryan Whalen Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. — State Attorney General Tish James' speech to union members picketing Friday in front of Mercy Hospital in South Buffalo was brief but well-received.

"We need to stand with all of you,” James said. “This is a moment in history where the hospital needs to stand up and do the right thing for the workers who were there for them in the midst of a pandemic.”

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If you had COVID-19, do you still need a vaccine? 'Yes,' says UB doctor

BY Susan Arbetter City of Albany

Earlier this week, Capital Tonight aired a segment featuring a Rochester nurse who is opting not to be vaccinated because, she said, she had COVID-19 in the past and therefore has “natural antibodies.”

Capital Tonight asked Dr. Tom Russo, an epidemiologist and chief of Infectious Disease at the University at Buffalo’s Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, if the nurse still needs to receive a vaccine.

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New York officially appeals ruling in health care worker vaccine case

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York state officials have formally filed an appeal to a ruling earlier this week by a federal judge in Utica that upheld religious exemptions for health care workers amid the state's requirement that they be vaccinated for COVID-19.

According to a short filing, the appeal officially was made Tuesday by Gov. Kathy Hochul, outgoing Health Commissioner Howard Zucker and Attorney General Letitia James to the United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.

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Suozzi, eyeing run for governor, has $3.1M in cash

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Rep. Tom Suozzi's re-election campaign reported raising more than $1 million in the last three months, and is set to hold $3.1 million in cash on hand.

Suozzi, a Long Island Democrat, is among several potential candidates for governor next year in what could turn into a crowded June primary field.

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SUNY to provide support for Afghan refugees

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The State University of New York will provide aid and support for Afghan refugees arriving in New York, including temporary housing and educational opportunities.

The effort announced Thursday by Gov. Kathy Hochul will include opening the public college and university system's 10 Educational Opportunity Centers across the state to refugees and waive a one-year residency requirement for admission.

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To fix Rikers, advocate wants Legislature to fund the judiciary, accelerate ‘Less is More’ Act

BY Susan Arbetter New York State
UPDATED 6:37 PM ET Oct. 14, 2021

For years, there have been horror stories about Rikers Island, New York City’s main jail complex, which sits on a piece land in the East River. But according to news reports and anecdotal stories, it appears the situation has deteriorated.

A New York Times expose released on Monday describes dozens of instances in which detainees have wandered freely, pepper sprayed guards and one incident in which a detainee attacked a nurse.

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HoganWillig argues for preliminary injunction in school mask mandate case

BY Ryan Whalen Amherst

AMHERST, N.Y. -- HoganWillig represents roughly 500 sets of parents, a Niagara County legislator and a state Senator all against the state's mask mandate for school children.

On Thursday, partner Corey Hogan argued during a virtual hearing in front of state Supreme Court Justice Christina Ryba, out of Albany County, for a preliminary injunction.

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Will New York's excluded workers fund be replenished?

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Money in New York's excluded workers fund will run dry by the end of the month — leading advocates and lawmakers to call for it be replenished.

But whether that happens remains an open question: Gov. Kathy Hochul did not commit this week to doing so in the short term, and the state budget next year remains an open question.

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NYCLU sending 2,000 comments to DOT on Syracuse I-81 project

BY Susan Arbetter Syracuse

The public comment period for New York's plans to replace Interstate 81 in Syracuse ended at 5 p.m. Thursday.

About three months ago, the state released its $2 billion proposal to replace the aging span of highway. It includes taking down a portion of I-81 and rereouting thru traffic to I-481, which would be widened to between four and seven lanes to accommodate increased traffic.

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Judicial nominating panel considers diverse backgrounds for top court

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The commission in charge of recommending nominees to New York's top court on Thursday released its list of potential candidates to replace retiring Judge Eugene Fahey.

And the commission in its selections sought to highlight a diverse slate of recommended nominees after state lawmakers, including Sen. Michael Gianaris, urged them to do so earlier this year.

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Gillibrand: Loan forgiveness program needs changes

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 1:53 PM ET Oct. 14, 2021

Administrative problems and eligibility hurdles need to be solved for more New Yorkers to gain access to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand found in a report released on Thursday by her office.

The report assessed the loan forgiveness program, a mechanism for alleviating the burden of student debt for those who pursue a career in public service for 10 years. But the program itself has restrictions that prevent people from fully receiving aid, along with administrative errors.

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Report: Multiple failures led to premature access to New York's COVID-19 vaccine scheduling website

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 12:10 PM ET Oct. 14, 2021

Tens of thousands of appointments were erroneously scheduled through premature access to New York's COVID-19 vaccine scheduling website earlier this year because of multiple failures in its design, according to a report released Thursday the state inspector general's office.

The report highlights the problems in the early days of vaccine access in January when doses and scheduling remained relatively rare. Appointments that were scheduled through the website through premature access were ultimately canceled.

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U.S. is opening the Canadian border, but details are still hazy

BY Ryan Whalen Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- It's been more than a year and a half since so-called non-essential Canadian travelers have been able to drive into the United States.

On Wednesday, in front of the Peace Bridge, U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins was happy to announce a change, even though it's much later than he would have liked.

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Hochul-Benjamin ticket endorsed by trio of upstate Democratic leaders

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Three Democratic county leaders on Thursday endorsed Gov. Kathy Hochul's bid for a full term next year ahead of what could be a competitive party primary come June.

The county chairs — Jake Crawford of Albany County, Zach King of Monroe County and Pamela Hunter of Onondaga County — also endorsed Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin, as well as incumbent Attorney General Letitia James and Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

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Why Stefanik sees role for Trump in midterm elections

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Rep. Elise Stefanik didn't hesitate when asked Wednesday if she would like former President Donald Trump to play a role in the coming midterm elections in New York next year.

"Absolutely," she said during a stop at an early evening fundraiser for Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin. "I think President Trump is an asset to Republicans on the ballot, it’s important to remember that with the president on the ballot he earned more votes than any other Republican in New York since Ronald Reagan.”

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Tonko seeks to strengthen lead poisoning prevention

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A bill meant to strengthen protections against lead poisoning among children was introduced Wednesday by Rep. Paul Tonko with bipartisan backing.

The measure would seek to strengthen rules for lead screening, reporting and prevention in the U.S. while also codifying into law an advisory committee on childhood lead poisoning prevention at the Centers for Disease Control.

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Greenidge Generation permit renewal draws supporters, critics over cryptocurrency mining

BY Susan Arbetter City of Albany

A hearing for a run-of-the-mill air permit renewal saw significant attention in Albany and the Finger Lakes.

Greenidge Generation, a power plant and cryptocurrency mining operation in Yates County that employs 45 people, needs to renew an existing Title V air permit with the state of New York. On Wednesday, the Department of Environmental Conservation held a hearing on the issue, attended by both advocates and critics.

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Bill would eliminate court, parole and probation fees

BY Tim Williams New York State

For every conviction in New York, from traffic tickets to felonies, a mandatory surcharge or fee is added, which reform advocates say “criminalizes poverty."

The fines and fees are used by the courts to pay DNA databank fees, crime victim assistance fees, probation fees sex offender registration fees and mandatory court surcharges.

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Lee Zeldin launches search for lieutenant governor candidate

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin launched a search for a lieutenant governor candidate on Wednesday ahead of the expected June GOP primary.

Zeldin's search panel will be led by Staten Island Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, the Republican nominee for New York City mayor in 2017.

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Opposition to proposed New York redistricting amendment mounts

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Citizens Union on Wednesday became the latest good-government organization in New York to oppose a change to the redistricting process that, if approved, could tilt the balance of power toward the Democratic supermajorities in the state Legislature.

The proposed change to the redistricting process comes as map drawing for legislative seats at the federal and state level is already underway and expected to conclude early in 2022.

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Hochul: New York has settled years-long school funding legal battle

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York has settled a years-long legal fight over funding for schools in the state, Gov. Kathy Hochul on Wednesday said.

The governor broke the news to former rivals and critics of her predecessor who had prominently supported efforts to add billions of dollars in direct spending for schools deemed to be in "high-needs" districts across New York.

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Hochul doesn't rule out replenishing excluded worker fund

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York state is unlikely to replenish an excluded worker fund with another multi-billion dollar pot of money, Gov. Kathy Hochul on Wednesday said at a news conference.

But she did not rule out working with state lawmakers heading into the next budget season to come up with more money, as well as find ways of boosting employment among needy people who did not qualify for federal pandemic relief.

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Hochul: New York to appeal judge's ruling on COVID-19 vaccine mandate

BY Spectrum News Staff Albany/Capital Region
UPDATED 11:25 AM ET Oct. 13, 2021

Gov. Kathy Hochul says New York will appeal a judge’s ruling granting a preliminary injunction to health care workers claiming a religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine.

Hochul made the announcement Wednesday, saying she stands behind the vaccine mandate.

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New law extends child support for adults with developmental disabilities

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

State lawmakers are cheering the final approval of a new law that will allow the parents of adults with developmental disabilities to continue to receive child support payments.

The measure approved this month by Gov. Kathy Hochul allows parents of children with developmental disabilities to petition courts to receive support payments until their child is 26 -- providing expanded years of support for families.

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NY labor unions urge Schumer to pass bill aiding pregnant workers

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A coalition of labor unions, health care organizations and advocacy groups on Wednesday made public a letter sent this week to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer urging him to back a bill that is meant to aid workers who are affected by pregnancy or the birth of a child.

“Around the country, pregnant workers, disproportionately low-wage working women of color, are continuing to be forced out of work or forced to risk their health because this country has no federal law providing an affirmative right to pregnancy accommodations,” the letter to Schumer stated.

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Hochul wants 'historic' spending for green infrastructure to counter climate change

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Gov. Kathy Hochul told a prominent fiscal watchdog group on Tuesday evening she wants to make "historic investments" in green infrastructure projects that are meant to counter the rising problems associated with climate change.

The comments at the Citizens Budget Commission's annual gala in New York City come as the new Hochul administration is beginning to shape its own priorties for the coming 2021 legislative session and budget negotiations.

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Marist Poll: Hochul favored to win primary

BY Morgan McKay Albany/Capital Region
UPDATED 7:55 PM ET Oct. 12, 2021

Gov. Kathy Hochul has now been in office for more than 50 days and during that time, her approval rating has shot up 18 percentage points, according to a new Marist Poll released Tuesday.

Hochul was given a 49% approval rating, but at the same time, one in five New Yorkers (20%) say they are unsure about the job she’s doing.

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NY businesses worry about unemployment costs

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York's unemployment rate had been declining this year, but on Tuesday, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today that more than 4 million people quit their jobs in August - the most since last year.

At the same time, the number of hires decreased in August. Justin Wilcox, the executive director of the business group Upstate United, said in a Capital Tonight interview it's an issue policymakers in Albany need to take notice of given how businesses will take on the brunt of the costs.

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State health study finds COVID-19 vaccines remain effective guard against hospitalization

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 5:29 PM ET Oct. 12, 2021

Vaccinations remain a solid guard COVID-19 related hospitalizations and have not dramatically reduced in effectiveness, a study released on Monday by the state Department of Health found.

At the same time, the study bolstered support for providing booster shots to people 65 and older given modest declines in recipients of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations.

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Sen. Krueger: Cuomo was in 'no rush' to enact cannabis law

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo delayed the implementation of the state's cannabis legalization bill, a top Democrat in the state Senate Tuesday said in a Capital Tonight interview, pointing to his lukewarm history on the issue.

"He didn't seem to be in any rush to actually get the new authority or the regulations written," said Sen. Liz Krueger, a co-sponsor of the measure that was approved this year legalizing marijuana in New York.

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Cuomo attorney: 'Preposterous' to link book deal to nursing home data

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A memorandum made public Tuesday written over the summer by an attorney representing former Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushed back on the idea the state sought to downplay nursing home residents' deaths in order to secure a lucrative book deal for the then-governor in 2020.

The 62-page memo by Cuomo attorney Elkan Abramowitz indicates and confirms several aspects of the inquiries facing the former governor. The federal criminal investigation into how the state reported nursing home deaths during the pandemic remained underway at least through the summer and multiple jurisdictions at the local, state and federal level have launched investigations into nursing home data reporting, as well as the circumstances surrounding the $5.1 million book deal.

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Lawmakers want to expand electric car infrastructure

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

State lawmakers are calling for an expansion of the infrastructure meant to support electric vehicles in New York ahead of a planned phase out gas-powered cars by 2035.

A bill announced Tuesday by Assemblywoman Pat Fahy and Sen. Liz Krueger is aimed at building more charging stations in order to reach the first benchmark goal of 850,000 zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025.

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Judge sides with NY health care workers seeking religious exemption to COVID vaccination mandates

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 1:53 PM ET Oct. 12, 2021

A federal judge in Utica on Tuesday sided with a group of health care workers who have filed a legal challenge to the state's COVID-19 vaccination mandate who are seeking a religious exemption to the requirement.

The ruling issued by Judge David Hurd blocks New York state health officials from retaliating against health care workers who refuse to receive a COVID-19 vaccination on religious grounds.

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New law will require nursing homes to display rating

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A bill that requires nursing homes in New York to prominently display their most recent rating from federal officials was signed into law last week by Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Approval of the measure comes after the COVID-19 pandemic has led to heightened concerns around nursing homes and other long-term care facilties which have been considered especially vulnerable to the virus.

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Nearly all GOP county chairs have endorsed Rep. Zeldin for governor

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The gubernatorial campaign of Rep. Lee Zeldin on Monday secured the backing of the Chemung County Republican leader, solidfying his support from local GOP leaders ahead of next June's primary.

Zeldin campaign has early on trumpeted the endorsements from local Republican leaders in a bid to establish him as the clear favorite of the party's leadership heading into the 2022 election.

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Schumer, McConnell exchange barbs after temporary debt limit fix

BY Kevin Frey New York City

As the Senate skirted a potential economic calamity for the United States, its top two political leaders went at each other verbally: Sen. Chuck Schumer lashing out at Republicans, and Sen. Mitch McConnell firing back.

Schumer made his remarks on the Senate floor, just as the chamber sealed a deal to raise the nation’s debt limit.

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Author Louis Grumet on the Mohawk attempt to Reclaim New York state

BY Susan Arbetter City of Albany

The insurgency began under the cover of darkness. Well-armed militants crossed the border from Canada into New York, taking possession of 612-acres deep in the Moss Lake wilderness.

But this is no history of the French & Indian War. These events unfolded on May 13, 1974. The so-called militants were Mohawk Warriors. The most amazing thing about this is that at first, New York state under then-Gov. Malcolm Wilson responded by doing nothing.

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Schumer vows to use clout to keep factory jobs in Olean

BY Ryan Whalen Olean
UPDATED 6:24 PM ET Oct. 11, 2021

OLEAN, N.Y. — Shortly after Siemens Energy announced it plans earlier this year to sell its factory in the city of Olean, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he had a very one-sided conversation with the company's CEO.

"I told them, if these jobs aren't kept, you're going to have one really ... really angry — I was going to [use a] different word — really angry majority leader," Schumer said.

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Lawmakers, advocates highlight child care impact of Biden agenda

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

As lawmakers in Congress continue negotiations for a multi-trillion dollar domestic spending bill, Rep. Paul Tonko highlighted his support for a key component of the plan.

And some representatives are back in district supporting President Joe Biden's domestic agenda in Congress, which is hinging on a major package of spending proposals ranging from funding pre-Kindergarten to boosting Medicare benefits. On Monday in Albany, Tonko pointed to an expansion of the child tax credit that could be included in the final bill.

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New York ends new applications for excluded workers fund

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A fund meant to provide support for undocumented immigrations living in New York will no longer accept new applications and will have exhausted its more than $2 billion pot of money by the end of the month, Gov. Kathy Hochul's office announced.

But advocates for undocumented residents in the state called for additional support for people who had not qualified for federal pandemic aid, pointing to ongoing need.

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Why New York businesses want to keep making PPE

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York's efforts to manufacture its own personal protective equipment in the state has led to a $20 million investment from the state and helped to support 3,000 jobs, a coalition of manufacturing firms said.

The push was part of an effort by then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2020 to have reliable supply chain for pandemic-related supplies, including face masks, face shields, sanitizing products and gloves. Now, as Gov. Kathy Hochul signals she wants to keep the program in place, manufacturing companies this month signaled they're ready to work with her new administration.

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New law criminalizes threats to undocumented immigrants

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A measure criminalizing threats in New York to expose a person's immigration status was signed into law this weekend by Gov. Kathy Hochul.

The new law considers threats to expose undocumented people in the state as extortion or coercion, and is based on similar measures already on the books in California, Colorado, Maryland and Virginia.

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Weekly gun violence data being withheld by Hochul administration

BY Morgan McKay City of Albany

Less than a third of the money allocated to combat gun violence has been distributed after three months.

On July 6, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a first in the nation state of emergency around gun violence, after a wave of shootings spiked across the state.

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Rep. Higgins still pushing for Biden administration to open Canadian border

BY Ryan Whalen Niagara Falls
UPDATED 6:10 PM ET Oct. 08, 2021

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. -- The temporary border closure between the United States and Canada in March 2020 has become somewhat indefinite.

While Canada partially lifted restrictions for vaccinated Americans in August, it's been nearly 19 months since so-called non-essential Canadian travelers have been able to cross the bridges in places like Buffalo and Niagara Falls.

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Former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner on Cuomo: 'There was a track record of toxic behavior'

BY Susan Arbetter Syracuse

A theme that runs through Attorney General Letitia James’ reports on both sexual harassment and the COVID-19 nursing home deaths scandal is that it was more important for Andrew Cuomo and his administration to look good than do good.

It’s a theme, that, if you look closely, has been running throughout Cuomo’s tenure in office.

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State gun violence prevention office still not yet set up

BY Morgan McKay New York State

A new agency that was announced three months ago in order to direct resources to areas seeing a spike in shootings is still not set up.

Former Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a first-in-the-nation state of emergency around gun violence at the beginning of July, after a surge in shootings over the Fourth of July weekend.

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Deadline Day: Hochul completes administration overhaul

BY Morgan McKay City of Albany

It’s been 45 days since Gov. Kathy Hochul took office and promised major changes to her administration.

Hochul pledged that by this time, she will have replaced anyone who was named in the attorney general’s report which detailed sexual harassment allegations against former Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

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Jim Heaney: Fear of change is driving donations to Byron Brown's campaign for Buffalo mayor

BY Susan Arbetter Buffalo

While there are a handful of upstate mayoral races taking place in November, the most compelling has to be the contest taking place in Buffalo, where newcomer India Walton won the Democratic primary race back in June, but incumbent Byron Brown is waging an aggressive write-in campaign to keep his job.

“You’ve got a lot of corporate interests and Republicans who do not want to see India Walton become mayor, is what this boils down to,” said to Jim Heaney, founder, executive director and editor at Investigative Post.

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Former Spitzer counsel Richard Rifkin discusses New York redistricting

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

You’re going to continue to hear a lot about redistricting over the next few months. This is the process of drawing political boundaries, which happens every 10 years after the census.

In New York, the process of redistricting is somewhat different from what it’s been in the past. In 2014, New York voters approved a constitutional amendment to create what’s called the “Independent Redistricting Commission” to, at least initially, draw the new electoral maps — “initially” because if the Legislature doesn’t like the maps, it can scrap them and draw its own.

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Vote to override Poloncarz veto on hunting age law falls short

BY Ryan Whalen Erie County

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- This week, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz vetoed a local law that would have allowed 12- and 13-year-old children to legally hunt deer with firearms, including rifles and shotguns.

The Erie County Legislature brought up a vote Thursday to potentially override that veto, but needing eight votes for a supermajority, the tally was 6-5. For now, that means Erie County remains the only upstate county not to opt in to the New York state pilot program.

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Advocates hope Hochul will break with Cuomo on prison policies

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Gov. Kathy Hochul over the last several weeks has signaled she wants to make a clean break from former Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration, and criminal justice advocates hope that will extend to the state's policies on prison and incarceration.

Advocates on Thursday are marking the end of a 45-day review period by Hochul and her new administration to assess which officials from the Cuomo era should be removed from office to push her to make broader changes on prison policy. Specifically, the advocates are pointing to measures meant to reform the state's parole laws for older people who are currently incarcerated and use her office's power of executive clemency.

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State lawmakers push Congress for funding to fight child hunger

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Two state lawmakers urged New York's U.S. senators on Wednesday to include money to combat child hunger and poverty as part of the $3.5 trillion domestic spending proposal meant to strengthen the nation's social safety net.

The push from lawmakers to U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand comes as negotiations over the bill have continued to drag on, with no clear resolution among Democrats in the narrowly divided House and U.S. Senate.

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NY Senate majority leader compares Cuomo to Trump, says former governor would benefit from introspection

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Since resigning from office in August, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo has begun sending out missives to supporters that do three things: reiterate his accomplishments while in office, relitigate the damning attorney general’s report that prompted his resignation and repeat his own claims that the current administration is incompetent.

On Monday, his supporters received a letter which stated:

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Hochul: Cuomo wanted me gone in 2022

BY Zack Fink New York City
UPDATED 4:56 PM ET Oct. 06, 2021

Gov. Kathy Hochul says former Gov. Andrew Cuomo didn’t want her to be his running mate in 2022 and was prepared to push her off the Democratic ticket.

Speaking to reporters in Manhattan on Wednesday, Hochul confirmed the story that was first reported in the New York Post.

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Hochul to announce more administration changes

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 4:48 PM ET Oct. 06, 2021

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday plans additional changes to her new administration that could see the departure of former officials who had been part of ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office.

Hochul has already moved to replace Cuomo-era figures like Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker, as well as many of the people who were named in a bombshell report released in August by Attorney General Letitia James detailing allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior by the former governor.

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A new task force could lead to more limo safety measures

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 4:45 PM ET Oct. 06, 2021

Appointments to New York state's limousine safety task force were announced Wednesday by Gov. Kathy Hochul on the three-year anniversary of a crash in Schoharie that killed 20 people.

The task force, which also includes appointees from the state Legislature, will study and recommend regulations and rules to oversee the industry in New York.

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Lawmaker wants to close a vaccine 'loophole' for performers, athletes

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Democratic state Sen. Brad Hoylman called Wednesday for an end to a "loophole" in vaccination requirements for performers and athletes who appear at venues in New York City.

At issue is a requirement that athletes and performers who appear at indoor venues in New York City be vaccinated. But the requirement only applies to residents of the city or those who are regularly employed at the establishment.

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Eleanor's Legacy endorses largest slate in its history

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Eleanor's Legacy on Tuesday endorsed its largest slate of candidates in its 20-year history, backing 189 Democratic candidates running across the state.

The group, which recruits and backs Democratic women who have reproductive rights in New York, is backing candidates seeking a variety of offices in an election year that is mostly composed of local-level races.

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Schumer faces calls from New York lawmakers for citizenship provision in major bill

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Dozens of lawmakers at the state and New York City level on Wednesday will release a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer urging him to back a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the proposed multi-trillion dollar domestic spending package.

The fate of the measure — which would fund child care, efforts to combat climate change, an expansion of benefits under the Medicaid program and community college — remains up in the air amid a fight over the size and scope of the package along with a separate but linked proposal for infrastructure spending.

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NY Attorney General James takes her message on the road

BY Morgan McKay City of Albany

New York State Attorney General Letitia James, on a statewide tour to distribute $1.5 billion to all 10 regions of the state, in order to combat the opioid epidemic, stopped in Albany on Tuesday.

This $1.5 billion fund comes from different settlements with opioid manufacturers, James was able to negotiate on behalf of the state.

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New York Court of Appeals hears arguments on daily fantasy sports

BY Ryan Whalen Albany County

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York's highest court will soon make a decision on the future of daily fantasy sports in the state.

The Court of Appeals heard arguments Tuesday on whether the Legislature previously overstepped its bounds in determining the activity was not gambling.

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Mask policy, critical race theory debates lead to heated school board meetings, threats against members

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

The culture wars in the U.S. have moved from the airwaves into our school board meetings. One local example? Over the summer, board members in the village of Altamont, New York, west of Albany, were screamed at, reportedly spit on, and threatened over two issues: COVID-19 masks and Critical Race Theory.

It’s an ugly scene that’s been repeated all over the country, as well as here in New York. It’s also the primary reason that Attorney General Merrick Garland has asked the FBI to look into threats against school officials.

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Molinaro reports raising $350,000 for House run in 10 days

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The campaign for New York's Hudson Valley congressional district could turn into a costly one.

Republican Marc Molinaro's campaign on Tuesday reported raising more than $350,000 in the 10 days since announcing his bid for the seat currently held by Democratic Rep. Antonio Delgado.

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New York ethics panel to probe how Cuomo got a $5.1M book deal approved

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The commission overseeing ethics and lobbying in New York voted Tuesday to conduct an internal investigation into the circumstances that led to the panel approving a $5.1 million book contract for ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year.

The approval of the investigation by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics comes as Cuomo's book about the pandemic, "American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic," is also being investigated by Attorney General Letitia James's office, which is looking into whether government resources were inappropriately used to write it.

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Lawmakers make push for clean environment amendment

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

State lawmakers on Tuesday called for the final approval a constitutional amendment that is meant to guarantee New Yorkers the right to a clean environment.

Voters are set to consider addding the amendment, a longtime goal of the environmental movement in New York, to the state's constitution this November, along with several other proposed additions.

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Mass COVID testing sites, vaccine mandates raised by county leaders to Hochul

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Vaccination mandates on workers, supplying vaccine booster shots and bringing back mass testing sites to some areas of the state and putting in place stronger communication were among the issues raised Tuesday by county government leaders in Albany to meet with Gov. Kathy Hochul.

But while the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing budget issues that have long been a source of consternation for local government officials dominated the conversation, county leaders called the meeting a refreshing one given how rare it was in the last decade to meet with the governor of New York.

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MTA senior advisor to depart for consulting firm

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Metropolitan Transportation Authority Senior Advisor Ken Lovett is leaving his post later this month for the consulting firm Ichor Strategies.

Lovett will lead the firm's public sector division with a focus on infrastructure and health care issues.

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Hochul urged by state lawmakers to sign fire safety legislation

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

State lawmakers on Monday urged Gov. Kathy Hochul to approve a bill meant to expand the prevalance of fire sprinkler systems in residential homes in New York.

The measure would require residential home builders to provide buyers with an estimate for the cost of installing a fire sprinkler system in new single-family and two-family homes in the state.

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Why Republican AG candidate Michael Henry won't be an 'aspiring governor'

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 6:38 PM ET Oct. 04, 2021

Often the "AG" in attorney general has seemingly stood for "aspiring governor" — or at least that's the joke around Albany. But Republican Michael Henry is pledging to take a different approach.

Henry pledged in an interview Monday if elected New York's next attorney general, he won't be looking to the next potential job opening.

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Divided Supreme Court is causing public concern and disapproval

BY Susan Arbetter City of Albany

The last time the Supreme Court of the United States was this ideologically divided may have been in the early New Deal era when the court invalidated popular social welfare legislation, one expert told Capital Tonight.

“The court’s standing is as low as it ever has been,” said Dr. Vin Bonventre, the Justice Robert H. Jackson distinguished professor of law at Albany Law School.

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Larry Levy: Jay Jacob’s endorsement of Hochul a warning to other potential candidates

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

New York Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs, of Long Island, sent a warning Monday to other possible gubernatorial contenders, specifically those who hail from swing districts, according to former Newsday columnist Larry Levy.

“Jay Jacobs isn’t a household name in New York state, but when a party chairman comes out and unambiguously endorses a candidate, particularly when that chairman is from a swing district of the state, it’s something to pay attention to," Levy said.

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Hochul replaces state ethics commission chair

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday moved to replace the chairman of the state's much-criticized ethics commission a month after appointing a top official at the panel who came under scrutiny for his ties to former Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Hochul's office announced Jose Nieves would replace James Dering on the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE), a watchdog entity meant to regulate lobbying and ethics in government. Hochul also on Monday appointed Sharon Stern Gerstman to serve on the panel.

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Hochul signs bill expanding SNAP benefits to restaurants

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

People who receive aid under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will be able to use the benefit at participating restaurants under legislation approved Monday by Gov. Kathy Hochul.

The bill creates a statewide Restaurants Meals Program, and was paired with the launch of a $25 million program design to aid restaurants struggling due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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New York attorney general launches tour to distribute opioid settlement funds

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Attorney General Letitia James on Monday launched a statewide tour to highlight the distribution of $1.5 billion in settlement money from those deemed responsible for widespread opioid addiction and overdoses in New York and around the country.

The tour comes, too, as James is increasingly seen as a potential candidate for governor next year in what could be a competitive Democratic primary.

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Rep. Delgado's campaign reports $5M in cash

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado's re-election campaign on Monday reported having more than $5 million in cash on hand ahead of what is expected to be a competitive re-election race next year.

Delgado is seeking a third term next year to a Hudson Valley House seat that has been typically considered a swing district. Redistricting in early 2022 could alter the landscape, however, of the seat and re-shape the contours of the race.

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Analysis: How New York's race for governor could go national

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Last week the race for governor on the Democratic side began to truly take shape: New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams launched an exploratory committee, Attorney General Letitia James sharply criticized former Gov. Andrew Cuomo's criticism of her office's report on sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior and Democratic Committee Chairman Jay Jacobs urged prospective candidates give Gov. Kathy Hochul more breathing room.

On the Republican side, the primary has been underway for months, with Rep. Lee Zeldin securing the majority of local county chairs, and rival candidates vowing to take their case directly to GOP primary voters in June.

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Teachout plans AG campaign if James runs for governor

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A series of political dominoes could fall in the coming weeks if Attorney General Letitia James launches a campaign for New York state governor. One of those likely dominoes to fall - a bid for attorney general by law professor Zephyr Teachout.

Teachout confirmed on Saturday, first to the Times Union and later on Twitter, that she will run for the attorney general post if James is seeking higher office in 2022.

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Adirondack Council: Popular trails showing signs of overuse

BY Morgan McKay Albany/Capital Region

The Adirondack Park is one of the most popular parks in New York, ahead of even Niagara Falls and Jones Beach.

However, many of the High Peak Trails have been extremely overused, making them not only too steep to be sustainable, but also causing harm to the ecosystem surrounding the trails, according to a recent Adirondack Council report.

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Lt. Gov. Benjamin visits Buffalo for first time since taking office

BY Ryan Whalen Buffalo
UPDATED 9:19 PM ET Oct. 01, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin toured the Northland Workforce Training Center on Buffalo's east side Friday, joined by state Sen. Tim Kennedy and Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples Stokes.

Benjamin said he was impressed by the center, which focuses on teaching trades to young people from underserved communities.

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How sin taxes could have unintended consequences

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

If you've ever bought a pack of cigarettes, a six pack of beer or legally gambled, you likely paid a sin tax.

A sin tax is something we pay when the government is, paradoxically, trying to raise money off bad behavior. But a finance and marketing professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is worried some of these taxes can have unintended consequences.

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Lawmakers assess the impact of boosted school aid in New York

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York schools were given a super charge dose of funding by Albany this year. And billions of dollars more in federal aid is on the way, meant to shore up schools affected by the COVID-19 pandemic — providing support for mental health aides as well as help students who have fallen behind as a result of the public health crisis.

But despite the additional money, problems persist for schools in New York and education officials. A staff shortage — made worse by retirements and a lack of bus drivers — is leading officials to consider ways of fixing those problems.

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Why the New York Democratic chairman is trying to cool primary talk

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York Democratic Committee Chairman Jay Jacobs is trying to temper talk of primarying Gov. Kathy Hochul, urging potential challengers to give her time and build their own "rationale" for running if they do so.

Jacobs has been trying to make this case to potential candidates for governor as the primary season is slowly picking up steam in New York as Hochul's tenure enters its second month.

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Rep. Lee Zeldin opposes mandatory COVID-19 vaccines for kids

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin on Friday said he opposes mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for school children as California moves to put a similar requirement in place.

Zeldin is one of several Republicans vying for the GOP nomination for governor of New York.

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Boost in school aid helped rural schools, report finds

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Many of the schools in New York that benefitted from a $1.4 billion increase in direct education aid by the state are in low-wealth rural areas, a report released by the New York State Council of School Superintendents found.

The report comes after the state budget in April boosted education aid by $1.4 billion, a 7.6% hike with a full commitment for funding within the next three years. While that's a statewide number, the report reviews how school districts themselves were affected.

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Hochul urged to sign juvenile justice measures

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Criminal justice reform advocates are urging Gov. Kathy Hochul to sign a pair of measures meant to address the juvenile justice system in New York.

The measures, taken together, are part of an ongoing push by New York state lawmakers to reform juvenile justice laws in recent years.

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