Save the Michaels of the World founder calls for tweaks to bail reform

BY Ryan Whalen New York State
UPDATED 9:02 PM ET Dec. 03, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The conversation over whether New York should rescind some of the criminal justice reforms it made in 2019 has become in large part a political and partisan one between Republicans and Democrats.

In contrast, Save the Michaels of the World founder Avi Israel has spent a large part of his adult life avoiding politics, with his focus simply on helping people suffering from addiction.

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Willie Janeway on the new threats to the Adirondack Park

BY Susan Arbetter City of Albany

The Adirondack Council has released, for the second time in its history, a vision for the 6-million-acre Adirondack Park, which is 129 years old.

Back in the 1980s, the council released “Vision 2020,” which was a blueprint for the completion of the forest preserve.

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DEC releases final permanent water source for Hoosick Falls

BY Susan Arbetter Hoosick Falls

For years, the residents of Hoosick Falls have been searching for a permanent clean water source after dealing with PFOA contamination.

Today, the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released its final plan to find a permanent replacement.

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Hochul campaign staffs up with former Phil Murphy campaign aides

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Gov. Kathy Hochul's campaign is staffing up with new hires from the successful re-election bid of Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla.

Hochul's campaign has hired Miguel Arreola to serve as research director and Jerrel Harvey to become communications director. Both worked on the Murphy campaign last year.

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State health officials issue formal guidance to hospitals that could limit elective surgeries

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

An executive order issued last week by Gov. Kathy Hochul is taking effect today that could lead to limitations on elective surgeries and other procedures in New York hospitals amid a staffed bed shortage.

At the moment, no hospitals have been ordered to limit procedures by state Department of Health. The determinations, which allow health officials to place limitations on elective procedures at hospitals facing capacity issues, will be issued to hospitals by Dec. 6, and apply on procedures that are scheduled to occur on or before Dec. 9.

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Where communities are opting out of cannabis law in New York

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

What's the status of New York's new cannabis law in your hometown? A new database from the Rockefeller Institute of Government is tracking the status of the law in local governments around New York.

The database made public Friday by the Albany-based public policy think tank tracks which local governments have decided to opt out of allowing cannabis dispensaries and/or on-site consumption lounges.

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More county governments could declare COVID emergencies

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

More county governments could soon be declaring emergency declarations as COVID cases have ticked upward in recent weeks in New York, the state organization that represents local governments on Thursday said.

At the same time, county governments are calling for bolstered testing and vaccination efforts for COVID-19 as a new variant of concern has been found in New York.

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Hochul, James vie for suburban endorsements in race for governor

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Gov. Kathy Hochul and Attorney General Letitia James on Thursday touted competing endorsements from Democrats in the suburban counties near New York City.

It's a sign of how voters there in those classically swing areas of the state could prove pivotal to winning the party's nomination next June.

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How 'test-to-stay' could keep NY students in classrooms

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted in-classroom instruction, but nearly two years into the public health crisis, state health officials believe they've found a solution that keep kids in school.

The guidance is called "test-to-stay," and is meant to stop the cycle of kids who are exposed to COVID-19 if they test negative for the virus. Key to this will be 1 million antigen tests purchased by the state and heading to school districts.

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DOJ opened civil probe into Cuomo sexual harassment allegations

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 5:10 PM ET Dec. 02, 2021

A $2.5 million contract made public Thursday by the state comptroller's office indicates a law firm hired to represent former Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration was retained in part to perform legal work related to a federal Department of Justice investigation into allegations of sexual harassment leveled against Cuomo.

The contract with Willkie Farr & Gallagher was approved this week by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office.

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A conversation with the WFP’s Sochie Nnaemeka

BY Susan Arbetter City of Albany

One narrative that's been frequently espoused since the November elections is the political left in New York did poorly in the last election cycle.

But the New York state director of the Working Families Party doesn’t see it that way.

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Ashby: We’re trying to bridge the divide between veterans and civilians

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Assemblymember Jake Ashby served in the Army Reserve for eight years, completing combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a humanitarian mission to Africa. After earning several commendations, including two Bronze Stars, he knows firsthand about the hold that post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, can have on one’s life.

“I’m fortunate in that I have a great support system at home. But despite that support system, I still have bad days,” Ashby, the ranking Republican on the Veterans Affairs Committee, said. “Last week I went to Michigan and went to the services of a friend of mine that I served with in Afghanistan who took his own life. This is deeply personal to me.”

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Health officials: 56 hospitals in New York face capacity issues with deadline looming

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Fifty-six hospitals in New York are facing limited staffed bed capacity and could be directed to postpone elective surgeries and other procedures, state Department of Health officials on Thursday said.

The list of hospitals has grown from the initial 37 facilities in the six days since Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the executive order, which is set to take effect on Friday. At the moment, no hospitals have been ordered to limit procedures based on that order.

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Small businesses in NY could get more help under new laws

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A pair of bills meant to provide more support to small businesses were signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul, her office on Thursday announced.

The bills come as the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the economy, especially for small businesses and deep uncertainty remains. Both bills are meant to provide more support from state agencies for small businesses.

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New state health commissioner pledges honesty with public, Hochul

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York's new health commissioner is taking the reins of a sprawling state agency in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and as a new variant of concern could complicate a path back to normal.

On Thursday, as she was introduced to New Yorkers by Gov. Kathy Hochul, Dr. Mary Bassett pledged to be honest with the governor and the public.

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Former top financial regulator joins race for attorney general

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 10:27 AM ET Dec. 02, 2021

Maria Vullo, New York's former top banking and insurance regulator, on Wednesday joined the crowded Democratic primary field for state attorney general.

Vullo has served previously in the state attorney general's office as an executive and was the superintendent of the Department of Financial Services, an agency that oversees New York's banks and insurance companies.

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Where New York's teachers union wants to see change in schools

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Traditional public school offerings should be expanded to provide new mental health and physical support and services, universal pre-K should be expanded and the state's school receivership law should be repealed.

Those were the recommendations made in a report released Wednesday by the New York State United Teachers, the umbrella labor group that backed more than a dozen policy changes to how schools function in the state.

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New law aimed at helping child care providers in New York

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Child care providers in New York are often paid with paper checks from their local social services district sent the old-fashioned way: in the mail. The system, lawmakers this year felt, was due for an upgrade.

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Wednesday approved a measure that is meant to update the payment system for child care provided to kids who are eligible to receive a subsidy by offering a direct-deposit option.

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Rensselaer County executive indicted on two felony charges

BY Nick Reisman and Spencer Conlin City of Albany
UPDATED 9:50 PM ET Dec. 01, 2021

Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin was charged Wednesday with two felony counts stemming from allegations he stole $3,500 in campaign funds and used it to pay personal debts, Attorney General Letitia James announced.

McLaughlin, a Republican and outspoken critic of state government, was charged with third-degree grand larceny and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing.

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Safe injection sites: Can NYC do what Philadelphia couldn’t?

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

New York City has announced the opening of the nation’s first sanctioned “Overdose Prevention Centers” (OPC) or “supervised injection sites." These are facilities where people can use drugs under the supervision of health care workers.

The sites are located in East Harlem and Washington Heights, and are operated and paid for by two separate nonprofit organizations that also operate needle exchange programs in the same neighborhoods.

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Amid capacity crunch, New York health care facilities face staffing problems

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Dozens of hospitals in New York are facing a capacity crunch as COVID-19 cases have risen over the last several weeks. The issue has raised enough concerns for Gov. Kathy Hochul's administration that she has signed an order allowing health officials to limited elective surgeries in the facilities that are strained.

But the increase in COVID cases is only part of the story facing health care networks in New York. The health care field, like virtually every sector of the economy nearly two years into the pandemic, is contending with complications created by a lack of staffing.

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Agriculture producers make final plea to avoid overtime increase

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Agriculture producers and farmers in New York are bracing for a potential decision in the coming weeks by state labor officials that could lower the threshold for overtime pay.

Farmers from around the state traveled to Albany on Wednesday to urge Gov. Kathy Hochul to oppose the move and outline the effect the move would have on their businesses.

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Rep. Tom Suozzi wants a 'holiday plan' for COVID

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Long Island Rep. Tom Suozzi on Wednesday came armed to his news conference on COVID-19 with a slide presentation on rising COVID cases in various regions of New York. He proposed returning to a colored-coded system to identify region-based "microclusters" of cases.

He even asked and answered his own question at one point. But if this all seems a little too familiar to former Gov. Andrew Cuomo's style in his public handling of the pandemic, Suozzi insisted he's very different.

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5 upstate lawmakers endorse Hochul's re-election

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The field for the Democratic nomination is growing, but so is the list of endorsements for Gov. Kathy Hochul as she seeks a full term.

Hochul on Tuesday was endorsed by five members of the state Assembly who represent upstate districts, with the nods coming as Rep. Tom Suozzi officially entered the race a day earlier.

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Hochul: Nursing home strike avoided with 3-year labor deal

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The labor union 11199SEIU on Tuesday evening reached an agreement with the Greater New York Health Care Facilities Association that will stave off a strike at nursing homes in New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul's office announced.

The agreement will run for three years, but specifics of the deal for the union were not immediately made available.

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Home care advocate urges lawmakers to raise the global Medicaid cap

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Not only is getting old not for the faint of heart, it’s not for the faint of pocket either.

According to at least one study, the median cost in New York state for a private room in an elder care center is more than $12,000 per month. It’s one reason why many seniors are opting for home health care.

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Taking aim at Hochul, Suozzi wants to revamp bail reform as governor

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

The race for the Democratic nomination for governor mirrors the split within the Democratic Party in New York: U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi and Gov. Kathy Hochul are on the moderate end of the spectrum, while Attorney General Letitia James and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams are on the progressive end.

Not surprisingly, in an interview with Capital Tonight, Suozzi took aim at Hochul.

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Indefinitely suspended from CNN, Chris Cuomo's role in brother's scandal under scrutiny

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The transcripts released this week by New York Attorney General Letitia James' office have called into question the role played by CNN anchor Chris Cuomo in providing advice to his brother, Andrew Cuomo, and top aides as the administration became engulfed in scandal.

Chris Cuomo is now facing calls for his firing from his primetime job at the network, including from Charlotte Bennett, one of the women who have accused the former governor of sexual harassment.

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SUNY chancellor says he's staying put

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras on Tuesday told reporters he has no plans to step down from the role he was appointed to by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo as investigations have cast more light on the role he played in the governor's inner circle.

"I'm going to continue to do my work at SUNY as long as I can because there's a lot of work to be done," Malatras said after testifying to lawmakers at a higher education committee meeting in Albany. "I'm really proud of everything I've done in government."

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Health department: 37 New York hospitals have capacity of 10% or less remaining

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Thirty-seven hospitals in New York state are facing a capacity crunch as of late last week amid a rise in COVID-19 cases, according to data from the state Department of Health released Tuesday.

The hospitals at strained capacity are primarily concentrated in upstate and western New York counties where COVID positive cases have been spiking over the last several weeks. Two New York City hospitals, Long Island Jewish Forest Hills and Queens Hospital Center, both in Queens, were on the state's list.

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SUNY union calls for boosting tuition assistance program

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The union that represents faculty and staff at the State University of New York rolled out a campaign on Tuesday to push for boost in funding for the state's Tuition Assistance Program in the budget next year.

The effort comes as state lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul are preparing for the coming budget season, which formally kicks off when the governor will introduce her budget proposal early next year.

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Hochul urged to sign bill addressing child poverty

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Anti-poverty advocates this week are urging Gov. Kathy Hochul to sign legislation that is meant to address childhood poverty in New York.

The bill, now on Hochul's desk, would create an advisory council that would be tasked with addressing the issue.

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Housing operators say $2B in rental aid needed in state budget

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York state lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul should allocate at least $2 billion for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program in order to address thousands of renters who remain in arrears, an organization that represents 4,000 housing operators on Monday said.

The push from the Community Housing Improvement Program comes after a survey by the group found at least 100,000 tenants are in "significant" arrears and have not received any assistance.

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CUNY epidemiologist discusses omicron variant, vaccine hesitancy

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

As of Friday, no cases of the COVID-19 variant known as “omicron” had been detected in the U.S., but because the World Health Organization has warned that the global risk from omicron was very high, some countries have closed their borders.

The U.S. is restricting flights from South Africa and seven other countries. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed into law another state of emergency.

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Pollster Lee Miringoff on the race for New York governor

BY Susan Arbetter New York State
UPDATED 6:30 PM ET Nov. 29, 2021

The field of candidates running for governor of New York grew more crowded Monday with the entry of U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi into the race.

Suozzi, a former Nassau County executive, is the second moderate Democrat to enter the fray after incumbent Kathy Hochul. As things now stand, Suozzi will square off in the June primary against Hochul, Attorney General Letitia James and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams – the latter two candidates are viewed as running to the left of both Hochul and Suozzi.

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Transcripts show how Cuomo aides respond to harassment allegations

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 5:15 PM ET Nov. 29, 2021

Last year, as allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct were first surfacing against then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo, his top aides worked behind the scenes to respond.

A personnel file of Lindsay Boylan, one of the first women to accuse Cuomo of harassment, was leaked to the media. A letter was circulated around the office attesting to the governor's good behavior. And, as the scandal began to mount into 2021, Cuomo took on outside advisors that included his CNN anchor brother Chris Cuomo.

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New York closely monitoring nursing homes, Hochul says

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York state officials are closely monitoring nursing homes and long-term care facilities in the state amid concerns over the spread of a new variant of the virus around the globe, Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday said.

But for now, state officials will not alter the unrestricted visitation guidelines for nursing homes, Hochul said, pointing to a lack in the rise of hospitalizations among residents.

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Rep. Tom Suozzi announces run for N.Y. governor: 'I feel great about it'

BY Nick Reisman and Spectrum News Staff City of Albany
UPDATED 11:26 AM ET Nov. 29, 2021

Long Island Rep. Tom Suozzi, D-N.Y., announced Monday that he will seek the Democratic nomination for governor, joining an already crowded field of candidates vying to lead the Empire State.

Suozzi, a Democrat who represents parts of Long Island, called himself a "common sense Democrat" who will "work with anybody to actually solve problems and get things done."

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State, local governments move to curtail rising COVID cases

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

State and local governments in New York over the last four days have put new COVID plans in place to respond to a rise in positive cases, as well as hospitalizations.

The effort comes as a new variant of the virus, believed to be highly contagious, has led to travel restrictions and warnings from public health officials.

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New York Sen. Stavisky wraps up statewide higher education tour

BY Tim Williams New York State

The chair of the New York State Senate Higher Education Committee, Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Queens), has wrapped up a series of hearings on the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on higher education in New York state.

Stavisky told Capital Tonight that the public higher education system’s affordability and accessibility is under threat due to “austerity budgets."

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Clock is ticking to get New York district maps set for 2022

BY Tim Williams New York State

On Wednesday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a bill that could give the Legislature the power to draw the maps for state legislative and congressional districts. The bill, sponsored by Deputy Senate Majority Leader Mike Gianaris (D-Queens) and Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez (D-Manhattan), gives the Legislature power to draw the lines if the Independent Redistricting Commission does not hold a vote on proposed maps by its deadline.

Under the current regulations, the redistricting commission must deliver a district map by Jan. 1 or by the end of their grace period on Jan. 15.

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Could Albany connect to its waterfront? Federal aid could help

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Whether the city of Albany's downtown can ever truly connect to its Hudson River waterfront remains an open question.

The city is cut off from the water by Interstate 787, a beltway that is lightly used compared to its size, as well as train tracks and a port that has expanded in recent years and become an economic driver in its own right.

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New York lawmakers proposed tax credits to aid local news

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 3:40 PM ET Nov. 24, 2021

Local news organizations would be eligible for business tax credits to hire journalists, and subscribers would be eligible for a personal income tax credit under legislation proposed Wednesday by two New York state lawmakers.

The tax credits are being proposed as local newspapers have come under economic strain and increasingly under the control of hedge funds.

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Top state prison official decries 'savagery' of attacks on prison staff

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The top state official in charge of New York's prison system in a memorandum this week decried the "savagery" of recent attacks on facility staff, warning that any violence will be met with prosecution and added time to a sentence.

The memo, obtained this week by Spectrum News 1, was directed to the state's prison population.

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Hochul nominates Judge Shirley Troutman for top court

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Judge Shirley Troutman was nominated by Gov. Kathy Hochul on Wednesday to fill a vacancy on the state Court of Appeals, New York's highest court.

Hochul is turning to a judge with deep ties to the Buffalo area for the nomination, her first on the court since she took office Aug. 24.

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Advocates, Jumaane Williams urge Hochul to use clemency power

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Families of people in state prison and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams are urging Gov. Kathy Hochul to use her clemency power this holiday season.

At the same time, advocates and Williams are calling for the passage of two measures to meant to release more people from prison through changes to the parole system and based on a person's age.

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Calls for Cuomo's impeachment revive following Assembly report

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 6:26 PM ET Nov. 23, 2021

The 46-page report released this week by the New York State Assembly detailing allegations of sexual harassment, the supression of nursing home fatality data and the use of public resources to write a lucrative book about the COVID-19 pandemic has led to revived calls for ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo's impeachment.

The only problem? Lawmakers are split on whether it can actually happen.

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Erie County executive on mask mandate: 'We are very worried about our hospitals being overrun'

BY Susan Arbetter Erie County

If you’re planning a trip to Wegmans for more cranberry sauce, the gym to burn off that pecan pie or to an Italian restaurant after Thanksgiving when you’re sick of turkey, you’re going to need a mask if you live in Erie County.

On Monday, County Executive Mark Poloncarz announced that all patrons and public-facing employees will have to wear masks starting Tuesday.

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New York moves to expand telehealth services as pandemic continues

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York state is launching a $3 million grant program meant to boost new technologies that would expand and improve access to telehealth services, the use of which has become more prominent amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The program is meant to provide funding supporting for community health providers to buy equipment for telehealth services and create access spaces in locations like libraries, homeless shelters and pharmacies. The state will also award $150,000 in grants to 10 regions of the state that will be matched with philanthropic backing for the Rockfellefer Philanthropy Advisors.

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Many areas see unemployment improve, but New York City remains high

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Regional unemployment data released Tuesday by the state Department of Labor show many regions of New York have had their unemployment rates fall below 4% in October.

But the jobless rate remained stubbornly high in New York City last month as Broadway reopens and there is a push to strengthen the hard-hit hospitality and tourism sector.

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James campaign hires from key labor union

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 8:26 AM ET Nov. 23, 2021

Attorney General Letitia James is turning to the political director of a key labor union to lead her campaign for governor.

James on Tuesday morning announced 1199SEIU's Gabby Seay will become campaign manager, giving her a connection to one of the state's most politically active labor groups.

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Clergy groups weigh in on top court nomination

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Clergy groups on Monday urged Gov. Kathy Hochul to nominate Judge Shirley Troutman to a vacancy on New York's top state court, pointing to her experience and work on a commission meant to create more equitable outcomes in the justice system.

The push by the clergy for Troutman comes as Hochul has two vacancies on the state Court of Appeals to fill in the coming weeks and amid an unusual effort by a variety of organizations to influence the nominations.

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New York seeks to strengthen gun violence prevention

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The state over the last three months has spent $30 million on efforts to reduce gun violence across New York by aiding outreach and intervention programs on the local level.

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday touted the efforts after a wave of shootings in New York cities during the summer months led to increased concerns over gun violence and efforts to curtail it.

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Activist brothers who lost dad to COVID-19 speak on Assembly's Cuomo report

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Peter and Danny Arbeeny’s 88-year-old father died at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020 after contracting coronavirus while in a nursing home.

"He was vivacious, strong, sharped-minded," Danny Arbeeny told Capital Tonight reporter Nick Reisman in an interview last year. "He was actually working, an 88-year-old man. He was always sitting on the stoop, always had a big smile, always helping people. They called him mayor of the block, president of the block. He was beloved."

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Investigations apply more scrutiny to Cuomo's pandemic tenure

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Former New York Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker spent a lot of time with then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo during the COVID-19 pandemic. Zucker was often seen coming and going to Cuomo's office on the second floor of the state Capitol and appeared alongside him at nationally televized briefings on the crisis.

But Zucker told legislative investigators the reality was a lot different, despite their proximity.

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Native American schools in upstate New York are facing critical capital needs

BY Susan Arbetter New York State
UPDATED 6:27 PM ET Nov. 22, 2021

Three schools that teach Native American children in upstate New York are banding together, calling on the Hochul administration to allocate $60 million in capital funding for school buildings which are falling apart.

The schools are the St. Regis Mohawk in the Salmon River Central School District, Onondaga Elementary in the Lafayette Central School District near Syracuse and Tuscarora Elementary in the Niagara Wheatfield Central School District near Buffalo.

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NY Assemblyman Phil Steck discusses Assembly Judiciary Committee's report on Cuomo

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

The just released 45-page summary of the investigation into Andrew Cuomo by the firm Davis, Polk & Wardwell for the Assembly Judiciary Committee paints a portrait of a leader who plays fast and loose with the rules of government, who has no compunction about obfuscating publicly when it suits his purposes and who refused to cooperate in any meaningful way with a legislative investigation.

The Assembly report finds, like the attorney general’s report, that the former governor engaged in multiple instances of sexual harassment and created a hostile work environment. Additionally, the report said that he “utilized state resources and property to work, publish and promote his book on COVID; and that he was and his staff were not fully transparent regarding the number of nursing home residents who died as a result of COVID.”

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Hochul adds to her new administration as more endorsements come in

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Gov. Kathy Hochul appointed longtime state official Jeffrey Pearlman to become her administration's general counsel and appointed Micah Lasher to serve as her director of policy.

"As my administration works to deliver results for all New Yorkers, it is crucial we bring on the best and the brightest to solve our state's most pressing challenges and lead the way," Hochul said announcing the appointments. "With the diverse backgrounds and wealth of experience we are adding to our team, we will work with partners at all levels to move our state forward and get the job done for New Yorkers."

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Live Updates: Cuomo rep denies findings of report, calls Assembly legislators 'hypocritical'

BY Spectrum News Staff New York State
UPDATED 2:10 PM ET Nov. 22, 2021

Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo made extensive use of his staff and office resources in writing his book on the COVID-19 pandemic while on his way to collecting $5.2 million in advances, with some senior state officials acting as de facto literary agents and others admitting they were working on the book at the expense of their duties in combating the pandemic, according to a report released Monday that was commissioned by the state Assembly.

The report also found “overwhelming evidence” that Cuomo engaged in sexual harassment while in office, and that his staff directly edited a state health department report on COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes in an effort to push back on criticism of Cuomo’s handling of infections in elderly care facilities.

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Will Rep. Suozzi join Adams administration?

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Rep. Tom Suozzi this weekend did not rule out potentially joining Mayor-elect Eric Adams' new administration — a move that would potentially upend the race for the Democratic nomination for governor.

Suozzi, who had indicated he would make a decision on whether he will run for governor by the end of this month, now has more to consider. He's ruling nothing out.

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AG James presents her own plan for tackling COVID-19 as governor

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Democratic candidate for governor Letitia James unveiled a multi-point plan for how she would address the COVID-19 pandemic, pledging to use the state's buying power for more home testing kits, expanding outreach outside major cities and offer $200 to vaccine holdouts to get their shots.

At the same time, James walked up to the line of criticizing her rival for the party's nomination, Gov. Kathy Hochul, by blaming "state government" for the current rise in COVID cases in parts of the state.

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Rep. Tom Suozzi pushed for a SALT deal; he got one

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

For months, U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi by his own admission sounded like a broken record with the mantra of "no SALT, no deal."

And Suozzi got his deal on altering the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions as a provision in the Build Back Better Act approved Friday by the House of Representatives. The provision comes as Suozzi, a Long Island Democrat, is openly eyeing a campaign for governor, and could enter the race later this month.

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Tenant advocates argue Rochester vacancy study needs to be redone

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

New York state's new Emergency Tenant Protection Act allows cities to institute rent control if they conduct a vacancy study and find the vacancy rate is 5% or lower.

The city of Rochester did such a study and found its rate was 9%, too high to qualify for rent control under the new law.

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Hochul receives endorsements from 2 Senate Democrats

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Gov. Kathy Hochul's bid for a full term next year was endorsed by two Democrats in the state Senate on Friday as she faces a competitive challenge for the party's nomination.

Hochul secured the backing of state Sen. Tim Kennedy of the Buffalo area and Sen. Diane Savino, who represents Staten Island.

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DiNapoli: Sales tax revenue increased in October

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Sales tax collections on the local level in October increased by 12.9% compared to the same time period a year ago, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli on Friday announced.

Revenue from all local governments reached more than $1.5 billion, an increase of $175 million from October 2020.

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Lawmaker: Assembly's Cuomo report corroborates sexual harassment allegations

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The 45-page report borne out of a nine-month investigation of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo would be grounds for impeachment if he were still in office, state Assemblyman Phil Steck on Friday said.

Steck was among the state lawmakers on the Assembly Judiciary Committee reviewing the findings of the investigation, which had initially began in the springtime as an impeachment inquiry of Cuomo.

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New York's jobless rate continues slow rebound

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York's statewide unemployment rate in October fell from 7.1% to 6.9% in October as the economy added more than 40,000 jobs in the private sector, the state Department of Labor announced Thursday.

The state's gain of 41,300 jobs in October was a 0.5% increase, matching the private sector increase nationwide. But New York remains at a slower pace than the rest of the country overall. The nationwide unemployment rate stands at 4.6%.

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NY Assemblyman on the health care staffing shortage: 'It all comes down to money'

BY Susan Arbetter New York State
UPDATED 6:22 PM ET Nov. 18, 2021

On Wednesday, the New York state Assembly committees on Health, Higher Education and Labor held a joint hearing on the workforce crisis in healthcare.

Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, the long-time chairman of the Assembly Health Committee, spoke with Capital Tonight about why New York is facing such a crisis, as well as some of the solutions that were floated by hearing attendees.

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NY Sen. Brisport on his listening tour: Child care is 'on the verge of collapse' without major investment

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

New York Sen. Jabari Brisport, chair of the Senate Committee on Children & Families, has been traveling around the state hearing from stakeholders on the issue of child care and discussing his Universal Child Care Initiative.

According to at least one observer, Brisport’s meetings have been successful when measured by how engaged the community has been.

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Rep. Delgado says he has commitment from Biden on SALT changes

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Changes to the cap on state and local tax deductions as part of a major bill to fund social programs has won a commitment from President Joe Biden, according to a letter Democratic Rep. Antonio Delgado released on Thursday.

Biden in the letter to Delgado called the provision to change the cap on the deductions — currently set at $10,000 — "a sustainable, long-term reform."

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Top Democrat on Assembly panel says Cuomo report will be made public in coming days

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Lawmakers on the state Assembly Judiciary Committee Thursday afternoon began the process of reviewing a report that is the culmination of a months-long investigation of myriad scandals and controversies that have dogged former Gov. Andrew Cuomo for much of the year.

The report is being read by lawmakers on the panel in private over the next two days, and will be released to the general public in the coming days, Assembly Judiciary Chairman Charles Lavine told reporters outside of his office.

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Top state lawmakers call for more federal rent assistance

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The top Democratic lawmakers in the state Senate and Assembly on Thursday urged President Joe Biden's administration to approve nearly $1 billion in additional emergency rent relief funds for New York.

The state is seeking $996 million in aid from the federal government after having already distributed more than $1 billion in support to more than 81,000 landlords.

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Business groups urge Hochul to veto insurance bill

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Statewide and local-level business organizations this week in a letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul urged her to reject a pending measure that would alter disclosure requirements for insurance during civil litigation.

The bill sent to Hochul's desk is meant to provide for timely disclosure of the nature and extent of insurance coverage in personal injury cases. Supporters in the Legislature point to the "confusing and often contradicting array of case law" of what needs to be disclosed in these cases.

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Lawmaker proposes measure to revive local news in New York

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A Syracuse-area lawmaker on Wednesday unveiled a measure meant to bolster local news in New York through grants and partnerships with the state's public colleges and universities.

The bill backed by Sen. Rachel May, a Democrat, comes amid a generational decline in local news, with 25% of newspapers in the country closing in the last 15 years.

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Tax expert Len Burman on reforming SALT

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

The U.S. House of Representatives may vote this week on President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better legislation, which will include investments in clean energy, lower prescription drug costs and pay for childcare.

The plan may also address the state and local tax deduction, known as SALT.

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New York lawmaker hopes he can settle Mario Cuomo Bridge controversy

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

It's hard to find someone in the Hudson Valley who doesn't have an opinion about the bridge formerly known as the Tappan Zee. Naming the crossing, which opened in 2017 to traffic, after former Gov. Mario Cuomo, has stirred a heated debate in the region.

And now a Democratic lawmaker in the state Assembly believes he's got a compromise.

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New York Senate Republicans hope for an ally in Eric Adams

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

For eight long years, Mayor Bill de Blasio would trek to Albany for a chilly reception — and not just from his rival Andrew Cuomo.

Republicans in the state Senate, who held and then lost power in the chamber during de Blasio's tenure, had a frosty relationship with the New York City mayor after benefitting from the campaign largesse of his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg. Now, with Mayor-elect Eric Adams and his calls to make further changes to the state's bail laws, Republicans hope they have a new ally in City Hall.

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Hochul gets endorsements from 6 state Assembly members

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A half dozen state lawmakers on Wednesday endorsed Gov. Kathy Hochul's campaign for a full term next year as she draws support from members in her native western New York as well as Democrats from New York City.

Hochul is running for a full, four-year term in 2022 and faces what could be an historically large Democratic primary next June.

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DiNapoli audit: New York needs to improve protections for vulnerable adults

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York state needs to do a better job of overseeing adult protective service providers who are responsible for the protection of vulnerable adults, an audit released Wednesday by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office found.

The report raises concerns with how cases are handled to ensure service providers are being properly overseen.

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Two more Democratic county chairs back Hochul for a full term

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The field for governor is growing, but so is the slate of endorsements for Gov. Kathy Hochul in her bid to win a full term next year.

Hochul was endorsed on Tuesday by two Democratic Party county leaders: Joe Landry of Schenectady and Scott Reing of Putnam County, her campaign announced.

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Hochul urged to sign bill strengthening programs for kids with disabilities

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

State lawmakers and advocates on Tuesday urged Gov. Kathy Hochul to approve a bill meant to strengthen funding and expand programs in New York that serve children with disabilities.

The measure is meant to provide fair and equitable funding to the programs and link it to aid given to public schools in the state.

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Ethics regulators rescind Cuomo book deal approval

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 7:19 PM ET Nov. 16, 2021

State ethics officials on Tuesday moved to rescind approval of ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo's memoir about the COVID-19 pandemic which had led to a $5.1 million contract.

The 12-1 vote at the Joint Commission on Public Ethics means Cuomo will have to re-apply for approval and could face fines or profit clawbacks if the panel denies it.

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Exploring the pros and cons of the Climate and Community Investment Act

BY Susan Arbetter City of Albany

The Climate and Community Investment Act (CCIA) is legislation that would raise around $15 billion per year for the state of New York by charging corporate polluters $55 per ton of released greenhouse gas emissions.

To address the category of emissions called “co-pollutants,” the bill directs the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to set a fee on major sources. While those sources already pay a fee, it’s not on the scale of what is necessary to cover the health and climate impacts they are causing.

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NY Democratic lawmakers make push for 'Good Cause Eviction' bill

BY Morgan McKay Albany/Capital Region

The “Good Cause Eviction” bill. People should get ready to hear the name of this piece of legislation repeated throughout the next legislative session.

Progressive Democrats have made this bill one of their top priorities and rallied around the state on Tuesday in support of this measure.

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Hochul approves bills to strengthen protections for LGBTQ+ New Yorkers

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Bills meant to strengthen protections for LGBTQ+ New Yorkers were signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Kathy Hochul amid Transgender Awareness Week.

One measure is meant to expand protections for people in the LGBTQ+ community who are survivors and victims of sex trafficking. Known as the START Act, the new law is aimed at vacating convictions committed while a person is a victim of sex trafficking, labor trafficking and compelled prostitution.

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Rockefeller Institute Analysis: Municipalities are opting out of NY’s new marijuana law

BY Susan Arbetter City of Albany

The deadline for municipalities in New York to opt-out of the licensing of adult-use marijuana dispensaries and on-site consumption sites is right around the corner, Dec. 31.

The new Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, or MRTA, which passed in March, offers municipalities across New York the opportunity to opt-out of licensing. But if no decision is made, cities, towns and villages will be automatically opted-in to the retail marijuana marketplace.

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Can New York Democrats stay united?

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Members of the New York State Democratic Committee on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a no confidence resolution in the leadership of Chairman Jay Jacobs following a string of party losses in this state and across the country earlier this month.

The result isn't just a victory for Jacobs, but also Gov. Kathy Hochul, who has stuck by the chairman as progressive advocates and elected officials have called for his ouster.

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Aid-in-dying advocates to make renewed push for bill

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Supporters of a bill that would allow for medical aid-in-dying provisions in New York are undertaking a renewed push to get the measure approved in Albany ahead of the coming legislative session.

The advocacy group Compassion & Choices is set to unveil a new billboard in Buffalo in support of the measure. The billboard will be visible to drivers heading to the Buffalo Niagara International Airport via the Kensington Expressway or Duck Road -- a likely nod to Gov. Kathy Hochul's possible commute to the airport.

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Advocates, lawmakers want Hochul top court nominee to have a public defender background

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Dozens of advocacy groups and state lawmakers are urging Gov. Kathy Hochul to nominate someone with a public defender background to sit on the state's top court.

The hope from the organizations, which include local-level groups as well as the Demand Justice, Release Aging People in Prison and the Working Families Party, is a judge with public defender experience could be more sympathetic understanding to low-income people.

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Bail reform debate already heating up before session next year

BY Morgan McKay City of Albany

Bail reform has been a controversial topic over the last few years, ever since its passage in 2019.

New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams says he wants to make changes to the law, possibly by giving judges more leeway when it comes to determining who qualifies for pretrial detention.

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How one upstate businessman wants to turn down political heat

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Polarization has only increased in the last decade, but one political organization is trying to change that.

Upstate New York businessman Martin Babinec has tried to take some of the heat out of the political arena in recent years. He's founded the group Unite NY, meant to support independent candidates who offer compromise and consensus.

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Assemblywoman sponsors bill to find segregated schools

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

A report released by the Civil Rights Project in June found that New York continues to be the most-segregated state for Black students in the country.

The Empire State is also the second-most segregated state for Latino students, trailing only California, according to the report.

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