State Assembly

Heastie says he's open to judicial training for bail law

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has remained one of the most steadfast and prominent supporters of the state measures that largely ended cash bail for many criminal charges.

And as the law has become a flashpoint in a larger debtate over crime and public safety in New York statewide, Heastie has decried how the law has been blamed — in his view unfarily — for rising violence.

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NY Assembly Speaker Heastie continues upstate summer tour

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie next week will start the upstate portion of his summer tour with visits to Rochester and the Syracuse area as well as Utica, his office on Friday said.

The annual tour of the state began when Heastie, a Bronx Democrat, took on the top post in the state Assembly seven years ago.

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New York State Police, DEC to issue enforcement guidelines for new concealed carry rules

BY Kate Lisa New York State

Questions are mounting about New York state's new rules restricting who can get a concealed carry permit and where firearms can be carried in New York as police wait for enforcement guidelines.

New York's Concealed Carry Improvement Act, signed hours after being introduced during an extraordinary session last week, prohibits firearms in sensitive places like airports, schools, parks, houses of worship, hospitals and medical facilities, among others. The law takes effect Sept. 1.

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233-year-old New York resolution could lead to eroding rights, advocates warn

BY Tim Williams New York State

Two-hundred-and-thirty-three years later, advocates are calling on the New York state Legislature to rescind a call for a constitutional convention over a concern that constitutional rights could be rolled back.

Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause NY, told Capital Tonight that a 1789 New York state resolution calling for a federal constitutional convention to add the Bill of Rights to the document could be used to roll back rights and powers of the federal government in the 21st Century.

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New York Assemblywoman Pat Fahy wants to ‘reimagine’ aging Albany highway

BY Tim Williams Albany/Capital Region

When New York Assemblywoman Pat Fahy, an Albany Democrat, looks at the Interstate 787 highway that cuts through New York’s capital city, she sees an “opportunity” to correct mistakes of the 1960s and 70s and reclaim the city’s “greatest natural resource — the mighty Hudson River.”

The highway, which was constructed in the 1960s, runs along the Hudson River in Albany County with connections to neighboring Rensselaer County. Fahy said it is “essential” for economic development to have greater access to the waterfront.

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League of Women Voters awaits court decision on New York Assembly maps

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

While the New York state Assembly primary elections are currently slated to be held on Tuesday, June 28 using the new maps drawn by Democrats earlier this year, a judge in the First Department of the Appellate Division last week ruled that the lines are invalid, but cannot be redrawn during this election cycle because of time constraints.

A separate lawsuit, brought by the League of Women Voters of New York State, alleged that the state Board of Elections shouldn’t certify the Assembly lines because the Court of Appeals said they were drawn by an unconstitutional process.

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How caucus lawmakers flexed New York legislative muscles in session

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus this year was able to win a series of legislative and budget victories, including a funding boost for public colleges in New York City, expanding the Homeowner Protection Program and boosting funding for the Black Farm Fund, as well as efforts to reduce gun violence.

The caucus can also point to measures such as the approval of a state-level version of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, reducing medical debt and addressing lead poisoning levels in children.

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Appellate judge tosses state Assembly maps

BY Kate Lisa New York State
UPDATED 8:55 PM ET Jun. 10, 2022

The New York State Assembly maps adopted by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul in February are void, according to a state Appellate Court ruling on Friday.

The now-tossed Assembly district lines will remain in place for the June 28 primary and the Nov. 8 general election.

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New York lawmakers, advocates hope for a final deal on 'Clean Slate' measure

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A measure that would seal criminal records for thousands of New Yorkers has the potential to be revived in the coming days after stalling for the last several years in Albany.

The bill, known as the Clean Slate Act, advanced out of a key committee in the state Senate on Tuesday afternoon. It's final fate, however, remains unclear as lawmakers plan to leave Albany by the end of the week for the rest of the year.

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Will the New York Assembly pass economic development reform?

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Since the Buffalo Billion scandal in 2016, government watchdog groups have been trying to pass a selection of bills that would restore oversight, as well as create more transparency around state economic development deals.

“There are a number of different bills that would go a long way to restoring some sanity to a rather chaotic economic development system,” Ron Deutsch, director of New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness, told Capital Tonight. “For the last decade, I would suggest, we have been subjected to what I like to call ‘Cuomo-nomic Development’, where Gov. Cuomo was really trying to take the reins of the economic development programs, and moving things in the directions that benefitted him and the folks that he wanted to benefit.”

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Improvements to New York's Holocaust education will head to Hochul's desk

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A survey of the state of New York's Holocaust education curriculum would be required under a bill being sent to Gov. Kathy Hochul's desk after the measure gained full passage in the state Legislature on Thursday.

It was introduced in response to a 2020 study by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany that found New Yorkers age 18 to 39 lacked knowledge of the Holocaust.

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NY Assemblywoman Hunter: Good Cause Eviction bill isn't about non-payment of rent

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Chanting "housing is a human right," advocates pushing for the “Good Cause Eviction” bill protested at the New York state capitol last week. The bill would prevent landlords from evicting tenants if the tenants have not violated their leases.

The bill, which was introduced in 2019, gives tenants a right to a lease renewal and would cap rent increases to 3% or 1.5% of the Consumer Price Index (CPI), whichever is higher.

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New York Adult Survivors Act goes to Hochul's desk for final approval

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York lawmakers and advocates are cheering the final approval of a measure that is meant to make it easier for sexual abuse victims and survivors to file lawsuits — holding both their abusers and potentially the organizations that shielded them accountable.

It's a victory for supporters like state Sen. Brad Hoylman and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal. The measure is modeled after the Child Victims Act, which opened up similar legal avenues for people who were abused or assaulted as kids.

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New York Assembly Speaker Heastie to host Illinois House speaker

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Illinois House Speaker Chris Welch will visit Albany on Tuesday and meet with his New York counterparts in the state Assembly, Speaker Carl Heastie's office said.

Welch's visit comes after Heastie previously traveled to Springfield to meet with Illinois state lawmakers. He will be joined by Illinois Reps. Marcus Evans and Kam Buckner.

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New York Assembly members urge state OMH, OASAS to treat people holistically

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

People with addiction issues frequently have co-occurring mental health issues, but critics argue the New York state agencies that deal with these issues don’t play well together.

OASAS, the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse services, and OMH, the Office of Mental Health Services, are what state Assemblymembers Carrie Woerner and Phil Steck call siloed.

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New York Assembly secures votes to pass Adult Survivors Act

BY Kate Lisa City of Albany

The New York state Assembly is expected to pass the Adult Survivors Act to allow survivors of sexual assault to have their day in court following three years of outcry.

The Adult Survivors Act, sponsored by Manhattan Democrats Sen. Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, would create a one-year lookback window for survivors of sexual assault to file a civil suit against an individual or institution for their past abuse that occurred after age 18. The bill has highlighted such abuse rampant within the modeling or athletics industry or medical field.

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New York redistricting court battle moves to state Assembly

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Two legal challenges pending in state court could upend the final legislative maps left standing in the redistricting process: the New York state Assembly.

The challenges are being brought for different reasons: One by a Republican in New York City, another by a Greene County businessman and registered Democrat. The only twist? It's a legal challenge the Assembly Republicans, long in the minority since the advent of the post-Watergate era, don't really want.

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NY Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter talks budget, bail law changes, qualified immunity

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

The aging Interstate 81 span that has divided the city of Syracuse both geographically and racially since the 1960s is scheduled to come down. The recently passed New York state budget includes an additional $1 billion to help remove the old viaduct and start work on what’s called the “community grid” plan to replace it.

Syracuse-area state Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter said as soon as final authorization from the federal government is received, construction will begin.

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Republicans bemoan New York state budget process

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

While there are plenty of Democrats who take issue with various aspects of the New York state budget deal, Republicans are deeply concerned not only about the substance of the budget, but about the process by which it came together.

State Assemblyman Ed Ra is a Republican from Long Island and ranking member of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.

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New York Assemblyman John McDonald touts success of child care funding in state budget

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

After a difficult negotiation which fell apart multiple times over the past week, New York state finally has a budget deal in place.

The $220 billion agreement includes hourly wage increases for home care workers and direct support professionals (DSPs) — those people working with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

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Gas tax suspension, child care boost, alcohol to-go option included in $220B New York state budget

BY Nick Reisman and Luke Parsnow New York State
UPDATED 5:10 PM ET Apr. 07, 2022

Nearly a week after it was due, New York state lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul have reached an agreement on a $220 billion state budget that would include a suspension of the state's gas tax, an increased investment in child care, changes to the 2019 bail law and an alcohol to-go option for bars and restaurants that was utilized in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

News: New York budget deal will include a suspension of the gas tax from June 1 through the end of the year, per source

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Kendra's Law expansion remains a final hurdle in New York state budget

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

An expansion of law that requires people in a mental health crisis receive treatment remains one of the final stumbling blocks for lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul as they seek to forge a final state budget agreement.

But the measure known as Kendra's Law remains controversial for some Democrats in the Legislature as well as advocates for mental health treatment.

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New York Assembly majority leader defends Hochul, Buffalo Bills stadium deal

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

In a series of radio and television ads, the Seneca Nation of Indians is slamming New York Gov. Kathy Hochul over two issues related to the Buffalo Bills stadium deal: Freezing their bank accounts and using the money to pay part of the state’s share of the subsidy, and because of a perceived conflict of interest — Hochul’s husband works for Delaware North, the company that has the Bills stadium concession.

New York state Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, of Buffalo, was asked if these were valid arguments against the stadium and the governor.

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New York lawmakers set to expand bail-eligible circumstances in state budget

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York state lawmakers are closing in on an agreement that could expand the circumstances in which cash bail would be required to include charges like gun trafficking as well as alleged repeat offenses, a top Democrat in the state Senate on Tuesday said.

The development comes as lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul are close to putting the finishing touches on a broader state budget agreement, which had been expected to pass on Friday.

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Analyst: A late New York state budget is on Hochul

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

No budget deal yet.

Political analyst and lobbyist Jack O’Donnell, managing partner at O’Donnell & Associates, told Capital Tonight that, at the end of the day, the blame for budget tardiness will fall on the governor, whether it’s her fault or not.

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New York's budget remains in limbo as deadline will be missed

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 3:50 PM ET Mar. 31, 2022

State lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul will not reach an agreement by the end of the day for a spending plan for New York amid a lack of agreement over key criminal justice issues.

Making changes to New York's bail law that end cash bail requirements for many criminal charges remains up in the air, though lawmakers on Thursday said progress has been made on the issue.

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New York's budget talks remain in neutral amid disagreement

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Consume this news while seated: New York's state budget may be a late one.

The April 1 deadline is essentially a meaningless one for nearly all 20 million New Yorkers, even as lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul wrestle with consequential proposals over how to fund child care, whether New York's criminal justice system needs to undergo further changes and how at minimum $216 billion in taxpayer money should be spent.

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Good government group 'Reinvent Albany' on New York budget and ethics reform

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Good government groups are frequently frustrated with Albany, but this year they may be more so because they expected new Gov. Kathy Hochul to usher in a new wave of transparency. Instead, at least one group, Reinvent Albany, is sharing the same litany of grievances it did last year when Andrew Cuomo was still governor.

“The big priority for government watch dog groups like ours is creating a new ethics commission that’s independently appointed,” John Kaehny, of Reinvent Albany, told Capital Tonight. “And, as The Times Union editorialized Friday, that seems to be dead in the water at the moment.”

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Advocates press New York officials to not make criminal justice changes

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Progressive organizations and criminal justice advocacy groups are moving to counteract a push in Albany to make changes to New York's recent package of changes to the state's bail and evidence discovery laws, as well as how juveniles are treated in the court system.

The latest efforts comes from more than 70 national and state organizations pushing back against proposed changes. Backers of the effort range from Jay-Z to the Center for American Progress, ACLU, Indivisible, the Working Families Party, National Domestic Workers Alliance and MoveOn.

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How the New York state budget might address decarbonization in buildings

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Buildings are the number one emitters of carbon in New York state. Those emissions come from the burning of fossil fuels like oil and gas for heating and cooling.

Convincing New Yorkers to support a ban on natural gas connections to newly constructed homes and buildings was going to be a heavy lift even before Russia invaded Ukraine. With the subsequent increase in gas prices and utility costs on the rise, it may seem even more daunting.

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New York's budget could expand postpartum coverage

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York lawmakers are calling for an expansion of postpartum coverage in the state's Medicaid program, increasing the period from 60 days to a full year.

The provision was advanced this week by both chambers in the state Senate and Assembly budget proposals; a final spending plan is expected to be approved by March 31.

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State budget watchdog urges New York lawmakers to save for a rainy day

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

While both legislative one-house budgets add spending to the executive budget, New York state budget watchdogs are sounding the alarm over the economy. The Citizens Budget Commission is urging lawmakers to exercise some restraint when it comes to spending.

When Gov. Kathy Hochul rolled out her budget proposal in January, it was a historic $216 billion spending package.

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Relief at the gas pump could come in the New York state budget

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Relief at the gas pump in New York could come as early as May 1 under a proposal advanced this week by Democrats in the state Legislature.

The proposal, which lawmakers want included in the final version of the state budget due at the end of the month, takes aim at New York's 48-cent-a-gallon tax on gasoline by creating a seven-month suspension.

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New York lawmakers want to increase funding for local health departments

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

More money would be available to local health departments under budget proposals advanced by lawmakers in the Democratic-controlled state Legislature this week.

The Assembly's budget plan matches funding levels proposed by Gov. Kathy Hochul, while the state Senate would add additional resources to county fringe rates and backs a restoration of funding to New York City's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

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Could New York's Environmental Bond Act get even bigger?

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

In 2019, then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed a $3 billion bond act to help shore up water and sewer infrastructure in need of being strengthened as extreme weather is expected to only grow in the coming years.

Gov. Kathy Hochul added $1 billion to the proposal. Democrats in the state Legislature want to add even more.

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New York home care advocates cheer budget proposals

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Advocates for home care workers in New York are cheering the inclusion of a pay raise provision for workers in the sector as part of the legislative budget proposals being released this week.

The first step toward increase worker pay was included in the spending plans backed by Democrats in the state Assembly and Senate.

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NY lawmakers lay out state budget priorities for housing, child care

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

State lawmakers this week are set to propose billions of dollars in spending meant to bolster struggling New Yorkers, including aid renters, making homeownership more affordable and increasing access to higher education and child care services.

The budget resolutions being proposed by the Democratic-led state Senate and Assembly amount to roadmaps for lawmakers, laying down public markers for the posture they are taking with Gov. Kathy Hochul.

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Working Families Party Sees Primary Victories in New York

BY Susan Arbetter New York State
UPDATED 8:08 PM ET Aug. 05, 2020

The Working Families Party took on a slew of downstate Assembly incumbents and won. The primary elections results, which were delayed because of mail-in voting, show that six Assembly incumbents were defeated and in the Senate, progressive candidate Jabari Brisport beat Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright for the open seat held by Velmanette Montgomery.

As political analyst Bruce Gyory wrote today in the Empire Report “Progressives are ascending in New York, but they are not ascendant”.

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Lawmakers to Review COVID's Impact on Higher Education

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

State lawmakers today will assess the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on New York's colleges and universities as campuses consider what the fall semester will look like for students, faculty, and staff.

The hearing, to be held by the Higher Education Committees of the state Senate and Assembly, comes as public university and college campuses are considering how to reopen in the fall and whether some form of distance learning will continue.

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Republicans See Less to Cheer in Redistricting Amendment

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Eight years ago, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature came to a deal: Lawmakers in the state Senate and Assembly could draw their own district boundaries and, in effect, choose their own voters.

In return, the Legislature needed to pass an amendment to the state constitution overhauling the process after the 2020 census. But now with the next round of redistricting approaching, a very different state Legislature is making alterations to the process again.

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Traffic Fines Piling Up? Your License May Be Safe

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 4:46 PM ET Jul. 22, 2020

The state Legislature on Wednesday put the finishing touches on a bill that would allow drivers to pay traffic fines and fees on installment in order to prevent them from losing their driver's licenses.

The measure, approved in the Assembly on Wednesday and previously backed by the state Senate, now goes to Governor Andrew Cuomo for his consideration.

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Assembly Approves Broadband Study Bill

BY Morgan McKay City of Albany

A bill meant to increase broadband throughout the state is on its way to passing the New York State Legislature this week.

The "Comprehensive Broadband Connectivity Act" passed the state Assembly on Tuesday, and could pass the New York State Senate this week.

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Bill Shielding Undocumented Immigrants in Courts Passes Assembly

BY Morgan McKay New York State

The State Assembly passed two bills on Monday, as state lawmakers return to pass an unknown number of bills this week.

The Protect Our Courts Act ensures that undcoumented immigrants can participate in the justice system without fear of being deported. It would prohibit immigration related civil arrests against anyone traveling to or from a court proceeding.

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Top GOP Lawmakers Back Nursing Home Investigation Bill

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The top Republican lawmakers in the state Senate and Assembly are signing onto a bill that would create an independent investigation of nursing home and long-term care facility deaths during the coronavirus pandemic.

The measure was originally introduced by Sen. Jim Tedisco and has the support of Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt and Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay.

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How Lawmakers Want To Help Law Students After Bar Exam Is Canceled

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York law students should be granted a form of diploma privilege to become practicing attorneys after the state bar examination scheduled for September was canceled.

Sen. Brad Hoylman and Assemblywoman Jo Ann Simon backed the legislation that would apply to law school graduates for the duration of the declared state of emergency for the coronavirus pandemic.

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Lawmakers Warn Against Cuts to Addiction Programs

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A planned 31% reduction in drug addiction treatment programs could have a "potentially calamitous" effect, two Democratic state lawmakers on Wednesday warned.

The cuts to treatment programs come as the state is considering broad-based decreases in spending amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has created an economic crisis and shrunken revenue for the state.

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Assembly Democrats to Report $4.7M in Campaign Coffers

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Assembly Democrats later on Wednesday are set to report a combined $4.7 million for their two main conference campaign accounts.

The Demcoratic Assembly Campaign Committee will report having $3.7 million in cash on hand. The "housekeeping" account, where the use of money is more restricted, will report more than $1 million in the bank.

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Republican Lawmakers Urge Outdoor Nursing Home Visits

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

State health officials should allow outsoor visitations at nursing homes and long-term care facilities in order to increase the number of people who can see their loved ones, a group of Republican state lawmakers on Monday said.

The lawmakers, Sen. George Borello, Assemblyman Andy Goodell and Assemblyman Joe Giglio, wrote in a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo wrote that if implemented safely, the move would result in more visitors without spreading coronavirus at the facilities.

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Former NYPD Commissioner Endorses In Hudson Valley Assembly Race

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly endorsed Republican Assembly candidate Mike Lawler on Thursday, saying both agree on that the issues of "criminal justice and safety concerns need addressing."

Lawler, the deputy town supervisor in Orangetown, is running for the seat held by Democrat Ellen Jaffee.

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NY Lawmakers: Congress Can Still Get Trump's New York Taxes

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Two Supreme Court rulings released Thursday opened the door to President Donald Trump's tax returns being made public, but that likely won't happen until after the November election.

And for a pair of state lawmakers who sponsored a measure approved last year allowing congressional committees to review Trump's New York tax filings, the rulings underscore why the law should be used.

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New York Officials Decry SCOTUS Contraceptive Ruling

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York lawmakers and elected officials on Wednesday decried a Supreme Court ruling that will allow employers to deny coverage for contraceptive services based on religious objections.

The ruling comes after New York has approved measures designed to bolster reproductive and contraceptive measures in the state for women, including a measure that is meant to ensure women have access to coverage regardless of where they work or their employers' religious beliefs.

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Legislature Plans Redistricting Hearing

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York lawmakers this month will hold a public hearing on the revamped redistricting process as the process for redrawing boundaries for legislative districts looms next year.

The hearing is scheduled for next Wednesday, July 15, and will be conducted jointly with Assembly and Senate lawmakers.

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Republicans, From Trump To Assembly GOP, Seek Reopened Schools

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Republicans at the federal and state level are building pressure for a reopening of schools in September as New York, for now, is yet to make a decision on whether students and teachers will return to the buildings in about eight weeks' time.

At issue is balancing the health and safety of children, as well as educators and school staff, amid a coronavirus pandemic with the need to alleviate working parents and guardians of the demands of in-home instruction that has frustrated families since March.

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Republicans: Independent Nursing Home Report Needed

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Republicans in the state Legislature on Monday assailed a report on nursing home deaths released by the state Department of Health and called for an investigation independent of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration.

The governor's office, in turn, knocked Republicans for "embarassing themselves" with politicizing the issue.

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Lawmakers Seek Renter Protection Approvals

BY Morgan McKay City of Albany

Housing advocates and lawmakers are calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign legislation that would expand protections for tenants before July's rent is due.

The bill was passed by the Legislature in May and was delivered to Cuomo on June 18. Known as the NYS Tenant Safe Harbor Act, the measure would prohibit landlords from evicting tenants who lost income during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Lawmakers Want to Tax the Rich to Fix Pandemic Battered Economy

BY Capital Tonight Staff City of Albany
UPDATED 10:15 AM ET Jun. 19, 2020

New York's richest residents should see their taxes increased in order to shore up a budget battered by the coronavirus pandemic, according to statement backed by 99 members of the state Assembly and Senate to be released on Thursday.

The statement, also backed a range of politically key labor unions and progressive organizations, calls for tax increases to offset the revenue losses in order to avoid deep cuts to spending to areas like health care and schools.

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NYC Public Advocate Endorses Fein For Assembly

BY Morgan McKay City of Albany

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams is weighing in on an upstate Democratic primary race, throwing his endorsement behind Albany County Legislator Sam Fein who is running against incumbent John McDonald for the 108th Assembly District seat.

“I am proud to endorse Sam Fein for Assembly because he has shown a true dedication to working for a more fair and just society and will not bend to the will of powerful, big money special interests that seek to divide us,” Williams wrote in a statement.

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Juneteenth Is Not A Public Holiday In New York; Lawmakers Want To Change That

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

State lawmakers are making a push to make Juneteenth a full public holiday in New York amid a national reckoning surrounding police brutality and systemic racism.

"Juneteenth" — a combination of June and 19th — celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. It is held on June 19, the anniversary of when a Union Army general rode into Texas to take control of the state with federal troops and enforce the Emancipation Proclamation.

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New York Reacts To Landmark LGBTQ Discrimination Ruling

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York officials on Monday hailed the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that established gay and transgender people cannot be discriminated against in the workplace under Title VII.

"This landmark victory serves as a direct rebuke to the Trump Administration's decision last week to roll back healthcare nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people and is a reminder that regardless of who you are or who you love - discrimination is immoral, illegal, and incompatible with the idea of America," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

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Nursing Homes Prepare For A Possible Second COVID Wave

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 5:20 AM ET Jun. 12, 2020

For the last month, nursing home staffers were being tested twice a month for coronavirus.

This week, New York officials scaled that back as nursing homes believe the crisis for now has stabilized.

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New York Democrats Glide Through Police Reform Measures Thanks to Majority

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

As he was about to cast a vote in favor of repealing a law governing secrecy surrounding police disciplinary records, Sen. Zellnor Myrie of Brooklyn put it this way: "Only in this country can I be pepper sprayed on a Friday and be a policymaker on a Tuesday."

The state Senate voted along party lines on Tuesday to repeal 50-a, an effort that is meant to boost transparency surrounding police disciplinary records. The bill is just one of 10 that lawmakers are approving with relatively lightning speed surrounding reforms to policing.

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Heastie Says Deep Spending Cuts Would Be Unacceptable

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Large spending cuts to schools and hospitals as a result of the pandemic-induced recession would be difficult for the Democratic-controlled Assembly to swallow, Speaker Carl Heastie on Monday said, even as lawmakers in Albany hope their colleagues in Washington will send billions of dollars in aid to shore up the state's budget.

But without that money, Heastie would not rule out tax hikes on the rich to help make up the billions of dollars in lost revenue as a result of the crisis.

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State Lawmakers Poised to Approve Police Reform Measures

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

State lawmakers are convening for a virtual session of the Legislature starting this week to take up a package of measures broadly meant to provide more oversight to law enforcement.

The bills, requiring better access to police disciplinary records and setting in law a special prosecutor within the state attorney general's office for investigating incidents in which a civilian is killed in interactions with police, come amid nationwide protests against police brutality.

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Assemblyman Ryan Urges Zoo Reopening

BY Morgan McKay City of Albany

The Buffalo Zoo is the third oldest zoo in the nation, but has remained closed due to the coronavirus.

Pointing to the recently reopened Syracuse zoo, Assemblyman Sean Ryan wrote a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo asking that the state allow for the Buffalo zoo to reopen as well.

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Lawmakers Want To Broaden Access To Police Records

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

George Floyd's death is leading to calls for how policing in America is conducted and how much oversight law enforcement needs. Chief among the debate is repealing a provision known as 50-A.

"People are fed up and upset and I think the majority of America is finally starting to see that there are some really serious systemic issues that are happening in police departments," said Sen. Jamaal Bailey, a Democrat who represents the Bronx.

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Nursing Homes Could Be Required to Have Pandemic Plan

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A bill requiring nursing homes to plan for the next pandemic is one step closer to being made law after gaining approval in both chambers of the Legislature on Wednesday.

The bill would require nursing homes in the state to have plans for future pandemics, make those plans readily available on websites, provide regular updates on the status of patients and include protection plans for staff and residents.

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Lawmakers Approve Pandemic Price Gouging Restrictions

BY Morgan McKay City of Albany

The state has received over 5,500 price gouging complaints since this pandemic began, according to Attorney General Letitia James's office.

Both legislative houses passed a bill on Wednesday that would increase penalties for price gouging and would expand the law to protect not just consumers, but also the government.

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Lawmaker Says Religious Gathering Guidelines Too Restrictive

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Houses of worship should be allowed to have gatherings of more than 10 people in New York as long as social distancing rules can be followed, Assemblyman Billy Jones on Wednesday said.

“Places of worship are often designed for large capacities, and therefore can easily social distance more than 10 people," Jones said. "I have heard from many religious organizations regarding proposals they have to safely reopen their doors to their congregations, who desperately are searching for spiritual guidance in these difficult times."

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State Lawmakers: New York Small Businesses Need More Federal Help Amid Pandemic

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Two state lawmakers are urging Congress to provide more relief for small businesses battered by the pandemic in New York, a call that comes after a joint legislative hearing on the issue.

Assemblywoman Nily Rozic and Assemblyman Al Stirpe in a letter to the state's Congressional delegation pointed to shortcomings with the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program as identified by small business owners.

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Lawmakers Plan Remote Session Next Week

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The debates, roll calls and votes will be held over video conference. The bills approved will be done so remotely.

But the Legislature will hold a post-budget session starting Tuesday with scheduled committee meetings, top lawmakers in the state Senate and Assembly on Friday announced.

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Bill Would Create WPA-Style Program for New York

BY Morgan McKay New York State

Assemblywoman Pat Fahy has introduced legislation Monday that would create short term jobs targeted for Millennials that have been laid off due to COVID-19.

The ‘Works Progress Administration-Pandemic Recovery’ jobs program would allow the New York State Department of Labor to train younger age groups on new jobs such as contact tracing, conservation and climate mitigation.

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Nursing Homes Should Have A Pandemic Plan, Lawmaker Says

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Nursing homes in New York should be required to have an emergency plan for pandemics submitted on a yearly basis, Assemblyman Joe Lentol on Monday said.

Lentol, a Brooklyn Democrat, has introduced a bill that would require the plans for nursing homes, which have been devastated by the pandemic.

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Assembly, Uber Eats Partner Up to Donate 8,000 Meals To Non-Profits

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Frontline non-profit organizations in New York will receive 8,000 donated meals from Uber Eats and the state Assembly, Speaker Carl Heastie is set to announce later Tuesday.

The meals will be donated to 13 organizations to benefit organizations working on issues like food insecurity, homelessness and mental health -- all of which have come to the forefront during the coronavirus pandemic. Workers will receive a promotion code they can use to receive a free meal of up to $25 on the Uber Eats app or through the company's website. Uber is donating 10 million rides and food deliveries during the pandemic to health care workers, older people and people in need.

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Assembly Democrats: NY Needs Federal Help

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Democrats in the state Assembly on Wednesday urged their counterparts in the state's congressional delegation for direct federal aid for state and local governments in New York.

Tax revenue has evaporated due to the coronavirus pandemic, with New York resorting to short term borrowing and delaying pay raises for state employees.

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Cusick: Keep The Lights On During Pandemic

BY Morgan McKay City of Albany

Assemblyman Michael Cusick sent a letter to the Public Service Commission on Friday, asking the office to investigate the impact COVID-19 has had on utility customers.

“While I am appreciative of the fact that the state has banned utility shut offs during the pandemic, the reality is, this crisis will be felt for some time," Cusick said. "And we need to chart a path forward that protects the physical and economic wellbeing of our neighbors.”

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Assembly GOP: Help Needed For New York Dairy Farms

BY Morgan McKay New York State

Republican lawmakers in the state Assembly on Wednesday released a letter to the state’s top leaders urging them to approve legislation that would help provide support to farmers amid a national decline in overall demand for food products.

With schools and restaurants shutting their doors, farmers are finding it difficult to sell their product. In some cases, farmers have been forced to dump thousands of gallons of milk.

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Lawmakers, Advocates: Stay In Session

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

State lawmakers want to stay in session, even if it's under revised circumstances of remote voting.

Democrats Brad Hoylman in the state Senate and Deborah Glick in the Assembly on Wednesday urged the Legislature to continue forward with the post-budget session.

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Assemblywoman Niou: Send Every New York Voter A Ballot Application

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Assemblyman Yuh-Line Niou on Monday called on the state to send every eligible voter in New York an absentee ballot application -- essentially creating a vote-by-mail system amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The hurdles would be clear for the state to overcome: Aside from the cost, New York boards of elections process only a handful of absentee ballot applications every election year.

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Barclay on the Budget: Thought It'd Be More Transparent

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay is exhausted.

He told Capital Tonight over Skype that he was up until 5:30 a.m., presumably finishing up the budget and other legislative business. “I always think that the process for New York budgets have been terrible,” he said. “It’s usually three men in a room, and not a lot of transparency. We thought it might be different this year since we are facing this public health crisis, but it wasn’t.” He’s not the only one to complain about this year’s lack of transparency. Senator Jim Tedisco told WRGB, “We went from three men in a room to three men in a Zoom”. Barclay was unhappy with the substance of the budget as well, especially the inclusion of public campaign financing, bail reform, and the legalization of gestational surrogacy. “I don’t think it’s good public policy for New Yorkers,” he said. “What we really should have done, what I would have preferred and what my conference would have preferred is, if we just did a bare-bones budget,” Barclay explained. “Let’s try to get through this crisis, go for two more months and we can come back and reevaluate.” When asked if he and his conference were planning to return to Albany after the two-week break, Barclay said no. “My understanding is that there’s no plans to do that right now. We may have too. Obviously, a lot of things happen in government that need legislative attention, so we’ll see how it goes,” said Barclay. “We gave the governor in this budget process a tremendous amount of power to unilaterally change the budget numbers as we go forward so it’ll be a question of what the legislature wants – what kind of input we need and what kind of issues come up that need to be addressed, legislatively. But as of right now, there’s no plans to come back," he said.

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New York State Legislature Moves To Vote Remotely

BY Nick Reisman New York State

When state lawmakers cast votes for the state budget this week, many of them might not be in the chamber — or in Albany for that matter.

Both the state Senate and Assembly are taking steps to formally allow for remote voting during a declared emergency.

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Fourth NY Lawmaker Tests Positive For Virus

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A Republican state lawmaker from the Mohawk Valley region is being hospitalized in Utica and tested positive for the coronavirus, Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay said Friday.

Assemblyman Brian Miller is the fourth state lawmaker to test positive for the virus in the state Legislature.

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Voting in the Days of Coronavirus

BY Nick Reisman New York State

The state Capitol is big. Five expansive floors with open spaces and vaulted ceilings, several grand staircases that look like they were designed by MC Escher, and two chambers for the 63-member state Senate and 150-member Assembly.

But the space, like anywhere, is finite. And that makes social distancing all the more difficult.

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Lawmakers Won't Convene For Now

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The state Legislature will not meet today and Tuesday as planned, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement.

The development comes as the Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are facing a state budget deadline of April 1 amid the coronavirus pandemic that so far has accounted for more than 900 confirmed cases and left seven people dead.

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Two Assembly Lawmakers Test Positive for Coronavirus, Capitol to Close to Visitors

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Two Democratic lawmakers in the state Assembly have tested positive for coronavirus and the state Capitol will close to visitors effective Sunday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Speaker Carl Heastie said Saturday evening.

Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, of Brooklyn, and Assemblyman Charles Barron, also of Brooklyn, are the lawmakers who have both tested positive.

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Assembly Eyes Next Week For Paid Sick Leave Bill

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

State lawmakers could begin passing a bill mandating workers receive at least five days of paid sick leave in New York, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie on Tuesday said.

The bill is being amended to include those who have been quarantined due to the spread of coronavirus in the state, which now includes thousands of people.

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Bill Would Require Prescription Drugs Be Covered During Coronavirus Emergency

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A bill backed by Assemblyman Felix Ortiz would require health insurance companies to cover an extra month of prescriptions during a declared emergency stemming from coronavirus in New York.

“As we take steps to prepare for the coronavirus, we must include our personal health needs,” Ortiz said. “New Yorkers should not have to worry about refilling their prescriptions if they are self-quarantined or are required to stay home from work because of the coronavirus,” Ortiz added. “While we are asking people to stock-up on everyday household supplies, groceries and over-the counter medicines, we must make sure this includes prescribed medications. My bill ensures that New Yorkers will have an additional 30-day supply of their needed prescription medications.”

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Bill Aims To Block Use Of Smart Tech In Domestic Violence

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Queens Democratic Assemblywoman Nily Rozic this week introduced a bill that would expand the use of restraining orders to cover smart tech devices in domestic violence cases.

The proposal would prohibit people accused of domestic violence from activating smart devices in their homes, vehicles or property of survivors and victims.

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New York Officials Move To Counteract Coronavirus

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

State lawmakers on Monday evening were poised to approve a $40 million bill meant to help New York respond to a potential coronavirus outbreak in the state.

The bill was first proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week, part of an effort to purchase equipment and other resources to repsond.

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Bronx Democratic Chief Won't Seek Re-Election

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, the leader of the Bronx Democratic Committee, announced Friday he will not seek re-election to the seat he's held since 2009.

Crespo in a statement said he would "purse opportunities outside of government."

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Lawler Announces Campaign for Assembly

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Republican Michael Lawler this week launched his bid for the Assembly seat held by Democrat Ellen Jaffee in Rockland County.

Lawler, the Orangetown deputy supervisor, is running on a platform of public safety, reducing taxes, seeking a fairer share of school aid funding from the state, and budget reforms.

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Heastie Says He's Listening To Facts On Bail

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie told reporters on Thursday he's meeting with district attorneys as part of a "listening stage" on the state's bail law.

"I'm in the listening stage," he said. "I've invited DAs and everybody to give me statistics on what's working."

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Republicans Meet With DHS Amid Green Light Dispute

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Republican lawmakers in the state Senate and Assembly on Monday met privately with officials from the Department of Homeland Security, who aired concerns over acccess to the state's motor vehicle database.

Access to that database by entities like ICE is blocked by the state's Green Light Law, which allows undocumented immigrants to receive driver's licenses over concerns they would be targeted by federal immigration enforcement.

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