State Assembly

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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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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Abbate, Abinanti Endorses Bloomberg For President

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Democratic Assemblyman Peter Abbate and Assemblyman Tom Abinanti on Monday became the latest elected official in New York to back former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's presidential bid.

“I have worked with five different New York City mayors since taking office and none of them have done more to improve New Yorkers’ quality of life than Mike Bloomberg,” Abbate said in a statement. “Mike’s bold policies improved high school graduation rates, created hundreds of thousands of jobs for New Yorkers of all backgrounds and helped lift up the entire city after the devastating 9/11 attacks. Thanks to his visionary leadership, Brooklynites live in healthier and stronger communities. I know Mike will bring the same ‘get it done’ attitude to the White House, and I am honored to support him.”

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Cuomo Says Talks Held On Bail Law Changes

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Talks are being held over potential changes to the state's new law that ends cash bail for misdemeanor and non-violent felony offenses, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Friday.

At the same time, Cuomo continued to urge deliberation on the issue, which has become a flashpoint at the Capitol and in New York over the direction of the state's criminal justice system.

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Stewart-Cousins Makes LATFOR Appointments

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins has appointed her conference's deputy, Queens Democrat Mike Gianaris, to the Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment.

Stewart-Cousins also appointed Phil Chonigman, a geographic systems professional who works on and specializes in political geography. She also appointed Eric Katz, the Senate Democratic conference's deputy counsel who oversees floor operations.

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Chamber of Commerce Leader Launches Bid for Brian Kolb's Seat

BY Nick Reisman New York State

A top chamber of commerce leader in Seneca County on Tuesday evening announced his bid for retiring Assemblyman Brian Kolb's seat.

Seneca County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jeff Shipley is seeking the Republican nomination for the seat, and pointed to what he said was a need for upstate voices in the Legislature, while criticizing Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

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State Lawmakers: Unfreeze Trusted Traveler Registrations

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Two dozen state lawmakers have signed a letter urging the Department of Homeland Security to no longer bar New Yorkers from applying or re-registering for trusted traveler status.

The letter, sent by Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, comes as Gov. Andrew Cuomo and President Donald Trump are yet to resolve the issue, which affects programs that enable people who have passed a background check to have easier travel through ports of entry and across borders.

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Barbara Lifton Aide Launches Bid For Her Assembly Seat

BY Nick Reisman Central NY

A longtime legislative counsel to Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton on Monday announced his campaign for the seat she is vacating at the end of the year.

Democrat Jordan Lesser announced his intention to run for the district, which encompasses the Ithaca area.

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Democrats Hit Rough Patch In Albany

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Democrats last year, energized by their new majority in the state Senate, approved bill after bill of legislation that had been long-sought by the progressive left in New York.

And now two of the measures -- one allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for driver's licenses and a law that restricts cash bail to only violent felony charges -- are being challenged at multiple levels of government.

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Assembly Member Kolb Won't Seek Re-Election Following DWI Arrest

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Republican Assembly Member Brian Kolb won't see re-election, he announced Thursday in a statement, a development that came a month and a half after he was charged with drunk driving on New Year's Eve.

The arrest led to Kolb stepping down from his minority leader post in the state Assembly, a job he had held for a decade. Republican lawmakers voted last month to replace him with Assembly Member Will Barclay in the top post.

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Bail Law Compromise Exposes Democratic Rift In Albany

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The floated compromise by Senate Democrats that would change the state's new bail law landed with a thud with Democrats in the state Assembly on Wednesday.

Some blasted suburban lawmakers who had been pushing for changes to the six-week-old law that ended cash bail requirements for misdemeanor and non-violent charges.

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Lawmakers Want Backseat Passengers Buckling Up

BY Morgan McKay New York State

Two Democratic lawmakers want legislation that would require passengers to buckle up in the backseat of a car, even when riding in an Uber or Lyft.

According to AAA New York, a person in a crash while riding in the backseat without their seat belt is eight times more likely to be seriously injured and twice as likely to be killed.

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Lawmakers See Mixed Bag In Education Spending

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Every year, a similar drama unfolds: The governor proposes more spending for education, advocates say it isn't enough, lawmakers want tweaks that are meant to benefit their schools back home.

This year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to upend the process of how state government funds schools. He's calling for $826 million in extra funding, but that's only part of it.

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Assemblyman Ortiz Wants ICE Abolished

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A resolution that would urge Congress to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency was introduced Monday by Assemblyman Felix Ortiz.

The resolution comes as state lawmakers have sought ways of limiting the ability of ICE to bring enforcement actions in New York, including state courthouses.

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David Gantt To Retire From Assembly

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Rochester Assemblyman David Gantt on Friday announced he would not seek another term for a seat he has held since 1983.

Gantt at a news conference cited his health and the advice of doctors to not continue in the chamber.

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Bail Law Debate Enters Politically Delicate Phase

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A sea of police uniforms covered the bottom portion of the grand staircase commonly referred at the Capitol as the Million Dollar Staircase.

The event, a press conference featuring Republican lawmakers in the state Senate and Assembly -- drew law enforcement leaders from around the state on Tuesday as opponents continued to press the issue of repealing the law that ends cash bail requirements for misdemeanors and non-violent felony offenses.

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Assemblyman Finch To Not Seek Re-Election

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Longtime Republican Assemblyman Gary Finch will not seek re-election this fall, he said in a statement on Tuesday.

“It’s time,” Finch said. “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. To maintain the trust of my constituents for over twenty years means something that’s difficult to even put into words.”

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Heastie: Bail Law Is Being Sensationalized

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The new bail law, the subject of criticism from law enforcement, Republicans and increasingly some Democrats, should be given a chance beyond the first month or so of it being in effect, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie on Monday said.

"Right now it seems when the sun doesn't come up, everyone wants to blame the bail law," Heastie said.

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Monserrate May Find Himself Alone In Assembly

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Hiram Monserrate, the disgraced Democrat seeking a state Assembly seat, may find a potential return to Albany is a lonely one.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie on Monday said "a lot" of Democrats in his 100-plus member conference will likely oppose Monserrate's membership if he is elected to the chamber.

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CWA Endorses 10 Assembly Lawmakers

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 4:15 PM ET Jan. 31, 2020

The Communications Workers of America District 1 on Friday came out with a 10-candidate slate of early endorsements for the state Assembly.

The labor group endorsed incumbent Assembly lawmakers: Nily Rozic, Aravella Simotas, Catherine Nolan, Catalina Cruz, Diana Richardson, Joe Lentol, Yuh-Line Niou, Linda Rosenthal, Harvey Epstein, and Karines Reyes.

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Business Groups Urge Lawmakers To Not Reclassify "Gig" Workers

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A coalition of business groups on Thursday released a letter urging top lawmakers in the Assembly and Senate to not pass legislation that would reclassify workers in the so-called "gig" economy.

At issue is a push to provide traditional labor benefits and collective bargaining rights to workers who provide services for apps like Uber, Lyft and Grubhub. The move would come after California approved similar rules to address workers who the companies argue are independent contractors.

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Cynthia Nixon Endorses New York Democratic Socialists

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Activist, actress and former gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon on Thursday endorsed the half-dozen candidates endorsed by the New York City Democratic Socialists of America.

Those candidates backed by Nixon include Sen. Julia Salazar and Senate candidate Jabari Brisport, who is seeking to represent the district being vacated by retiring Sen. Velmanette Montgomery.

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Why Are People Leaving New York? Lawmakers Want Answers

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A bipartisan pair of state lawmakers on Thursday announced a plan to examine why people are moving out of New York.

Republican Sen. Jim Tedisco and Democratic Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, in a statement, pointed to the most recent Census figures that showed New York's population dropped by 76,790 residents in the previous year.

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Assembly Approves Bills to Aid People With Disabilities

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The state Assembly on Wednesday approved a package of bills meant to help people with disabilities.

The measures came with a bipartisan flourish, with both Speaker Carl Heastie and Minority Leader Will Barclay supporting the legislation.

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Kaplan Backs Limits To Outside Income for Legislature

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

A measure that would restrict state lawmakers from earning outside income should be put into effect by the legislature itself, Democratic Sen. Anna Kaplan said on Monday.

Kaplan's support for the move comes after a state court blocked a pay commission's provision that capped the amount of outside income lawmakers earn at 15 percent of their legislative salaries. Lawmakers now earn $110,000 annually.

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Lawmakers Push For EMPIRE Act

BY Morgan McKay New York State

Less than 3 percent of stolen wages are recovered by the Department of Labor, according to a report by worker advocacy groups.

Led by Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner and Sen. Brad Hoylman, workers and lawmakers will rally at the Capitol tomorrow calling for the passage of the "Empowering People in Rights Enforcement Worker Protection Act" which supporters are calling EMPIRE.

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Here and Now - Jan. 15

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

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

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

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In Albany, Byford Has Blunt Talk About Bus Routes

BY Nick Reisman New York State

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

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

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Here and Now: January 14

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

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

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

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Criminal Justice Reform Groups Back Heastie on Supporting Bail Law

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 3:21 PM ET Jan. 10, 2020

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie's support for the cashless bail law amid a growing maelstrom may feel like a lonely stance in Albany these days. But on Friday, the speaker got some backing from a coalition of progressive organizations supporting his stance that the new law should not be scaled back.

“We applaud Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie for standing strong to support New York’s recently enacted pretrial reforms. These laws are reuniting thousands of families and reducing race-and wealth-based detention across New York," the groups wrote in the statement.

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Barclay Elected Assembly Republican Leader

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 5:55 PM ET Jan. 07, 2020

Republican Will Barclay on Tuesday was elected the leader of the state Assembly, taking the top post of the minority conference in the chamber.

He was unanimously elected.

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Paulin Backs Judicial Disrection For Bail Law

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Assemblywoman Amy Paulin became the latest Democrat in the state Legislature on Monday to back an alteration to the state’s newly enacted cash bail law by adding a judicial discretion component to the legislation.

Paulin, a Westchester County lawmaker, proposed the change to the law that ends cash bail requirements for misdemeanor and non-violent felony charges — a measure approved last year that has sparked an uproar among law enforcement, prosecutors and some elected officials.

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Assembly Minority Leader Charged With DWI After Crash

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The top Republican lawmaker in the state Assembly on Wednesday in a statement said he was charged with driving under the influence near his home in Canandaigua.

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb in the statement said the incident occurred the previous night, New Year’s eve.

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NY-2: LiPetri Announces Bid For Congress

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Republican Assemblyman Michael LiPetri on Wednesday announced his campaign for the Long Island House district being vacated by GOP Rep. Peter King at the end of 2020.

“I am proud to officially announce my candidacy for U.S. Congress!” LiPetri posted to Twitter. “In Washington, D.C., I will continue to serve as your fearless voice for independence and common-sense!”

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Burdick Announces For AD-93

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The churn of so many state lawmakers running for Congress is creating some movement on the local level as well for candidates to replace them.

Democratic Bedford Supervisor Chris Burdick on Wednesday announced his campaign for the 93rd Assembly district in suburban Westchester County.

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New Law Bars Political Parties From Changing Their Names

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A bill approved on Wednesday by Gov. Andrew Cumo would bar new ballot lines from changing their names once created.

“New Yorkers have the right to know who and what exactly they’re voting for when they go to the ballot box,” Governor Cuomo said. “By making this simple change to our election laws, we can ensure political organizations don’t pull the wool over voters’ eyes by claiming to be something they are not in order to gain multi-year legal party status.”

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