State Senate

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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Sen. Sue Serino, Battling Breast Cancer, Gets Surprise Support From Colleagues

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

After a diagnosis of breast cancer, Senator Sue Serino, R-Hyde Park, was surprised by tee-shirts and an outpouring of support from her Senate Republican colleagues lead by new Minority Leader Robert Ortt.

Serino will face a rematch against Democrat Karen Smythe in November for the 41st State Senate District seat. Serino defeated Smyth in 2018 by fewer than 1000 votes.

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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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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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Lawmakers Want to Pull Licenses of Real Estate Brokers Who Discriminate

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Real estate brokers could have their licenses revoked for discrimination during the home buying process under a measure expected to be approved later today by the state Senate.

The bill backed by Sen. Jim Gaughran would apply the state's Human Rights Law to the real estate industry, which bars housing discrimination.

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New York Senate To Consider Ban on Retail Pet Sales

BY Nick Reisman New York State

A ban on the sale of pets in retail stores, while also encouraging their adoption, is being considered today by the state Senate.

The legislation is meant to address so-called "puppy mills" that animal advocates have sought to stem in recent years.

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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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State Lawmaker Urges Extension Of Pandemic Unemployment Aid

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Democratic Sen. Jim Gaughran in a letter released Friday urged top leaders in the U.S. Senate to extend the $600 in unemployment assistance for those who have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The money, which comes in addition to traditional unemployment benefits, is set to expire at the end of the month.

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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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Skoufis Raises $217K for Re-Election Bid

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Democratic state Senate James Skoufis's re-election campaign has raised $217,358 in the last six months as he runs for a second term.

His campaign is also set to report having $501,180 in cash on hand for the November general election.

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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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Lawmaker: Nursing Home Bill Stymied

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Republican Sen. Jim Tedisco wants an independent commission to investigate nursing home deaths during the coronavirus pandemic, but his proposed measure to create the panel is yet to receive a bill number despite being introduced two weeks ago.

Tedisco accused Democrats who hold the majority in the state Senate of blocking the measure from evening seeing the light of day. Democrats, in turn, accused Tedisco of playing politics and chasing headlines.

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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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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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Senate Health Chair Says Nursing Home Hearings Necessary

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The top lawmaker on the Senate Health Committee on Tuesday said public hearings are needed to clarify the conclusions of a Department of Health report that found nursing home deaths linked to COVID-19 were caused by asymptomatic staff and visitors to the facilities.

“While my team and I are delving into the information highlighted by this report, at first glance, it poses more questions than answers," said Sen. Gustavo Rivera, a Bronx Democrat, in a statement. "It is clear that our upcoming public hearings are necessary to clarify the report's findings, and to bring to light the true scope of how COVID-19 impacted nursing homes and the entire long-term care community.”

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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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Senate Democrats Open To Loan Approval For New York City

BY Nick Reisman New York State

New York City should have "limited" authorization for a loan to bolster its coffers as the pandemic has ripped through the ciity's finances, but Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins also urged patience in developing a plan.

The top Democrat in the state Senate over the weekend in a statement backed the concept of granting loan approval for New York City, a key step for Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration.

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Astorino Launches A Bid For State Senate

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Republican Rob Astorino formally launched his long-in-the-works campaign for the state Senate this week as he seeks a comeback to elected office.

Astorino, the 2014 GOP nominee for governor and the former Westchester County executive, is challenging Democrat Peter Harckham for a suburban Hudson Valley Senate district.

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Robert Ortt Elected Senate Minority Leader

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Republican Sen. Robert Ortt was elected the next minority leader of the state Senate as his main competition, Sen. Pat Gallivan, dropped his bid on Friday morning.

"We must take back the legislative authority ceded by the current majority to ensure that all New Yorkers have a voice in their government. We start by taking back the Senate majority. We start by respecting all New Yorkers and every region of the state. We start by respecting employees and employers alike," Gallivan said in a statement.

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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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Bill Would Create Grants for Businesses That Make Pandemic Changes

BY Morgan McKay City of Albany

Walk in to almost any business lately and immediately you notice a difference: Less people, glass or plastic partitions in front of the cashier, face masks, and the strong smell of alcohol based cleaning spray are all part of this new normal.

But these renovations cost money, Sen. Sue Serino points out.

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After 50 Years, NYS Senate Will Likely Have a Western NY Leader Again

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The last time a Western New Yorker held a position of power in the state Senate, Nelson Rockefeller was governor, GOP lawmakers had control of the state Assembly and the Vietnam War was raging.

It's been a half-century since Early Brydges led the state Senate as its temporary president. Since then, Republicans have elected either Long Islanders like Ralph Marino, Dean Skelos or John Flanagan to lead them. When it wasn't a Long Islander, it was upstaters like Warren Anderson of the Southern Tier and Joe Bruno of the Capital Region.

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Senate Minority Leader Flanagan To Resign June 28

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Republican Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan will resign his seat effective June 28 for an unspecified job in the private sector, he said Tuesday in a statement.

Flanagan had previously announced he would not run for re-election to the Senate seat he first was elected to in 2002.

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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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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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Defund The Police: How Policing Could Change

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 6:00 AM ET Jun. 09, 2020

The wave of anti-police brutality protests around the nation over the last two weeks are culminating with calls to defund the police. But what does that mean? It could determine the future of how policing is approached in New York.

"We need to be safe beyond policing," said Sochie Nnaemeka, the state director of the Working Families Party. "We need to cut police budgets that have grown at the expense of community programming."

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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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What Police Reforms Advocacy Groups Want

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

State lawmakers are expected next week to take up a package of police reform measures that could alter use-of-force rules and bolster transparency for police disciplinary records.

A coalition of 176 advocacy groups on Friday released a letter to top lawmakers in the state Senate and Assembly that called for a full repeal of 50-a, the provision that prevents the disclosure of law enforcement disciplinary records.

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McCalmon v. McRae: The Democratic Primary For Jim Tedisco's Senate Seat

BY Susan Arbetter Albany/Capital Region

The two Democratic challengers to Republican state Senator Jim Tedisco are Donovan McRae and Thearse McCalmon. Both want to give voice to the voiceless of the 49th state Senate District.

The district is enormous. It covers a sprawling area that spans from rural Fulton and Hamilton counties to the tiny horse breeding farms of Saratoga to inner city Schenectady.

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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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4 Criminal Justice Law Changes New York Lawmakers May Consider

BY Nick Reisman New York State

George Floyd's death after he was trapped under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer has sparked protests and unrest in more than 100 American cities, including New York City, Albany, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo.

It may also spark further action by a state Legislature in Albany that is led by two black leaders, a Legislature composed of lawmakers who themselves were peppered sprayed and detained by police over the weekend.

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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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Bill Would Preserve School Budgets

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Waiving the 180-day requirement for schools to be in session would be codified in law under a proposal by state Sen. David Carlucci.

The bill comes as schools have closed their doors since March and will not bring students back for the remainder of the academic year. Schools have been holding distance learning during this time.

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New York Sen. Gianaris Raises From Small Dollar Donors

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The re-election campaign of Sen. Mike Gianaris raised $84,855 in the most recent reporting period, almost entirely from small-dollar donors.

Gianaris, a Queens Democrat and the deputy majority leader in the state Senate, received 2,560 contributions, with more than 98 percent less than $100.

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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 Allow Bars, Restaurants To Continue Take-Out Drinks

BY Nick Reisman New York State

A socially distant "cheers" could still be in order after the current state of emergency ends for restaurants and bars.

State Senator Brad Hoylman on Thursday proposed allowing eateries and bars to continue offering wine, beer, and cocktails for take-out and delivery two years after the emergency declaration ends.

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Senate Lawmakers: Tax the Rich to Fund New York Education

BY Morgan McKay New York State

Two New York state senators proposed legislation that would tax high earners in the state slightly more for a limited time in order to avoid major education funding cuts.

The SHARE Act, or the Shared Help Assessment to Rebuild Education Act, would increase the income tax rate for earners of more than $5 million from 8.82 percent to 10.90 percent for 2 years.

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Republicans Want Probe Over Delayed Unemployment Benefits

BY Morgan McKay City of Albany

A group of state lawmakers is calling for Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and a Legislative Joint Committee Investigation into the Labor Department's handling of unemployment benefits since this virus outbreak began.

Sens. Joseph A. Griffo, James L. Seward and Assembly members Marianne Buttenschon and Mark Walczyk, wrote that the increase in the Department's staff and changes to the system have done nothing to make the process any easier on the people still waiting for their benefits.

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Bill Would Provide Breathing Room For Local Taxes

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York's local property tax deadline would be extended through Dec. 31 this year under a measure proposed by Democratic Sen. David Carlucci.

The bill, introduced this week, would delay the quaterly installment payments for county, town and school property taxes in the state through the end of the year.

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Sen. James Skoufis Tests Positive for Coronavirus

BY Nick Reisman Hudson Valley

Democratic state Sen. James Skoufis has tested positive for coronavirus, his office on Friday announced, making him the latest member of the Legislature to become infected with the virus.

"He is increasingly symptomatic but is currently recovering at home," said Skoufis's spokeswoman Jess Gulotta. "After beginning to feel symptoms on Tuesday, April 21, Senator Skoufis isolated himself at home."

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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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Common Cause: Legislature Must Stay in Session Post-Budget

BY Susan Arbetter City of Albany

Susan Lerner of the good government group Common Cause NY says the legislature is a co-equal branch of government and cannot cede its responsibility to the governor by leaving town (figuratively speaking) after the budget.

Furthermore, she says any claim that lawmakers can’t do their job because of technology is rubbish.

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Sen. Jim Seward Hospitalized For Coronavirus

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Sen. Jim Seward and his wife Cindy have both tested positive for coronavirus, his office announcced on Monday.

Seward has been hospitalized at Albany Medical Center and has exhibited mild symptoms. In a statement, Seward's office said he "is expected to make a full and complete recovery.

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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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Senator Urges Cuomo To Open Gun Shops

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Republican state Sen. Robert Ortt in a letter this week to Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged him to open gun and sportsmen stores in New York amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Keeping them closed, Ortt argued in the letter, deprives New Yorkers of their Second Amendment rights. He pointed to neighboring Pennsylvania, which has allowed gun stores to operate on a limited hours basis.

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NY Senate Republican Leader John Flanagan Won't Seek Re-Election

BY Nick Reisman New York State
UPDATED 2:28 PM ET Mar. 25, 2020

Republican Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan on Wednesday announced he would not seek re-election this November, ending a career in Albany that started in the state Assembly and spanned more than 30 years.

Senate GOP Leader John Flanagan not seeking re-election pic.twitter.com/PUsUJImhcv

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Stewart-Cousins Questions Pulling Back on Medicaid Spending in Pandemic

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Throttling spending in the state’s Medicaid program is being questioned by the top Democrat in the state Senate, who said in an interview on Tuesday the state’s hospitals were already being asked to shoulder the heavy burden of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re asking out hospitals and supportive services to do much more, to increase capacity from 50 to 100 percent,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “We’re asking a lot from hospitals and caregivers, for all of our sake. So we want to make sure we are supportive of those efforts in everywhere.”

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Flanagan Knocks Paid Sick Leave Bill

BY Morgan McKay City of Albany

A three way agreement on paid sick leave legislation was announced on Tuesday, but not all lawmakers are pleased with the new bill.

Republican Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan say that the bill goes too far and allows someone to take a paid sick day if they need to deal with immigration issues or if they need to go to court.

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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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Bill Would Allow Public Bodies To Hold Meetings Via Teleconference

BY Nick Reisman New York State

A bill backed by Sen. Brad Hoylman would allow public bodies like community boards and community education councils to conduct their meetings through teleconference and not through in-person meetings during declared emergencies.

The measure is meant to halt the spread of coronavirus in New York, while still allowing governing bodies to meet and conduct business.

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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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Michelle Hinchey Endorsed by CWA for State Senate

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Democratic state Senate candidate Michelle Hinchey has been endorsed by the Communications Workers of America, a labor group that represents 1,800 workers in the Hudson Valley and Albany areas.

"It is an honor to receive the support of the hard working men and women of the CWA," Hinchey said. "One of my top priorities is to invest in our upstate infrastructure, specifically addressing the lack of broadband access in our upstate communities."

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Stewart-Cousins Says Judicial Discretion Would Have 'Guard Rails'

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Judges will have "guardrails" and a "check list" for determining whether a person should remain in jaill pending trial, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins told reporters on Wednesday.

The comments from Stewart-Cousins, made at an appearance at the Times Union, appeared to be part of an effort to assuage advocates who are concerned Democrats in the state Senate were pushing for a rollback of the law that ends cash bail for misdemeanor and non-violent felony offenses.

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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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Two Labor Unions Endorse Mannion For Senate

BY Morgan McKay Central NY

Two union groups have now endorsed Democratic candidate John Mannion for a central New York state Senate seat.

The North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters and Ironworkers Local 60 are both throwing their weight behind Mannion, they announced Thursday.

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State GOP Backs Stec For Senate

BY Morgan McKay City of Albany

New York Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy endorsed Wednesday GOP Assemblyman Dan Stec in his run for the 45th Senate District seat.

This seat is currently being held by Republican Sen. Betty Little who is retiring after this legislative session.

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Brooks Bill Would Expand STAR Property Tax Freeze

BY Morgan McKay City of Albany

A bill introduced this week by Long Island Sen. John Brooks is meant to change the way public education is funded by giving property tax relief to some homeowners.

The bill would provide $1.7 billion in tax cuts to homeowners that currently live in school districts that are heavily dependent on property taxes to fund the local schools.

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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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Lawmakers Want To Crack Down On Ghost Guns

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Democratic state lawmakers have introduced a pair of bills meant to curtail the proliferation of so-called "ghost guns" — firearms that lack serial numbers and can't be traced by law enforcement agencies.

"With a cursory Google search, anyone can obtain an assembly kit containing parts, instructions and detailed templates for the technical work required to create their own ghost gun," said Sen. Brad Hoylman, one of the bill's sponsors. "Law enforcement officials are speaking out, saying ghost guns are a clear and present danger in New York. Yet somehow, a loophole in federal law means this is all completely legal."

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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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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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State Senate Bills Address Property Tax Exemptions

BY Nick Reisman New York State

The state Senate Tuesday approved a pair of bills addressing property tax exemptions and whether they have become too much of a burden for local governments.

One of the bills would create a task force to examine the issue of exemptions being granted and the current process.

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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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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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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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Democratic Senator Harckham: I Did My Homework on Cannabis Bill

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 4:21 PM ET Jan. 29, 2020

Democratic Sen. Peter Harckham was a willing student of marijuana legalization.

Last year, he wanted a slower process as lawmakers worked their way through the negotiations of the bill — which ultimately ended with the session ending in June and no broader deal on the measure.

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Senate GOP Plans Bail Law Roundtable

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 2:45 PM ET Jan. 29, 2020

Senate Republicans on Wednesday announced plans to hold roundtable discussions on the state's new cash bail law, a sign GOP lawmakers will continue to highlight the issue through the state budget season at the Capitol.

The law ended cash bail requirements for misdemeanor and non-violent felony offenses last year, but has grown increasingly controversial in recent weeks.

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Senate To Pass Payroll Firm Bills

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The state Senate on Tuesday is set to take up a package of bills meant to strengthen regulations and penalties for payroll companies after an upstate firm suddenly shut its doors last year, leaving businesses and their employees in the lurch.

The legislation includes creating criminal penalties for intentional misappropriating payroll and tax funds. Another bill would hold a company liable when an employee wrongfully misses a paycheck. A third bill clarifies wage theft guidelines, while lawmakers also want the Department Financial Services to review regulations guiding payroll firms.

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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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Bill Would Ban Facial Recognition Software For Law Enforcement

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

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

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

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Serino Wants Lyme Disease Funding Added To Budget

BY Nick Reisman New York State

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

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

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Bill Would Crack Down On 'Faithless Electors'

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

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

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

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Aaron Gladd Won't Run Again for State Senate Seat

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

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

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

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

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

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

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

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Skoufis Gets A GOP Endorsement

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

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

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

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Seward Won't Seek Re-Election to State Senate

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

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

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

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Hudson Valley Democrats Bolster Campaign War Chests

BY Nick Reisman New York State

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

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

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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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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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Senate Approves Automatic Voter Registration, Polling Site Bills

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 5:10 PM ET Jan. 09, 2020

The state Senate on Thursday approved the latest package of election law bills meant to make it easier to vote in New York.

“Voting is the bedrock of democracy. We must do more to help eligible New Yorkers participate in the political process and have their voices heard,” said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. “These bills build on the voting reforms we passed first thing last session, and will empower more New Yorkers to register to vote and utilize early voting opportunities.”

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