State Senate

2 weeks later, LaSalle nomination for New York chief judge remains up in the air

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Two weeks after a key committee in the state Senate rejected her nominee to lead New York's top court, it remains unclear what Gov. Kathy Hochul's plan is for who will become the next chief judge.

Hochul on Wednesday after delivering her budget presentation told reporters in a question-and-answer session she was continuing to "weigh all my options" in what to do about the controversy.

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LaSalle nomination hangs in limbo; Hochul assesses options

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Call it Schrodinger's chief judge nomination: Hector LaSalle's bid to become the leader of the New York court system and the state's top court at the moment is both alive and dead.

In the week since Gov. Kathy Hochul's nominee to become chief judge was rejected by a key state Senate Committee, the governor has not given an indication whether she will continue to move forward with him or choose someone else.

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New York AFL-CIO and key labor unions back legislative staff union

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A coalition of regional and statewide labor unions on Tuesday publicly endorsed the effort by legislative staffers in the New York Senate and Assembly to organize, according to a letter signed by the New York State AFL-CIO.

The unionization push by legislative staffers has the backing also of the large public workers unions in the state, including the Civil Service Employees Association, the Public Employees Federation and 1199SEIU.

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NY Senate minority leader says Hochul should sue to get chief judge nominee to a floor vote

BY Ryan Whalen North Tonawanda

NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. -- New York Gov. Kathy Hochul's office must decide whether or not to take legal action to get her chief judge nominee Hector LaSalle to a floor vote for Senate confirmation.

This comes after members of her own party in the state Senate Judicial Committee rejected the nomination. Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt, (R) North Tonawanda, believes Hochul absolutely should sue to try to get her nomination to the floor.

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Hochul wanted an empowered Legislature; she got one

BY Luke Parsnow New York State

Gov. Kathy Hochul came into office vowing to treat the state Legislature as an equal branch of government, curbing the decade Andrew Cuomo was in the office where he amassed a large degree of power while in an inherently powerful office and often flexed his political muscle over the legislative body.

“For too long, Albany’s executive and legislative branches were fighting each other in the arena. No more. That ends now,” Hochul said in her 2022 State of the State address. “What I am proposing is a whole new era for New York. The days of governors disregarding the rightful role of this Legislature are over.”

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Battle over Hochul's top court pick could alter future nominations

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Progressive advocates, lawmakers and labor unions scored a victory this week when the New York state Senate Judiciary Committee rejected Hector LaSalle's nomination to lead New York's top court.

It's yet another win in Albany for progressives, who have picked up influence at the state Capitol with Democratic supermajorities in the state Senate and Assembly.

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LaSalle's rejection comes amid broader debate over crime, public safety

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Progressives in New York on Wednesday notched a significant victory with the rejection of Gov. Kathy Hochul's nominee to lead the state's top court, a win that comes as lawmakers are in a broader debate over the direction of the criminal justice system.

The rejection of Justice Hector LaSalle's nomination to lead New York's top court, while unprecedented, has fit into a broader battle between progressives advocates, labor unions and Democratic lawmakers on one side and more politically moderate elements in state politics.

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Key New York Senate Democrat pledges 'fair' and 'thorough' hearing for Hochul's judge pick

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Justice Hector LaSalle will receive a "fair" and "thorough" hearing by the state Senate Judiciary Committee, the top Democrat on the panel told reporters on Tuesday a day before the high-stakes meeting takes place in Albany.

LaSalle, Gov. Kathy Hochul's nominee to lead the state Court of Appeals, is facing an unprecedented level of opposition in the state Senate, making for the possibility of the first chief judge nominee to be voted down by lawmakers since the process has been in place for more than 40 years.

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What New York Senate Democrats want this year

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Addressing climate change, affordable housing and public safety are among the key issues for Democrats in the New York state Senate this year as Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins on Wednesday outlined the conference's plans for 2023.

Details will matter, and as lawmakers returned to Albany for day one of the legislative session, the outline of the agenda was a broad-based one. But many of the issues align with what Gov. Kathy Hochul has called for in recent weeks.

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New York lawmakers approve bill to increase to their own pay

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York state lawmakers are step closer to being the highest paid state Legislature in the country.

The Democratic-led state Assembly and Senate in a rare December vote on Thursday approved a bill setting their salaries at $142,000 a year — a $32,000 pay hike that was coupled with a provision limiting how much money they can earn outside of their jobs as elected officials.

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Pay raise for New York lawmakers stirs calls for further action

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

State lawmakers' plans to return Thursday to vote for a measure to raise their pay by $32,000 is leading to calls for further action on measures that would also increase the minimum wage, extend a gas tax holiday into the new year and provide support for home heating assistance.

It's the give-a-mouse-a-cookie rule of New York politics: If you hold a special session, a few more glasses of milk are going to be sought.

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Hochul encourages cap on outside income if state lawmakers increase pay

BY Kate Lisa New York State

Gov. Kathy Hochul expects lawmakers would include a ban or cap on outside income if they return to Albany for a special session next week to vote for a pay increase, she said Thursday.

Sources have said lawmakers are weighing holding a special session of the Legislature late next week to increase their pay to $130,000 and potentially ban or limit outside income. They currently earn $110,00 annually.

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New York lawmakers weigh outside income ban in pay raise discussions

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York lawmakers are weighing a ban on outside income as they discuss potentially increasing their salary in a special session of the Legislature.

A source on Tuesday confirmed a special session of the Legislature could be held next week, with legislative pay reaching $130,000. New York lawmakers currently earn $110,000.

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Hochul in favor of special session to raise state lawmakers' pay

BY Kate Lisa New York State

Gov. Kathy Hochul was supportive Friday of lawmakers returning to Albany for a special session to vote to raise their salaries after multiple legislative sources have said legislative leaders are weighing a pay increase.

Lawmakers can only vote to raise the salaries of a future Legislature. If they do not vote for an increase before Dec. 31, a future raise won't take effect until the next Legislature takes office in 2025.

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Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Carl Heastie re-elected Democratic leaders

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A decade ago, Democrats in the state Senate in New York were in the political wilderness. Its leadership was scarred by scandal. A faction of Democratic lawmakers sided with Republicans. A Democratic governor showed little interest in helping them win a majority.

At the time, the party turned to Yonkers state Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins to lead them. Ten years later, Democrats hold a large majority that was nearly impervious to the down-ballot troubles faced by the party this election cycle and could potentially keep its supermajority.

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Hand recount of New York 50th Senate District race nears end

BY Luke Parsnow and Spectrum News Staff Central NY

Nearly a month after Election Day, a conclusion to the ultra-tight race for New York's 50th state Senate District in Central New York is looming.

The Onondaga County Board of Elections said Tuesday evening they have finished hand counting all 95,104 votes in the uncalled race between Democratic state Sen. John Mannion and Republican challenger Rebecca Shiroff.

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New York coalition pushes for economic justice in next legislative session

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

As the opening of the next legislative session in Albany nears, groups of all political stripes are trying to organize and amplify their message.

One coalition of statewide progressive groups is pushing for a more just economy, especially for low-income communities of color which have historically struggled in the face of red-lining.

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New York state Sen. Tom O'Mara: One-party rule in Albany means lack of oversight

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

After Gov. Kathy Hochul’s tighter-than-expected victory earlier this month, some New York Republicans are dissecting the circumstances surrounding the election, as well as preparing for yet another session in the minority.

One of those Republicans is State Sen. Tom O’Mara, of Big Flats, ranker on the Finance, and the Investigations and Government Operations committees.

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Hand recount ongoing in uncalled race for New York's 50th Senate seat

BY Spectrum News Staff Central NY

Election Day may have been weeks ago, but the race for New York's 50th Senate District is still without a declared winner in Central New York.

The Onondaga County Board of Elections said Wednesday have counted just over 32,000 of the roughly 90,000 ballots in the race after the initial count ended with Democratic Sen. John Mannion leading Republican challenger Rebecca Shiroff by just 27 votes. The close margin prompted an automatic recount by hand.

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New York's top court upholds pay raise panel for state lawmakers

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A mechanism for granting state lawmakers their first salary increases in decades was upheld by New York's highest court in a ruling handed down Thursday morning.

The lawsuit, first filed in 2018, challenged whether state lawmakers and the governor could throw the decision for pay raises for all 213 members of the New York Senate and Assembly to an appointed commission.

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Democrats look within following election losses in New York

BY Susan Arbetter and Tim Williams New York State

Despite a nationwide “red ripple," the Republican Party was able to gain some key congressional seats in New York which helped pave the way to a small House majority.

State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, a Bronx Democrat who will be leaving office in January, is one of a growing number of Democrats looking for change at the top of her own party following the midterm elections. Biaggi told Capital Tonight that a lack of strategy and long-term vision by the party’s current chair, Jay Jacobs, led to the party’s defeats in New York.

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27 votes separate candidates in CNY state Senate race, will go to automatic recount

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

An automatic recount will take place in Central New York's 50th state Senate district after unofficial vote tallies show Democratic incumbent John Mannion leading his Republican challenger Rebecca Shiroff by only 27 votes.

The race is one of a handful of unresolved elections in the state Senate, where Democrats hold a supermajority over Republicans. If Mannion is victorious, Democrats could retain 42 seats in the 63-seat chamber.

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New York Senate appoints deputy Westchester County exec to state's redistricting commission

BY Kate Lisa New York State

New York Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins appointed Deputy Westchester County Executive Ken Jenkins on Wednesday to fill an open seat on the state's Independent Redistricting Commission following the abrupt resignation of the commission chair.

Jenkins, a Democrat, is a former county legislator and Westchester County Board of Legislators chairman and candidate for county executive. He lives in the Senate District represented by Stewart-Cousins, a Democrat from Yonkers.

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New York Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins on 2022 elections

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins says she’ll be happy even if her Democratic conference loses its supermajority status.

“I love the fact that we were the biggest majority, the only supermajority in history, and should we not have 43, 42 again, we’ll still be the second largest, so it’s fine,” she told Capital Tonight Tuesday.

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Rich David challenges Lea Webb in state's new 52nd Senate District

BY Vince Briga Binghamton

For eight straight years, Rich David led Binghamton, the largest city in New York’s newly drawn 52nd New York State Senate District. The former Binghamton mayor and leader of the state’s Conference of Mayors said that experience taught him to work with everyone.

“Neither party has a monopoly on change or a good idea. One of the things that I was very proud of is the fact that we had a very bipartisan coalition working with city council. I was a Republican mayor in a predominantly Democratic city, and that's because the person is more important than the party,” said David, who is now running as a candidate in the 52nd Senate District.

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New York lawmakers want to make daylight saving time permanent

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Two state lawmakers in New York are trying to make daylight saving time permanent, ending the need to push clocks back an hour in the fall and forward in the springtime.

The proposal has united Democratic state Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara and Republican state Sen. Joe Griffo, who are both backing the measure that would need to be done in a compact with neighboring states.

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New law assesses Holocaust education in New York as anti-Semitic attacks rise

BY Ryan Whalen and Tim Williams New York State

As the instances of anti-Semitic rhetoric and attacks rise in New York and across the country, a new state law is examining the quality of Holocaust education in the Empire State.

State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, a Queens lawmaker who sponsored the legislation, said “even though we say Never Again, it’s sort of a nice phrase to say, we really need to put those words into action.”

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New York state Senate candidates tout Micron’s CNY investment

BY Tim Williams and Marisa Jacques New York State

President Joe Biden made another trip to upstate New York on Thursday to tout the long term investment that Micron, a chip manufacturer, is making in the Central New York region.

John Mannion, a Democrat seeking re-election to the state Senate, said the investment will make the region a “hub of the semiconductor industry.”

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New York advocates urge Hochul to sign comptroller oversight bill

BY Tim Williams New York State

Back in 2011, then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders passed a budget deal that stripped the state comptroller’s office of oversight powers that it had had for over a century. Now, over 30 organizations have signed onto a memo of support urging Gov. Kathy Hochul to sign a bill that would restore many of those oversight powers. John Kaehny, executive director of Reinvent Albany, told Capital Tonight that if Gov. Hochul wants to fulfill her promise of a “new era of transparency," she needs to sign this bill into law.

The bill, which was sponsored by state Sen. Elijah Reichlin-Melnick and Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowksi, would restore most but not all of the oversight powers that were stripped away. Kaehny said the bill would allow the comptroller’s office to review state contracts for organizations like SUNY and the Office of General Services before they are signed. Kaehny argues this oversight could have prevented the state from overpaying for COVID-19 tests or some of the bad spending in the Buffalo Billion.

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New York League of Conservation Voters issues endorsements in key races

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The New York League of Conservation Voters on Wednesday formally released its final slate of endorsements for the 2022 general election, backing 22 candidates in key races across the state.

The group's endorsements come as environmental organizations are also pushing for the approval of a bond act to boost environmental infrastructure in the state.

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Lawsuit challenges committee's confirmation power to New York's new ethics commission

BY Ryan Whalen Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Under New York's new ethics law, an independent committee made up of leaders from the state's 15 accredited law schools decide by a majority vote whether to confirm appointments to the 11 member Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in government.

Last month, that panel rejected Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt's appointment of Gary Lavine, a Syracuse-area attorney who served on the now-disbanded Joint Commission on Public Ethics.

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New York Senate Democrats urge expanded access to abortion pill

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Members of the New York state Senate Democratic conference on Tuesday released a letter to federal regulators urging them to improve access to the abortion pill mifepristone.

The lawmakers in a letter released by state Sen. Shelley Mayer's office called for easing regulations in prescribing, dispensing and the distribution of the mifepristone.

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New York Senate majority leader tests positive for COVID-19

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins on Monday announced she has tested positive for COVID-19.

Stewart-Cousins, a Democrat from Yonkers, wrote in a post on Twitter she is feeling well. She has been vaccinated and received a booster shot.

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

BY Kate Lisa New York State

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

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

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

BY Tim Williams New York State

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

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

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NY Sen. Mike Gianaris calls for federal action on corporate power measure

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York Deputy Senate Majority Leader Mike Gianaris is making a push this month for congressional lawmakers to approve a measure meant to scale back corporate power in the tech sector.

Gianaris, a Queens Democrat, sent a letter to top lawmakers in Congress urging them to take up legislation that would address the rise of tech companies in the social media and e-commerce sectors.

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New York Sen. Myrie on the state's John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

While election reform has been stymied at the federal level, the New York state Legislature this session passed the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New York, a bill that contains some of the strongest voting protections in the country.

Gov. Kathy Hochul has yet to sign the legislation, but is expected to.

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How caucus lawmakers flexed New York legislative muscles in session

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

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

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

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New York Senate GOP on the offense in 2022 elections

BY Tim Williams New York State

In the midst of the Democratic blue wave in the 2018 elections, Republicans lost their last bastion of political power in New York — the state Senate.

In 2022, the Republicans are on the offensive to reclaim some previously held seats and potentially take back some power in the Empire State.

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Albany County sheriff won't run for state Senate seat

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple won't seek a newly drawn state Senate seat in the Capital Region, he announced Wednesday in a post on Facebook.

The development leaves Republican state Assemblyman Jake Ashby and Democratic candidate Andrea Smythe in the race for the 43rd District.

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

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

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

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

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New York parents of disabled youth may see a 1-year reprieve from OPWDD

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Parents of profoundly disabled children turning 21 say they are being forced by New York state to send their kids to institutions, including Sunmount in the Adirondacks, rather than allowing them to stay in the specialized out-of-state facilities where they have lived for years.

The change stems from what parents and some lawmakers are calling a loophole in the law that will allow the state to save money.

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Will the New York Assembly pass economic development reform?

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

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

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

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

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

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

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

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New York lawmakers want to address monthly insulin costs

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York lawmakers want to address the rising cost of prescription drugs as the state Senate on Tuesday approved a 12-bill package that takes aim at the price of insulin, the impact of high costs on older New Yorkers and co-payments.

Lawmakers pointed to the more than 1.7 million residents in the state who need access to drugs like insulin as they live with and manage diabetes.

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New York Sen. Liz Krueger on potential rollback of Roe v. Wade and the 'Equality Amendment'

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

One of the most vocal proponents of abortion rights in the New York state Senate is Sen. Liz Krueger.

The chair of the Senate Finance Committee, the Manhattan Democrat sponsored the 2019 Reproductive Health Act. This year, she sponsors a bill to codify an equality amendment to the state’s constitution. The amendment would codify a platform of rights for New Yorkers from pregnancy termination to gender identity.

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New York Sen. John Brooks discusses several bills aimed to help veterans

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Earlier this week, New York state Sen. John Brooks, the Democratic chairman of the Veterans, Homeland Security, and Military Affairs Committee, and a veteran of the New York Army Reserve National Guard, helped to push several pieces of veterans’ legislation over the finish line in the state Senate.

“We owe everything to our veterans and active duty military personnel,” Brooks said. “Look at what’s happening in Europe right now. And there were men and women throughout history who stood up to defend this country to make sure what we have, we keep.”

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What New York Senate Democrats want in the coming weeks

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Democrats in the New York state Senate over the last several days have outlined their priorities for the remainder of the year, approving measures meant to reduce pollution and curtail climate change as well as a measure designed to aid survivors and victims of sexual assault.

As state lawmakers wrap up the legislative session in the next six weeks, a range of issues not approved in the state budget this month could once again be aired.

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

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

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

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

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

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

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

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

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New York state Senate advances bills to aid volunteer firefighters' benefits

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Bills meant to aid volunteer firefighters and their health care coverage advanced this week in the New York state Senate, part of an effort to boost the ranks of services across New York.

The measures include making permanent a law that covers disability determinations for volunteer firefighters due to disease or a malfunction of the heart. A separate bill was also approved that provides coverage for lung disabilities.

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

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

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

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

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Analyst: A late New York state budget is on Hochul

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

No budget deal yet.

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

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

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

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

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

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New York's budget talks remain in neutral amid disagreement

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

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

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

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

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

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

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

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Advocates press New York officials to not make criminal justice changes

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

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

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

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How the New York state budget might address decarbonization in buildings

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

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

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

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New York's budget could expand postpartum coverage

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

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

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

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

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

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

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

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Conservation groups seek final approval of clean fuel standard in state budget

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A coalition of environmental organizations and labor unions is making a final push in the coming weeks to gain the approval of a clean fuel standard in the state budget with the goal of reducing carbon emissions in New York state.

The measure is meant to reduce emissions by addressing the carbon intensity of motor fuels with the blending of low-carbon alternatives. A version of the proposal, which has been backed by state Sen. Kevin Parker and Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner in the state Legislature, was included in the state Senate's budget proposal this week.

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

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

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

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

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New York lawmakers want to increase funding for local health departments

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

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

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

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

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

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

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

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New York home care advocates cheer budget proposals

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

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

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

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New York lawmakers want to speed up electric buildings construction

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Lawmakers in the state Senate want a ban on fossil fuels in new building construction to go into effect three years earlier than proposed by Gov. Kathy Hochul.

The provision in the Democratic-led state Senate's proposed budget is part of a broader effort to transition the state to more renewable forms of energy in the coming decades, legislation that is expected to drive major changes in transportation, construction and consumer products.

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

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

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

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

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Senate Democrats' Fundraising Arm Gets New Leadership Team

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The Senate Democrats' chief fundraising committee is getting a new leadership team following the departure of its executive director Evan Rantzaklis.

Stepping into the role of executive director is Alex Elmasri, who served as politicla director for the 2020 election cycle. Koren Frankfort will be taking a leading role in fundraising, staying on as the committee's chief financial officer.

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Stewart-Cousins Re-Elected Democratic Senate Leader

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Democratic Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins on Monday was re-elected the leader of her conference that has grown into a supermajority this year after a decade in the political wilderness.

Stewart-Cousins was is set to become the first Democratic majority leader in the state Senate to serve a consecutive term in the post in decades when the Legislature reconvenes next year for the 2021 session.

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A Long Road Back to Power for New York Senate Democrats

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Around this time 10 years ago, Senate Democratic leader John Sampson held a news conference to tout his conference's accomplishments. The issues he highlighted — measures like reforming Off-Track Betting parlors in New York — were paltry.

Democrats had been turned out of power in the state Senate weeks earlier in the tea party wave election and had become the laughingstock of state government. They were concluding a single, two-year term in the majority mired by dysfunction and a paralyzing leadership coup.

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In Some New York Senate Races, the Next Campaign Begins

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A very different kind of campaign fundraising can begin after Election Day.

Campaigns on Thursday began asking supporters to help sustain their bids for office days after voting ended in hopes of gaining office through the absentee ballot count.

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Gillibrand Endorses Gaughran in State Senate

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand later today will endorse the re-election of Democratic state Sen. Jim Gaughran to a Long Island district.

Gaughran is running for a second term in a district he helped to flip in 2018, giving his party a comfortable majority in the chamber.

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Working Families Party Sees Primary Victories in New York

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

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

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

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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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