State Senate

New secretary of state and construction authority leader confirmed by the New York Senate

BY Associated Press New York State

The New York Senate confirmed two former state lawmakers Wednesday to lead the Department of State and the state's public finance and construction authority.

Senators confirmed Walter T. Mosley as secretary of state and former Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez as president and chief executive officer of the Dormitory Authority of the state of New York. Both are former assemblymen.

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New York state Sen. Sean Ryan discusses housing plan for upstate

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

New York City’s housing crisis has been covered for years, so it’s easy to forget that upstate New York cities face similar challenges.

But Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany and Binghamton saw a major victory in the recently passed state budget. Parts of New York state Sen. Sean Ryan’s four-part housing plan received funding, including $40 million to build one and two family homes.

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New safeguards added to New York's proposed Medical Aid in Dying Act

BY Luke Parsnow New York State

The two architects behind New York’s Medical Aid in Dying Act have amended added additional safeguards to the legislation in the hope it can soon become law.

The act would allow terminally ill, mentally capable adults who have been given six months or less to live to take their own lives with a cocktail of pharmaceutical drugs.

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New York state Senate confirms new State Police superintendent

BY Luke Parsnow New York State

The New York state Senate on Thursday confirmed Acting State Police Superintendent Steven James to serve fully in that role.

James has served with the State Police for more than 32 years, including more than two decades in a leadership role, serving in positions as deputy superintendent for employee relations, assistant deputy superintendent, staff inspector, major, captain, lieutenant, senior investigator, sergeant, investigator and trooper. He holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University at Albany and a master’s in public administration from Marist College.

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New York socialists pushing hard for their legislative agenda in Albany

BY Susan Arbetter and Tim Williams New York State

In 1920, New Yorkers elected a group of declared socialists to the state Assembly who were promptly expelled from the Legislature simply for being socialists. Fast forward more than a century, you’ll find a vocal and growing coalition of socialists working to implement their agenda in a state Legislature with Democratic supermajorities in both houses.

State Sen. Jabari Brisport, a member of the Socialist Caucus in the state Legislature, told Capital Tonight that the socialists are trying to “uplift working class New Yorkers, regardless of political affiliations” and that they are looking out “for the people and not the uber rich.”

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New York state Sen. Pam Helming discusses the Senate GOP housing package

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

While a deal on a new 421a tax abatement is looking remote thanks to an impasse between several of the construction trade unions and the real estate lobby, New York state Senate Republicans are proposing their own package of housing bills, including a straight 421a extension.

State Sen. Pam Helming, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Housing, Construction and Community Development, joined Capital Tonight host Susan Arbetter on Wednesday to discuss the package of bills.

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New York state Senate GOP group makes recommendations to address antisemitism

BY Luke Parsnow New York State

The New York state Senate Republican Conference Antisemitism Working Group unveiled a report and recommendations Wednesday to Gov. Kathy Hochul and Democratic lawmakers to address and combat antisemitism in communities.

The group, formed last year, held multiple meetings and roundtable hearings in Rockland and Nassau counties. They are urging for the Legislature to act on five bills to be a part of the state budget, which include:

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New York Senate again passes bill on lobbying and state office nominations

BY Luke Parsnow New York State

The New York state Senate on Tuesday passed legislation that would require the disclosure of information relating to lobbying for the nomination or confirmation of individuals to state office positions.

It aims to close a loophole that allows lobbyists to work in secret when promoting or opposing candidates for judgeships and other state offices. The bill, which passed the Senate 44-17, would require lobbyists to disclose their activities related to appointments that require Senate confirmation, just as they already disclose activities related to promoting or opposing legislation.

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Hudson Valley state Sen. Pete Harckham proposes solar energy tax credits

BY Susan Arbetter and Tim Williams New York State

New York state Sen. Pete Harckham, the chairman of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, has proposed legislation that would create a new limit of tax credits for New Yorkers to go solar.

The proposal, which is currently in committee, would give New Yorkers who transition their residence to rooftop solar a maximum per-household tax credit of $10,000. Harckham joined Capital Tonight to discuss how the proposal would work.

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State Senate passes NY HEAT Act, other utilities legislation

BY Luke Parsnow New York State

The New York state Senate on Tuesday passed legislation aimed to make utility bills easier to pay for ratepayers, including the NY Heat Act, which aligns utility regulation with state climate justice and emission reduction targets.

The NY HEAT Act, which passed 40-22, had been approved by the state Senate last year but the Assembly and Gov. Kathy Hochul have yet to find agreement on all variables of the legislation. Hochul included key provisions in her 2025 state budget, but not the entire piece of legislation.

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Expert urges Albany to act following housing emergency extension

BY Spectrum News NY1 New York City

A housing expert in the city remains optimistic about tackling ongoing housing issues despite the City Council's decision on Tuesday to extend the city’s housing emergency declaration, keeping the Rent Stabilization Law in effect until April 2027.

The declaration, renewed every three years when the vacancy rate dips below 5%, was prompted by the current vacancy rate of 1.4%, the lowest since 1968.

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New York state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins discusses her chamber's one-house budget

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

The New York state Senate and Assembly’s one-house budgets released this week deliver good news for an array of interests from school districts to hospitals, to cannabis growers. They do this by raising $2.2 billion in new taxes on the state’s corporations as well as the state’s very highest earners, something Gov. Kathy Hochul has said is “a non-starter."

According to Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the tax increases are important because the needs in the state are so great.

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State Legislature releases budget priorities as negotiations continue

BY Bernadette Hogan New York State

Democratic state lawmakers are letting Gov. Kathy Hochul know where their priorities are in what’s known as their “one-house” budget proposals that were released earlier Tuesday.

The plans will serve as roadmaps for the next couple of weeks in negotiations leading up to the state’s April 1 budget deadline.

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New York state Sen. Brian Kavanagh discusses housing package

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

The New York state Senate’s housing plan is both broad in that it leaves many details to the negotiation process, and specific in that it proposes bill language covering an array of new ideas.

“We’re proposing that the state invest very substantially in constructing new housing on a large scale and rapidly,” state Sen. Brian Kavanagh, the Senate’s chair of the Committee on Housing, Construction and Community Development, told Capital Tonight.

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New York bill would allow absentee voting for religious observations

BY Luke Parsnow New York State

A New York state lawmaker is introducing legislation to allow for absentee voting in instances where personal religious observation conflicts with elections.

State Sen. Iwen Chu, a Democrat from Brooklyn, said in a release Tuesday that a Jewish constituent contacted her office saying a polling location for a neighbor of their's was located at a site where her own personal faith prohibited her to step foot into — a non-Jewish house of worship.

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Next phase of state budget negotiations begins

BY Bernadette Hogan New York State

The next phase of Albany’s budget negotiations kicked off Monday night, as both Democratic state Senate and Assembly conferences were poised to release their “one house” budget proposals.

Only the state Senate’s document was released online late Monday night as R1952. The documents establish the Legislature’s stance on Gov. Kathy Hochul’s 2024 $233 billion budget proposal released in January.

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New York Republicans push for changes to 'ill-conceived' bail laws after recent incidents

BY Luke Parsnow New York State

New York Republican lawmakers are once again calling for changes and outright rollbacks of the state’s bail laws, pointing to recent incidents in the state as why the law is problematic.

First passed in 2019, Democrats, who hold supermajorities in both chambers of the state Legislature, have amended the law three times since then, the most recent being last year.

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N.Y. lawmakers, advocates call for increased wage replacement benefits

BY Tim Williams and Marisa Jacques New York State

In 1989, a gallon of gas cost around a buck, and a ticket to the movies took less than $5 out of your pocket.

That year was also the last year that the wage replacement benefit in New York was increased. Now, state lawmakers, including Democratic state Sen. Jeremy Cooney, of the Rochester area, is looking to increase that benefit from $170 per week to $1,100. Cooney joined Capital Tonight to break it down.

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State senator discusses housing priorities in state budget

BY Spectrum News NY1 New York City

New York state Sen. Brian Kavanagh is among lawmakers in Albany pushing for a dramatic increase in housing construction across New York City and the state amid ongoing budget deliberations.

During an appearance on "Mornings On 1" Thursday, Kavanagh, who represents Lower Manhattan and chairs the State Senate Housing Committee, also emphasized the need for bolstered tenant protection laws alongside housing expansion efforts.

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New York state Sen. Mike Gianaris discusses Legislature's proposed congressional maps

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

The New York state Legislature’s newly introduced congressional maps don’t appear to be the blatant power grab that Republicans have been fearing, but they could serve to put an additional Democratic seat in the win column for New York.

According to redistricting expert Jeff Wice, an adjunct professor of law and senior fellow at the New York Census and Redistricting Institute, the new lines may put first-term Republican U.S. Rep. Marc Molinaro, of the 19th District, in jeopardy.

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Advocates push for term limits for New York state officeholders

BY Ryan Whalen Buffalo

New York state lawmakers for years have considered the possibility of imposing term limits on themselves but so far none of those proposals or campaign promises have come to fruition.

"Hope springs eternal but I know it's an uphill battle," said state Assemblymember Monica Wallace, D-Lancaster.

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New York state senator seeks ban on hospital lawsuits against patients

BY Justin Velazquez Central NY

Seventeen New York hospitals and health systems sued 1,600 patients, collecting $9 million in medical debts since 2022, according to a USA Today report released last July. One woman's husband was sued for more than $10,000 by SUNY Upstate Medical University before he passed away from pancreatic cancer.

“I couldn’t understand why they would sue a terminally ill man – and neither could he," said Linda Koberna.

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New York state Senate Finance Chair Liz Krueger on House maps, budget hearings and housing

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

In a wide-ranging conversation with Capital Tonight on Friday, New York state Senate Finance Committee Chair Liz Krueger discussed health care, raising revenue, housing and the new congressional maps approved Thursday by the Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC).

According to Krueger, the full Senate Democratic conference has yet to review the maps, but she wasn’t impressed by what she saw.

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New York state senator calls challenge to new even-year election law 'baloney'

BY Ryan Whalen Syracuse

Under a new state law, starting in 2025, local elections outside of New York City, with some exceptions including offices like judges, sheriffs and district attorneys, will move from odd years to even years to line up with state and federal elections.

The bill's sponsor, state Sen. James Skoufis, D-Cornwall, said it's all about turnout.

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New York state Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt talks executive budget, public spending on migrants

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

New York state Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt was less critical of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s executive budget proposal than he has been about her position on the influx of migrants.

“There were things in [the governor’s executive budget] that I think dovetail with priorities of ours,” Ortt said, meaning the Senate Minority Conference. “She talked a lot about affordability.”

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New York Republicans to Hochul: Send National Guard to the borders

BY Luke Parsnow New York State

New York Republican leaders in the state Legislature are urging Gov. Kathy Hochul to deploy the state's National Guard to Texas and New York's northern border to assist in the flow of migrants coming into the U.S., according to a letter they sent Thursday.

"More than 8 million border encounters have occurred since President Biden took office. In 2023, over 2.5 million migrants entered the country through the southern border. In December alone, 302,034 encounters were reported by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. On New York’s Northern Border, 91,640 illegal crossings were reported in the past year," the letter states, signed by state Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt and Assembly Minority Leader William Barclay.

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New York state Senate Labor Committee chair Jessica Ramos discusses strengthening the workforce

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Gov. Kathy Hochul this week approved a plan for the state to hire migrants to fill 4,000 open entry-level state positions in roles including food service and equipment repair. The plan would help to cut down on the current 10,000 estimated vacant positions the state is seeking to fill.

Under Hochul’s proposal, the migrants would not need to take the state’s civil service exam. The Civil Service Commission voted to approve the measure on Jan. 18.

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New York state Sen. Neil Breslin won't run for reelection

BY Tim Williams and Luke Parsnow Albany/Capital Region

New York state Sen. Neil Breslin, the current most tenured member of the Legislature's upper chamber, won't run for reelection this year, state Assemblyman John McDonald told Spectrum News 1 Wednesday evening.

The Democrat has represented parts of the Capital Region for more than 25 years, currently holding the Senate's 46th District, which consists of parts of Albany, Schenectady and Montgomery counties.

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Real estate worker, political activist Caleb Slater begins campaign for CNY state Senate seat

BY Luke Parsnow Central NY

Commercial real estate worker and political advocate Caleb Slater officially began his campaign Thursday for a state Senate seat in Central New York.

Slater is running for the Republican and Conservative Party nomination for the 48th state Senate District seat, currently held by Democrat Rachel May, who has been in office since 2019.

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New York state Senate Republicans unveil 'A New Hope For The Empire State' legislative agenda

BY Jack Arpey New York State

The New York state Senate Republican Conference on Wednesday unveiled “A New Hope For The Empire State,” their legislative agenda for 2024.

They say they are gearing their agenda toward issues that impact “everyday New Yorkers” while blasting Democratic policies they say have created safety and quality of life issues for the state.

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YWCA Syracuse head launches GOP bid for CNY state Senate seat

BY Luke Parsnow Central NY

YWCA of Syracuse and Onondaga County Executive Director Fanny Villarreal announced her candidacy Thursday for a state Senate seat in Central New York.

Villarreal, a Republican, will seek the 48th state Senate District seat, currently held by Democrat Rachel May, who has been in office since 2019.

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New York GOP leaders ding Hochul on lack of specifics, not mentioning migrants in State of the State address

BY Luke Parsnow New York State

As New York Gov. Kathy Hochul outlined her legislative priorities for 2024 in her State of the State address on Tuesday, Republican leaders criticized her for what she did not discuss and framed some of her ideas as solutions to problems self-inflicted by years of Democratic control in Albany.

“With a $4 billion budget gap, there was no commitment to keep state spending in check. Illegal migrants are crossing the southern border in droves, but New York has yet to figure out how to properly handle the ongoing influx,” state Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay said in a statement. “Despite New York owning the nation’s worst outmigration numbers, there is no concrete plan to ease financial pressures on families and businesses. And after years of pro-criminal policies that undermine public safety, there is still no interest in increasing accountability or fixing glaring problems in the state’s criminal justice center.”

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New York Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins discusses comprehensive housing policy

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

This New York legislative session will differ from the last two under Gov. Kathy Hochul in a couple of ways. It’s an election year, which means lawmakers may not be willing to cut spending; and ironically, instead of surpluses (thanks to federal spending and tax revenue), the state faces a $4.3 billion budget gap.

But state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins says she has a positive outlook, even on the contentious issue of affordable housing.

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New York Sen. Sean Ryan plans to reintroduce non-compete ban bill

BY Ryan Whalen Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- As time was running out for the governor to sign legislation banning non-compete agreements in New York state, the bill's sponsor felt they had reached a compromise to alleviate some of her concerns.

State Sen. Sean Ryan, D-Buffalo, said lawmakers were willing to allow the clauses for employees making $250,000 a year or more but the deal fell apart.

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Al Stirpe drops N.Y. state Senate bid, will seek reelection to Assembly

BY Luke Parsnow and Seamus Lyman Central NY

New York state Assemblymember Al Stirpe says he is ending his campaign for a state Senate seat in Central New York and will instead seek reelection to the state's lower chamber, the Democratic lawmaker told Spectrum News 1 on Wednesday.

Stirpe launched his campaign for the 50th state Senate District in October and had been endorsed by independent Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh.

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Salina Town Supervisor Nick Paro to run for CNY state Senate seat

BY Luke Parsnow Central NY

Salina Town Supervisor Nick Paro is joining the race for a state Senate seat in Central New York in 2024.

The Republican announced Thursday he will seek the seat representing New York’s 50th state Senate District, which includes Syracuse’s northern, western and eastern suburbs, as well as Central Square and the cities of Fulton and Oswego. The seat is being vacated by Democratic state Sen. John Mannion, who is running for Congress.

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New York state Sen. Sean Ryan on non-complete legislation, session, and Congress

BY Tim Williams and Casey Bortnick New York State

On Tuesday, advocates made their way to the state Capitol to call for Gov. Kathy Hochul to sign legislation that would ban so-called non-compete clauses for employees.

The bill’s Senate sponsor, Democratic state Sen. Sean Ryan, joined Capital Tonight to discuss the bill, respond to criticisms, and the latest on the race to succeed U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins.

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New York state senator introduces bill aimed to increase criminal court decision transparency

BY Luke Parsnow New York State

New York state Senate Deputy Majority Leader Mike Gianaris is introducing a bill aimed to increase the transparency of New York's criminal courts following a report that shows a very small percentage of criminal court decisions are published, the senator announced Monday.

The report, from Reinvent Albany, and co-authored by Scrutinize, said at least 94% of written criminal court decisions in New York are not published and calls for decisions to be published online to improve public accountability.

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New York state Sen. Kevin Parker accused of rape in lawsuit filed under state's expiring Adult Survivors Act

BY Associated Press and Bobby Cuza New York State
UPDATED 7:40 PM ET Nov. 20, 2023

A state lawmaker from Brooklyn has been accused in a lawsuit of raping a woman early in his legislative career when he went to her home to discuss disaster relief efforts for Haiti.

The lawsuit, filed Friday, accuses Sen. Kevin Parker of assaulting her in 2004, during his first term. The woman said she had been working with Parker to coordinate the delivery of items and donations to Haiti after a devastating flood that affected the country and other neighboring Caribbean Islands.

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New York lawmakers propose task force to examine crypto industry

BY Ryan Whalen City of Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- New York state Senate Banking Committee Chair James Sanders says it's time for the state to get ahead of the curve when it comes to the emerging industries of digital currency, cryptocurrency and blockchain.

"Is it a good thing? Is it a bad thing? Is it something that New York state should push? Should we get to the head of this? Is this something that needs more regulations?" said Sanders, a Democrat from Queens.

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Former Oswego County legislator to run for CNY state Senate seat

BY Luke Parsnow Central NY

Former Oswego County Legislature Minority Leader Tom Drumm will run for a state Senate seat in Central New York in 2024.

The Democrat announced Wednesday he will seek the seat representing New York’s 50th state Senate District, which includes Syracuse’s northern, western and eastern suburbs, as well as Central Square and the cities of Fulton and Oswego. The seat is being vacated by Democratic state Sen. John Mannion, who is running for Congress.

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State lawmakers introduce public safety bills after Utica school football game shooting

BY Luke Parsnow Utica

Days after a 16-year-old was arrested for allegedly shooting a security guard at a high school football game in Utica, two New York state lawmakers say they plan to introduce legislation that includes increasing penalties for people under 18 to illegally possess a gun and make it easier for them to be tried in criminal court.

Republican state Sen. Joe Griffo, of Rome, and Democratic Assemblywoman Buttenschon, of Marcy, said the bill would also allow judges to use mental health evaluations during a pre-trial detention hearing and allow them to issue a secure order if a defendent is determined not to have strong ties to the area.

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Onondaga County Legislature chairman to run for CNY state Senate seat

BY Luke Parsnow Central NY

Onondaga County Legislature Chairman James Rowley will run for a state Senate seat in Central New York.

Rowley on Thursday will officially announce his campaign for the Republican and Conservative party endorsements for New York’s 50th state Senate District, which includes Syracuse’s northern, western and eastern suburbs, as well as Central Square and the cities of Fulton and Oswego.

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Suburban New York Democrats oppose Thruway toll increase plan

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

Two Democrats in the state Senate who represent suburban New York districts are formally opposing a proposed increase in Thruway toll prices.

Thruway Authority officials are considering the first toll increase for E-Z Pass tagholders since 2010, with a plan that would increase tolls by 5% in 2024 and another 5% in 2027.

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New York Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins on the end-of-session push

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

The final week of the New York legislative session typically means last-minute lobbying, some horse-trading and the resurrection of bills that had once been considered dead. It’s a chaotic time.

On Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins joined host Susan Arbetter to discuss a few key pieces of legislation, including Good Cause Eviction and housing, Clean Slate, a packaging reduction bill and a bill to regulate lobbying around judicial nominations.

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Top New York Republican wants Hochul to consider alternate sites for housing migrants

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

The top Republican in the New York state Senate on Thursday in a letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul raised concerns with plans to potentially house migrants north of New York City at State University of New York campuses as well as hotels and motels.

Separately, a group of Democratic lawmakers in a different letter to Hochul called on her to consider as many dormitories at SUNY campuses as possible in addressing the housing issue.

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Proposal to expand supervised injection sites in New York advances

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

A bill to allow supervised injection sites in New York state advanced in the state Senate on Tuesday as supporters hope for its final approval by the end of the legislative session on June 8.

Supporters of the legislation have argued the measure is a potentially effective way of addressing a sharp rise in opioid use and overdose deaths in New York over the last several years.

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How New York lawmakers want to strengthen cybersecurity for governments

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Governmental entities would be required to take simple steps to increase their cybersecurity efforts amid a years-long rash of ransomware cases and cyberattacks affecting thousands of municipalities across the country in recent years.

A measure backed state Sen. Kristen Gonzalez would require governments in New York state to use multifactor authentication for local and remote access to networks. The measure would also require public websites to encrypt exchanges and comply with basic privacy standards.

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Anti-DWI advocates want tougher law for ignition interlocks

BY Nick Reisman New York State

The law for requiring ignition interlock devices could be strengthened in New York under a measure being pushed Monday by advocates who hope the provision will reduce drunken driving in the state.

The measure is meant to address what supporters of the proposal call loopholes in the existing law that have allowed most people convicted of drunken driving from being required to install an ignition interlock device.

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Lawmakers advance bill to address food marketing in New York

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

New York lawmakers want to crack down on what they call "predatory" marketing of unhealthy foods to kids under a bill that advanced in the state Senate on Wednesday.

The bill would expand the definition of "false and misleading" ads to include marketing of unhealthy food aimed at kids. At the same time, lawmakers want to expand the education of healthy, locally grown food for kids.

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Lawmakers want to reverse New York budget's Medicaid move

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

Republican lawmakers are trying to reverse a provision in New York's $229 billion state budget that shifted $1 billion in Medicaid funding away from county governments.

County leaders have warned that without the combined $1 billion from federal medical assistance percentage funds, they could be forced to consider property tax increases.

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Proposal to expand exotic animal sales ban in New York advances

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

The state Senate advanced a measure Wednesday that would expand a ban in New York on the sale of exotic animals, part of a package of measures meant to address animal welfare and curtail cruelty.

The bill, yet to pass in the state Assembly, would define a wild animal in New York as an indigenous, non-domesticated animal that is native to the country in which they live.

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Top New York Senate leader says federal government needs to address migrant crisis

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

The federal government needs to provide more assistance to local governments in New York to handle the influx of migrants as Mayor Eric Adams plans to send asylum seekers to counties north of New York City, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins on Tuesday said.

New York state's approved $229 billion budget included $1 billion in aid with migrant costs overall, Stewart-Cousins noted, picking up about a third of the overall costs for New York City.

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Republican lawmakers: Give New Yorkers time to read budget

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

Republicans in the state Senate and Assembly Wednesday urged Gov. Kathy Hochul to allow for ample time to review any finalized state budget agreement and not rush the process when a deal is finally struck.

"There's a lot in there," said state Sen. Tom O'Mara. "There will be a lot in there. There's a lot unknown."

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New York Senate leader 'has to have tenant protections' in budget

BY Kate Lisa New York State
UPDATED 9:23 PM ET Apr. 19, 2023

New York state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins says Democrats in the upper house will stand firm to include tenant protections in the final state budget, which is 19 days late.

Budget negotiations broke down this week as the governor and legislative leaders discussed how to fund affordable housing programs and incentives.

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Some call to reform the judicial nomination process in New York

BY Susan Arbetter and Tim Williams New York State

After a historic failed confirmation vote, New York has a confirmed nominee for chief judge of the Court of Appeals — Judge Rowan Wilson. Now the process for selecting a judge for the top court is under the microscope. Deputy Senate Majority Leader Michael Gianaris, a Queens Democrat, told Capital Tonight that the current system is “arbitrary and it’s not transparent.”

Gianaris says nothing has been put on the table yet but there are contemplations about a “simpler, stripped down” nominating process that would allow the governor to appoint anyone they’d like and then have that nominee face Senate confirmation, similar to the federal model.

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New York Senate Republicans call for a state budget with fewer mandates

BY Nick Reisman Albany

Republicans in the state Senate on Tuesday criticized the escalating spending in New York's budget as lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul work toward a deal by Saturday's deadline.

But reaching a deal between Democrats who control the state Legislature and Hochul remains seemingly elusive at this point, and lawmakers in both parties were expecting to work at least into next week to reach a compromise.

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New York Senate Education Committee Chair Shelley Mayer against Medicaid cost-shift

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

There is a New York state budgetary issue that has emerged only recently that could have a significant impact on education in the state: The governor’s budget would shift Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) funds in the Medicaid program from county governments that administer Medicaid to the state.

When asked about the cost-shift earlier this week, Gov. Kathy Hochul pointed to the billions of additional dollars sent to school districts this year. School taxes are one of the primary costs facing counties.

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New York Senate Labor Committee Chair Jessica Ramos on unemployment fraud, minimum wage and Good Cause Eviction

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Thursday marked three years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York. It also corresponded with a legislative budget hearing on workforce issues which revisited several of the state’s biggest failures from that time, including the billions of dollars lost to unemployment insurance fraud.

One of the issues that remains outstanding is how businesses, which have paid higher payroll taxes due to that fraud, will be made whole.

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New York slavery reparations bill sponsor is hopeful for passage in 2023

BY Nick Reisman and Tim Williams New York State

Legislation floating around the New York state Capitol would task a “community led coalition” to study the harms of slavery, and thereafter, to determine the reparations needed.

Jabari Brisport, a Brooklyn Democrat, who sponsors the legislation in the state Senate told Capital Tonight that “reparations are extremely late” and adds it’s “better late than never.”

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Hochul says she can find 'common interests' with Senate Democrats

BY Nick Reisman Albany

There are no hard feelings over how the Hector LaSalle confirmation was handled by Democrats in the state Senate, Gov. Kathy Hochul this week said in an interview with WAMC.

The interview was recorded before the state Senate held a last-minute vote on Wednesday that ultimately rejected LaSalle's nomination by Hochul to become the state's chief judge. A month earlier, LaSalle's nomination had been turned down by the state Senate Judiciary Committee.

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Analysis: New York lawmakers say judicial nominations have changed

BY Nick Reisman Albany

Hector LaSalle watched by himself from the gallery in the New York state Senate as lawmakers deliberated for about an hour whether he should become chief judge.

In the end, the first Court of Appeals chief judge nominee to lose two state Senate votes over the course of a month left without the job. He showed little emotion over the 20-39 vote sinking his candidacy. But future judicial candidates, like LaSalle, may face a similarly tough environment in the state Senate.

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New York state Senate votes down Hector LaSalle in full floor vote on chief judge nomination

BY Luke Parsnow New York State
UPDATED 3:16 PM ET Feb. 15, 2023

Nearly a month after he was rejected by the New York state Senate Judiciary Committee, Hector LaSalle failed to garner enough votes in a full floor vote to be confirmed as the next chief judge of the state Court of Appeals, an unprecedented rejection for a governor’s nominee to lead the state's highest court.

BREAKING: @NYSenateDems vote down Hector LaSalle during full floor vote in @NYSenate LaSalle was @GovKathyHochul’s nominee for Chief Judge. He was rejected by a Committee last month, but after initially refusing to hold a full floor vote, @AndreaSCousins acquiesced today pic.twitter.com/1s9QZiiEX0

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New York Senate majority leader says LaSalle wouldn't have votes for chief judge in full vote

BY Nick Reisman Albany

Hector LaSalle is unlikely to have the votes for confirmation even if he received consideration from the full state Senate, Democratic Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins on Tuesday said.

Stewart-Cousins did not fully rule out having a vote on LaSalle's nomination as chief judge weeks after the state Senate Judiciary Committee rejected it, which ultimately triggered a lawsuit last week by Republican state Sen. Anthony Palumbo.

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New York GOP lawmakers want to tackle cost of living in budget

BY Nick Reisman Albany

Republicans in the New York state Senate on Monday called for measures in the state budget meant to address the cost of living in New York, from ending a plan to charge tolls in parts of New York City, to reducing local government burdens that contribute to a homeowner's property tax bill and home heating costs.

Republicans called for the provisions while also criticizing Gov. Kathy Hochul's $227 billion spending proposal over measures they worry will hit New Yorkers' pocketbooks. They also raised concerns over spending meant to aid migrants in New York City.

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State Senate advances bills for small businesses in New York

BY Nick Reisman Albany

A package of measures meant to boost small businesses and aid the expansion of minority and women-owned businesses in New York were approved Tuesday in the Democratic-controlled state Senate.

The measures include bills that would create a voucher program to boost innovation, the creation of a matching grant program for a federal program as well as proposals to aid minority and women-owned businesses when bidding for state contracts.

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

BY Nick Reisman 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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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