State Senate

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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Robert Ortt Elected Senate Minority Leader

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

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

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

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Lawmakers Want to Tax the Rich to Fix Pandemic Battered Economy

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

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

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

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Bill Would Create Grants for Businesses That Make Pandemic Changes

BY Morgan McKay City of Albany

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

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

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

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

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

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

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Senate Minority Leader Flanagan To Resign June 28

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

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

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

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

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

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

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

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New York Reacts To Landmark LGBTQ Discrimination Ruling

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

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

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

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As Police Reform Bills Pass, Stewart-Cousins Talks About Her Own Family Concerns

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The state Legislature on Wednesday put the finishing touches on a package of police reform measures approved over the last three days.

The bills are meant to strengthen oversight of police in New York, criminalize the use of choke holds and boost transparency. And the measures passed with relative ease in two chambers led by black lawmakers.

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New York Democrats Glide Through Police Reform Measures Thanks to Majority

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

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

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

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Defund The Police: How Policing Could Change

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

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

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

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State Lawmakers Poised to Approve Police Reform Measures

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

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

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

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What Police Reforms Advocacy Groups Want

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

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

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

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

BY Susan Arbetter Albany/Capital Region

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

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

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Lawmakers Want To Broaden Access To Police Records

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

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

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

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4 Criminal Justice Law Changes New York Lawmakers May Consider

BY Nick Reisman New York State

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

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

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Nursing Homes Could Be Required to Have Pandemic Plan

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

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

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

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Lawmakers Approve Pandemic Price Gouging Restrictions

BY Morgan McKay City of Albany

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

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

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Bill Would Preserve School Budgets

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

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

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

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New York Sen. Gianaris Raises From Small Dollar Donors

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

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

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

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Lawmakers Plan Remote Session Next Week

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

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

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

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Bill Would Allow Bars, Restaurants To Continue Take-Out Drinks

BY Nick Reisman New York State

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

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

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Senate Lawmakers: Tax the Rich to Fund New York Education

BY Morgan McKay New York State

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

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

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Leave Work Because Of COVID Conditions? Bill Would Allow Workers To Receive Unemployment Benefits

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Workers who quit or leave their jobs due to a lack of safey measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 should be eligible for unemployment benefits, a pair of state lawmakers said on Friday.

The lawmakers, Sens. Brad Hoylman and Jessica Ramos, are introducing a bill that would allow those workers to receive unemployment benefits.

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Republicans Want Probe Over Delayed Unemployment Benefits

BY Morgan McKay City of Albany

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

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

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Bill Would Provide Breathing Room For Local Taxes

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

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

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

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Sen. James Skoufis Tests Positive for Coronavirus

BY Nick Reisman Hudson Valley

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

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

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Lawmakers, Advocates: Stay In Session

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

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

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

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Common Cause: Legislature Must Stay in Session Post-Budget

BY Susan Arbetter City of Albany

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

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

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