The New York State Senate and Assembly met in Albany to choose new leaders and begin outlining their plans for the 2015 session. The year begins with Republicans in full control of the State Senate, but with a group of breakaway Democrats still enjoying special status.
The State of the State has been delayed for two weeks, due to the funeral of former Governor Mario Cuomo, the father of Governor Andrew Cuomo. But under New York’s state’ constitution, the legislature is still required to convene.
Former Governor Mario Cuomo was laid to rest in New York today after a funeral and wake that was attended by prominent politicians, including former President and First Lady Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Vice President Joe Biden. But the ceremony and the eulogy by his son, Governor Andrew Cuomo, focused on the personal as well as the political. Cuomo called his father “the keynote speaker for our better angels.”
Education will be a big issue in 2015, with lines already drawn between teachers at public schools, and Governor Andrew Cuomo and the charter school movement.
Before the New Year even began, the state’s largest teachers union was already making its displeasure with Governor Andrew Cuomo known, by protesting outside the governor’s mansion.
New York State United Teachers President Karen Magee says teachers are angry over what they see as Governor Cuomo’s increasingly negative view of their union, and the public education system in general.
Teachers union members and pro-charter school advocates demonstrated outside the governor’s mansion on New Year’s Eve, as inside, Governor Andrew Cuomo and his partner Sandra Lee greeted guests who won a lottery to attend an annual open house, one day before the governor is to begin his second term.
Around 100 teachers from several regions of the state gathered in the biting cold to protest what they believe is Governor Cuomo’s unfair stance against teachers and the union that represents them. They even wrote a song, that in part, labels the governor “clueless.”
A government reform group is considering filing a complaint with a state ethics panel over a report in the New York Times that the Assembly Speaker is under federal investigation for failing to disclose pay he received from a law firm.
Cuomo Administration officials who are devising regulations for medical marijuana in New York say it’s unlikely any patients in the state will get the drug before 2016. They say they are working through the details of how to implement the program, but there are still many unanswered questions.
Aides to Cuomo say they’ve made some progress on figuring out how to manage a medical marijuana system that is still technically illegal in the United States.
The preliminary rules on how to carry out New York’s medical marijuana program are due by the end of the year.
Environmentalists are celebrating after Governor Andrew Cuomo says there will be no hydrofracking in New York for now, citing inconclusive scientific evidence on the health effects of the gas drilling process.
A reform group studied votes taken by local governments across the state on whether to allow hydro-fracking, and found numerous potential conflicts of interest that they say could have tainted the outcome of the votes.
The New York Public Interest Research Group studied 59 municipalities that have voted to permit hydro-fracking in the past few years, if New York State eventually approves the process. They found numerous questionable activities, including local elected officials holding gas leases and town attorneys who also represented oil and gas companies.
It’s looking less and less likely that state Senators and Assemblymembers will get a pay raise as a holiday present this year, but Governor Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers still have a number of issues they need to resolve before the year ends, ranging from the siting of gambling casinos to how to close a Thruway deficit and whether to go ahead with hydro-fracking.
A state panel is examining whether workers whose income is supplemented by tips should receive an increase in the minimum wage. The wage board, appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, has held hearings and will make a decision early next year.