Karen Dewitt

NYS Capitol Correspondent

Ways To Connect

Major newspapers have posted editorials calling for the New York Senate Leader, Dean Skelos, to resign after the Senator and his son have been accused of running a corruption scam. But so far, Skelos is hanging on, and Republicans are trying hard to carry on business as usual.

One day after US Attorney Preet Bharara bought a six count complaint against Skelos, accusing him and his son, Adam, of bribery and extortion, the Senate Leader attended the annual police memorial. In brief remarks, he reiterated his belief that the charges against him are false.

It may be three years until the next statewide election, but potential candidates are already staking out their positions. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman both say they are content with their jobs, and would like to keep them longer.

The annual state report on lobbying is out, and it finds that $226 million was spent on influencing government leaders, with the largest amount from education groups.

It’s not a surprise that education entities spent the most money on lobbying than any other group in 2014, just as controversy over the new Common core standards and the related standardized tests reached a peak.

Karen DeWitt

The state legislature’s Black, Hispanic and Asian Caucus is reacting to events in Baltimore and is calling for swift action on a package of criminal justice reforms that have been stalled in the State Senate.

The caucus members say they’ve grown weary of incidents where African Americans die after encounters with police. Assemblyman Michaela Blake represents portions of the Bronx.

“Baltimore is happening in the Bronx, “ Blake said. “It can happen anywhere.”

Blake says the young people involved in the riots are not thugs or criminals.

Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo

There’s growing support in the state legislature to address controversial aspects of New York State’s Common Core learning standards and related testing.

 

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says Assemblyman William Scarborough’s expected decision to plead guilty to illegally claiming over $40,000 in travel expenses is “the right thing to do.”

Schneiderman’s office, along with the State Comptroller, originally launched the investigation that led to the charges by the U.S. Attorney for New York’s Northern district.

Democrats in the State Senate are attempting to close a loophole in the state’s campaign finance laws, while a new poll finds New Yorkers want lawmakers to take more steps to quell corruption.

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  Less than a month after it was enacted, Governor Cuomo’s new teacher evaluation plan seems to be in jeopardy, with the Regents Chancellor calling for a year’s delay and a key Senator saying the legislature needs to revisit the issue.

When Cuomo convinced the legislature to approve a new teacher evaluation system that relies more on standardized tests, his administration said that the State Board of Regents would have very limited power to make any changes including compliance with a November deadline to come up with new performance reviews.

WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

  Earth Day 2015 is also the first day that the New York State Assembly is transitioning to a paperless system. Assemblymembers have been given I Pads to read bills electronically, and supporters say it will save millions of dollars, and trees.

Majority Leader Joe Morelle announced the change on the Assembly floor.

“Today we begin officially with tablets,” Morelle said.

Getting rid of the piles of paper that clutter members’ desks each day required a constitutional amendment, which voters approved last fall.  

Karen DeWitt

The Speaker of the Assembly is defending himself against a newspaper report that he profited from his late mother’s embezzlement crimes.

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