Karen Dewitt

NYS Capitol Correspondent

Ways to Connect

Times Union Website Crime Confidential Blog

  Governor Cuomo this week announced plans for mass pardons of young people who commit non violent crimes. It’s the latest in a string of actions Cuomo has taken in the past year in an attempt to get around opposition from some factions in the state legislature and to further some progressive issues.

Governor Andrew Cuomo
Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Governor Cuomo continues to say that he will propose major reforms in the New Year, in the wake of the conviction of the two top legislative leaders on multiple corruption charges. But the governor, in a radio interview, says there’s only so far that he can go to reign in campaign donations.

An upstate business group is seeking tax cuts for small businesses in the New Year, and opposing Governor Cuomo’s plan to phase in a minimum wage hike to $15 an hour. Unshackle Upstate’s Greg Biryla says while portions of  the economy have improved somewhat, including the Albany and Buffalo regions, wide swaths of the Southern Tier, North Country, and Mohawk Valley continue to stagnate, and have lost jobs.

Pixabay/Public Domain

  Advocates for paid family leave in New York say they hope 2016 is the year that the state finally provides a program to allow workers to take time off to care for a child, or a sick elderly relative.

  A study by a reform group finds that if New York were to ban outside income for lawmakers, it would actually effect only a small number of legislators.

Office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

Now that the two leaders of the legislature have been convicted on multiple counts of corruption, government reform groups are looking to the remaining politicians at the Capitol for reform. And polls show that the public is with them.

wikipedia commons

The state’s education commissioner says no new laws are needed to reverse a proposal in this year’s state budget tying teacher performance reviews more closely to standardized tests. At the December Board of Regents meeting, members voted to postpone the effects of the tests on teacher evaluations until for at least four more years.

Karen Dewitt. WAMC

Governor Cuomo made anti sexual assault legislation on college campuses a key part of his agenda in 2015.  Six months after signing what’s called the “Enough is Enough” legislation, college officials say it’s helped accelerated a trend toward better awareness and reporting of incidents.

The latest Siena College poll finds that most people agree with the corruption conviction of the state’s former longtime Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who was found guilty on seven counts two weeks ago.

Regional Economic Development Council
Regional Economic Development Council website

  Three of seven regions in competition in upstate New York were awarded $500 million each in economic development money, in a contest by Governor Cuomo that critics have called the “Hunger Games.”

Karen DeWitt

  Governor Cuomo continues to try to revise his role in creating the Moreland Commission. He now says the defunct commission was never intended to investigate to prosecute anyone.  

Karen Dewitt. WAMC

The last time the state held a constitutional convention, Bobby Kennedy was Senator. That was in 1967.  The last time a constitutional convention met and voters actually ratified it’s result, was 75 years ago. It was in 1938, at the height of the great depression.

Governor Andrew Cuomo
Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo

Next week, Governor Cuomo is scheduled to hand out more than $2 billion in economic development funds to regional groups. But a budget watchdog group says there needs to be better measurements to show how many jobs have actually been created and retained.

The conviction of Sheldon Silver on corruption charges is not the end of legal proceedings for the former Assembly Speaker. He and his lawyers are expected to provide details of their appeal of the case, as well as ask the trial judge to override the jury’s conclusions and retroactively acquit Silver. 

Governor Cuomo and the current legislative leaders have downplayed efforts for new reforms in Albany, following the conviction of the former Assembly Speaker on seven counts of corruption. 

Former Speaker Assembly Silver is now facing up to 20 years in prison for illegally gaining millions of dollars through his outside employment. The former Senate Leader. Dean Skelos, is in the midst of another federal corruption trial, accused of misusing his influence to gain jobs and money for his son.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is due to announce his choice for the state’s next chief judge on December 1.

Early Voting Pushed

Nov 23, 2015
wikipedia commons

At a hearing held by the State Assembly on expanded voting, advocates argued that New York needs to join more than half of the other state who offer some kind of extended voting.

Karen Dewitt
Karen Dewitt. WAMC

Anti hunger advocates came to the Capitol Monday to lobby for measures to help New York’s neediest.

Former State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos
Karen DeWitt

  Audio recordings released by the U.S. Attorney’s office at the corruption trial of Senator Dean Skelos aim to show that the Senate Leader and his son colluded to use Skelo’s official position to help his son get employment, in what turned out to be a succession of no show jobs. But the recordings paint a revealing picture about how Albany really works behind the scenes.

classroom
en.wikipedia.org

The leaders of school districts, teachers unions,  and parents are presenting a united front in calling for $2.2 billion dollars more school aid next year.  They say a hard property tax cap with a zero percent increase is making it even more crucial that state lawmakers help them out.

Uber and other ride sharing services are gearing up to win permission from the state legislature to operate in areas outside New York City. State Senators held a round table discussion of how to craft legislation.

classroom
en.wikipedia.org

  The state’s education commissioner says parents who are thinking of opting their children out of standardized tests again this school year should stick with the exams, because they will be different than last year’s tests. But the state’s teacher’s union and a parents group says the changes don’t go far enough.

Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia is hoping to contain a movement that led 20% of students to boycott the third through eighth grade standardized tests last spring.

wikipedia commons

The state’s latest teacher evaluation system, which was supposed to be in place by this Sunday, November 15th, has essentially been put on hold as 90 percent of school districts have been granted waivers to delay its implementation. It represents a reversal for a policy championed by Governor Cuomo just last spring. 

The new rules for teacher evaluations were put in place last March, as part of the state budget. 

Governor Cuomo says he won’t allow a natural gas transfer station to be built off of the coast of Long Island, saying  there are too many concerns, including damage form future hurricanes, and potential terrorism. 

The Port Ambrose transfer station was to be built off of  the beaches of Long Island, and would have allowed tanker ships to load up with liquefied natural gas, then distribute the gas into pipelines on the main land.

Cuomo made the announcement to an enthusiastic crowd of Long Island officials and activists.

nynow.org

  Governor Cuomo announced he’s raising the minimum wage for state workers to $15 an hour.  That did not stop advocates from protesting at the Dunkin Donuts at the state Capitol, saying the governor’s recent phased in wage increase for fast food workers is too slow.

Cuomo, at a union rally in New York City, announced he’ll raise the minimum wage for state workers to  $15 an hour by 2018 in New York City and 2021 in the rest of the state.

WAMC

    

The leaders of school districts, teachers unions,  and parents are presenting a united front in calling for $2.2 billion dollars more school aid next year.  They say a hard property tax cap with a zero percent increase is making it even more crucial that state lawmakers help them out.

Bret Jaspers, WSKG

The state Senate’s newest member, Fred Akshar, known for his chain saw wielding ad, says he intends to be independent, including from his predecessor Tom Libous, who resigned the seat after a felony conviction.

Karen DeWitt

As momentum for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour grows, opponents are trying to fight back. Small Business groups, farmers and others who employ low wage workers  are organizing, and a fiscally conservative group is out with a study showing potential job losses.

A new proposal by the state ethics commission that could restrict campaign donations is raising some questions.

There’s only one political race Tuesday that directly effects New York State government, and that’s a special election for a State Senate seat in the Southern Tier. Karen DeWitt reports on a race that has the Republican candidate far ahead.  

Pages