Karen Dewitt

NYS Capitol Correspondent

Ways to Connect

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
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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.

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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.

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  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.

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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.

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  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.  

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Three-quarters of school districts in the state have applied for waivers from the new teacher evaluation rules set out by Governor Cuomo and the legislature in March. The news comes amidst lots of changes, including  the leadership of the state Board of Regents.

State lawmakers said a few years ago that they would  no longer permit the controversial member item program to continue, but  critics say the old system, which gave taxpayer money to legislators’ pet projects, is being revived in a new form.

Times Union Website Crime Confidential Blog

Governor Cuomo, five years into his term in office, has reached a plateau with voters. About half still like and support him, the other half have reservations.

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Political and private sector leaders from around the state are spending three days at the Capitol, making their best case to win a share of $1.5 billion dollars in economic development monies for their region. Critics have called the competition the “hunger games,” because, under the rules, three regions will win, but four others will lose out on the funds.

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Governor Cuomo says he’s going to press for a statewide regulatory system that allows ride sharing services including Uber and Lyft to operate.

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  The ride sharing service Uber, which already operates in New York City, is making a big push to move into upstate and Long Island. But that would require state lawmakers to take action.

Uber officials, armed with a study that says 13,000 new jobs could be created if Uber is allowed in all of New York, came to the State Capitol to make their case. They have started an online petition and ad campaign to help convince the state legislature to pass laws to allow the service to operate .

Albany, NY

New York will soon have a new top judge, now that the current Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals is approaching the mandatory retirement age of 70.  Westchester District Attorney and Cuomo ally Janet DiFiore, is on the list as a potential replacement.   

The state’s ethics commission released the top spending lobbyists to try to influence state government during the 2015 legislative session, and found that education and real estate groups were the biggest spenders.

The top spenders so far in 2015 correlate with the top issues this year, fights over the future of public education and New York City’s rent regulations.

Jenna Flanagan, Innovation Trail

 The state’s  legislative leaders crossed paths literally this week, when both scheduled a stroll at the same time along the walkway over the Hudson River. In addition to taking in the view, they had a lot to say about priority issues, including raising the minimum wage and funding public transit and road and bridge repairs. 

A panel commissioned to review practices at New York’s troubled ethics commission held its one and only public hearing Wednesday, as its Chair says lack of staff and excess of paperwork may make it difficult to meet the group’s November 1st deadline.

Hydrofracking has been banned in New York State for nearly a year now,  but opponents of the natural gas extraction process have other concerns, including new pipelines.

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