Karen Dewitt

NYS Capitol Correspondent

Ways to Connect

Kathy Hochul
Karen DeWitt/New York Now

  The state’s lieutenant governor, in an interview with public radio and TV,  says she’s not harboring ambitions to be the state’s first woman governor.

Lieutenant  Governor Kathy Hochul says she doesn’t know when the state’s proverbial glass ceiling will be broken and New York will have a woman in charge of the chief executive post,  but she says it’s unlikely that it will be her who reaches that milestone.

“I don’t harbor higher ambitions,” Hochul said.

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 A legislative session that featured the arrest of both of the top leaders of the legislature on corruption charges, saw no new ethics improvements included in the end of session agreements on a host of measures. One reform group is calling on the Governor and legislature to meet in a special session to address the state’s on going scandals.

Governor Cuomo/Flickr

Governor Andrew Cuomo has appointed the state attorney general as a temporary special prosecutor to over see cases where a civilian is killed by a police officer.

Cuomo, saying there is a “crisis of confidence” in the criminal justice system, signed an executive order to have the state’s attorney general take over from the local District Attorney any time an unarmed civilian is killed in an encounter with police, and there are questions about what happened.

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill to crack down on sexual assaults on college campuses, saying he hopes other states will adopt similar protections.  

  There’s word that the commissioner of the state’s environmental agency is leaving, just two days after Joe Martens issued the final environmental impact statement banning hydrofracking in New York. The final report on fracking is a signal for others to move on as well. Anti-fracking groups say they are using New York’s stance to help convince other states, and even countries to ban the gas drilling process.

When Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders announced a new rebate check for property taxpayers, they touted it as a significant “real” benefit to average homeowners. But fiscal watchdog groups say the program is severely flawed, and the money could be better used on something else.

A wage board appointed by Governor Cuomo, speaking before a packed crowd of fast food workers, says it will authorize a “substantial” raise for fast food workers, but would not say when or even if the increase would be the $15 an hour that many groups are seeking.

A three-member board picked by Governor Cuomo to examine whether fast food workers need a raise say they are in agreement that the current wage of $8.75 an hour needs to be much higher.

Flickr/wadester16

  New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and leaders of the legislature say they’ve finally settled all of their differences and have voted on the final piece of legislation to end the session.

Karen DeWitt

The legislature continued negotiating and printing legislation Wednesday, one day after a framework deal was announced by legislative leaders and Governor Cuomo. The session limped to a close, after a year that’s seen the resignation of both leaders of the legislature over corruption scandals, and ongoing federal probes.

Governor Cuomo endured many personal obstacles. His father, the former Governor Mario Cuomo, passed away January 1st. His long- time partner, chef Sandra Lee, underwent a double mastectomy for breast cancer.

“This was a very difficult year,”  Cuomo admits.

  The fourth and final hearing was held by a board specially appointed Governor Andrew Cuomo to consider raising the minimum wage for fast food workers in New York.

Outside, supporters of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour held a rally.

  It turns out the legislative session will not be ending as planned and will continue on for at least another week.

After a week of gridlock, Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders decided to take a break and adjourn for five days. Before they left, they renewed New York City’s expired rent laws, but only for five days, until Tuesday.

Flickr/wadester16

The legislative session is expected to  continue for another day, as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders remain gridlocked on extending New York City’s rent laws, and have not settled a host of other issues.

Karen DeWitt

More than 10 days after two convicted killers escaped from a state prison near Plattsburgh, some state lawmakers are considering new legislation and holding hearings to correct what they see as flaws in the state’s prisons system that  may have contributed to the break out.

One of the ethics reforms agreed to in the state budget has still not been passed by State Assembly Democrats, and minority party Republicans say they are worried that the bill will be delayed, or watered down.

When the state budget was approved in late March, Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders announced some reform measures, including changing the state’s constitution to deny government pensions to lawmakers convicted of felonies.

Times Union Website Crime Confidential Blog

The final week of New York’s legislative session begins Monday, and so far, Governor Cuomo and lawmakers have still not come to agreement on a number of major laws that expire.  

New York City’s rent laws, which impact over one million apartments, sunset at midnight. They are tied, through legislation, to a property tax cap important to suburbanites and upstaters. Also set to expire, a tax break for large real estate developers who agree to set aside some of their projects for affordable housing, and mayoral control of the New York City schools.

Gov. Cuomo
WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas

  Governor Andrew Cuomo is promising police and firefighters in New York City a better deal on their disability benefits, as a budget watch dog group warns against the proliferation of end of session bills that give union workers more benefits.

Cuomo made a rare appearance at a rally held by firefighters and police union members from New York City to support their push for better disability benefits.

One of the ethics reforms agreed to in the state budget has still not been passed by State Assembly Democrats, and minority party Republicans say they are worried that the bill will be delayed, or watered down.

  The Chair of the New York State Assembly Education Committee says an education tax credit bill pressed by Governor Andrew Cuomo is not appropriate for the state at this time.

About two dozen tenants rights activists, as well as several Democratic State lawmakers, were arrested at a protest on the lack of action so far on reforming New York City’s rent laws, which expire on June 15th, to include more protections for tenants.

Assemblyman Dick Gottfried, who has been in office for forty years, says he has not been arrested for civil disobedience since the 1990s, but feels it’s important to make a point now, as there’s been little movement on changing the rent laws, less than two weeks before they sunset.

alh1/flickr

In the final weeks of the legislative session, groups are lobbying for some of the major remaining issues still on the table, including the Mayor of New York and groups who want a property tax break for homeowners struggling to hold on to their houses. And both accuse Governor Andrew Cuomo of not taking an active enough role.

classroom
en.wikipedia.org

 

  A near-record number of school budgets were approved around the state in Tuesday’s vote. Many are attributing the relative lack of controversy to the three year old property tax cap that limits tax levy increases, as well as an increase in state aid.

99.7 percent of school budgets that stayed within the state’s property tax cap were approved in this week’s vote, according to the New York State School Board Association. The School Board’s Dave Albert says the tax cap, enacted by the governor and legislature three years ago, has played a role, but is not the only factor.

  The legislature will be finishing up its work in the next couple of weeks with two new legislative leaders—one in his third month, the other in just his second week on the job.

Now that the State Senate has stabilized, after weeks of turmoil over corruption charges, legislative leaders and Governor Cuomo are looking at what they can reasonably finish with just five weeks left in the session.

Governor Andrew Cuomo
Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

  With just a few weeks left in the legislative session, education issues continue to dominate. Some lawmakers want to fix a recently passed law that requires a fast turn around for new teacher evaluations, while others would like a tax break for donors that would help private schools.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has seen much of his ambitious legislative agenda for 2015 stall, as first the Assembly Speaker, and then the Senate Leader, were charged with corruption and had to resign.

The new leader of the State Senate, John Flanagan, replaced Dean Skelos, who is facing corruption charges. On Day Two in office, Flanagan says he does not expect any major new reform legislation to happen before the end of the session.

Senate Leader John Flanagan says he does not think that further ethics reform will be enacted in the remaining weeks of the legislative session, despite an ongoing corruption scandal that cost his predecessor his job.

Senate Leader Dean Skelos has resigned his post, over a corruption scandal, and Republicans have elected Senator John Flanagan, currently chair of the Education Committee to be his successor.

Flanagan, a Republican from Long Island, a GOP stronghold in the Senate, became the new leader of the Senate with a unanimous floor vote from his Republican conference.

  Disagreements that have roiled the state’s education community in the wake of new teacher evaluation laws approved by Governor Andrew Cuomo and the legislature as part of the budget were highlighted at a day long summit called by education officials.

Principals, teachers and school boards have objected to the tight deadline in the law, as well as the greater reliance on standardized tests, a component that Governor  Cuomo has insisted upon.

Office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, in his first public comments since the leader of the State Senate was charged in an extortion and bribery scheme, says if true, he finds the accusations “disturbing.”

Cuomo, speaking in Syracuse, commented for the first time since Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos was charged with six counts of public corruption.

“If the charges are correct, it’s deeply disturbing” Cuomo said. “And the narrative that the papers present is deeply disturbing and troubling.”

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.

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