New York State Legislature

Senator Betty Little
NYS Senate

In January, New York state Senator Betty Little outlined her agenda and goals for the legislative session.  Now that the session has adjourned, the Republican from the 45th district tells WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley she was successful at passing a number of bills, but frustrated with the lack of substantive movement on issues such as ethics reform. She believes one of the session’s successes was finally ending the education funding Gap Elimination Adjustment.

Business leaders, particularly those in Upstate New York, say the 2016 legislative session, which recently concluded, was the worst for small businesses in quite some time.

As the sun rose over the Capitol Saturday morning, state lawmakers put the finishing touches on the 2016 legislative session.  Like all other end of sessions, this one wrapped up with a flurry of activity.  Hundreds of bills were approved by both houses in a blur of legislative activities.

NYS Legislature Passes Bill For Rondout Creek

Jun 18, 2016
By Daniel Case at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3286370

The New York state legislature passed a bill that designates a Hudson Valley creek as an inland waterway.

The legislature returns next Tuesday for the final push in a session that ends in late June. Government reformers say with a burgeoning scandal involving potential violations of campaign limits in Democratic Senate races in 2014, and the scheduled sentencing of the two former leaders of the legislature in early May, it’s time to focus on ethics fixes.

When it comes to cleaning up Albany, last week’s events indicate that the broom has been put away for now.  Governor Cuomo announced that the ethics issue had fallen off the table of the budget deliberations.  He added that he would make sure it was a top priority in the post-budget session.

..::WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas::..

The opening day of the legislative session featured talk of ethics reform, but Governor Cuomo chose to be elsewhere, putting off his traditional State of the State message for another week, and giving speeches in Syracuse and New York City instead.

Blair Horner: Will Albany Open Up In 2016?

Jan 4, 2016

2015 was a bad year for openness at the state Capitol.  It ended with Governor Cuomo vetoing two bills which had been supported by the Committee on Open Government.  The Committee is a widely-respected state agency created in the 1970s to offer an independent judgment on New York’s Freedom of Information and Open Meetings Laws.

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.

As always, there are plenty of major issues for the New York state legislature to tackle when it returns to Albany in January. Republican state Senator Betty Little represents the 45th district, which stretches north from Queensbury to the Canadian border and west from the Vermont border into St. Lawrence County.  While in Plattsburgh this week, Senator Little discussed a number of issues with WAMC North Country  Bureau Chief Pat Bradley, including Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan’s decision not to hold a special session to act on a chief judge.

Blair Horner: Ethics Stays In The News

Aug 10, 2015

When Albany is in the dog days of summer, it is usually quiet at the state Capitol.  Lawmakers are doing whatever they do during the summer and, in recent decades, the governor is usually downstate.


Last week, a Siena Research Institute poll reported that 90 percent of New Yorkers thought that government corruption is a serious problem.  When 90 percent of New Yorkers agree on anything, it’s amazing.  So you’d expect that elected officials would get the message and respond.


The dust hasn’t completely settled yet, but the 2015 legislative session is in the books and New Yorkers can draw some conclusions about the activity of their representatives. 

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.


The 2015 legislative session wrapped up last week, one week later than scheduled.  During the last 2 weeks of session, nearly 540 bills passed both houses.  But the big story was the last bill approved – the “Big Ugly.”

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.

Karen DeWitt

Nearly one week after the New York State legislative session was supposed to end, Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders have announced a deal on all major end of session issues, including renewal of New York City’s rent laws and a related property tax cap, as well as a new tax rebate program for property owners.

The schedule called for the New York State Legislature to be home for the summer by this week, but lawmakers are still in Albany as legislative leaders and Governor Andrew Cuomo try to reach agreement on a number of major issues, including making the 2 percent tax cap permanent, and changes to the charter school limit. While those are education issues, Tim Kremer, the Executive Director of the New York State School Boards Association, says everything has been tied to just one issue.

  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.

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.

  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.


Ethics was, once again, Albany’s big news last week.  Another lawmaker, long-time Assemblyman Bill Scarborough, pled guilty and faces prison, and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos joined his former counterpart Assembly Speaker Silver in having to defend himself against charges of corruption.

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.”

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.

Blair Horner: Lawmakers Return To Albany

Apr 20, 2015


This week lawmakers return to the Capitol to begin the second half, the non-budgetary, part of the 2015 legislative session.  The second half of session likely will be dominated by a handful of issues, including some that dropped off the table during budget negotiations.


In January of this year, then-Speaker of the Assembly Silver was arrested for his alleged abuse of power – using his official position to illegally obtain millions of dollars in outside income.  With that arrest as a backdrop, in February Governor Cuomo organized a speech at New York University’s Law School to announce his ethics reform plan.  The governor had a number of options for addressing the central problems that contribute to New York’s ethical scandals, including:

Blair Horner: Ethics Reform Redux

Feb 9, 2015


In the old “Peanuts” cartoon, Lucy holds the football for Charlie Brown and assures him that this time she really means it, she will hold the football and not pull it away.  So he should charge and kick the football.  And every year – despite having previously seen her pull the ball away at the last minute – Charlie believes her.


This week, Governor Cuomo unveils his plans for the 2015 legislative session.  The State of the State allows the executive a unique opportunity to command public attention and to mobilize support for his proposals, as well as to kick off the legislative session.

The Capitol
WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas

The New York State Legislature convened last week for its six-month session. Area lawmakers have varying hopes and expectations for 2015.

Another session is under way, but off to a slow start resulting from Governor Andrew Cuomo's decision to move the State of the State address back two weeks following the death of his father, former Governor Mario Cuomo.

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