New York State Legislature

It’s budget season in Albany and higher education issues are getting lots of attention.  It’s about time. 

The New Year for the New York state legislature has begun in discord, with an absent governor and Republicans in the Senate vowing to take a harder line against Democrat Andrew Cuomo.

New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie
Karen DeWitt

On Wednesday New York state lawmakers gathered in Albany to kick off the 2017 session.

This week, lawmakers return to Albany to kick off the 2017 legislative session.  For the vast majority of state legislators, it is the beginning of a new session, for the newly elected lawmakers, it is the beginning of a new career.

Plans for an end-of-year special legislative session in New York appear to have been scrapped. The Albany Times Union reports Republican Senate Majority leader John Flanagan said there wasn’t enough on the table to bring lawmakers back.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo

An ethics reform proposal quietly circulated between Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York legislative leaders for a possible special session that could also include a pay raise is getting blasted by the State’s Attorney General as possibly unconstitutional.

Peter Cook, executive director of the New York State Council of Churches, asks for funding to be freed up, as supporters hold a vigil outside the New York state Senate chamber.
Karen DeWitt

Advocates for the homeless say the Governor and legislature don’t need to call a special session in order to free up more money to help create more housing for those in need. They say political leaders could simply sign an already printed memorandum of understanding, and start helping people now.

Kevin O’Connor, director of Joseph’s House in Troy, New York, read the names of homeless clients who have passed away in the past year, who he says died too young.

Discussion over a December special session has turned to finger pointing, as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senate Republicans blame each other over lack of progress.

No Deal Yet On NY Special Legislative Session

Dec 7, 2016

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers are still trying to put together a special session before the end of the year that could include a pay raise.

New York lawmakers are considering whether to have a special session this month to vote on, among other things, a pay raise. It would be their first pay increase in about two decades. Governor Andrew Cuomo has listed items he’d like to see passed if there’s a session, including term limits for legislators. But the Assembly Majority Leader says that item is likely off the table, because most Democratic members are against it. Cuomo also wants to enact reforms, including converting to a full-time Legislature and strictly limiting outside income, following recent corruption scandals that have resulted in prison sentences for the two former legislative leaders.

New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie
Karen DeWitt

New York lawmakers are considering whether to have a special session this month to vote on, among other things, a pay raise.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas

New York Governor Cuomo spent the early part of this week in a marathon bill signing, and vetoing, session.  The governor rejected an unusually high number of bills, and some supporters of the vetoed measures aren’t pleased.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is pressuring state lawmakers to come back in December for a special session that includes a number of reform items to address recent corruption scandals. He says in exchange, they could potentially be rewarded with a pay raise.

The New York State Capitol
FLICKR/WADESTER16

Will there be a special session of the New York State Legislature this December? Governor Andrew Cuomo is offering lawmakers incentive to come back to meet- a possible pay raise, in exchange for ethics reforms.

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.

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