New York State Legislature

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.

wikipedia commons

The legislative session is off to a subdued start, with the governor’s State of the State message delayed for two weeks. Nevertheless, fault lines are already forming over some key issues, including rent regulations and how to measure teacher performance.

Office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

  The New York State Senate and Assembly met in Albany to choose new leaders and begin outlining their plans for the 2015 session. The year begins with Republicans in full control of the State Senate, but with a group of breakaway Democrats still enjoying special status.

The State of the State has been delayed for two weeks, due to the funeral of former Governor Mario Cuomo, the father of Governor Andrew Cuomo. But under New York’s state’ constitution, the legislature is still required to convene.   

Blair Horner: Albany Wants A Pay Raise

Nov 24, 2014


Now that the election is safely behind them, Governor Cuomo and state legislators have begun to raise the issue of a pay raise.

unshackleupstate.org

An upstate pro-business group is out with ratings for the New York Senate and Assembly, and finds, not surprisingly, that more liberal Democrats are at odds with the group’s agenda than conservative leaning Republicans. Unshackle Upstate says that could have implications for the group’s interests if Democrats take over the Senate in November.

New York League of Conservation Voters

The New York League of Conservation Voters has issued its “Environmental Progress Report” grading the legislature on its priority issues for the recently adjourned legislative session.

Blair Horner: The 2014 Legislative Wrap Up

Jun 30, 2014

Now that the 2014 legislative session is finished, the question is what got done?  During this session, high profile bills got passed – such as a new law allowing, in select circumstances, the medicinal use of marijuana.  Over the past four years, the budget was completed in time for the beginning of the new fiscal year, a streak unheard of in modern New York State history.

New York State Senate Passes Medical Marijuana Bill

Jun 20, 2014
Karen DeWitt

After a lengthy debate of several hours, the medical marijuana bill was approved in the Senate, and now goes to the desk of Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has said he'll sign it.   

Karen DeWitt

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders have agreed to a package of bills to combat heroin addiction, and say they are still discussing other issues, including medical marijuana, as the legislative session draws to a close. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders have finalized the details on a $138 billion dollar state budget and say they are on track to meet the April 1 deadline. The budget includes a multi step plan that could  lower property taxes, $340 million dollars for schools to start pre-K programs, and a limited test program for public campaign financing.

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