New York State Legislature

Cuomo Creates Panel To Investigate NY Legislature

Jun 20, 2013
Pat Arnow

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says he is creating a powerful investigative committee under New York's anti-corruption Moreland Act to investigate the entire state Legislature.

The Democrat says negotiations to create new public integrity laws failed, so he's creating the investigative panel instead. He says Wednesday he refused to "significantly compromise" his reform proposal.

The committee will have subpoena power and go after the influence of campaign contributions on politicians.

The issue was forced by corruption cases involving lawmakers this spring.

NY Gov. Cuomo Achieves Partial Win on Agenda

Jun 19, 2013
Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo

Deals have been reached between Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders on siting new casinos and creating tax free zones at college campuses. But a bill on abortion rights was struggling, and reform measures appear dead for the session. 

The agreement on casinos would allow four resort style gambling centers; one in the Capital Region, one in the Southern Tier, and possibly two in the Catskills, if voters approve the change to the state’s constitution in the fall.     

Nassau and Suffolk Counties would  be allowed to open more slot machines, under the terms of the bill.

Karen DeWitt

There were several arrests at the New York State Capitol Tuesday. Advocates took out their anger and frustration on Cuomo and leaders of the State Senate, after it became clear that a progressive agenda that includes abortion rights and public campaign financing are likely dead for the legislative session.

With Session Ending, New Yorkers Fed Up With Albany

Jun 17, 2013

There are three days left in the New York State legislative session, and chances are dimming for a settlement on an abortion rights provision in a women’s equality act, and for reform of campaign financing and other anti-corruption measures.  Meanwhile, a new poll finds the public increasingly dissatisfied. WAMC's Capitol Correspondent Karen DeWitt reports.

NEW YORK (AP) — Former state Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. will spend five years in prison after pleading guilty to tax fraud charges.

Espada was sentenced Friday in Brooklyn.

The once-influential politician also was convicted in a separate case alleging he looted taxpayer-subsidized health clinics.

After the 2000 presidential election which saw Al Gore win the popular vote, but George Bush win the White House, there was an outcry by some to get rid of the Electoral College.  A bill to change that system has just cleared the New York State Assembly.  

The measure is being supported by Albany area Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy, a Democrat, who says the bill would have New York join an interstate compact in which states would give all of their Electoral College votes to the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote nationwide. Fahy spoke with WAMC’s Brian Shields.

It’s getting down to the wire for major pieces of legislation as the end of session approaches in Albany, including women’s rights and campaign finance reform. There are no agreements yet, but as Karen DeWitt reports, that’s not unusual in a government that operates on last minute deals.

Women’s groups are putting pressure on the State Senate’s ruling coalition to take up Governor Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act, which includes  an abortion rights provision.

Senator DeFrancisco, a Syracuse Republican and Chair of the Finance Committee, said in an interview with public radio and television that most New York women aren’t that interested in the proposal, “and would not even lose a night’s sleep about expanding abortion rights”.

Karen DeWitt

Hundreds gathered at the State Capitol to rally for public financing of political campaigns. The measure remains in limbo in the State Senate and Governor Cuomo faces questions on whether he’s working hard enough for the proposal to pass.
 
They came in busses from all over New York to give state lawmakers their message- big money is corrupting politics. They say the state should adopt New York City’s public campaign finance system, which allows candidates to match every dollar they collect in small donations with seven dollars of government funds.

Faced with the possibility of being expelled from the state legislature as soon as next week, State Assemblyman Vito Lopez, a Democrat from Brooklyn, today said he would resign on June 20th at the end of the legislative session and run for a seat on the New York City Council. 

There have been a number of ideas and suggestions on how to improve the New York State Legislature, especially after the recent arrest of two lawmakers on corruption charges. One of the ideas is changing the job from part-time to full time. That’s not a new thought, in fact it was suggested more than 100 years ago, in 1910, by then newly-elected State Senator Franklin Delano Roosevelt. 

The second half of New York’s legislative session begins Monday. It's likely to be dominated by the response to on going bribery and corruption scandals that came to light while lawmakers were on spring break.  

Governor Cuomo, and one of the Co-Leaders of the State Senate have already taken some preemptive action before the legislature’s scheduled return to the Capitol,  following federal bribery charges against a State Senator and an Assemblyman, as well as other officials. 

Just two days after State Senator Malcolm Smith of New York City was charged with bribery, another state lawmaker is facing the same charge in an un-related case.

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

Even though state lawmakers announced a budget agreement Wednesday, they spent the day Thursday trying to pin down details and print the bills in time to be through over the weekend.

New York State Senate

NEW YORK (AP) — A former state senator pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges she embezzled nearly $88,000 from a taxpayer-subsidized program that helps low-income families navigate the city's public school system.

  ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Legislation that would give New York state the toughest gun restrictions in the nation is expected to easily pass today in the state Assembly, where is it being debated this morning.

It's already won approval in the state Senate, where the Republican leader says it is "well-balanced" and "protects the Second Amendment."

It provides for a stricter assault ban, and seeks to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. It also calls for restrictions on ammunition and the sale of guns.

The outcome of one Capital Region New York State Senate race could be the key to whether the Senate majority remains in the hands of Republicans, or flips to Democrats, giving Democrats full control of both legislative chambers and the governor’s office.

Government reform groups say there are a number of loopholes in New York’s campaign finance regulations, and that LLC’s, or Limited Liability Corporations, are part of the problem. Jimmy Vielkind of the Albany Times Union has been looking into these organizations and how they can be used to get around some of the campaign donation limits. WAMC’s Brian Shields spoke to Vielkind about his front page story in today’s paper.

Saying the time was right, long time Albany area New York Assemblyman Ronald Canastrari announced today that he will not seek re-election after more than 20 years in office. Canastrari, a democrat from Cohoes, serves as the Assembly Majority Leader. He said the decision to leave was not an easy one.  Canastrari looked back on his career today, telling WAMC’s Brian Shields what he considered to be the most important bills he helped to pass while in Albany.

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