New York State Politics

Today on the Vox Pop, 2016 is almost upon us. So it’s time to make our annual political predictions for the New Year. Who will be our next president? Who will make a power grab? Who is going to be the center of the next scandal?

WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

  Earth Day 2015 is also the first day that the New York State Assembly is transitioning to a paperless system. Assemblymembers have been given I Pads to read bills electronically, and supporters say it will save millions of dollars, and trees.

Majority Leader Joe Morelle announced the change on the Assembly floor.

“Today we begin officially with tablets,” Morelle said.

Getting rid of the piles of paper that clutter members’ desks each day required a constitutional amendment, which voters approved last fall.  

The final stretch of the legislative session began as more accusations arose about potential wrongdoing by top legislative leaders.

Kathy Hochul
Karen DeWitt

State lawmakers are moving ahead with approving some portions of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act, now that  supporters are no longer demanding that all of the items, including an abortion rights provision, be tied together.

Office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

Budget talks began Wednesday, as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo met behind closed doors with legislative leaders to discuss school aid, economic development proposals and ethics reform. Cuomo’s push to reform practices in the legislature comes at a time when his nearly $1 million dollar book deal is coming under closer scrutiny.

DonkeyHotey/Flickr

Have you been frustrated by a politician lately? Politicians are no angels, and we’re going to let it all out. Alan Chartock hosts.

WAMC/Pat Bradley

  Supporters of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s education tax credit were at the Capitol to persuade lawmakers that the credit, which would benefit donors to private and charter schools, should be approved as part of the state budget.  

DonkeyHotey/Flickr

  Today on the Vox Pop, 2015 is almost upon us. So it’s time to make our annual political predictions for the New Year. Who will run for president? Who will make a power grab? Who is going to be the center of the next scandal? We’ll tell you ours. But we want to know, what are your political predictions for 2015?

James DeMers

  With Election Day and post-election celebrations in the rear-view mirror, politicians are getting down to business as usual. But is business as usual always good business? The United States senate is set to vote on the controversial keystone pipeline today, and the New York State Senate is still hashing out its leadership.

wikipedia.org

  Voters in New York will decide in November whether the state should borrow $2 billion for new technology, including iPads in school classrooms.  Teachers and school administrators who could benefit from the funds say they are supportive but want to see more details.

The Bond Act, as it reads on the November ballot,  would  provide access to classroom technology and high-speed internet connections, as well as offer funds to build more pre kindergarten classrooms, and replace the trailers that some overcrowded schools in New York City have been using to teach students.

WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

In upstate New York and beyond, women have been taking more active roles in politics: running in races for elective office and winning them.  Currently, 98 women serve in the U.S. Congress; 78 in the House; 20 in the Senate, including one from New York, one from Massachusetts and two from New Hampshire. Numbers provided by the Center for American Women in Politics further show that the number of women in statewide executive posts is 75. And the proportion of women in state legislatures is about a quarter.

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.

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.

Dave Lucas

There’s a growing movement to spread the word that the first agreement made 400 years ago between Native Americans and European settlers is not only still valid, but has relevance today. In 1613 in what is now upstate New York, the first agreement was consecrated between indigenous peoples and interlopers from afar.

Office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been traveling the state promoting a plan to allow new businesses to go tax free for up to a decade if they locate near a State University campus.  The plan, which is yet to be drafted into bill form, has raised some questions.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Democratic New York City Assemblyman Vito Lopez says he will resign amid a sexual harassment scandal and run for New York City council.

Lopez says he'll step down June 20.

Lopez has been under growing pressure after it was revealed the state secretly paid women $103,000 to settle sexual harassment claims against the one-time Brooklyn power broker.

The Legislative Ethics Commission released its report on the sexual harassment allegations against Assemblyman Vito Lopez.  It’s conclusions have New York’s  National Organization for Women calling for a vote of no confidence against the still serving Assemblyman, and the Republicans calling for Silver to resign.

Former Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson turned himself in to federal authorities Monday, after being accused in a nine count indictment of embezzling nearly half a million dollars from mortgage foreclosure accounts,  and then trying to cover it up. 

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. 

Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s health commissioner is expected to release a health report on hydraulic fracturing soon, at least according to a timetable announced in late February. But the Cuomo Administration has already missed several deadlines on fracking.

Times Union

Could last week’s arrest of New York State Senator Malcolm Smith of New York City revive a somewhat dormant investigation of possible wrongdoing in the awarding several years ago of a license to operate a racino at the Aqueduct Race Track in Queens? Several years back when Smith and several other Democrats had control of the senate, a bidding process was underway for the racino, a process that led to accusations of pay-to play by the Inspector General Joseph Frisch.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is on a statewide tour to promote the newly passed state budget, saying it shows that the state is functional again. But not everyone is completely convinced.
 
Governor Cuomo has been touring major upstate regions, promoting the passage of the third on time or early budget in a row. In Buffalo, he held up a hockey puck as a prop, comparing the achievement to hockey’s “hat trick”.

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.

Wikimedia Commons

Yesterday’s events in New York will surely go down as yet another marker in the state’s history of political corruption as six officials, including former New York State Senate Majority Leader, State Senator Malcolm Smith, are now facing federal charges.

Today we want your take on the so-called culture of corruption that seems to pervade many areas of public service and elected office. Does power corrupt those who have it? WAMC's Alan Chartock hosts.

New York State Senator Malcolm Smith is among six people arrested for allegedly trying to rig the Republican race for mayor of New York City. Smith, from Queens, and New York City Councilman Dan Halloran, were arrested by the F.B.I. this morning.

Education is always one of the main ingredients of the New York State Budget and this year is no exception. The New York State School Boards Association has looked over the spending plan and has found some good work, and a few areas in need of Improvement. Tim Kremer is the executive director of the New York State School Boards Association. He spoke today with WAMC’s Brian Shields.

Flickr/Smarter's Photos

The Speaker of the State Assembly says a portion of New York’s gun control laws, set to take effect April 15th, may be postponed while talks continue on how to amend the provision.

Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders are talking about amending the state’s gun control laws to reverse a ban on the sale of 10 bullet magazines. They say the law as written presents a conflict because the 10 round magazines are still allowed at shooting ranges and sporting competitions, but under the impending ban, gun owners would no longer be allowed to buy them in New York for those purposes.

In his State of the Union Address last month, President Barack Obama called on congress to pass an increase to the federal minimum wage, raising it from its current rate $7.25 per hour to $9 per hour.

This week, House and Senate Democrats introduced legislation to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, more than a dollar higher than Obama proposed.

Iowa Senator Tom Harkin and California Representative George Miller say their bill, introduced yesterday, would boost the minimum by 2015, followed by automatic annual increases tied to changes in the cost of living.

Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo denies he was close to approving limited hydrofracking for natural gas last month before talking with environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Cuomo says an Associated Press report citing state officials and an interview with Kennedy was wrong. State officials close to Cuomo and Kennedy had said Cuomo was near a decision last month to order limited drilling. 

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