Albany

-JvL- / Flickr

The New York Times is reporting that federal investigators are probing outside income paid to the New York state Assembly speaker, among other lawmakers. A reform group says the article is one more reason Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislature should adopt long overdue ethical changes.

Susan Lerner, with Common Cause, says legislators are finding that if they don’t change their policies they are increasingly finding themselves in the crosshairs of federal prosecutors. She says her group hopes to convince them to do so.

Jenna Flanagan/Innovation Trail

Just hours after a Staten Island grand jury ruled there were no grounds to indict a white police officer in the killing of an African American man, Albany’s elected officials, community leaders and members came together to discuss ways to improve policing in the capital cities minority communities. 

Jenna Flanagan / Innovation Trail

Everything old is new again, so the saying goes. With that in mind, the Preservation League of New York State announced a plan to repurpose five vacant industrial buildings in the Capital region with the hopes of attracting young professionals and revitalizing communities.

The Industrial Heritage Reuse Project, or "trendy hipster bait," launched on Thursday in hopes of breathing new live into old buildings.

When the budget deal is finally reached in Albany, average New Yorkers will have had little access to the details of the important items that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers are discussing. That's because the longtime Albany tradition known as "Three Men in a Room" continues.

The only difference from the decades long tradition of three men in a room budget negotiations is now there are four men in a room. The Senate is led by a coalition of Republicans and breakaway Democrats, and so has two co-leaders.

State lawmakers in the Assembly and the Senate are coming under scrutiny from the FBI. The state Capitol offices of an assemblyman were raided, and a state senator gave a tour of her home property in an attempt to debunk allegations from federal investigators that she engaged in an illegal land deal.

Assemblyman William Scarborough's offices were raided by the FBI, over allegations that he overcharged for travel, lodging and meal reimbursements paid to lawmakers when they gather in Albany for weekly sessions.

Scarborough says he's innocent.

More fracking pro and con as the battle rages on

Feb 19, 2014
Capital District Against Fracking

The future of hydraulic fracturing in New York has been in limbo since the Department of Environmental Conservation began a review of the practice in 2008. Now, six public hearings are being held across New York to receive public comment on the draft State Energy Plan, with one of them in Albany.  Environmental groups were at the Capitol Tuesday calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to put renewable energy ahead of fossil fuels in his effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.

Joanna Richards

Governor Andrew Cuomo visited a newly expanded snowmobiler lounge in Lowville Monday to unveil a new ad campaign to promote winter tourism upstate. Cuomo says there’s new energy in the north country, thanks to increasing economic investment. He credits the efforts of both the region and his administration in making that happen.  

Karen Dewitt / WRVO

Anti-gambling activists took a sledgehammer to a slot machine in front of the New York State Capitol to demonstrate their opposition to a ballot amendment to legalize gambling casinos in New York state.  

Wielding a sledgehammer, anti-gambling advocates took turns smashing up a Lucky 7 slot machine, at a park with the New York State Capitol in the background, as TV news cameras recorded the event.

David Blankenhorn, with the Institute for American Values, organized the event.

“It felt great,” Blankehorn said. “I’ve wanted to do this for a long time.”

The push for passage of a ballot amendment to allow up to seven new gambling casinos in New York has begun. A coalition of business leaders, labor unions, and local elected officials are holding press conferences across the state. They expect to run some TV ads, as well.

The name of the coalition says nothing about gambling casinos -- instead it’s called New York Jobs Now. Business Council President Heather Briccetti said the new resort-style casinos proposed will bring employment to economically depressed areas.

Joanna Richards

Farmers and agricultural industry leaders in the North Country had the ears of state lawmakers yesterday in Watertown. The forum, hosted by State Senator Patty Ritchie, was one of 10 being held throughout the state on the topic of regulatory reform in a variety of industries.

A coalition of gun rights advocates and others are forming a new political movement to get what they say are disaffected and disenfranchised New Yorkers to vote.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation that creates new, stiffer penalties regarding texting while driving for teenaged and new drivers. The law now treats texting as seriously as speeding or reckless driving.

Teenagers just beginning to drive and older new drivers who are caught texting while driving will now see their licenses revoked for sixty days. If they repeat the offense within a half year, their driving licenses will be taken away for another six months.

As they await Gov. Andrew Cuomo's decision on whether fracking will go forward in New York, dueling pro- and anti-fracking filmmakers held screenings and promotions for their films in Albany. At one point in their visit, the two sides confronted each other in the halls of the Capitol.

Organizers of an annual gun show in Albany say they are seeing bigger crowds this year, due to the recent changes to New York's gun control laws and potential changes at the federal level.

Matt Ryan/WMHT

In anticipation of the annual State of the State address, a coalition of progressive groups held their 23rd annual People's State of the State on the steps of the Capitol in Albany.

Food pantries and soup kitchens say they are reluctantly becoming a permanent part of the nation’s safety net for the poor. In a new report on New York’s charitable food distribution system, the groups say it is government that needs to step in and lend a helping hand.

The Northeast rail corridor will see shorter travel times and be more reliable. Through a new 25-year lease, Amtrak has taken control of a busy stretch of track leading to the capital region.

Conference looks for ways to grow "clean economy"

Nov 15, 2012

Hundreds of people from around the country are in Albany this week to talk about ways to grow and improve the nation's so-called "clean economy."

Karen Dewitt / WRVO

Anti-fracking advocates rallied in Albany Monday to try to convince Governor Andrew Cuomo to ban the natural gas drilling process in New York state.  Meanwhile, a state Senator says he believes any final decision will be once again delayed.

The just concluded 2012 legislative session brought mixed results for Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is in his second year as governor.  While Cuomo and lawmakers could claim credit for a calm and functional end to the session,  the governor had to drop some of his original goals  in order for that to happen.

Cuomo’s second legislative session was far less dramatic than his first legislative session in 2011, when he convinced the legislature to authorize same sex marriage, instate a two percent property tax cap, and close a massive $10 billion budget deficit.

In his second session, the governor’s record of achieving his stated goals was not as complete.

The state legislature ended their 2012 session Thursday evening as lawmakers had promised, but they did not manage to finish everything on their list before they left.

The legislative session that’s concluding in Albany seems to be more about what’s not getting done than what is getting accomplished. Agreements were not reached on several key issues.

Governor Andrew Cuomo at this time last year was intensely lobbying lawmakers to pass a bill to legalize gay marriage. This year, he has taken a more hands-off approach to the end of the current legislative session.

Karen Dewitt

Around 300 anti-fracking protestors rallied inside the capitol building in Albany Tuesday.

It was part of a day-long effort to convince the state to continue its ban against the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for gas in New York.

Some New York State lawmakers are trying to reinvigorate the debate over the minimum wage. Governor Cuomo admits it could again be on the table in Albany.

Governor Cuomo named Janet DiFiore, the District Attorney of Westchester County, to chair the commission. He also appointed Seymour Knox the IV, who is VP of Corporate Relations for the Buffalo Sabres, as well as the chair of a private equity firm, and Mitra Hormozi, who worked for Cuomo when he was Attorney General.   

Senate Leader Dean Skelos picks include former Western New York State Senator Mary Lou Rath. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver chose former state budget director Patrick Bulgaro.

Governor Cuomo, in his first day on the job back on January 1st of this year, laid out his position on raising taxes pretty clearly.

“I say no new taxes, period,” Cuomo said on January 1.

 

The governor was answering a question from reporters, in his first media availability as governor, on whether he would support continuing the current surcharge on New Yorkers making $200,000 and up, which includes millionaires and multi-millionaires, when it expires December 31st.  Cuomo expanded on his view point during that session on January 1st.

The governor says he’s waiting for some uncertainties in the world markets to stabilize before updating the state’s financial picture, and has delayed releasing the state’s mid year budget report, which was due in late October.

Cuomo budget officials have said they are also waiting to count some tax collections delayed by the hurricanes. They’ve also post poned some scheduled budget hearings that have been part of an effort in recent years to jump start the budget process.

Governor Andrew Cuomo opened the door to avoiding  the layoffs of 3500 state workers after a union contract was rejected, but he says it’s entirely up to the union leadership whether the job cut backs occur or not.

The Public Employees Federation is floating the idea of some so called tweaks to the tenets of the rejected labor contract, including, perhaps charging more for health care on a sliding scale
based on the amount of a worker’s pay.

In an interview with public radio, Governor Cuomo says he’s “open” to talking about the proposals .