Andrea Stewart-Cousins

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Pressure is mounting to include Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the only female legislative leader, in  the closed-door budget meeting with Gov. Andrew Cuomo that now consist of four men in a room.

The Black, Hispanic and Asian Caucus issued a statement saying it’s unacceptable to leave the senator, who is African-American out, and Stewart-Cousins spoke up at a public summit meeting for all of the legislative leaders, known as the "mothership budget committee," saying the process is “greatly flawed.”

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

Once the President’s Day week-long break is finished, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislature will have to start discussing the 2015 budget.  But the traditional style of budget making in New York, known as “Three Men in a Room,” is coming under criticism, by among others, the U.S. Attorney currently investigating corruption at the Capitol. Some are wondering whether it’s time to end the secretive practice.

Karen DeWitt/WRVO News

 

Republicans in the New York State Senate are in talks with Gov. Andrew Cuomo about legislative ethics reforms as demands for changes mount after the recent arrest of the former Assembly speaker.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos of Long Island said Tuesday that the goal of the negotiations with Cuomo is "full transparency and strong ethics laws" modeled on effective laws in other states.

The debate hinges on possible limits on the income lawmakers can make from outside jobs - an idea popular with Democrats but opposed by Republicans.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Democrats in the New York State Senate are pushing for some reforms that directly address problems that led to the arrest and resignation of the Assembly speaker. They want to virtually ban all outside income for lawmakers.

Karen DeWitt/WRVO News

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 Gov. Mario Cuomo, the father of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. But under New York’s state’s constitution, the legislature is still required to convene.   

There are growing calls in Albany for a special prosecutor to investigate police encounters with unarmed citizens that end in the death of the person.  Senate Democrats are the latest to ask for immediate action in the wake of the death of Eric Garner and other recent incidents.

The state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has already asked Gov. Andrew Cuomo for an executive order to empower the attorney general to investigate and, if warranted, prosecute cases where unarmed civilians are killed by police officers.

Wallyg / via Flickr

The 2014 legislative session has just eight working days left to go, with the closing day scheduled for June 20. As lawmakers prepare to return for the final two weeks, there’s uncertainty whether anything will get done, now that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has publicly vowed to try to oust the current Senate leadership. 

Democrats in the New York State Senate say they are taking Gov. Andrew Cuomo at his word to help them regain the majority, despite some indications that he might be walking back some of the promises he made at the Working Family Party’s convention Saturday night.

Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins says she’s holding Cuomo to the promise he made to the Working Families Party, to regain Democratic control of the state Senate.

“He has to,” Stewart-Cousins said.

Karen DeWitt/WRVO News file photo

Democrats pressing for bills to reform the state’s campaign finance system say the U.S. Attorney’s investigations into a panel controlled by Gov. Andrew Cuomo might help spur action on their measures.

Democrats in the state Senate introduced a package of bills that they say would lessen special interest influences in politics and curb some on going abuses.

Wallyg / Flickr

The Dream Act is dead for now in New York state, after the state Senate voted down the measure that would have granted college tuition aid to the children of undocumented immigrants. The 30 to 29 vote defeating the Dream Act left leaders of rival Democratic factions pointing fingers.

Senate Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein , who is in a ruling coalition with the Republicans, says he’s disappointed that two Democrats joined the GOP to vote no on the bill to allow tuition aid for children of undocumented immigrants.

The ruling coalition in the state Senate has grown by one member. Sen. Tony Avella, of Queens, has left the minority Democrats to join the governing coalition of Republicans and Independent Democrats.

Avella is a progressive-leaning Democrat who’s been called a maverick. He says he’s become convinced he can get more accomplished by joining the Senate’s ruling coalition, which includes all of the Republicans and a few break away Independent Democrats.  

State Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos says he’s strongly opposed to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Reproductive Health Act, saying it would lead to too many late-term abortions. Pro-choice lawmakers and advocates say they disagree with the senator’s interpretation.

The experimental governing coalition in the New York State Senate passed its first test, on the first full day of session, when senators approved a sweeping gun control package urged by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.