Andrew Cuomo

William Hartz

Advocates for a higher minimum wage are urging for better wages for workers who rely on tips. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has promised to create a committee to consider raising the minimum rate for the workers, and the groups say they have evidence that an increase is needed.

Currently, tipped workers in New York are not covered under a new law that allows the state’s minimum wage to increase to $9.00 an hour by 2016.  The minimum wage for workers like waiters and pizza deliverers who receive tips is still set at $5.00 an hour.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO

A group of healthcare professionals are seeking a meeting with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s health department, saying they have compiled a compendium of new and ongoing research highlighting numerous health risks associated with the controversial natural gas drilling process called hydrofracking.

The health experts include a doctor, a veterinarian, and a Cornell University medical professor, who have requested a meeting with Cuomo’s acting health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, to go over the growing number of studies indicating numerous health risks associated with fracking.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO file photo

The Republican challenger for governor, Rob Astorino, has proposed multiple debates in locations around the state with incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The governor has so far not accepted any.

In a video, Astorino says the debates should be held in every region of the state between now and election day.

“I challenge Gov. Cuomo to a series of at least eight regional debates around New York state,” Astorino said.

Astorino says he agreed to five one-hour debates when he ran for his second term as Westchester County executive.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The Starwood group is now building two hotels in Syracuse’s Inner Harbor. Word of the second hotel came at the groundbreaking of the first.

With developers and dignitaries on hand for the groundbreaking of an Aloft Hotel in Syracuse’s Inner Harbor, Jeremy Cooper of Starwood Hotels made an announcement.

"In addition to this groundbreaking, another Starwood Hotel is being built right here in the Inner Harbor. The Element Syracuse Inner Harbor Hotel is expected to open in 2018," said Cooper.

Matt Ryan, New York Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s running mate, lieutenant governor nominee Kathy Hochul, is keeping an unusually low profile during the first months of the election campaign. The lack of public campaigning by Hochul is starting to raise some questions.

Kathy Hochul, a former one-term congresswoman and former Erie County clerk, appeared with Cuomo at the state Democratic convention in May, one day after she was chosen to run as lieutenant governor.

Hochul promised the audience that she would “carry our message of hope and optimism across this great state.”

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

The National Weather Service has determined that it was a tornado that touched down in a rural part of Madison County last night, killing four people, including an infant.  

Barbara Watson, lead meteorologist for the National Weather Service, made the tornado determination after surveying  damage along Goff Road in the town of Smithfield.

"It will be declared a significant tornado.  It had wind speeds well over 100 miles per hour,” said Watson.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Just about six months ago, Gov. Andrew Cuomo came to central New York to announce that the state would chip in $30 million for a multi-million dollar plan to revitalize the western lakeshore of Onondaga Lake, including the village of Solvay. Today, Onondaga County is ready to share with the public detailed plans about what this development entails.

Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

The National Weather Service officially declared that it was a tornado that struck the town of Smithfield in Madison County, killing four people, destroying four homes and severely damaging three others.

Madison County Sheriff Allen Riley announced that the victims include Kimberly Hillard, 35; her four-month-old baby, Paris Newman; Virginia Warner, 70; and Arnie A.D. Allen, 53.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO

The Republican candidate for governor in New York is petitioning to run on a new ballot line that capitalizes on public opposition to the new Common Core learning standards.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino is gathering signatures to run on a third ballot line in November. In addition to the GOP and Conservative party slots, Astorino has begun a new ballot line called Stop Common Core. He admits it could give Democrats and others who are reluctant to vote for the Republican Party another option.

Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

New York is now the 23rd state to allow medical marijuana, now that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill into law. But, it will be some time before patients will have access to the drug.

New York will now permit patients with diseases like cancer and AIDS to have access to some forms of medical marijuana. Cuomo, who in the past opposed the idea, came around  after several new regulations and restriction guarantees were written into the legislation.

World Bank Photo Collection

Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced a plan he hopes will end the AIDS epidemic in New York state by the year 2020, but much of what’s involved in the three-point program is already being done.

The governor's program is called “Bending the Curve," and concentrates on three things: identifying people who test HIV positive; linking those people to healthcare and connecting them to anti-HIV therapy to prevent further transmission; and stopping high-risk behavior among others to keep them HIV negative.

Derek Key

Fireworks are a staple of Fourth of July celebrations. But one statewide organization is worried about sparks that will start flying in backyard pyrotechnics displays this weekend.

More fires are reported on July 4th than any other day of the year, according to the Fireman’s Association of New York State. And 60 percent of all fireworks injuries happen in the weeks immediately before and after the holiday.  

Senate Republicans have a new strategy in what’s shaping up to be an election battle for control of the New York state Senate. They say now that a group of breakaway Democrats is abandoning them and rejoining the rest of the Democrats, the Senate will be dominated by New York City liberals who won’t care about upstate and Long Island.

The five-member Independent Democratic Conference  announced it would break its nearly two-year-old  alliance in ruling the Senate with the Republicans, and plans to join the Democrats in a coalition government after the November elections.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO

Senate Independent Conference Leader Jeff Klein says even though his group now plans to realign with the Democrats in the Senate, he won’t rule out working with Republicans in the future.

Durrie Bouscaren / WRVO File

Upstate will be the big loser if a new power change in the state Senate goes through, according to one high ranking state Senate Republican.

Syracuse-area state Sen. John DeFrancisco says if history tells us anything, it’s that upstate New York doesn’t fare well when downstate Democrats control all branches of government in New York state.

"Upstate will be shafted, to put it in the vernacular, if New York City is running everything again," DeFrancisco said.

He says voters need to know how upstate will be affected by the power shift.

James F Clay / Flickr

Fewer than 20 percent of school districts outside of New York City have expressed interest in expanding their pre-kindergarten programs. Critics say that falls far short of the goals of a program billed in the state budget as  universal pre-K.

When the state budget was approved on March 31, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders touted funding for pre-kindergarten that they said could lead to making it universal in New York state.

Senate Co-leader Jeff Klein was one of its biggest advocates.

Karen DeWitt

Government reform groups are beginning their push early to convince voters to reject an amendment on redistricting that will be on the state’s November ballot. They say it’s a sham that does not offer the changes it promises.

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.   

Sponsor Diane Savino says she’s “gratified” by the larger than expected number of yes votes, including some surprise votes from traditionally conservative Senators.

Savino says she hopes the wide support can serve to make the vote in New York, the 23rd state to legalize medical marijuana, a tipping point for the federal government to change its policies against the drug.

Brett Levin / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislature have agreed to a limited medical marijuana program for patients with cancer, AIDS, and childhood seizure disorders. It will not allow the drug to be smoked.

Cuomo, who had expressed reservations about allowing medical marijuana, says the bill will grant sick people access to the drug, while imposing limits that will prevent abuse of marijuana.

“It strikes the right balance,” Cuomo said.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO

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

Cuomo calls the measures to curb the heroin abuse epidemic his top priority for the end of the 2014 session. He says the legislation will require health insurance companies to pay for more treatments.

“Insurance companies, frankly, can’t play games and decide who gets treatment and who doesn’t get treatment,” said Cuomo.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO

Sponsors of a medical marijuana bill continued to negotiate with Gov. Andrew Cuomo over the governor’s objections to many of the measure’s provisions, but say they are hopeful that a deal can be reached in the next couple of days.

State Senate Co-leader Jeff Klein is optimistic about the chances for a medical marijuana law in New York.

“My prediction is we’re going to end this session on a high,” Klein quipped after a lengthy closed-door meeting with Cuomo and the Senate and Assembly sponsors of the bill.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO

Gov. Andrew Cuomo might have a primary challenger. Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham University law professor and activist, announced she’s collecting signatures to be on the September Democratic primary ballot.

Teachout was first promoted by the left-leaning Working Families Party as an alternative candidate to Cuomo, but in the end the minor party dropped her in favor of the governor. Teachout says she volunteered for Cuomo’s 2010 campaign for governor, but has grown disenchanted, and believes that he’s become too concerned with raising money for his political campaign.

The legislative session is scheduled to end on Thursday, and many issues remain unresolved. But a low-key end of session might not matter much to New York’s top political figures.

The chances of passage for several key issues promoted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, including a Women’s Equality Act and public campaign finance appear dim, due to opposition from Senate Republicans.

The end-of-session gridlock grew worse after  Cuomo pledged to the left leaning Working Families Party that he would work to end the GOP’s partial control in the Senate and replace them with Democrats.

Brett Levin / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today that there's still a chance the state legislature could pass a medical marijuana bill that he would sign.

Only five days remain in this year's session, and the governor had previously said that he it was unlikely any major issues would pass by then. But in an interview today with the public radio show "Capitol Pressroom," Cuomo declared that medical marijuana legislation is not dead.

Environmental advocates are pressing the state legislature to renew a toxic site cleanup program before the session wraps up in a few days, even though there seems little interest in taking up any big issues in Albany.

Environmentalists are holding up the toxic site cleanup program’s renewal as a measure of a successful legislative session. 

Both the Assembly and Senate have versions of a bill to renew a cleanup program for old industrial sites, known as brownfields. But environmentalists are calling on the governor to urge legislative leaders to act on the bills.

Zack Seward / WXXI

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is downplaying the chances of any major agreements before the legislative session ends later this month.

The governor, who has already vowed to replace the current Senate leadership coalition of Republicans and breakaway Democrats, says he does not expect any deals on big ticket issues before the legislature leaves for the summer.

“We have some clean up items,” Cuomo said. “I don’t expect us to do any major initiatives.”

Democrats and their allies in the legislature say there’s little chance anything major can be accomplished in the remaining days of the legislative session. Those pushing a Women’s Equality Act are already looking ahead to the fall campaigns as the next step.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is downplaying expectations for any major agreements in the final days of the legislative session.

“We have some clean up items,” Cuomo said. “I don’t expect us to do any major initiatives.”

Karen Dewitt / WRVO

The Green Party candidate for governor, making a statewide tour, says there’s always been an alternative, left-leaning candidate for governor and he says his chances to win votes are now better than ever.

Wallyg / via Flickr

In the aftermath of a political endorsement that has shaken up the Capitol, Gov. Andrew Cuomo tried to change the subject with two economic development appearances.

Cuomo has promised the Working Families Party that he would fight to take the Senate away from a coalition of Republicans and Independent Democrats, and give it to the mainstream Democrats. In a video he sent to the party’s convention, he condemned the state’s GOP.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Green Party politician Howie Hawkins says a third party candidate has a chance to win the governorship.

The left-leaning Working Families Party has endorsed Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Democrat running for reelection, but some members of the party weren’t happy with the choice.

Hawkins, a perennial progressive candidate for office, sees that as an opportunity.

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