John DeFrancisco

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The New York state legislative session is drawing to a close, and Democrats and Republicans are digging in on the remaining issues of 2017. Among them is a measure to extend the New York City mayor’s control of the public schools, which has now been linked to a number of diverse issues affecting people in the rest of the state.

Games of chicken are common at the Capitol whenever a deadline like the budget or the end of session draws near. This time, it was the state Senate’s turn to go first.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

With less than two weeks left in the legislative session, some New York lawmakers are pressing for reform of the state’s economic development contracting process in light of a scandal that’s led to federal corruption charges against several former associates of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

State legislators from central New York are sounding off on what they would like to see the Legislature accomplish before the legislative session ends in June. One item includes funding for damages incurred from flooding along Lake Ontario and other New York waterways.   

State Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) is sponsoring a companion piece to the Senate’s flood relief bill that would include expanding funding for properties damaged along Seneca Lake, Seneca River, Oswego River, Oneida River and Cross Lake.

DeFrancisco says state Senate stipends allowed by law

Jun 1, 2017
Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Republican state Sen. John DeFrancisco is weighing in on some big topics facing the Senate before its session ends in June. DeFrancisco said the question of stipends being paid to Democratic and Republican senators has become a huge issue.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Green Party candidates in Syracuse are pushing state Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) to support universal health care in New York. The bill could be close to getting a majority of senators to sign on.

Syracuse mayoral candidate Howie Hawkins said DeFrancisco is the only New York state legislator representing the city that is not in favor of a single-payer system.

“We want John to be a hero for Syracuse, because this bill would solve the city’s fiscal crisis,” Hawkins said.

Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo / via Flickr

The future of the much maligned gondola proposed for the New York State Fair is in flux. It’s a matter of money.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney said it all comes down to priorities. Building an Expo Center that would attract events, especially horse shows, is the most important project stemming from a task force deciding how to spend $70 million in state dollars earmarked for state fair renovations. And Mahoney said initial plans for an 80,000-square-foot facility, were apparently not big enough.

Onasill ~ Bill Badzo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the recently enacted state budget included the majority of the priorities that he named in his January State of the State message, including raising the age for adult criminal responsibility from 16 to 18, providing free public college tuition for some middle-class families and allowing ride-hailing services to operate upstate.

Topics such as ethics reform were left out of the final budget package for a reason, the governor said.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Central New York legislators are split on the recent state budget process. While some see significant gains, others see missed opportunities and purely political motivations.

State Sen. David Valesky with the Independent Democratic Conference said there is a lot to be pleased about in the state's new spending plan.

“By and large I think this was a tremendously successful state budget,” Valesky said.

The budget includes infrastructure investments, college affordability and raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18 years old.

Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo / via Flickr

More renovations will continue at the New York State Fairgrounds now that $70 million was recently approved in the state budget for changes. But not everyone is happy with the proposed ideas.

New York State Senate

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers missed the midnight budget deadline after they failed to solidify deals on state spending and taxation, as well as some unrelated items like permitting ride hailing services outside of New York City.

New York State Senate

State lawmakers are still trying to negotiate a deal, but are heading toward a late budget. The state Senate adjourned for the day Friday about 4 p.m., saying they would come back when there was something to vote on.

There are tentative deals on increasing tuition aid to college students, approving a bond act to protect water infrastructure and allowing ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft to operate outside of New York City.

Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) said the trouble is getting everyone to agree to all of the details at once.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Upstate Medical University has opened its cord blood bank, only the second facility of its kind in the state. Blood from umbilical cords is processed for stem cells, which can treat cancers and other diseases. The bank is open for public and private use.

Nicole Moore is the first mother to donate her son Jackson’s umbilical cord blood to the Upstate Cord Blood Bank.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo brings his State of the State speech across the state this week, with a scheduled stop in Syracuse on Wednesday. He’s expected to use these speeches to outline his agenda for the year, as well as announce local programs and initiatives. But while Cuomo is promoting his agenda, one Senate Republican has ideas of his own.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to take his yearly State of the State address on the road this year, instead of delivering the speech to lawmakers in Albany. That is not sitting well with Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse).

DeFrancisco says traditionally the message is supposed to be given the first full day of the legislative session, which this year would be January 4. Cuomo, though, won’t be offering his view of how New York State is faring to lawmakers that day. Instead he’s taking the legislative message to six regions across the state, starting Jan. 9.

Tinted car windows now must pass NY state inspection

Jan 3, 2017
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A new state law has now gone into effect that will require annual vehicle inspections to test car windows and how much they are tinted. Critics say the law will be burdensome to drivers and auto shops.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

State Department of Transportation officials said it is possible a tunnel could be reconsidered as an option for the I-81 reconstruction project in Syracuse. But I-81 project director Mark Frechette made it very clear at a public meeting why the tunnel option was eliminated.

New York State Senate

One central New York state lawmaker doesn’t want to go into special session in Albany this month to vote on legislative pay raises, at least the way it’s being discussed now.

State Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) says he’s opposed to voting on any kind of legislative package that links a potential pay raise to some of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s pet proposals.

"If there’s a proposal for a legislative pay raise tied into anything else, to me, that’s a perfect example of pay to play,” said DeFrancisco.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Central New Yorkers have one last chance to offer their opinions about the future of Interstate 81 through downtown Syracuse. But the forum being held Wednesday night is not an event put on by the people making the decision.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Advocates for the disabled in central New York aren’t standing still for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s veto of legislation that would have improved the working conditions of the professionals that take care of disabled New Yorkers. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

One top Republican New York state lawmaker doesn’t think there is any kind of new law that will end the public corruption in Albany.

State Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse), who is deputy Senate majority leader, says he hears all the time from New Yorkers who say state laws should be changed to stop public corruption in Albany. But DeFrancisco notes that recent cases of corruption all involved elected officials or aides breaking the current laws.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s health commissioner faced an intense grilling from lawmakers Wednesday at a joint hearing on how the administration handled water contamination in the eastern New York village of Hoosick Falls.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

After a 10-year fight, legislation that toughens penalties for those convicted of boating while intoxicated, has been signed into law in New York state. Now, when judges decide on sentencing in boating while intoxicated cases, they must consider previous driving while intoxicated.

State Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) says Tiffany Heitkamp’s law will mean stiffer penalties for anyone convicted on a BWI charge who also has a DWI history.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Republican Party has opened up a political headquarters for the Donald Trump presidential campaign in Syracuse. Elected officials, volunteers and Donald Trump fans crowded into an Erie Boulevard office space to get a pep talk from state Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox as the area’s Trump headquarters officially opened on Friday.

"The momentum is on our side, the big mo. And by the way, what does that mean? Come November 8, we’re going to have a Republican President of the United States, Donald Trump,” Cox said. “And that’s what it’s all about.”

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

State Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) said a report released late last Friday only deepens his skepticism about Start-Up NY, the Cuomo administration’s economic development program that offers tax breaks to companies that set up shop in certain educational zones. A report on the multi-million dollar program was released three months late and showed just over 400 jobs were created in two years. Defrancisco said a lack of transparency about the program is one of the problems.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Central New York lawmakers are celebrating the state legislature's decision to shift payment of indigent legal services from the counties to the state. It's one of many so-called unfunded mandates that have long been a source of contention for local governments, which are left to pay picking up the tab for the decisions that are made at the capitol.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News

Several bills in the New York state legislature would extend or eliminate the criminal and/or civil statute of limitations for child sex abuse.

Kathryn Robb with Massachusetts Citizens for Children, is a survivor of child sex abuse and an advocate for removing the criminal and civil statute of limitations.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

State Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse), the second highest ranking member of the state Senate, is weighing in on what ethics reforms may or may not get passed before the end of the legislative session in June. There are a number of reforms DeFrancisco said he would support as long as there are no exceptions.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner has become the target of political flak from both Democrats and Republicans in published reports this week. Miner, a Democrat, sees it as hyper partisanship run amok.

The first complaint comes from the central New York Area Labor Federation, AFL CIO. Leaders criticized the mayor for not publicly challenging fellow Syracusan and Republican State Senator John DeFrancisco for his opposition to the proposal to raise the state minimum wage to $15 an hour.  

Jenna Flanagan / Innovation Trail/WMHT

Lobbying for and against the minimum wage is intensifying in Albany, with just over two weeks to go until the budget deadline.

Union workers gathered at a rally outside the Capitol, where the main speaker was Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“We’re going to get a $15 minimum wage passed!” Cuomo shouted.

The governor has been traveling the state to events packed by local Democratic leaders and union members, entering the rallies on a bus paid for by the health care workers union 1199.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A proposal to raise New York’s minimum wage is taking center stage in this year’s budget negotiations in Albany. And with just over three weeks left before a budget deadline, the stakes are getting higher and noise on both sides is getting louder.  

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