New York State Assembly

The Dwire and Finch campaign Facebook pages

Republican Assemblyman Gary Finch will face a rematch in New York’s 126th Assembly District as he runs for re-election against Democratic challenger Diane Dwire again. The two candidates share similar concerns on the big issues facing the district.

In contrast to the hotly contested presidential and congressional contests, state level races in central New York are, for the most part, not races at all. There are few challengers.  One race where this is a challenger is the 127th State Assembly District, which pits incumbent Democrat Al Stirpe against Republican Vincent Giordano.  This week on the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher moderates a debate between them, as they discuss education, government consolidation, economic development, and other issues.

  Full Transcript

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It’s looking less likely that state lawmakers will be getting a long-awaited pay raise next year. A commission designed to take politics out of the issue is now coming under political pressure to not grant the salary increase.

NY State Assembly

A well-known state assemblyman from the Rochester area has died in an apparent suicide. A police officer saw Bill Nojay shoot himself near his family’s cemetery plot about 9:30 a.m. Friday.

Nojay, a 59-year-old radio talk show host, had served in the Assembly since 2013. The conservative Republican was facing a primary challenge in next Tuesday’s primary for re-election to a third term. His Democratic opponent has suspended campaigning for now.

Assembly Republican Leader Brian Kolb expressed sadness and shock.

Republicans fared better than Democrats in pro-business group Unshackle Upstate’s rankings of state legislators who are seeking re-election in November.

Unshackle Upstate’s Greg Biryla said overall, GOP lawmakers did better than Democrats when ranked on issues that business groups care about, such as holding the line on taxes and spending.

He said Assembly Republicans, the smallest conference, scored highest.

“They had numerous members who received 100, overall,” Biryla said. “They were the only conference to achieve that.”

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A commission is considering granting as much as a 47 percent pay raise for state lawmakers, and the proposal is generating some backlash, including from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The idea of raising state lawmakers pay by nearly 50 percent comes at a time when dozens of senators and assembly members have been indicted, arrested, and jailed for corruption, including the two former legislative leaders, who are both facing prison time.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Onondaga County Legislature passed a resolution urging the state Assembly to take up a bill passed by the Senate that prohibits any new unfunded mandates. Legislator Casey Jordan took up the measure and said the Senate's bill would require funding of any state program or expenditure item that impacts lower levels of government, to be paid for by the state.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

It was Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter’s (D-Syracuse) first legislative session in Albany this year. The assemblywoman said while much was accomplished at the end of the session in June, many issues she is still pressing for many issues that were left on the table.

Paid family leave, increasing the minimum wage and requiring schools test for lead in the water are three big issues Hunter was happy to see passed in this year’s legislative session.

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What began in January as an ambitious reform package to address a wave of corruption at the Capitol, proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, dwindled to just two proposals by the time the session closed in the pre-dawn hours of Saturday morning. Cuomo had proposed a number of changes in January to react to a wave of corruption that led to the convictions of the two former leader of the legislature on felony corruption charges.

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State lawmakers wrapped up the 2016 legislative session at around 5 a.m. Saturday morning, agreeing to take steps to cancel the pensions of convicted lawmakers in the future, legalizing daily fantasy sports and extending New York City’s mayoral control law for another year.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News

The state legislature was closing in on an end-of-session deal that would strip convicted lawmakers of their pensions, extend mayoral control of New York City schools for one more year, and legalize daily fantasy sports gambling.

NY Assembly Video (file)

The state’s Assembly speaker confirms that federal investigators are looking into some of his actions while he was head of the Bronx Democratic Party, but he says he’s done nothing wrong.

Carl Heastie says he knew he would be under scrutiny when he became speaker after his predecessor, Sheldon Silver, resigned over corruption charges. Silver has been sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Matt Ryan / New York Now File Photo

Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was sentenced to 12 years in prison and told by a federal judge that he must give back $5 million that he gained from illegal kickback schemes, as well a pay another $1.75 million in fines.

Over 100 family members, constituents and lobbyists wrote letters on behalf of the disgraced former Assembly speaker, and the disgraced former speaker and his lawyers pleaded for mercy.

Dick Dadey, with the reform group Citizens Union, who waited outside the courtroom to hear the sentence, says it’s just desserts for what Silver did.

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Tuesday is not only New York’s presidential primary, it also the day for two special elections to replace the disgraced former leaders of the legislature who lost their seats after being convicted on multiple felony corruption charges.

One of the races is to replace former Senate Leader Dean Skelos, a Republican who is now facing a lengthy prison term on corruption convictions.  

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State lawmakers were down to the wire on meeting the state budget deadline and voting went beyond the midnight deadline, into Friday, once all of the budget bills were finalized.

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New York becomes the last state in the nation to legalize mixed martial arts, following a 113-25 vote in the Assembly Tuesday. The bill was placed on the floor for a vote after a majority of Democrats backed the legislation.

During debate on the Assembly floor, opponents urged the state to continue the ban on mixed martial arts, also known as ultimate fighting. Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffe, from the Hudson Valley, says the activity is “sanctioning violence for profit” and has no place in New York .

Chris Caya / WBFO News File Photo

An Assemblywoman from Western New York has been sanctioned by the Assembly ethics committee on charges she sexually harassed a male staffer.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who released the news of the punishments after the Assembly had left for the week, said Angela Wozniak will be issued a public letter saying she violated the Assembly’s Policy Prohibiting Harassment, Discrimination and Retaliation. Wozniak is a freshman who is a member of the Conservative Party but caucuses with the Republicans. She represents the Buffalo suburb of Cheektowaga.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Senate Republicans say their version of the state budget will include a 9-year phase in of tax cuts that would eventually total a 25 percent reduction for middle class taxpayers.

GOP Leader John Flanagan said when the Senate majority releases it’s budget plan later in March, it will include a phase in of over $4 billion in tax cuts. They include an extension of a temporary tax cut for middle income earners, which would gradually be reduced to a rate of just over 5 percent for those who make $300,000 a year or less.

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A bill to make it legal for terminally ill patients to end their lives is being debated in the New York legislature. While many have compelling personal cases for allowing the practice, others, including the Catholic Church, remain opposed.  

Amy Paulin, an Assemblywoman from Westchester, is sponsoring a bill to allow what’s become known as Aid in Dying, after the wrenching experience of her sister’s battle with stage four ovarian cancer.

Sarah Crisafulli / WRVO News File Photo

Under proposed legislation, motorists could be fined for not cleaning snow off their vehicles. But there are plenty of objections to this bill.

Western New York Assemblyman Mickey Kearns says if the bill comes to the floor, he'll vote no.  

"I think it's basic common sense. I don't think we need to legislate common sense," Kearns said.

The bill, which already has been debated in committee, calls for fines for any moving vehicle with three or more inches of snow on it. 

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Local governments and schools say they are struggling over a property tax cap that will allow what amounts to a zero percent increase in tax levies in the coming year. But Gov. Andrew Cuomo says they’ll likely have to stick with those rules.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

The issue of whether to tax the wealthiest New Yorkers at a higher rate is once again a topic at the State Capitol. Assembly Democrats are out with a tax plan that would redistribute some tax revenue from the richest to the poorest New Yorkers.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

The New York State Assembly approved a one-house bill to establish partial paid family leave in New York as Gov. Andrew Cuomo signaled he will amend his proposal to provide more money to those who take the leave.

Advocates of paid family leave, who have been lobbying on the issue for years, say movement on the matter from the Assembly Democrats and Cuomo has given them new hope. Donna Dolan leads a coalition.

Wikipedia Commons

Assembly members are vowing to expand funding for treatment for opioid addiction in New York. The Assembly Minority Task Force on Heroin Addiction presented their report Monday in the assembly chamber.

Three Republican Assembly members are credited with writing the report that proposes solutions based on a series of local hearings about the heroin addiction problem in New York state.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

It’s been more than 40 years since the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing a women’s right to choose an abortion, but advocates say New York lawmakers have yet to translate the provisions of the landmark Supreme Court decision into law in the state.

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A budget watch dog group is giving Gov. Andrew Cuomo a mixed grade on his budget proposals, saying he’s done a good job reigning in spending, but is making a mistake by shifting some significant costs to New York City.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

One day before Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address, where he is expected to address ethics issues after the criminal convictions of the two legislative leaders, some state legislators are already demanding reforms that would break up the power of the leadership.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

The opening day of the legislative session featured talk of ethics reform, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo chose to be elsewhere, putting off his traditional State of the State message for another week, and giving speeches in Syracuse and New York City instead.

The Senate and Assembly convened  for the first time since both leaders of the legislature were convicted of multiple corruption charges in late 2015 and now face potentially decades in prison.

Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter Facebook

Central New York’s newest member of the Assembly is launching citizen advisory committees meant to keep the lines of communication open between residents and state government

Democrat Pam Hunter says one thing she realized after campaigning for the 128th Assembly District is that residents want their concerns and ideas heard in Albany. So she’s started up advisory committees in the towns of DeWitt, Onondaga and Salina, as well as the city of Syracuse, for residents to let her know what’s important in their particular neighborhoods.

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The second of the state legislature’s two former leaders has now been convicted on multiple corruption charges after a jury lost no time in finding former Senate Leader Dean Skelos and son Adam guilty on all eight counts.