New York State Assembly

nysassembly.gov

A state Assemblyman has been sanctioned by the Assembly Ethics Committee for allegedly sexually harassing a staff member. Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin denies the charges and has asked for a criminal investigation of the ethics committee itself.

The complaint against McLaughlin stems from a June 2016 complaint from a female staffer, who said the Republican from Rensselaer County made lewd comments to her and asked to see nude photos of her. McLaughlin also is accused of releasing the name of the staff member, then lying about it.

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Testimony at an Assembly hearing Monday grew heated as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s economic development chair defended some faltering job creation programs.

Empire State Development Chair Howard Zemsky also signaled the state may be backing away from a key program to give tax breaks to startup entrepreneurs.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News File Photo

New York’s leaders are continuing to struggle with actions in Congress on the federal budget and tax overhaul that could adversely affect the state’s finances. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said it’s possible he’ll call a special session to address potential gaps in the state budget that could total several billion dollars. But he said the uncertainty over what will happen in Washington on health care funding and on major tax changes is making it hard to plan.

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The corruption conviction of former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was overturned Thursday on a technicality by a federal appeals court.

Silver’s attorneys say they are “grateful” for the decision, but the U.S. Attorney’s office for New York’s Southern District said it will retry the case. Until recently, the office was headed by Preet Bharara. He was fired by President Donald Trump earlier this year.

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The state Assembly voted in the early hours of Thursday morning on a bill that takes care of some unfinished business in the 2017 legislative session.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) is running for Congress in the 22nd District, looking to challenge his former colleague in the Assembly, Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford).

Brindisi jumps into the race after declining last year to run for the open seat that was vacated by moderate Republican Richard Hanna. He said a lot has changed in that time.

Brindisi says Tenney is far more loyal to Republican Party initiatives, like the effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. And that, he says, has hurt the district.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Cuomo says the state legislature fell down on the job by leaving town without passing an extension of mayoral control for the New York City schools, and he has not ruled out calling them back for a special session.

Cuomo says by not voting to extend the Bill de Blasio’s authority over the public schools, they essentially voted for a return to the dysfunction of the old system of multiple community school boards. 

“It is a dereliction of duty,” Cuomo said.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News

The state Assembly and Senate adjourned for the year last night, without any deals on extending control of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s authority over the public school system, or the continuation of sales taxes in upstate and Long Island counties. Assembly Democrats have tied the two issues together in one bill, and Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle called it a basic concept.

Payne Horning / WRVO News File Photo

State lawmakers have passed legislation that could provide financial relief for those affected by Lake Ontario flooding. The new bill was approved after weeks of debate between the state Senate and Assembly over how much to spend and whom should be be eligible

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

A demonstration of what a supervised injection facility for heroin users would look like has been making its way across cities in New York state. The sites would allow someone to use the drug under medical supervision. To make it a reality, the state would need a new law.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

The transfer of the FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant to its new owner is officially complete. Exelon, which owns and operates the nearby Nine Mile Point Nuclear Facility Exelon, announced Friday that its negotiations with Entergy are done. The company bought the Oswego County plant last summer for $110 million. 

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State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie is proposing new income tax brackets on New York’s wealthiest, with a top tax rate of over 10% on those making more than $100 million a year.

The new tax brackets proposed by Assembly Democrats would raise rates on those making more than a million dollars a year, as Gov. Cuomo has outlined in his budget. But new, higher rates would apply to those who make more than $5 million, $10 million or more, with a top bracket of 10.32% for New Yorkers who earn more than $100 million a year.

New York State Senate

The new year for the state legislature has begun in discord, with an absent governor and Republicans in the Senate vowing to take a harder line against Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

The year began without Cuomo, who abandoned the tradition of conducting a State of the State speech on the first day of the session in favor of giving a presentation on airport renovations to a group of business leaders in New York City. He’ll do speeches across the state later. 

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New York lawmakers are returning to Albany this week to begin their work for 2017. This year's agenda includes proposals to modernize the state's voting rules, address government corruption and permit the ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft to expand upstate.

Other prominent proposals include legislation to allow the terminally ill to request life-ending medication from a physician and a bill to end the state's practice of prosecuting 16- and 17-year-olds as adults.

National Republican Congressional Campaign

Attack ads complete with a creepy voice and dark music are common in congressional races. In the campaign to replace retiring Rep. Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld), they have been ubiquitous.

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 there 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.

unshackleupstate.com

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.

stgermh / Flickr

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.

governorandrewcuomo / via Flickr

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.  

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

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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