New York State Legislature

The Cuomo administration is moving ahead with a bill to allow limited access to medical marijuana. The governor's health commissioner told lawmakers at a budget hearing that the program could be up and running within a year, but his claims were met with some skepticism.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s health commissioner, Dr. Nirav Shah, told lawmakers at a recent budget hearing that he prefers the governor’s plan for limited medical marijuana in New York, rather than a broader program backed by some in the legislature.

Wallyg / Flickr

Some top state lawmakers seem to be changing their minds over whether to call special elections for a growing number of vacancies in the legislature.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver now says he wants voters to pick new legislators to fill 11 vacancies. And Gov. Cuomo now says he is looking at the issue.

Silver had said special elections to fill the nine vacancies in the Assembly and two in the Senate might be pointless, since new members could not be seated before the budget is done, and that he did not expect the legislature to do much work after late March.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO/file photo

There’s continued dissatisfaction over the state’s implementation of the new Common Core standards, which parents, students and teachers have complained has led to too much testing. But there’s disagreement in the state legislature over how to fix it.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO

Patients with serious health conditions, including children with a severe seizure disorder, came to the state Capitol to urge passage of a bill to better allow access to medical marijuana in New York.

Kate Hinz is one of dozens of people who came to the Capitol on the first formal day of session to lobby for the bill to allow medical marijuana in New York as a treatment for a variety of medical conditions. Her daughter Morgan has Dravet’s syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy that is incurable and very difficult to treat with conventional drugs.

The commission that’s been delving into public corruption in New York state will release a preliminary report to Gov. Andrew Cuomo this weekend. The Moreland Commission, appointed by Cuomo, has held several hearings on the issue, and has been investigating the connection between private money and public officials, with an eye towards making policy proposals. One high ranking New York state senator has concerns though whether the commission’s work will be tangled in a question of separation of powers.

Katie Keier / Flickr

A coalition of unions and government reform groups are calling for a ban on standardized testing for New York’s school children in second grade and younger.

In a teleconference, United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said it’s absurd that the groups are even in the position of calling for a ban on standardized testing for children in pre-kindergarten through the second grade. Mulgrew and others say the tests are inappropriate for four to seven year olds, and should never have been implemented in the first place.

A corruption commission appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo has voted to issue subpoenas to some members of the legislature to force them to disclose money paid to them by private law clients.

The Moreland Act commission wrote letters to state senators and assemblymembers who make more than $20,000 a year from outside legal clients, a figure that includes all of the major party legislative leaders. The legislature hired attorneys, who said no.

The I-STOP law: a doctor worries for his patients

Aug 25, 2013
Shawn Honnick / Flickr

The new I-STOP law passed by the New York State Legislature is aimed at reducing the amount of overdoses on prescription painkillers; although some groups worry it might do more harm than good. This week on “Take Care,” we talk to Dr. Joseph Navone, president of the Upstate New York Society of Medical Oncology and Hematology, a group that specializes in pain and pain relief for patients.

Click 'Read More' to hear out interview with Dr. Joseph Navone.

Cuomo vows assistance for flood damaged counties

Jul 8, 2013
Gino Geruntino/WRVO

It's been more than a week since the first floods hit the Mohawk Valley region, causing millions of dollars in damage and prompting Gov. Andrew Cuomo to declare fifteen counties disaster areas.

Cuomo was in Herkimer County Sunday to talk about what assistance will be coming to the area following several rounds of flooding that severely damaged more than 150 homes.

A look at the 2013 New York State Legislature's session by the numbers finds the recently concluded session resulted in the passage of fewer bills, but more constitutional amendments, as well as a wide range of participation by individual lawmakers.

Bill Mahoney, with the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), has spent the days since the legislative session concluded analyzing streams of data. He found the Senate and Assembly passed 650 bills, which is one the lowest numbers in decades, and part of a recent trend.

The state legislature left Albany last week with some unfinished business. They did not agree on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act, and Cuomo says at least one house should return to pass some of the bill’s provisions.

In the final days of the session, the numbers nine and 10 became key points of discussion for Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act. That referred to the debate over whether to pass all 10 or just nine provisions in Cuomo’s proposed legislation.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday he will be announcing his Moreland Act commission to investigate the campaign donation filings of the legislature in the “immediate future.”

Cuomo failed to get lawmakers to agree on a package of campaign finance reforms in the just-completed legislative session, and says he will now appoint a commission under the powers of the state’s Moreland Act, to investigate campaign filings at the State Board of Elections. The governor says in the end, it might even work out better.

When state lawmakers approved a bill to permit new gambling casinos in the final hours of the legislative session, they left something out: a provision to ban campaign contributions to legislators from gambling corporations.

When Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his plan to create new gambling centers in New York, he said he also wanted to ban campaign contributions from gambling entities to state lawmakers.

Wallyg / via Flickr

State lawmakers were finishing up their session for the year, working to approve a measure to build four gambling casinos upstate and create tax free zones at college campuses.

But the final hours of the session were overshadowed by back and forth skirmishing over a Women’s Equality Act, which ultimately failed.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Deals have been reached between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders on siting new casinos and creating tax free zones at college campuses. But a bill on abortion rights was struggling, and reform measures appear dead for the session.

The agreement on casinos would allow four resort-style gambling centers; one in the Capital Region, one in the Southern Tier, and possibly two in the Catskills, if voters approve the change to the state’s constitution in the fall.

Nassau and Suffolk counties would be allowed to open more slot machines, under the terms of the bill.

There’s three days left in the legislative session, and chances are dimming for a settlement on an abortion rights provision in a women’s equality act, and for reform of campaign financing and other anti-corruption measures. Meanwhile, a new poll finds the public increasingly dissatisfied with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

As the session winds down, it seems that two of the governor’s top agenda items are doomed in the state Senate.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

There are only four days left in the legislative session, and so far no agreements have been reached between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature on major issues like campaign finance reform or a women’s equality act.

It’s getting down to the wire for major pieces of legislation as the end of session approaches in Albany, including women’s rights and campaign finance reform. There are no agreements yet, but that’s not unusual in a government that operates on last-minute deals.

Durrie Lawrence / WRVO

A top Senate Republican says Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s abortion rights provision in a women’s equality bill stands little chance of passage in the chamber.

Senate Finance Committee Chair John DeFrancisco, from Syracuse, is one of the leading members of the Senate GOP conference. He says it’s unlikely that his house will pass Governor Cuomo’s proposal to codify into New York law the abortion rights in the federal Roe v. Wade decision.

Women’s groups are putting pressure on the state Senate’s ruling coalition to take up Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act, which includes  an abortion rights provision.

Zack Seward / WXXI

Gov. Andrew Cuomo faces perhaps his biggest challenge yet as the end of his third legislative session rapidly approaches. His poll numbers are falling, and his agenda is in danger.

When Cuomo began the session, back in early January, his poll numbers were soaring. His approval rating, following a fall that was spent cleaning up the damage from Hurricane Sandy, was at an almost unheard of 74 percent. A confident Cuomo embarked on an ambitious progressive leaning agenda.

A bill passed in the State Senate aims to increase the number of green homes built in New York state. 

The legislation would give municipalities the power to grant tax exemptions for green home construction in their district.

Joanna Richards

Agriculture advocates are welcoming progress on state legislation that would slow rising property taxes for farmers. The Senate passed a bill last week that tightens the cap on farmland assessment increases. Yesterday, that measure also passed out of the Assembly's Agriculture Committee. 

Fines for littering would double if a bill approved by the New York State Senate passes the Assembly. The idea is to crack down on the people who dump trash on the side of roads.

It poses driving hazards and costs a lot to remove. And Syracuse-area Sen. John DeFrancisco says litter that lines the highways just looks bad.

The steady drumbeat of scandal after scandal in the New York State Legislature has led many to wonder whether lawmakers can focus on passing any major bills by the end of the session, which is fast approaching.

The legislature returns Wednesday and has just four work weeks to act on items ranging from campaign finance reform to abortion rights, to economic development plans.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, before the legislature even returned from its Memorial Day break, gathered local government leaders from across the state to ask for help in passing a plan to create tax free zones for new businesses at college campuses.

Lawmakers in Albany tried to continue business as usual in the wake of one of the worst scandals in recent decades, that has overshadowed most other news coming out of the Capitol. Much of this week’s legislative session has been canceled, but politicians who were in town insisted that their agendas are not being derailed.

A hearing by state Senate Republicans on New York City’s public campaign financing system was overshadowed by protests, as government reform groups and other members of the public were denied entry, and noisy protests ensued.

File photo/Karen DeWitt/WRVO

Former Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson turned himself in to federal authorities Monday, after being accused in a nine-count indictment of embezzling nearly half a million dollars from mortgage foreclosure accounts, and then trying to cover it up.

Wallyg / via Flickr

A key component of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2013 agenda appears in jeopardy, as the governor concedes he does not currently have enough votes in the State Senate to bring an abortion rights bill he has championed to the floor.

Anti-corruption is the dominant topic at the New York state legislature for the second week in a row, following bribery charges against two state lawmakers, including a former Senate leader. A new poll finds 81 percent of voters expect more Senators and Assembly members will be arrested.

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