New York state Senate

New York State Senate

A faction of breakaway Democrats in the New York State Senate has been gaining members lately, but they are now facing a backlash, including raucous opposition at meetings in their districts.

When Sen. Jose Peralta announced on his Facebook page that he was joining the Independent Democratic Conference, a growing group of breakaway Democrats in the Senate who form a governing coalition with the Republicans, he said he wanted to “deliver a progressive agenda.”

What Peralta did not expect was a backlash in his Queens district.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

The New York Assembly moved Monday to establish New York as a sanctuary state, but the measure faces an uncertain future in the state Senate.

Assembly Democrats are backing measures that would give the entire state sanctuary status for immigrants.

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.

New York State Senate

New York State Senate Democrats now have 32 votes in the chamber, which under normal circumstances would mean they hold the majority.

But in the state Senate, it’s more complicated than that.

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If the numbers hold, Republicans are poised to remain in control of the New York State Senate, and even pick up a seat.

The news has reassured business groups but dismayed reform advocates. If the election results hold, Republicans will have the numerical majority when the Senate reconvenes in January.

New York State Senate

Democrats had hoped to make inroads into the New York State Senate. But preliminary results show the Republicans gaining one seat to hold a razor-thin 32-seat majority.

Despite a corruption scandal among Republicans on Long Island, incumbent GOP senators apparently kept their seats, and won an open seat formerly held by a Republican.

In close races in the Hudson Valley, GOP candidates also held on, and in a western New York swing district that includes portions of the Buffalo area, Republicans took the post back from Democrats.

Governor Andrew Cuomo / Flickr

If the state Senate is controlled by Democrats after the election, taxing and spending policies could see some differences. Many Democrats favor extending an income tax surcharge on millionaires when it expires next spring.

New York currently has a temporary income tax surcharge on the wealthy. The additional taxes affect those making more than $300,000 a year, with the rates growing higher for incomes over $1 million, and the highest rate for $2 million or more.

New York State Senate

There’s a greater chance than ever that the New York State Senate could be dominated by Democrats after the Nov. 8 election, meaning many issues stalled in the Republican-led Senate for years would have a possibility of passing. The Assembly has long been controlled by Democrats, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo is a Democrat.

Campaign finance reform, the Dream Act — which offers college tuition support to the children of undocumented immigrants — and more money for underperforming schools are just a few items that might be approved under a Senate controlled by Democrats.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo said one of the reasons he is actively campaigning for Democrats to take over the New York State Senate is that he believes he will have more success getting ethics changes done without the GOP in charge.

Cuomo, who’s been holding rallies for Democratic candidates in key Senate races, said he thinks a legislature controlled by Democrats will be more willing to approve changes to address a wave of scandals plaguing state government.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Hillary Clinton’s widening lead over Donald Trump is likely to affect downballot races for Congress, where there are several contested seats, and for control of the state Senate in New York, where Republicans are barely clinging to the majority.

As recently as the summer, when the presidential candidates were tied in the polls, leading New York Republicans predicted that the state would be in play for Trump — and that he could even help get downballot GOP candidates for Congress and the state Legislature elected.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo took a step deeper into the partisan politics of the state Senate on Tuesday night, telling two Democratic factions that they’ll have to work together if the November elections go their way.

Cuomo, long an ally of Republicans in the Senate, for the first time headlined a major fundraiser for the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee. He told them that he can no longer rely on Senate Republicans to approve key issues like the Dream Act for children of undocumented immigrants and a reform package that limits campaign contributions.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

With less than three weeks before Election Day, Hillary Clinton is even further ahead of Donald Trump in New York state, and that could affect downballot races, including seats for the state Senate.

Clinton is 24 points ahead of Trump, at 54 percent to 30 percent, a jump from when Siena College did a survey in September. Spokesman Steve Greenberg said the biggest change is independents moving over to the Democratic presidential candidate’s camp. A two-point lead among independents for Clinton has grown to a 17-point lead.

New York State Senate

Democrats in New York are trying to keep the heat on Republicans running for office over the coarse remarks made by GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump in a leaked video.

Every day since Friday’s release of the tape — where Donald Trump disparages women in a crude manner — Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, has slammed Trump. And he’s urged New York Republicans to disassociate themselves from the top of their ticket.

“They should stand up and say, ‘I’m a Republican, but I’m a New Yorker first,’” Cuomo said. “‘And we’ll have nothing to do with the degradation of women.’”

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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.

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A new poll shows that Hillary Clinton is still far ahead of Donald Trump among New York voters — but she has some weak points.

Clinton holds a 21-point lead over Trump among likely New York voters in the Siena College poll, down from a 25-point lead one month ago.

But Clinton has some weaknesses. She is viewed unfavorably by just over half of voters and does not have much support beyond registered Democrats, said Siena spokesman Steve Greenberg.

New York State Senate

The results of a four-way primary for a New York Senate seat may help Republicans keep control of that house in the long run.

Marisol Alcantara won Tuesday’s primary for the Upper Manhattan seat held by Adriano Espaillat, who is running for Congress. Alcantara is a Democrat, but she has said if elected to the Senate in November, she will likely ally with the breakaway Democratic faction known as the Independent Democratic Conference.

PamHelming.com

In the Republican primary for the 54th District state Senate race, Canandaigua Town Supervisor Pam Helming  appeared to be the victor, leading the four other candidates.

Although absentee ballots still need to be counted, Helming was ahead of her closest rival, businessman Floyd Rayburn, by 190 votes.

Longtime state Sen. Mike Nozzolio currently has the position, but is not running for re-election.  However, Helming realizes there is a legacy there.

For the first time in more than 20 years, the state senate seat in New York's 54th district is open. A crowded field of mostly Republican candidates are vying to replace longtime Republican State Sen. Mike Nozzolio, who's retiring. The district encompasses all or portions of Ontario, Wayne, Seneca, Cayuga, Tompkins and Monroe counties. 

The town of Canandaigua's supervisor Pam Helming is considered the GOP favorite. She won endorsements from all six of the county Republican parties. Helming said her top priority in Albany would be to roll back regulations. 

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.”

New York State Senate

There’s more evidence that the presidential race may affect which party will control the state Senate.

Currently, the GOP is holding on, with the help of one Democrat who meets with them.

But a new Siena College poll finds that nearly two-thirds of voters think that Donald Trump at the top of the ticket will not help Republicans hold on to the Senate, and Hillary Clinton as the Democratic candidate will actually help Democrats regain the Senate, said Siena spokesman Steve Greenberg.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

A new poll that finds Donald Trump badly trailing Hillary Clinton in the presidential race in New York could be good news for Democrats in the state Senate.

Trump’s supporters in New York had hoped that the state could be in play for the Queens native. But the latest poll from Siena College finds that Clinton, who has adopted New York as her home, is ahead of Trump by 30 points — 57 percent to 27 percent — in a two-way race.

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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.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

New York State Senate Democrats hope to take leadership of their house away from Republicans in the 2016 elections — and many believe the candidates at the top of the ticket will help them do that.

The leader of the Senate Democrats, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, is at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia to witness the historic nomination of the first female candidate for president in a major political party. She said she hopes to break some barriers of her own later this year by becoming the first woman, and female African-American, to be Senate majority leader.

Governor Andrew Cuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has offered only lukewarm support in the past for his fellow Democrats in their quest to take over the state Senate, said this week that he would back Democratic candidates in Senate races. He also somewhat reluctantly offered support to his former primary rival, Zephyr Teachout, who is now running for Congress.

Cuomo, answering a question from reporters in the Bronx, gave his strongest statements to date in the 2016 election cycle to back Democratic candidates for the Senate.

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.

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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.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

State Senate Republicans in the Elections Committee cast a vote on closing a campaign finance loophole, which has played a role in recent corruption trials of the former leaders of the legislature. But the act could doom the measure for the 2016 legislative session.

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