New York state Senate

5:34am

Mon June 30, 2014
Politics

GOP senators say Democrats will neglect upstate

Senate Republicans have a new strategy in what’s shaping up to be an election battle for control of the New York state Senate. They say now that a group of breakaway Democrats is abandoning them and rejoining the rest of the Democrats, the Senate will be dominated by New York City liberals who won’t care about upstate and Long Island.

The five-member Independent Democratic Conference  announced it would break its nearly two-year-old  alliance in ruling the Senate with the Republicans, and plans to join the Democrats in a coalition government after the November elections.

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6:23am

Fri June 27, 2014
Politics and Government

Senate IDC leader says group will maintain independence

IDC leader state Sen. Jeff Klein
Karen Dewitt WRVO file photo

Senate Independent Conference Leader Jeff Klein says even though his group now plans to realign with the Democrats in the Senate, he won’t rule out working with Republicans in the future.

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6:23am

Fri June 27, 2014
Politics

DeFrancisco says upstate New York will suffer, following IDC decision

Durrie Bouscaren WRVO File

Upstate will be the big loser if a new power change in the state Senate goes through, according to one high ranking state Senate Republican.

Syracuse-area state Sen. John DeFrancisco says if history tells us anything, it’s that upstate New York doesn’t fare well when downstate Democrats control all branches of government in New York state.

"Upstate will be shafted, to put it in the vernacular, if New York City is running everything again," DeFrancisco said.

He says voters need to know how upstate will be affected by the power shift.

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3:49pm

Thu June 26, 2014
Politics

Kessner likely to drop challenge to Senator Valesky

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Jean Kessner has gotten her wish and will likely drop her challenge of state Sen. Dave Valesky in Democratic Party primary.

Kessner, a Democrat herself and Syracuse Common Councilor, was circulating petitions to challenge Valesky (D-Oneida), unless he rejoined the mainstream Democrats in the state Senate.

Valesky has been a member of the Independent Democratic Caucus, which controls the Senate along with the minority Republicans, since 2011.

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6:25am

Thu June 26, 2014
Politics and Government

Two state Senate factions will form Democratic coalition

New York State Senate floor
-JvL- Flickr

Two Democratic factions in the New York State Senate say they are joining to form what could be a strong Democratic majority in the Senate, leaving Republicans, who up until now have ruled the chamber in a coalition government, out of power.

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3:39pm

Wed June 25, 2014
Politics

Kessner continues to pursue run against Valesky because of IDC alignment

Jean Kessner (far left), looks on as Assemblyman Sam Roberts discusses his support for her possible run against Sen. Dave Valesky (D-Oneida)
Ellen Abbott WRVO

Syracuse Common Councilor Jean Kessner continues collecting petition signatures for a possible Democratic primary run for the state Senate seat held by Dave Valesky (D-Oneida). On Tuesday, Kessner supporters rallied in front of the State Office Building in Syracuse.

Kessner says she only wants to run if Valesky stays aligned with the Independent Democratic Conference, a group of breakaway Democrats that, along with Republicans, control the state Senate.  

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5:26am

Wed June 18, 2014
Politics and Government

Medical marijuana bill sponsors hold private meeting with Cuomo

Medical marijuana legislation sponsors Sen. Diane Savino and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried talk with reporters.
Karen Dewitt WRVO

Sponsors of a medical marijuana bill continued to negotiate with Gov. Andrew Cuomo over the governor’s objections to many of the measure’s provisions, but say they are hopeful that a deal can be reached in the next couple of days.

State Senate Co-leader Jeff Klein is optimistic about the chances for a medical marijuana law in New York.

“My prediction is we’re going to end this session on a high,” Klein quipped after a lengthy closed-door meeting with Cuomo and the Senate and Assembly sponsors of the bill.

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3:19pm

Thu June 12, 2014
Politics

Cuomo says medical marijuana bill isn't dead yet

Brett Levin Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today that there's still a chance the state legislature could pass a medical marijuana bill that he would sign.

Only five days remain in this year's session, and the governor had previously said that he it was unlikely any major issues would pass by then. But in an interview today with the public radio show "Capitol Pressroom," Cuomo declared that medical marijuana legislation is not dead.

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7:05am

Wed June 11, 2014
Politics

'Erin's Law' faces hurdles to passing in New York state

Erin Merryn is pushing for sexual abuse education in schools, but is facing opposition in New York.
Office of Dave Valesky

For the third year in a row, the New York State Senate passed "Erin's Law," a bill requiring schools to teach age-appropriate sexual abuse and assault awareness to children in pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade.

Erin Merryn, a victim of sexual assault, has come up against some hurdles in her campaign to make it a law in New York state.

When Merryn was six years old she was sexually abused by a neighbor. When she was eleven she was sexually abused again by a cousin for two years. She stayed silent for years.

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3:32pm

Tue June 10, 2014
Recreation

Ritchie wants state legislature to pass UTV bill

Sen. Patty Ritchie is sponsoring legislation to raise the weight limit on UTVs. Assemblyman Bill Magee (left), is the Assembly sponsor of the bill.
Office of Sen. Patty Ritchie

State Sen. Patty Ritchie wants to lift some of the restrictions on the use of utility task vehicles in New York state. Right now, UTVs can only be used legally on private property and cannot be registered in the state of New York. Smaller ATVs weighing up to 1,000 pounds can be widely used and registered with the state.

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5:45am

Tue June 10, 2014
Politics and Government

Cuomo downplays chances of end-of-session agreements

Gov. Andrew Cuomo. (file photo)
Zack Seward WXXI

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is downplaying the chances of any major agreements before the legislative session ends later this month.

The governor, who has already vowed to replace the current Senate leadership coalition of Republicans and breakaway Democrats, says he does not expect any deals on big ticket issues before the legislature leaves for the summer.

“We have some clean up items,” Cuomo said. “I don’t expect us to do any major initiatives.”

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5:30am

Tue June 10, 2014
Politics and Government

Women's equality supporters say fall elections are next battleground

Democrats and their allies in the legislature say there’s little chance anything major can be accomplished in the remaining days of the legislative session. Those pushing a Women’s Equality Act are already looking ahead to the fall campaigns as the next step.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is downplaying expectations for any major agreements in the final days of the legislative session.

“We have some clean up items,” Cuomo said. “I don’t expect us to do any major initiatives.”

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5:34am

Mon June 9, 2014
Politics and Government

Uncertainty over what legislature can accomplish with 8 days left

Wallyg via Flickr

The 2014 legislative session has just eight working days left to go, with the closing day scheduled for June 20. As lawmakers prepare to return for the final two weeks, there’s uncertainty whether anything will get done, now that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has publicly vowed to try to oust the current Senate leadership. 

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6:44am

Fri June 6, 2014
Politics

Valesky says Senate leadership coalition is successful in Albany

Dave Valesky is one of members in the state Senate's Independent Democratic Conference.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

Democrats in New York state are vowing to take control of the Senate from the coalition leading it now, made up of Republicans and five breakaway Democrats.

Oneida’s Sen. Dave Valesky, a founding member of the Independent Democratic Conference, says he’s staying committed to the power sharing structure, even as some Democrats are calling on him to leave it.

Many members in the more progressive wing of the Democratic party, like Blue Carreker, campaign manager of Citizen Action of New York, wants Valesky to caucus with fellow Democrats.

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5:34am

Tue June 3, 2014
Politics and Government

Democrats hopeful, Republicans dismayed over Cuomo's pledge to shake up state Senate

-JvL- Flickr

Democrats in the New York State Senate say they are taking Gov. Andrew Cuomo at his word to help them regain the majority, despite some indications that he might be walking back some of the promises he made at the Working Family Party’s convention Saturday night.

Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins says she’s holding Cuomo to the promise he made to the Working Families Party, to regain Democratic control of the state Senate.

“He has to,” Stewart-Cousins said.

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6:14am

Mon June 2, 2014
Politics

Cuomo happy to gain Working Families Party endorsement

Zack Seward WXXI

Gov. Andrew Cuomo won the endorsement of the state’s left-leaning Working Families Party in a messy convention vote that stretched to nearly midnight on Saturday night.

Some members of the party have been upset because they believe the governor has not been progressive enough and they're unhappy with Cuomo's support for business-friendly tax cuts and charter schools.

Cuomo did not attend the contentious meeting, but he did send a pre-produced video, and some of the party members booed when he later phoned in some comments.

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6:04am

Mon June 2, 2014
Politics and Government

State Senate will determine fate of medical marijuana

Brett Levin Flickr

The fate of a medical marijuana bill remains up in the air in New York state. The state Assembly has approved a version that would allow patients to obtain the drug for medical treatment, while a similar measure remains hung up in the state Senate.

Advocates cheered as the New York State Assembly approved a medical marijuana bill that would  permit patients to possess small amounts of marijuana to treat approved medical conditions. The legislation also sets up licensed dispensaries to grow and sell the drug to sick people.

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7:05am

Fri May 30, 2014
Politics and Government

Working Families Party endorsement comes down to the wire

Gov. Andrew Cuomo already accepted the Democratic and Independence Party nominatons earlier this month. (file photo)
Matt Ryan, New York Now

It’s coming down to the wire for a decision on whether the Working Families Party endorses Gov. Andrew Cuomo for reelection or not. Talks are ongoing as the Saturday convention approaches.

The left-leaning minor party was angered when Cuomo failed to win a public campaign financing system for statewide offices in the budget. They were also annoyed by cuts to corporate taxes and wealthy estate owners that the governor championed.

Cuomo has faced opposition from Republicans in the state Senate, who rule in a coalition with a group of break-away Democrats.

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6:59am

Thu May 29, 2014
Politics and Government

Senate leadership proposes bills to combat heroin epidemic

Wallyg via Flickr

A Republican-led Senate task force has released a package of bills aimed at combating the growing heroin addiction in New York.

The bills would require schools to carry supplies of Naloxone, the drug used to treat heroin overdoses and in many cases, prevent death. They would also require better management of patients treated for drug addiction, and  convert some recently closed state prisons to treatment centers.

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6:01am

Wed April 30, 2014
Politics and Government

Drug legalization and abuse topics in Albany

Brett Levin Flickr

It was a day of drug policy discussion in Albany, as lawmakers held a forum on legalizing marijuana, proposed bills to combat heroin addiction and overdoses and made progress toward a medical marijuana program.

Sponsors of a bill to legalize marijuana held a forum that in part focused on the nuts and bolts of how to implement a system that would permit sales and impose taxes on the drug.

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5:49am

Mon April 28, 2014
Politics and Government

State Senate is sticking point for legalizing medical marijuana

State Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse)
Durrie Bouscaren WRVO File

State lawmakers go back to work in Albany this week as the second half of the legislative session gets underway. The debate over legalization of medical marijuana could become one of the high profile issues lawmakers tackle.

At this point the closest plan to legalizing medical marijuana in the state is Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to use executive power to  allow doctors to prescribe it in 20 hospitals across the state to patients with certain conditions.

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6:44am

Fri April 11, 2014
Politics

NY Legislature approves "National Popular Vote" bill

Credit National Popular Vote

New York lawmakers have approved a bill that would enter the state in the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, an agreement to award electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the majority of the popular vote.

Proponents of the National Popular Vote initiative believe that the Electoral College, in place since the first days of the nation, is not the best way to elect a president.

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8:25am

Thu March 27, 2014
Politics and Government

FBI investigating alleged corruption in state Assembly, Senate

State lawmakers in the Assembly and the Senate are coming under scrutiny from the FBI. The state Capitol offices of an assemblyman were raided, and a state senator gave a tour of her home property in an attempt to debunk allegations from federal investigators that she engaged in an illegal land deal.

Assemblyman William Scarborough's offices were raided by the FBI, over allegations that he overcharged for travel, lodging and meal reimbursements paid to lawmakers when they gather in Albany for weekly sessions.

Scarborough says he's innocent.

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7:04pm

Tue March 18, 2014
Politics and Government

Dream Act supporters vow to fight on

Assemblyman Francisco Moya speaks at a news conference held by supporters of the Dream Act at the Capitol Tuesday.
Karen DeWitt/WRVO News

Supporters of Dream Act legislation say they were “set up,” when a hastily arranged vote on the bill in the New York State Senate chamber late Monday led to the measure’s failure by just one vote.

The focus is now shifting to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Backers say they will try to get the governor to put the measure into the state budget.

Supporters of the measure to give state aid for college tuition to children of undocumented immigrants say they are disappointed and saddened that the measure lost in the Senate by just one vote.  

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7:16am

Tue March 18, 2014
Politics and Government

Dream Act dies in New York State Senate

Wallyg Flickr

The Dream Act is dead for now in New York state, after the state Senate voted down the measure that would have granted college tuition aid to the children of undocumented immigrants. The 30 to 29 vote defeating the Dream Act left leaders of rival Democratic factions pointing fingers.

Senate Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein , who is in a ruling coalition with the Republicans, says he’s disappointed that two Democrats joined the GOP to vote no on the bill to allow tuition aid for children of undocumented immigrants.

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6:47pm

Sun March 16, 2014
Politics and Government

Senate public finance provision raises questions

The New York state Senate for the first time includes Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan for public campaign financing in its budget resolution.  The sparsely worded proposal has left supporters and opponents trying to sort through the political tea leaves.

The inclusion of public campaign financing would seem to signal an abrupt change of policy for Republicans, who co-lead the Senate. The GOP has long maintained that a matching small donor plan using public funds is a waste of the taxpayers’ money, and would only lead to more annoying robo-calls.

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7:27am

Mon March 10, 2014
Politics and Government

Assembly, Senate budget plans due

Budget negotiations are expected to get serious at the state Capitol this week, with the spending plan due at the end of the month.

The Senate and Assembly are due to put out their one house budget resolutions Wednesday, the first step toward reaching a final deal with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

There are a number of unresolved issues, including how to pay for and structure a plan to provide universal pre-kindergarten to New York’s four-year-olds, and a multi-step plan proposed by Cuomo to freeze property taxes has faced skepticism.   

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7:00am

Thu March 6, 2014
Education

Assembly votes to delay some effects of Common Core

The state Assembly passed a bill Wednesday to delay some of the effects of New York’s Common Core learning standards.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says the bill delays the effects of the new learning standards for two more years, for both students and teachers. Teachers fear they will be evaluated on their pupils’ test scores when there wasn’t enough time to prepare and teach the new material.

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7:05am

Thu February 27, 2014
Politics and Government

State Senate ruling coalition gains a new member

The ruling coalition in the state Senate has grown by one member. Sen. Tony Avella, of Queens, has left the minority Democrats to join the governing coalition of Republicans and Independent Democrats.

Avella is a progressive-leaning Democrat who’s been called a maverick. He says he’s become convinced he can get more accomplished by joining the Senate’s ruling coalition, which includes all of the Republicans and a few break away Independent Democrats.  

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7:18am

Wed February 26, 2014
Politics and Government

Assembly leader urges Senate to pass Dream Act, says no consensus on free college for prisoners

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver discusses the Dream Act while in Albany.
Karen Dewitt WRVO

Assembly Democrats passed a one-house version of the Dream Act, a bill to give college aid to the children of undocumented immigrants, and urged the Senate to follow suit.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who calls the Dream Act a top priority, blamed opposition among Senate Republicans for the measure’s failure to advance in the upper chamber. And he says the breakaway Independent Democrats in the Senate, who are in a coalition government with the GOP, need to work to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

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