New York state Senate

Bret Jaspers/WSKG

New York’s political world is focused on a race in the Southern Tier that could help determine the future of the state Senate.

The Deputy Majority Leader of the State Senate, Tom Libous, was convicted of lying to the FBI over obtaining a politically connected job for his son, and had to resign his seat in late July. The Binghamton based Senate district has held by Republicans for the past 100 years, and has included former Senate Leader Warren Anderson.

Bret Jaspers / WSKG News

There is now a Republican candidate for the New York State Senate seat formerly held by Sen. Tom Libous. Broome County Undersheriff Fred Akshar announced his candidacy today.

The race could decide which party controls the New York State Senate.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Don’t expect the decision last week by the New York State Wage Board to boost the minimum wage for New York’s fast food workers to $15 an hour to be the end of the story. At least one central New York lawmaker expects this to be the beginning of a bigger debate.

For Syracuse-area Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli, there’s no question that the state’s minimum wage should be upped to $15 an hour for everyone.

State Sen. John DeFrancisco is Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, and was involved in the leadership battle in the Senate when former leader Dean Skelos resigned as Majority Leader after being arrested on federal corruption charges. DeFrancisco ultimately lost the leadership role to Long Island Sen. John Flanagan. On this episode of the Campbell Conversations, DeFrancisco speaks with host Grant Reeher about this year's state budget and legislative agenda, the current state of affairs in Albany, the issue of upstate versus downstate, and more. 

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A New York State senator wants to make sure that veterans discharged from the military because of their sexual orientation can qualify for state programs.

New York has 53 programs for veterans, according to State Sen. Brad Hoylman of Manhattan. Those include scholarships, health screenings, and reimbursements for burial costs.

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The legislature will be finishing up its work in the next couple of weeks with two new legislative leaders; one in his third month, the other in just his second week on the job.

Now that the state Senate has stabilized, after weeks of turmoil over corruption charges, legislative leaders and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are looking at what they can reasonably finish with just five weeks left in the session.

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With just a few weeks left in the legislative session, education issues continue to dominate. Some lawmakers want to fix a recently passed law that requires a fast turn around for new teacher evaluations, while others would like a tax break for donors that would help private schools.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has seen much of his ambitious legislative agenda for 2015 stall, as first the Assembly Speaker, and then the Senate Leader, were charged with corruption and had to resign their leadership posts.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News

The new leader of the New York State Senate, John Flanagan, replaced Dean Skelos, who is facing corruption charges. On day two in office, Flanagan says he does not expect any major new reform legislation to happen before the end of the session.

Flanagan says he does not think that further ethics reform will be enacted in the remaining weeks of the legislative session, despite an ongoing corruption scandal that cost his predecessor his job.

State heroin task force meeting around the state

May 12, 2015
WXXI News

New York senators are calling heroin and opioid addiction an epidemic in the state.

New Yorkers in recovery for heroin addiction, their families, health care providers, and law enforcement gave testimony recently in the Rochester-area about the escalating problem.

Last year, Monroe County saw a 40 percent increase in overdose fatalities linked to opioids.

Monroe County Assistant District Attorney Tim Prosperi says the problem touches people of all backgrounds.

nysenate.gov

Senate Leader Dean Skelos has resigned his post, over a corruption scandal, and Republicans have elected Sen. John Flanagan, currently chairman of the Education Committee to be his successor.

Flanagan, a Republican from Long Island, a GOP stronghold in the Senate, became the new leader of the Senate with a unanimous floor vote from his Republican conference.

Matt Ryan / WMHT

Dean Skelos has resigned his position as New York State Senate majority leader after his arrest on federal corruption charges. He becomes the latest leader to lose his power in a state government marred by corruption.

Sen. John Flanagan of Long Island was elected by his fellow Republicans, beating out Syracuse-area Sen. John DeFrancisco.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

State Senate Republicans have been huddling behind closed doors, trying to resolve a leadership crisis now that Majority Leader Dean Skelos has lost the support of his GOP members, after being charged with six federal counts of corruption.

Sen. John DeFrancisco, a Syracuse-area Republican who’s been running to replace Skelos, says first, the leader would have to resign, and that is not yet guaranteed.  

“I have not talked to Dean; not anybody that I’ve talked to has a clear answer on that,” DeFrancisco said.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who was arrested last week on federal corruption charges, is expected to step down from his leadership position later today, according to multiple reports. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Syracuse-area state Sen. John DeFrancisco says he would be shocked if the uncertainty over the leadership of the New York State Senate lasts another week.  Senate Majority leader Dean Skelos was arrested Monday on federal corruption charges.  

Initially, lawmakers agreed to support Skelos. Since then, there has been a growing number of Republican senators publicly calling for him to resign his leadership post.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who turned himself in to federal authorities on corruption charges Monday, will remain as the head of the Senate, his republican members announced after a more than three hour closed door meeting Monday night.

This week, a bipartisan team of New York state senators announced a round of four hearings around the state addressing the heroin epidemic.  The state poison control center received 255 calls about toxic exposures to heroin throughout upstate New York state last year. 82 of those toxic exposures were from Onondaga County.

State senators are turning to police, doctors, and their constituents for proposed solutions to the increase in deaths from opioid overdoses.

The New York State budget process was different this year than years past. There was a new “man in the room,” and there were many significant policy proposals attached to it; some were incorporated and some were tabled for later consideration.  On this week’s edition of the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher breaks down that process with State Senator Dave Valesky, who argues that the process was actually better in many ways.  Valesky also comments on his Independent Democratic Conference, its new role in the Senate, and its future prospects. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the speaker of the Assembly say they hope the state Senate will sign on to their joint proposal for ethics reform, as a new poll finds the governor with dropping job approval numbers.

Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie took the unusual step of calling their ethics measure a deal, even though they need the Senate to agree to the plan in order for it to become law.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Democrats in the New York State Senate are pushing for some reforms that directly address problems that led to the arrest and resignation of the Assembly speaker. They want to virtually ban all outside income for lawmakers.

Governor Andrew Cuomo / Flickr

In last week's State of the State Address, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.50 per hour across the state and $11.50 in New York City by the end of 2016. The increase isn't a done deal though.

State business leaders criticize the measure they say would force them to slow hiring and cut hours.

Sharon Stiller, a Rochester-based employment law expert, says any change will affect state businesses.

Durrie Bouscaren / WRVO File

New York state Republicans are working together with breakaway Democrats in the state Senate. Syracuse-area Republican Sen. John DeFrancisco says it’s a relationship that worked in the past, though it's different this year.

Two years ago Republicans faced the proposition of being the minority party in the state Senate, so they struck up a deal to share power with the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), a group of five breakaway Democrats.

Durrie Bouscaren / WRVO File

Influential central New York State Sen. John DeFrancisco is retiring today, but he’ll go right back to work tomorrow.

DeFrancisco, a Republican from Syracuse, is 68 years old. That means he’s been eligible to retire as a state employee and collect a pension for the past three years. He’s finally doing so, even though he was re-elected to office in November and plans to continue to serve in the Senate.

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New York state lawmakers are pushing for their first pay raise in fifteen years, and say in exchange they might be willing to give up the practice of a daily stipend for each day they spend in Albany, known as per diems, that has sometimes led to abuse.

Legislators receive $172 for every day that they spend in Albany, above normal travel and lodging expenses, and in addition to their $79,500 annual base pay.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News

Advocates of raising the minimum wage see hope in recent statements by the leader of the state Senate, and hope a deal can be struck by the end of the year.

Republican Senate Leader Dean Skelos, whose party will control the Senate in January, says while he thinks the state’s gradual increase of the state’s minimum wage to $9 an hour next year is good enough, he’s willing to at least discuss raising it higher. Skelos, after meeting with Republican members, says he also wants a pay raise for senators.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO

The leader of the state Senate Republicans says his members will once again join forces with a group of breakaway Democrats to rule the Senate come January. Sen. Dean Skelos says his members also want a pay raise.

Republicans won a bare majority of 32 seats in the 2014 elections and Skelos, following a two-hour closed door meeting with his Republican members, says the GOP will once again form a coalition government with Sen. Jeff Klein, the leader of the Independent Democrats.

New York State Senate

The New York State Senate will likely miss a deadline to approve Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s latest choice for the state’s high court. As a result, there will be six judges instead of seven on the court come December.

The vacancy on the state’s highest court is occurring because the 14-year term of Judge Victoria Graffeo expires at the end of November. Graffeo, a widely respected Republican chosen by former Gov. George Pataki, could have served for eight more years before reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70, had Cuomo, a Democrat, chosen to reappoint her.

-JvL- / Flickr

All three propositions on the New York state ballot passed Tuesday. Supporters of the measure to change the redistricting process say the vote shows New Yorkers are hungry for reform.

Voters approved a change in the state’s constitution that will require the legislature to appoint a commission to redraw state Senate, Assembly and congressional district lines after the 2020 census.

Dick Dadey, with Citizens Union, a group that supported the amendment, says the 57 percent of voters who said yes shows that the public craves reform of the present system.

New York State Senate

The New York state Senate got swept up in this year's Republican election wave, with 33 districts in their corner after the votes were counted.

The dean of central New York’s Senate delegation, state Sen. John DeFrancisco, said that’s good news.

On the flip side, it means difficulty for central New York's Democratic Assembly members to push through key agenda items, and reduces the influence of Sen. Dave Valesky, who DeFrancisco shares representation of Syracuse with.

Durrie Bouscaren / WRVO File

Recent polls show Republican candidates for state Senate in New York are ahead of their Democratic opponents, offering the GOP new hope that they can retain some control of the Senate chamber in January.

Polls conducted in five battleground Senate races show Republican candidates ahead of their Democratic opponents, even when the Democrat is an incumbent. If they were to win all five seats, they would likely gain control of the state Senate in January.

Matt Ryan, New York Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has forged his public image as a bipartisan governor, working with both Democrats and Republicans. But the governor has also promised a left-leaning minor party that he would help shift control of the state Senate away from the GOP, and help Democrats regain control of the chamber. The governor has been walking a fine line between the two parties ever since.

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