New York state Senate


Thu March 6, 2014

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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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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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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Mon February 17, 2014
Politics and Government

As hearings conclude, lawmakers set to take on budget

The state legislature has finished its hearings on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal, and will be ready to start crafting a spending plan once they return from the President’s Day break. One of the final hearings focused on the governor’s tax cutting plans, and lawmakers had plenty of questions.

Legislators at the hearing quizzed Cuomo’s tax commissioner on a plan that could result in a freeze of local property taxes. Tax Commissioner Thomas Mattox admits it’s a complex plan.

“This is clearly a very complicated space,” Mattox said.

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Thu January 16, 2014
Politics and Government

Growing number of vacancies in legislature likely to remain until 2015

A view of the New York state Assembly chambers.
-JvL- Flickr

The New York state legislature now has 11 unfilled seats, after one Assemblyman resigned over a sexual harassment scandal and another was expelled after being convicted of a felony. But it could be another year before those seats are filled.

In recent days, Assemblyman Eric Stevenson of the Bronx was automatically ousted from the Assembly when he was convicted on felony bribery charges. Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak, of Cheektowaga, resigned under pressure after seven women accused him of sexual harassment.

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Mon November 25, 2013
Politics and Government

State lawmakers fight Cuomo commission subpoenas in court

Leaders of the New York state legislature are in court fighting a request from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s ethics commission that they turn over details about their private law clients.

Assembly Democrats and Senate Republicans are asking a state Supreme Court Judge to quash subpoenas from Cuomo’s Moreland Act Commission, demanding they reveal details of private law clients who pay them more than $20,000 a year. Their attorneys are arguing that it’s unconstitutional for the governor to directly investigate the legislature and it violates the separation of powers.

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Thu October 31, 2013
Politics and Government

State Senate Republicans respond to Moreland Commission subpoenas

-JvL- Flickr

Republicans in the New York Senate, who are targets of subpoenas by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s anti-corruption Moreland Act Commission, are fighting back in court.

The subpoenas were sent by the Moreland Commission to the Republican Senate Campaign Committee, as well as the campaign committees of Democrats, seeking internal documents and emails. The Senate GOP has filed a challenge in Supreme Court, claiming that it’s not fair to compel Republicans to hand over documents that outline their political campaign strategies to a commission appointed by a Democratic governor.

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Wed October 9, 2013
Politics and Government

Senate IDC leader slammed by environmental group

An environmental group has given Senate Independent Democratic Leader Jeff Klein its 2013 "Oil Slick Award," claiming the Senate co-leader has done more than any other state legislator to harm the environment.

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Thu October 3, 2013

New York's top educator discusses Common Core with lawmakers

New York State Education Commissioner John King testifies to a state Senate committee in Syracuse Tuesday.
Ryan Delaney WRVO/file photo

State senators questioned New York’s top educator and other education professionals Tuesday at a hearing in Syracuse looking at new Common Core assessments and student achievement.

State Sen. John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, suggested some questions from the Common Core exam be removed, like ones that require students to draw shapes to represent numbers.

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Fri September 20, 2013

N.Y. regulations like 'death by a thousand cuts,' say manufacturers

The Senate Majority Coalition public forum on regulatory reform at Syracuse City Hall.
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

The one phrase that kept coming up at Friday's New York State Senate hearing on regulatory reform in Syracuse, was "death by a thousand cuts." Manufacturers were the focus today as lawmakers travel around the state trying to identify regulations that are getting in the way of business.

One of the regulations State Sen. John DeFransisco called asinine at today's hearing, springs from the Wage Theft Prevention Act. Employers are required to provide employees with a yearly notice regarding their compensation, information that is already on their paycheck.

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Thu September 19, 2013
Politics and Government

Corruption hearings continue in Moreland Act Commission meeting

A commission appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to investigate public corruption is holding its first series of hearings. At the kick-off event in New York City, a prominent figure in busting corruption in the legislature announced he’s found a back door way to confiscate the pensions of convicted state politicians.

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Thu September 5, 2013
Politics and Government

NY Senate hearing places focus on special tax breaks

Members from several progressive groups hold signs during a press conference.
Karen Dewitt/WRVO

Senate Republicans held a hearing on how to cut taxes, while also questioning whether some targeted special tax breaks are worth the money. Meanwhile, some groups complained that they’d been unfairly excluded from the discussion.

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Wed August 21, 2013
Politics and Government

Lawmakers look for ideas to help financially struggling cities

State lawmakers were looking for suggestions to prevent municipal bankruptcies in New York state at a hearing in Syracuse Tuesday on the first stop for the New York State Senate Standing Committee on Local Government.

The situation in Detroit hung over the hearing. Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner warned that cities like Syracuse continue to edge towards the brink of insolvency because revenues can't keep up with expenditures. And until the state helps with that, more cities in New York state will continue to spiral towards insolvency.

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Fri August 2, 2013
Politics and Government

Assembly GOP Leader calls for special session

Office of Assembly Minority Leader Brain Kolb

The Republican leader of the state Assembly is calling for the legislature to return for a special session to wrap up some unfinished business.

The legislature adjourned at the end of June with no firm plans to meet again before next January, but Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb says there’s too much left to do to wait until next year.

“I definitely think we should go back,” Kolb said.  

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Mon July 29, 2013
Politics and Government

Valesky says bipartisan coalition was successful

Syracuse-area state Senator Dave Valesky says the bipartisan coalition that governs the New York Senate was successful this year.

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Thu July 11, 2013
Politics and Government

Newly formed coalition takes aim at politicians who supported gun control

A coalition of gun rights advocates and others are forming a new political movement to get what they say are disaffected and disenfranchised New Yorkers to vote.

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Mon July 1, 2013
Politics and Government

Gov. Cuomo celebrates legislative victories, says still more to do

Gov. Andrew Cuomo did not get all he wanted during the recently concluded legislative session, as abortion rights and campaign finance reform faltered in the final days of the session. But, Cuomo seems to be putting the best face on what he did achieve and is trying to move on with plans that include an investigation of the legislature.

Cuomo began the session in January with a hefty agenda, including an ambitious plan to make New York’s gun control laws the toughest in the nation; and be the first state to react to the Newtown, Connecticut shootings in December.

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Fri June 21, 2013
Politics and Government

Women rally to demand Senate vote on abortion rights

Women’s groups rallied outside the New York state Senate chamber, demanding a vote on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 10-point women’s equality act -- that includes an abortion rights provision.

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Wed June 19, 2013
Politics and Government

Senate passes bill forcing landlords to pay taxes

The New York State Senate has passed a bill that would authorize public welfare officials to withhold rent from landlords who have not paid their real estate taxes.

In many cases, publicly funded subsidies meant to help families pay their rent are paid directly to landlords through social services programs. In October, the Syracuse Post-Standard reported that two landlords received more than $400,000 in government aid for rent while neglecting to pay over a million dollars in property taxes to the city.

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Tue May 28, 2013
Politics and Government

NY state Sen. Savino explains IDC governing strategy

A key member of the New York State Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference says the group does not foresee joining with the rest of the Democrats to overcome Republican resistance to a number of end-of-session issues, including public financing of campaigns.

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Mon May 20, 2013
Politics and Government

Campaign finance reform proposal making its way through Albany

In the wake of a series of political corruption cases out of Albany in recent weeks, campaign finance reform has become a popular issue in the state capitol.  Among the proposals for reforming the way money is used in political campaigns, is one from the Independent Democratic Conference. The group is wrapping up a set of statewide hearings on their plan today in Albany.

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Mon April 15, 2013
Politics and Government

Second half of legislative session overshadowed by new scandals

The second half of New York’s legislative session begins today and it’s likely to be dominated by the response to on going bribery and corruption scandals that came to light while lawmakers were on spring break.

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Wed February 27, 2013
Politics and Government

State minimum wage increase faces hurdles

New York State lawmakers are set to return to the Capitol Wednesday following a two-week break for the President’s Day holiday.  Lawmakers have plenty to work on in the next few weeks leading up to the start of the state’s fiscal year, including whether to pass a minimum wage hike as part of the state budget.

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Tue February 12, 2013
Politics and Government

After contentious debate, state Senate approves Cuomo's court choice

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Court of Appeals nominee was approved in the New York State Senate on a voice vote, after an unusually contentious process.

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Mon January 21, 2013
Regional Coverage

State law proposed to withhold state payments to some tax delinquent landlords

Proposed state legislation would allow social services officials to withhold rent payments for low-income housing when the landlords haven’t paid their taxes.

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Wed January 16, 2013
Politics and Government

State Senate coalition passes first test

The experimental governing coalition in the New York State Senate passed its first test, on the first full day of session, when senators approved a sweeping gun control package urged by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

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Tue January 15, 2013

State Senate approves toughest in nation gun laws, Assembly to act Tuesday

The New York state legislature is passing the toughest in the nation gun control laws laid out by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The Senate voted late Monday evening , and the Assembly is expected to act Tuesday morning.

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Fri January 11, 2013
Politics and Government

Cuomo dampens expectations on gun control agreement

Governor Cuomo Andrew dampened expectations for a quick settlement on a package of gun control bills, saying he does not have a timeline for agreement with the legislature.

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Wed December 26, 2012
Politics and Government

DeFrancisco and Valesky on the Independent Democratic Conference

The new iteration of the New York state Senate will look different in 2013 with the new power sharing agreement in place between Republicans and breakaway Democrats, and two central New York lawmakers will be in the thick of it.

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Mon December 17, 2012

Dave Valesky on the Campbell Conversations

Senator Valesky with IDC members Senators Klein, Savino and Carlucci.

A potentially significant new chapter in New York's political history will be written in January, as the State Senate's Independent Democratic Caucus joins with the Republican Caucus to form a coalition majority.  On this edition of the Campbell Conversations, State Senator Dave Valesky, a founding member of the Independent Democratic group, discusses how this new arrangement will work, and why joining with the Republicans may actually bring more progressive pieces of legislation to the Senate floor.

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