Politics and Government

Political news

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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.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Onondaga County legislators are questioning the expenses and revenues coming out of the new Lakeview Amphitheater along Onondaga Lake. Legislators want more information regarding who pays for what on everything ranging from buses to bathrooms. Legislator Kevin Holmquist said a lot of money is exchanging hands. He is pushing for a facility-use fee for the future upkeep and maintenance of the amphitheater.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Central New York lawmakers are celebrating the state legislature's decision to shift payment of indigent legal services from the counties to the state. It's one of many so-called unfunded mandates that have long been a source of contention for local governments, which are left to pay picking up the tab for the decisions that are made at the capitol.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Hoosick Falls residents came to the Capitol on Wednesday to demand hearings on the water crisis that has revealed high levels of a toxic chemical in many people’s bloodstreams. They did not get hearings but did get a private meeting with a top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A Demand Democracy campaign across New York is encouraging state Senate Republicans to approve a list of campaign finance reform proposals. Jonah Minkoff-Zern of Public Citizen, which is organizing the campaign, said the focus in Syracuse is on Sen. John DeFransisco, the second-most powerful figure in the state Senate.

"He and the other Republicans who are in leadership have power to pass this legislation this week," Minkoff-Zern said. "The last week of the legislative session here in New York. We’re here to protest their lack of action.”

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

With the legislative session down to the wire, groups for and against bills — including expansion of Uber ride services and ethics reform — came to the Capitol to make their voices heard.

Jason Smith / WRVO News (file photo)

The Oswego Common Council approved a plan Monday from Mayor Billy Barlow to offer free wireless internet service in the city's downtown by a vote of 5-2. Several citizens spoke in favor of free WiFi ahead of the meeting, but some councilors were concerned about the price of the project and how soon it came up for a vote.

The costs for the first year would run $42,500 thousand dollars and nearly $30,000 each year thereafter. Barlow said the price is justified, calling free WiFi an essential amenity to modernize the city.

Derek Key / Flickr

Oneida County residents will not be able to purchase fireworks for the July Fourth holiday this year. The county executive, Anthony Picente, has vetoed a bill from the Oneida County Board of Legislators that would have allowed the sale of sparklers and small, fountain-style fireworks. He cited safety concerns.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News File Photo

Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) is hoping that officials can learn from the tragedy in Orlando, to prevent another such deadly terrorist shooting going forward.

Katko expects there to be plenty of conversation this week in Washington centering on what happened in an Orlando gay nightclub, when 29-year old Omar Mateen carried out the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Katko, who serves on the House Homeland Security Committee, says his biggest concern is the fact that Mateen was investigated more than once by the FBI, because of potential links to terrorism.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

As part of the push to end the legislative session by Thursday, state lawmakers representing Hoosick Falls — where water has been contaminated with PFOA — want to extend the statute of limitations to bring lawsuits against polluters.

The bill would extend the current statute of limitations law to allow a three-year window between when a contaminated area is declared a Superfund site and when New Yorkers can file a lawsuit.

The Senate sponsor, Sen. Kathy Marchione, who represents Hoosick Falls, said it’s a top priority for her in the remaining days of the session.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

With the discussion surrounding a federal probe of contracts connected to the Buffalo Billion, there are concerns about possible effects on any related economic development projects throughout the upstate New York area.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in March that two companies would be coming to Rochester, creating hundreds of jobs as a result of the recent push into photonics, which involves the use of light in robotics, medical imaging and other fields.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) is working on breaking through the military bureaucracy to get the name of a Syracuse man and others who were involved in a naval accident 47 years ago on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Larry Reilly, Sr. says it was as simple as turning the wrong way in the South China Sea in June 1969. The USS Frank E. Evans, a Navy Destroyer, was hit in the middle of the night by an Australian aircraft carrier.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

New York lawmakers say if the FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant and its 615 jobs are to be saved, they just need to keep it open long enough to benefit from nuclear plant subsidies that are currently under consideration, but its owner Entergy has repeatedly said it is not interested in that state support. So, some state lawmakers are now proposing drastic steps to rescue FitzPatrick that could involve a state takeover of the plant.

stgermh / Flickr

There are only three more days left in the legislative session, and lawmakers are talking with Gov. Andrew Cuomo about a number of bills — but keeping details close to the vest.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

Among the recommendations of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s heroin task force are a few ideas to improve access to treatment.

One idea would end prior authorization. That’s when patients must first get approval from their insurance before they’re admitted to treatment.

Rob Kent, general counsel to the New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services, said the panel heard from a lot of people who wanted help with their addiction, but had to wait.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney is defending the state's economic development competitions such as the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, which pitted different regions of the state against each other for financial aid. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s economic development projects have come under fire as the Buffalo Billion project is currently under a federal investigation.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

The assemblyman who represents Hoosick Falls is calling for a federal investigation after revelations that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration knew about elevated levels of a toxin in the village’s water for a year and a half before residents were warned.

File Photo
SUNY Polytechnic

Until recently, Alain Kaloyeros, leader of the SUNY Polytechnic Institute, has been the darling of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration. But now, he’s one of the figures at the center of federal and state investigations into alleged pay-to-play schemes for economic development projects and is increasingly on the outs with the administration. 

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing a crackdown on the coordination of candidates for office and super PACs that are created to support their campaigns.

The super PACs, or independent expenditures, are permitted under the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Cuomo says while the ruling cannot be overturned right away without changes to the court, New York can act to make sure that super PACs really are independent. He says the groups have “become a mockery” and are used as a backdoor way around the state’s contribution limits.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner is asking SUNY Upstate Medical University to enter into a service agreement with the city, to help cover the cost of providing city services to the hospital. Miner has reached service agreements with other large nonprofits in the city, which do not pay taxes on their properties.   

Coming off the heels of the announcement that Syracuse University will provide $7 million to the city over four years for general services, Miner said she wanted to strike while the iron is hot and try to reach a deal with another big entity.

At the Oswego Common Council meeting Monday, Mayor Billy Barlow presented his plan for free public WiFi in the city's downtown. The young mayor called it an essential amenity to modernize the port city.

stgermh / Flickr

Expectations for major ethics reform in the state legislature are low, even though both former leaders of the legislature are facing prison time for corruption. With just over a week to go before the session ends, only one measure — to take back the pensions of lawmakers who are convicted felons — seems to be in play.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

New York’s inspector general released a scathing report late Monday, blasting the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. The report found widespread security lapses and breakdowns in oversight that led to last summer’s escape from Clinton Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison in Dannemora, New York, located near the Canadian border.

Last summer at this time, there were tense checkpoints on back roads and highways across northern New York.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News file photo

Two western New York lawmakers have asked State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli to review Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion economic development projects.

The comptroller says an ongoing audit is already looking at some aspects of the increasingly controversial project and other Cuomo administration economic development initiatives that are currently under federal investigation.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The Syracuse Common Council has voted in favor of an ordinance that will require contractors working on city projects to hire 20 percent of their workforce from within the city. Proponents of the regulation say it is one tool to help reduce unemployment.

Jason Smith / WRVO News

Oswego County Administrator Phil Church is a shipwreck diver and photographer in his off time. These days, he's bringing his hobby to work. Church is coordinating an effort between Oswego, Jefferson, Cayuga and Wayne counties and the city of Oswego to have the southeastern part of Lake Ontario designated as a national marine sanctuary. There are only 14 in the world and Church said Oswego has a good case to join that list.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s inspector general has found that numerous security and oversight problems at the state prison in Dannemora contributed to the prison break of two inmates last year.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

When Gov. Andrew Cuomo tried to find a compromise over how to best utilize a corridor in the Adirondacks, he opened old wounds from a decades-long debate.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News

Two bills to legalize and regulate daily fantasy sports and some other forms of gambling are moving through the state legislature, but anti-gambling groups say they should be stopped.

Daily fantasy sports games were halted in New York after Attorney General Eric Schneiderman declared them illegal last fall. In March, Schneiderman settled with the major companies, Fan Duel and Draft King, saying the sites will continue to be banned until September unless the legislature acts to regulate the online gambling before the end of its session later this month.

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