Jun 19th - 7:27 pm
A provision in the women’s agenda that would have outlawed housing discrimination based on lawful income has been altered to a task force to study the issue.
The change to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal was quietly made in the days between its initial release and formal introduction on Tuesday, when the governor released both an omnibus package of all 10 items in the agenda and, later that evening, 10 separate bills.
The briefing book from Cuomo’s third State of the State address outlines an effort to crack down on source of income discrimination for women who receive housing assistance, including Section 8 vouchers.
“Many households suffer discrimination by landlords who are unwilling to rent to voucher holders,” according to Cuomo’s briefing book. “For housing vouchers to be meaningful, enough units must be made available for tenants. Providing this protection is invaluable in maximizing a voucher family’s ability to secure safe and decent housing. Governor Cuomo will propose amending the Human Rights Law to prohibit landlords from discriminating against tenants based on lawful sources of income.”
That measure, along with barring landlords from discriminating against domestic violence victims, was included in the first women’s agenda package released June 4, the day Cuomo released the bill and the women’s coalition assembled to back the plan held a rally at the Capitol.
But in the new iterations of the legislation, the issue of income discrimination has been turned to studying “the impact of source of income on housing” by establishing a task force.
It is not immediately clear why the change was made.
The coalition-led Senate is expected to vote on nine out of the 10 planks in the women’s agenda, but is not expected to take up the proposal to update and strengthen the state’s abortion laws.
Jun 19th - 6:03 pm
Deputy Senate Republican Leader Tom Libous is undergoing a second round of chemotherapy, leaving him to ponder his future in elected office after the cancer that started in his prostate spread to his lungs.
The UFT endorsed Democrat Bill Thompson in the NYC mayor’s race.
Asked if he’ll personally campaign to try to convince voters this fall to pass the casino referendum, Gov. Andrew Cuomo replied: “I haven’t even thought it through yet.”
The Bloomberg administration slammed Democratic mayoral candidate/NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio’s new policy book.
“Women for Weiner” exists.
Weiner says he has the support of at least one UFT member: His mom.
Cuomo has moved to fill expired seats on the Adirondack Park Agency board, including two appointments that would replace veteran members of the commission.
A new report is designed to help the next mayor of NYC maintain Bloomberg’s “innovative edge.”
New PSC Commissioner candidate Audrey Zibelman, who currently lives in Pennsylvania, revealed she’s slated to become the body’s next chair.
Eight NYC mayoral hopefuls discussed transit this morning.
As of this morning, the state’s DAs hadn’t yet given up hope on the Public Trust Act.
Really organizers from Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns issued an apology for including the dead Boston Marathon bombing suspect on a list of gun-violence victims.
The New York Post has a new City Halll bureau chief – Yoav Gonen will replace David Seifman, who is the new political editor.
Congrats to NYT reporter (and LCA alum) Michael Cooper on his new job.
Jun 19th - 5:41 pm
There won’t be any legislative response to the flood of corruption cases that hit Albany in recent months, Gov. Andrew Cuomo acknowledged this afternoon.
Despite a well-funded effort to create a system of publicly financed campaigns and Cuomo’s own introduction of ethics and election law reform legislation, the proposals went nowhere fast.
Now Cuomo plans to investigate the Legislature through a commission empaneled under the Moreland Act which will investigate campaign-finance law violations through the Board of Elections.
“This is plan B,” Cuomo said.
For the failure of the various anti-corruption efforts, Cuomo said he wasn’t willing to form deals that would water down the proposals.
“I was not willing to compromise to a significant degree,” Cuomo said. “It was a very extensive package and I was unwilling to compromise significantly.”
The latest corruption scandals hit the Capitol in April, with the arrest of Sen. Malcolm Smith on charges he attempted to bribe his way onto the New York City mayoral ballot. Since then, two more have been arrested and a third resigned after it was revealed he secretly recorded conversations with his colleagues at the behest of prosecutors.
At issue was the belief on Cuomo’s end that lawmakers cannot “self-police.”
He’s also mindful of the criticism of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, the panel created in 2011 to policy lobbying and public officials, and is composed of appointees from the governor and the Legislature.
But the move also has the potential to blow up his relationship with state lawmakers, who worked well with the governor during an extended honeymoon period, but have recently started to resist aspects of his legislative agenda in recent months.
He insisted that relationship remains a good one, but did not directly answer whether that is at risk given the investigative panel.
Cuomo has threatened Moreland Commissions aimed at the Legislature before, and in the past Senate Republicans have threatened to exercise their own subpoena authority and investigate his administration.
Cuomo this afternoon shrugged off that possibility.
“This isn’t a tit for tat game,” he said.
Jun 19th - 4:47 pm
Not voting on the abortion provision in his women’s agenda is a vote against the legislation, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a Red Room news conference this afternoon.
“A non vote is a no vote,” Cuomo said. “There are no excuses If you do not vote, that means you did not want to vote. That means you did not want to stand up and say what your position was.”
Cuomo broke down the omnibus 10-point women’s agenda package late last night, introducing them as separate measures.
The Senate has signaled it would hold votes on nine of those bills, including measures designed to curb discrimination in the workplace through pay equity and an anti-trafficking measure.
But there is no agreement on voting for the abortion plank, which supporters say is aimed at updating the state’s abortion laws through codifying Roe v. Wade.
The Senate is led by a coalition of Republicans and four independent Democrats, with the breakaway faction led by Sen. Jeff Klein coming under intense criticism for not forcing a vote on the abortion provision.
In a similar vein, advocates for abortion rights believe that a no vote on any effort to amend the individual bills in the Senate to include the abortion plank will be considered when developing legislative scores on key issues.
It’s an approach that Cuomo seemed to side with today.
“If you are not will to stand up and vote for a pro-choice amendment, then you are not pro-choice,” he said.
In the Democratic-led Assembly, lawmakers plan to hold a vote on the full 10-point omnibus package as originally introduced by Cuomo, despite some growing pressure to hold a vote on the individual bills.
The move would make the bills non-compatible with the individual bills passing the Senate.
But Cuomo said he’s confident those different approaches can be reconciled.
“Neither side is saying — they would always reconicle the bills,” he said. “That’s not going to be an issue here. The question is what are they going to do. I’m not going to get caught in any procedural morass.”
This afternoon he insisted the move was meant to provide every avenue possible for legislators to approve the women’s agenda.
“If we pass those nine, it’s a great day for the women of the state of New York and I promise you the Assembly is not going to say we’re not going to take up the bill because we don’t like the form. That is not a real option,” Cuomo said.
Jun 19th - 1:48 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders officially announced an agreement on expanding casino gambling in New York with the goal of setting a priority on upstate casino construction should voters approve a constitutional amendment.
Lawmakers had reached a tentative agreement on casinos yesterday, with a cap on two casinos per region and more equitable revenue sharing for racinos placed near casinos.
Language for a new New York City racino was removed, but video lottery terminals for Long Island was added.
The so-called enabling legislation agreed to by top lawmakers and Cuomo comes after the governor struck deals with Indian tribes that operate casinos, granting them exclusivity zones in exchange for new revenue sharing parameters with the state and local governments.
The agreement means three areas are open for casino development in the first round of construction: the Capital Region, the Southern Tier and the Catskills.
“Today’s agreement with the Legislature would establish world-class destination gaming resorts to attract tourists to Upstate New York, generating economic activity for local businesses and creating thousands of good paying jobs where we need it most,” Cuomo said in a statement today touting the deal. “This legislation is a major step forward in our efforts to both capitalize on this economic development and tourism potential and end the trend of letting neighboring states with legalized gaming take revenue that should be going to our schools. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in the Legislature to make this economic development ‘game plan’ a reality.”
The legislation can be viewed here.
In a separate statement, Senate Racing, Wagering and Gaming Committee Chairman John Bonacic announced his support for the agreement.
Bonacic had been pushing for up to three casinos in the Catskills region, but it’s most likely two will be sited in that region.
“For fifty years, the Catskills have sought gaming as a way to grow our tourism based economy,” Bonacic said. “The gaming bill can create thousands of upstate jobs. New Yorkers now have a choice – keep our money in-state – creating jobs, improving education, and providing resort entertainment experiences; or help Connecticut, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. Now it’s up to the people.”
More on the details after the jump. More >
Jun 19th - 12:21 pm
GENDA – the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, which protects transgender people under the State Human Rights Law – has been considered a bit of a tough sell in the closely divided Senate, especially since some GOP members are still smarting from the conservative backlash over passage of the same-sex marriage bill two years ago.
But a new version of the bill, which was amended with an eye toward addressing some public safety concerns of a trio of key GOP members, was quietly introduced two days ago, and supporters say there is some last minute movement on the measure.
A source familiar with the amendment said language was added to make it clear that a “crime is a crime” even under a law that protects against bias in areas including public accommodations.
The thinking is that passage of GENDA could give a much needed progressive win to IDC Leader Jeff Klein & Co. at a time when the breakaway Democratic conference is under intense pressure from the left for (so far) failing to force a vote on some of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top agenda items, including the all-inclusive 10-point Women’s Equality Act and the campaign finance reform bill.
Also, GENDA supporters yesterday released a letter to the Senate leaders from NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, who noted that the New York City Human Rights Law was amended by Local Law 3 in 2002 to protect against bias in areas including public accommodations and no there was no “significant increase” in crime as a result of that change.
“Commissioner Kelly’s declaration that no safety risk resulted from passing a GENDA-type measure in New York City in 2002 is proof positive that GENDA can run on its record,” said Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Nathan Schaefer.
“Add Commissioner Kelly’s words to the supportive statements of six of New York’s most prominent law enforcement officials, and it’s clear that law enforcement is behind this measure. The words of Ray Kelly and six of his colleagues throw cold water on any shred of suspicion that GENDA is a threat to public safety. In fact, all evidence from law enforcement maintains that GENDA has enhanced public safety.”
The other five law enforcement officials referenced by Schaefer are from Albany, Rochester, Yonkers, Binghamton and Suffolk and Tompkins counties. Albany, Buffalo, Ithaca, New York City, Rochester, and the counties of Suffolk and Tompkins already have local GENDA laws, as do 15 states and 90 localities across the country.
In late April, the Democrat-led Assembly passed GENDA for the sixth time
fifth year in a row. If the amended bill is approved by the Senate before the week is out, the Assembly would also have to pass a same-as version before it could be sent to the governor for his consideration.
Jun 19th - 12:03 pm
In a letter sent out on Working Families Party letterhead today, a very long list of local elected officials and candidates announced their support for public financing as time is running out on any semblance of an agreement.
In all, 850 people signed the letter.
“Only a full package of reforms, with public campaign financing at its core, will return New York to a system ‘of, by, and for the people.’ We urge you to pass a complete Fair Elections package by the end of June that includes public campaign financing; enhanced transparency and accountability; andlower limits on the size of all political donations,” the officials and candidates wrote in the letter.
Indeed, any sort of election law or ethics overhaul legislation is yet to be agreed to as the legislatives session enters its final 48 to 72 hours in Albany. Cuomo is planning to begin a Moreland Act Commission to investigate campaign finance violations at the state Board of Elections if lawmakers do not approve an ethics package.
The letter comes as the New York-based Organizing for Action twitter feed pushes both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders on the issue.
OFA is the spin-off lobbying entity from President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign and is involved in the Fair Elections coalition.
Jun 19th - 11:42 am
Tax Free NY is dead, long live START-UP NY.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s program to stimulate the upstate economy has been given a new name after lawmakers and the administration last night agreed to modifications to the economic-development program.
Cuomo had aimed to keep much of the focus on upstate and that portion has largely stayed in tact, with SUNY campuses around the state becoming tax-free zones for new businesses that create jobs.
The agreed-to bill does include accomodations for downstate.
One CUNY campus in all five boroughs would receive a tax-free zone, which will be designated in an economically distressed community in the area.
Of the three million square feet designated for the program, 75,000 is designated for the metropolitan area, including New York City and the immediate suburban counites.
For the downstate businesses, the companies taking advantage of the program must be in the high-tech industry.
Senate Co-Presidents Jeff Klein and Dean Skelos had attempted to add some downstate benefits to the program, given they represent the Bronx and Nassau County respectively.
The measure also boosts the already existing Excelsior Jobs program, which was meant as a replacement for the defunct Empire Zones program, by reducing by half the number of job requirements for taking part in the incentive program.
Here’s the bill memo:
Jun 19th - 11:27 am
The latest TV ad from Democratic Nassau County executive hopeful Adam Haber aims to paint intraparty foe Tom Suozzi as a political insider who has mispent taxpayer dollars and sought to enrich himself.
Suozzi is on the comeback trail, seeking to challenge Republican incumbent Ed Mangano this fall after his surprise defeat four years ago.
The latest spot from Haber features men gathered around a restaurant table slurping spaghetti and toasting Suozzi with red wine.
The message: “Tom Suozzi: Good for hacks, bad for Nassau.”
“This ad highlights some of the ways Tom Suozzi misused taxpayer dollars for his personal gain: over a million dollars in raises for political insiders, a $65,000 raise for himself, half a million dollars spent on police detectives as his personal chauffeurs, and raising taxes $120 million and leaving the county with massive debt,” said Campaign Manager Justin Myers. “Whether as an elected official or as a corporate lawyer denying workers their hard earned wages, it is clear that Tom Suozzi puts himself and his cronies first.”
Here’s the ad:
Jun 19th - 11:03 am
What appear to be stunning, grand developments in Albany — especially during the final weeks of the legislative session — can often appear to be a mirage.
Reporters, stranded in a desert in search for water, will often drink sand.
And for now, it appears the effort to break the women’s agenda into 10 separate pieces of legislation is just that: A move that suggests a major break through, but in reality may actually change very little.
To recap: As most were settling in for a night’s sleep or watching what was left of the NBA FInals, Gov. Andrew Cuomo re-introduced his 10-point women’s agenda, breaking down an omnibus package that had been formally introduced only 12 hours previous into its basic, individual components.
The package includes measures aimed at shoring up anti-discrimination efforts in the workplace, housing, pay equity, anti-human trafficking provisions, as well as the measure to update and strengthen the state’s abortion laws through the codification of Roe v. Wade.
That the bill is being broken down does not mean the abortion provision will be voted on the coalition-controlled Senate.
Senate GOP spokeswoman Kelly Cummings may that clear late last night after Cuomo formally introduced the new bills.
“Our position has not changed. We expect to pass 9 of the 10 elements of the Governor’s women’s equality agenda, however, we continue to oppose bringing the abortion provision to the floor,” Cummings said.
And what about the Democratic-led Assembly (yes, sometimes our focus is so heavy on the narrowly divided Senate, we forget about that other chamber down the hall)?
A spokesman for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver last night told The Daily News’ Ken Lovett that no deal is in place to pass the 10 bills separately, meaning there will be no matching legislation approved, potentially rendering all this rather moot.
A caveat here is that all of this can change in an instant with a last minute deal being struck. It is still entirely possible the Assembly will take up nine out of 10.
It’s also entirely possible the Assembly Democrats do not want to sit through hours upon hours of debate from their Republican colleagues, who are sure to exercise the only lever of real power they have in Albany and debate each measure individually.
A warning: Do not play a drinking game that involves taking a shot when hearing “Vito Lopez” during the Assembly debate on the women’s legislation since the Republicans will surely want to bring up the disgraced former lawmaker to embarrass Silver and his conference.
The real question in all of this is who blinked in wanting to see individual measures taken up in the Legislature. Up until late yesterday, the plan from Cuomo and the women’s groups had been 10 or bust. The abortion provision notwithstanding, the remaining agenda had been largely backed by state lawmakers.
Amazingly, Republicans seemed ready to vote on pay equity, a measure opposed by the business community.
Breaking the pieces down could break a logjam on the other nine. Or it could simply be a last-ditch show of effort to get something — anything — out of the agenda.