Andrea Stewart-Cousins

New York State Senate / youtube

Two bills approved Wednesday in the state Senate could affect President Donald Trump and his associates.

One would permit the state tax department to give the president’s New York tax returns to congressional committees. The other would ensure that anyone the president pardons for federal crimes could still be prosecuted for crimes committed in New York state. 

Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins predicted the measures will have a "major impact both nationally and in New York state."

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The planning work has started on the first STEAM school in central New York. The former Central Tech building on South Salina Street in Syracuse, should be hosting its first students in the science, technology, engineering, arts and math high school by the fall of 2021.

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Two days before the due date, the New York state budget is starting to take shape, as lawmakers planned to return to the Capitol for a rare Sunday session to begin voting to meet the April 1 deadline.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News (file photo)

The new state budget, due April 1, will be first one decided by an all-Democratic state legislature in a decade, after Republicans ruled the Senate for most of the past century. And while the leadership of the Senate and Assembly have been newly reasserting their governing powers, when it comes to the spending plan, there’s only so far that they can go in their disagreements with Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

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Gambling casino companies are pressing Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislature to allow them to open gaming centers in New York City as part of the new state budget. There are a number of obstacles to overcome, but the proposal may seem tempting to lawmakers, who are strapped for cash this year.

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Budget talks are intensifying in Albany as the deadline nears, and they are revealing tensions and divides between Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the all-Democratic State Legislature.

Cuomo began the week with a list of items that he said he needs in the state budget in order for him to agree to it.

They include a property tax cap, criminal justice reforms and a congestion pricing plan for parts of Manhattan to help pay for fixing public transit.

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The state Senate and Assembly are due to release their own versions of the state budget this week. They come as Gov. Andrew Cuomo is demanding that a number of unrelated provisions be included in the spending plan. Without them, he threatens, the budget could be late.

The governor’s budget director, Robert Mujica, listed in a statement the items that he said must be in the budget in order for Cuomo to agree to it. They include a congestion pricing plan in Manhattan to help pay to fix the subway system, and making the temporary property tax cap permanent.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News (file photo)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his Democratic colleagues in the legislature are at odds over agreement on the amount of revenues New York has to spend on health care, education, and other items in the state budget, which is due in less than a month. The State Comptroller may have to step in and decide if there’s no agreement by the end of the day Tuesday.

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Amazon announced Thursday it is pulling its plan to build a second headquarters in New York City, citing opposition by some state and local politicians.

The company, in a statement, said “after much thought and deliberation,” it has decided not to move forward with plans to build a headquarters for Amazon in Long Island City, Queens.

The statement pointed out that a recent poll showed 70 percent of New Yorkers wanted the project, but Amazon said “a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us.”

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

 

The New York State Legislature built on the state’s 2013 gun control laws Tuesday, passing measures to extend the waiting period for background checks for some purchasers and to forbid teachers from bringing guns to school.

At a news conference before the measures were voted on, Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said there have been 27 mass shootings in the U.S. already in 2019.

“Every day, it seems, we wake up to the headlines of another mass shooting, another horrific gun crime,” Stewart-Cousins said.

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The New York State Legislature voted Tuesday to codify the abortion rights in the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade into New York law, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed it into law immediately after the vote.  

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The New York State Legislature has been more active during the first few days of the session than it has in many years.

On Monday, both houses of the Legislature got together and approved matching bills to expand voting in the state beyond just Election Day to 11 full days.

On Tuesday, they extended rights in employment and housing to transgender New Yorkers. The bills are now being sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign or veto.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

The Senate and Assembly approved measures Monday to expand the window in which New Yorkers can vote in elections, from one day to 11 days. The action comes at the start at what is anticipated to be a busy week at the State Capitol that includes the release of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget plan.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

The New York state legislative session began with ceremonies and excitement as Democrats claimed their solid majority in the state Senate and made history with the election of a new female leader.

They promised to act quickly on a long list of progressive issues, including strengthening abortion rights and expanding voter access.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, in her role as Senate president, was the first to introduce Andrea Stewart-Cousins in her groundbreaking role as the first woman and African-American woman to serve as Senate leader in the body’s 241 years.

New York State Senate

On Jan. 9, Democrats will officially take over the state Senate for only the third time in more than a century.

They expect to act quickly on a number of measures that have been bottled up in the chamber for years — but there could be some friction between them and the state’s Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he backs a pay commission’s recommendation that he and the Legislature receive a more than 60 percent pay increase over the next three years, which would make Cuomo the highest-paid governor in the nation.

Under the recommendations of the pay commission, released Monday evening, the pay of state senators and Assembly members would increase from the current $79,500 base salary to $110,000 on Jan. 1 and rise to $130,000 a year by January 2021.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News (file photo)

Democrats who will run the state Senate in January say a top priority will be to expand access to voting in New York. Advocates say there are several steps they can take.

The incoming Senate leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, said New York is one of the last states in the nation that hasn’t expanded voting beyond Election Day. She said that by the next presidential election in 2020, that will change and New Yorkers will have more options to vote early and eventually, vote by mail from home.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

The New York State Senate made history on two fronts Monday as it elected Andrea Stewart-Cousins to be the first woman, and the first African-American woman, to head the chamber in January.

Stewart-Cousins, who has led the Democrats in the Senate since 2012, is poised to become the Senate’s next majority party leader after Democrats won 40 seats in November’s elections. She was a teacher and a journalist before being elected to represent Yonkers in the Westchester County Legislature.

Andrea Stewart-Cousins / Facebook

State Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who will become the first woman and African-American woman to lead the New York state Senate come January, said she hopes to take action quickly on long stalled measures in the Senate. She predicts that by the 2020 presidential election, New Yorkers will finally have early voting.

Stewart-Cousins will lead largest Democratic majority in the Senate in over a century, with at least 40 Democrats in her conference. 32 are needed to form a leadership coalition.

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The New York legislative session is due to end in three weeks, but some state lawmakers are talking about leaving a week early because they believe they will accomplish so little in that time. 

Political gridlock in the state Senate and worsening relations between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and majority-party Senate Republicans have led some lawmakers to say that perhaps they should end the session early.

But Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said his Democratic members are staying until at least June 20, the scheduled end of the session.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

The newly reunited Senate Democrats held their first press conference, where they focused on what they said was their No. 1 priority — a package of bills making it easier to vote.

Senate Democrats conducted a survey of eligible voters in New York on their voting patterns. Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said it confirms what she already knew: New York’s voter participation rate is abysmal. The state ranks 41st of all 50 states in the 2016 elections, with a voting rate of 57 percent.

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Two warring factions of Democrats in the state Senate are rejoining forces as pressure has mounted from the party’s left-leaning base for a reunification.

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A left-leaning group is asking the state’s top politicians to give back donations from a hedge fund manager who made racially charged comments against New York’s only black female legislative leader. But so far, most — including Gov. Andrew Cuomo — have held on to the money.

Daniel Loeb, the founder and chief executive of the multi-billion-dollar hedge fund Third Point LLC, received attention when, in a Facebook post, he compared the leader of the state Senate Democrats, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, to the Ku Klux Klan.

New York State Senate

There’s growing pressure on a group of breakaway Democrats in the state Senate to reunite with the mainstream Democrats and form a majority to rule the Senate.

At a rally in Harlem, many of the state’s top African-American politicians, chanting “Andrea, Andrea,” voiced their support for the current leader of Senate Democrats, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, to become the majority leader of the Senate.

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The New York State Legislature finally ended its 2017 session, after the Assembly voted overnight on a privately negotiated omnibus bill, and the Senate finally finished on Thursday afternoon. The messy process drew condemnation from both sides of the aisle.

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There was a flurry of activity — along with threats and ultimatums — on Monday at the state Capitol, but there were no agreements on major issues as the session draws to a scheduled close on Wednesday.

Victims of childhood sexual abuse remain hopeful that there could be a vote in the state Senate on a measure to extend the statute of limitations to age 28 for criminal proceedings and age 50 for civil proceedings.

Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins urged the majority coalition of Republicans and breakaway Democrats to allow the bill on the floor for a vote.

A faction of breakaway Democrats known as the Independent Democratic Conference has been in the news lately for receiving stipend payments for chairing committees that the Senators in fact did not chair. Here’s a look at the history of this power-brokering group of senators and what may be in store for its future.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

The leader of the state Senate Independent Democratic Conference for the first time publicly answered questions from the media about news stories that some of his members received stipends for committee chair positions that they do not actually hold.

State Sen. Jeff Klein defended the practice, while the leader of the Senate Democrats is calling for an investigation.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Democrats in the state Senate remain hopeful that they will regain the numerical majority and control of the chamber after a special election is held later this month. But Gov. Andrew Cuomo dampened those expectations, in remarks made Wednesday in New York City.

Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said she expects the seat of former Sen. Bill Perkins, a Harlem Democrat who won a city council post, to be filled by another mainstream Democrat when a special election is held on May 23.

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New York state will avoid a government shutdown after lawmakers approved a two-month stopgap spending plan.

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