New York state Senate

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

Now that Democrats control the New York State Senate and Assembly, party leaders and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo have promised to push forward a progressive agenda. And the progressive groups that helped elect that majority say they are going to ensure that promise was more than just campaign rhetoric.

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.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News (file photo)

Democratic state legislators are beginning the New Year with some resentment towards Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo over a deal that gives them a big raise – but comes with several strings attached.

In March 2018, Cuomo and the legislature agreed to set up a pay commission to examine the salaries of Senators, Assemblymembers, and the Governor, who had not seen a raise in 20 years.

The deal permitted the commission to have the final say on whether pay would go up, so lawmakers would not be required to cast a potentially unpopular vote to raise their own salaries.

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.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO Public Media

One of the longest serving elected officials in central New York is retiring at the end of the month. State Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) has some thoughts about how those who follow him can make politics a productive profession.

“I’m practicing retirement, and I think I’m going to be very good at it,” DeFrancisco said.

Dave Valesky (D-Oneida) has represented the state Senate's 53rd District since 2005, but is leaving office after being defeated in a September primary by state Senator-elect Rachel May. This week, Valesky joins grant Reeher to talk about his career in the Senate, and politics in general in Albany. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Proponents of election reform in central New York are urging lawmakers to take action on the issue when they go back to Albany in January.  

With Democrats in control of the State Senate for the first time in several years, there’s optimism that a fair elections package can make it through the legislature. The proposal would create small donor public financing, limit the influence of big money, and make it easier to vote, by way of automatic voter registration and early voting, among other things.

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.

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Some newly elected state Senate Democrats want New York to adopt a single-payer health care system, but that may put them at odds with other Democratic Senators who do not want to raise taxes.

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.

nysenate.gov

State Senate GOP Leader John Flanagan was re-elected as the leader of the Republicans in that chamber on Friday, surviving a challenge from upstate Sen. Cathy Young of Olean.

But come January, he’ll be in charge of the minority party. In elections earlier this month, Democrats won enough seats to take control of the Senate for only the third time in the last century. 

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Progressive-leaning groups said Wednesday that now that more Democrats have been elected to the state Senate, they’ll hold the legislators’ feet to the fire in January to ensure that measures like bail reform and legalizing marijuana are swiftly enacted into law.

New York State Senate

When the state Legislature convenes for the 2019 session, one of the first items that’s expected to be voted on is the Reproductive Health Act. It would codify the abortion rights in the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade into New York state law.

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.

NPR

The latest results of races in New York state for state Assembly and Senate, as well as results in the races for Onondaga County sheriff and Syracuse Common Council at-large seat. Check back as updates are available.

New York State Senate

Democrats are leading in the polls in New York’s statewide races for governor, attorney general and comptroller. The most heated contests this Election Day are in the state Senate, where Democrats are trying to win enough seats to take control of the chamber away from Republicans.

WRVO News

Central New York Democratic State Sen. Dave Valesky, first elected in 2004, was one of six members of the former Independent Democratic Conference to lose in primaries this year. That has opened the 53rd Senate District seat up to Democrat Rachel May, who defeated Valesky, and Republican Janet Burman, both of whom live in Syracuse. The winner will move the district from the center to either a more progressive or conservative ideology.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

NEW YORK (AP) — Former New York state Senate leader Dean Skelos was sentenced to four years and three months in prison Wednesday after his conviction on public corruption charges.

U.S. District Judge Kimba M. Wood announced the penalty for the longtime Republican powerbroker, citing his health challenges at age 70 as reason to reduce his sentence from the five years she gave him previously.

She said she would have given him only four years in prison, except he lied and distorted truth on the witness stand.

WRVO News

The upcoming midterm elections are the most closely watched midterms in at least a generation. In New York, control of the state Senate hangs in the balance. Republicans hold a slim one seat majority in the chamber, and one race could flip control of the Senate to the Democrats. This week, Grant Reeher moderates a debate between the two candidates running in the 53rd District: Democrat Rachel May, who defeated 7 term incumbent Dave Valesky in a September primary, and Republican Janet Burman. 

New York State Senate

The state Senate races are among the closest contests in New York on Nov. 6. Democrats need just one seat to take the majority away from Republicans. Spending on the races is growing intense, and accusations are flying.

Senate Democrats in the past have been outspent by the Republicans, who are in power in the chamber. This year, Democrats still have a smaller campaign account, with about $700,000 still on hand, according to filings with the state Board of Elections. The GOP Senate campaign committee had $2.3 million at the time of the last filing in early October. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Democratic candidate for New York State Senate in the 50th District, John Mannion, said the state needs a more coordinated effort to address harmful algal blooms in lakes. Mannion, a 25-year biology teacher at West Genesee High School, said volunteer groups and local representatives believe they are in a crisis situation.

Kathy Gorr said residents living alongside Skaneateles Lake, have been very concerned about its water quality since harmful algal blooms appeared last year.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

NEW YORK (AP) — A former New York state Senate leader and his son were convicted on Tuesday of extortion, wire fraud and bribery charges of pressuring businesses to give the son no-show jobs or else risk losing the powerful Republican’s political support.

A jury in federal court in Manhattan deliberated over the course of four days before reaching the verdict at the trial of Dean Skelos and his son, Adam. The top count, extortion, carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison but they are likely to receive far less time.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

For the second day in a row, Gov. Andrew Cuomo held rallies criticizing President Donald Trump’s choice for the U.S. Supreme Court and urging action on a measure that would protect the right to choose abortion in New York.

Cuomo, in Westchester and on Long Island, continued to urge the Republicans who lead the state Senate to return to the Capitol and vote on a measure that would codify the abortion rights in the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade and modernize New York’s 1970 laws that legalized abortion.

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The 2018 legislative session ended quietly, as Democrats and Republicans in the legislature failed to agree on major issues and exited the Capitol until next January. Although Gov. Cuomo is now leaving the door open to calling them back.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News

Lawmakers busily passed bills on the final day of the 2018 legislative session, but as the final evening approached they were unable to reach agreement on many major issues.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

State Sen. Dave Valesky (D-Oneida) has his first Republican opponent in eight years. Economist Janet Burman has decided to run against Valesky, in a district that stretches from the city of Rome in Oneida County into Cayuga County, and includes half of the city of Syracuse.

Burman said she and her husband almost decided to leave New York for a lower taxed state two years ago, but decided against it, because they loved Syracuse. Now she says she’s going to try to do something about those taxes, by running for state Senate.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News (file photo)

The business of the evenly divided New York State Senate remains stalled, as advocacy groups pressed for their bills to be acted on before the session ends in two weeks.

New York State Senate

In a spirited floor fight in the state Senate, Democrats tried once again but failed to get a vote on an amendment on women’s reproductive health care.

The argument over Senate procedure led to accusations that some Republican senators were trying to “mansplain” the rules to the state’s female lieutenant governor.

-JvL- / Flickr

The New York State Senate is experiencing its worst gridlock in nine years, with the two major factions tied at 31 members each. No legislation is moving through the chamber, but there’s lots of finger-pointing.

Tempers flared on the Senate floor as Democrat Michael Gianaris blamed the GOP for the stalemate.

“They don’t have the votes to pass a single thing in this chamber,” Gianaris shouted.

After two days of infighting, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan was frustrated.

“We saw the Democrats paying shameless games with people’s lives,” he said.

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