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New York State Assembly

WNYC News

NYS Budget Talks Get Real as Deadline Nears

Monday, March 10, 2014

Budget negotiations are expected to get serious at the New York State Capitol this week, with the spending plan due at the end of the month.

The state Senate and Assembly are due to put out separate budget resolutions Wednesday, the first step toward reaching a final deal with Gov. ...

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WNYC News

Silver Should Step Down as Speaker: Q Poll

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

WNYC

A new Quinnipiac Poll found a majority of New York voters think Sheldon Silver should step down as speaker of the New York State Assembly.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Reform in Albany?

Thursday, May 09, 2013

As the wire taps yield more unsavory stories from Albany, Gerald Benjamin, associate vice president for regional engagement and director of the Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach, and author of The Oxford Handbook of New York State Government and Politics, talks about the chances of reform, but also asks if prosecutors have too much leeway.

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WNYC News

Another NY Pol Arrested on Corruption Charges

Thursday, April 04, 2013

For the second time in a week, a New York state politician has been arrested in connection with a corruption charge.  Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, a Democrat, was arrested, federal authorities announced Thursday.

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WNYC News

NYS Legislature Passes $141B Budget

Friday, March 29, 2013

For the third year in a row, the New York State Legislature passed an on-time budget.

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WNYC News

Assembly Staffer Defends Speaker Silver By Posting Web Comments as a Woman

Monday, September 24, 2012

A New York State Assembly staffer has admitted he impersonated a woman who blogged to defend embattled Speaker Sheldon Silver. He'll be keeping his job, but with some restrictions.

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The Empire

New York State Senate and Assembly special election returns

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

SPECIAL ELECTION RESULTS FOR THE STATE SENATE

SPECIAL ELECTION RESULTS FOR THE ASSEMBLY

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The Empire

Legislative minority Caucus vows to vote against redistricting proposal

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Karen DeWitt / NYS Public Radio

The Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus--made up of members of both the state Senate and Assembly--released a statement Wednesday saying it plans to vote against the legislative redistricting proposal.

"These lines crack and pack minorities with blatant disregard to communities of interest and in some instances county lines," the statement said. "The Caucus sees it as an unparalleled power grab by the Senate Republicans to maintain their current strong holds and dilute the power of minority communities. Although it has been the traditional practice to allow each house of the legislature to determine its own lines, standing idly by as theses lines are proposed would be an injustice to our constituents."

The caucus is led by Brooklyn Democratic Assemblyman Karim Camara.

The announcement comes in anticipation of a vote on the proposal, drawn up by the majority parties in the Senate and Assembly, this week. While the Caucus members from the Senate are all in the minority party, the 34 members from the Assembly could be a problem for the Democratic leadership. Assembly Republicans, joined by the Caucus and other Democrats who have vowed to vote against the lines, could form a large enough bloc to strike down the proposal.

Members of the Caucus are holding a press conference at 10:30 am and we'll update this post after.

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The Empire

Redistricting analysis shows Assembly gerrymandering too, not surprising Kolb

Monday, January 30, 2012

Coverage of the redistricting process—including the coverage here--tends to focus on the state Senate. With the margin between the majority and minority party razor thin, overt attempts by the Senate Republicans to keep control are vividly evident.

But that doesn’t mean Democrats in the Assembly aren’t guilty of carving out election districts for maximum partisan benefit in the draft maps released last week.

In a presentation in Albany this morning, Common Cause’s Susan Lerner presented a PowerPoint presentation that showed what they say are Assembly districts as egregious as some of their counterparts in the Senate.

In Queens, Common Cause found the conservative-leaning Middle Village area chopped up into four separate districts to keep Democratic officials in those seats, as is the case today.

Courtesy of Common Cause.

Upstate, Assembly Democrats continue to divide up cities like Albany and Rochester to help dilute the impact of conservative voters. Rochester is divided into three separate districts, all of which are represented by Democrats. A similar situation is proposed for Syracuse.

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The Empire

LATFOR draft maps are released for both Senate and Assembly--updated

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The wait is over!

Draft maps have been placed on the New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment website. A statement from the task force, co-chaired by Republican Senator Michael Nozzolio and Democratic Assemblyman John McEneny, called the plan "fair, legal and protects minority voting interests."

Not surprisingly, Senate Democrats are not taking the lines well.

"This Republican proposal contains none of the criteria reformers sought and none of the reforms the Governor included in his proposed legislation," Senate Minority Leader John Sampson said in a statement "The Republican-proposed districts are not compact, vary widely in population, and divide communities of interest in blatantly political ways."

Former mayor Ed Koch, who saw Senate Republicans renege on their promise of an independent, non-partisan redistricting process, is also blasting the plans.

"No surprise, I am disappointed in this result and in the dishonorable lawmakers who openly pledged to do things differently this year, and then reneged when it wasn't to their political advantage. What a shame: this is not reform in letter or in spirit," Koch said in a statement. "Today, victory lies with the Enemies of Reform."

He called on Governor Cuomo to keep his promise of vetoing maps that were not independently drawn an overtly partisan.

Governor Cuomo ran for office pledging to reform the way our state works, and to date, he's kept his word," Koch said. "Just this afternoon the Governor said his position has not changed, which I applaud him for, and I have every confidence he will keep his word to the people of New York and veto the proposed maps."

The images for the Senate districts are below. The Assembly districts are after the jump:

New York City's proposed Senate lines ( )

Long Island's proposed Senate lines ( )

Upstate New York's proposed Senate lines ( )

[caption id="attachment_13468" align="center" width="620" caption="New York City's proposed Assembly lines" credit=" "]

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The Empire

Assembly to head back to Albany for special session next week

Friday, December 02, 2011

By Karen DeWitt, New York Public Radio Capital Bureau Chief

The New York State Assembly is coming back to Albany next Tuesday for an afternoon conference, and possibly a special session. Governor Andrew Cuomo has been seeking help from the legislature to close the growing budget deficit.

Assemblymembers have been told by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to come back to the Capitol for a 3 pm conference on Tuesday. They will go into session afterward if there’s anything at that time to vote on.

Governor Cuomo said earlier this week that “there is a need” for a special legislative session to address a $350 million dollar budget gap in the current fiscal year, and a growing $3.5 billion dollar gap for next year.

Among the items Cuomo is seeking is an overhaul of the state’s tax code, with could result in higher taxes on the wealthy, along with tax incentives to help spur job creation. Other steps could include budget cuts or one time revenue raisers. Another option, Cuomo says, is that he could ask the legislature for authority to make the decisions on specific budget cuts.

A Senate source on the Democratic side said they was confident they would be back as well. However, Senate Republicans say they have not scheduled anything for next week at this time.

With Colby Hamilton

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The Empire

Lovin' the Gov'na: voters continue to give Cuomo high marks

Friday, November 04, 2011

Courtsey of the Governor's office

Governor Andrew Cuomo continues his string of good poll numbers. A NY1/YNN-Marist Poll released today says 55 percent of New York voters say the Governor is doing a good or excellent job. According to the poll 70 percent of those surveyed said they had a favorable impression of Cuomo.

“Governor Cuomo is successfully navigating against a difficult economic current,” Lee Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, said in a statement. “What makes his numbers particularly impressive is his popularity despite the anti-government, anti-incumbent sentiment in our politics today.”

Case in point: Only about 20 percent of voters think either the Assembly or the State Senate is doing an excellent or good job.

Part of the Governor's popularity is likely stemming from the impression voters have that he's kept his campaign promises, with 65 percent of those surveyed saying he did. His ability to connect word and deed in the voters eyes helping his image as an Albany reformer (63 percent say he's changing the capital for the better) who is the right sort of leader for the state (75 percent).

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The Empire

Despite assurances, Senate Republicans show little movement on prisoner reallocation

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Senator Nozzolio at the most recent LATFOR meeting on Staten Island. (Courtesy of LATFOR)

Last week,a judge heard oral arguments on whether a law requiring New York State prisoners to be counted where they lived prior to being incarcerated for the purposes of redistricting should be upheld. Senate Republicans, who brought the suit, could really use a ruling against the law. Tens of thousands of upstate prisoners have helped boost predominantly rural areas population numbers. The effect has been more upstate seats, held mostly by Republicans.

But until a ruling is handed by the judge in the case—which could be as least as two months from now—LATFOR is bound by the law to draw lines that count prisoners in their communities. All those involved say they’re committed to following the law. That includes Republican Senator Michael Nozzolio, who, in a September 30 letter to the other members of the committee, said LATFOR should “immediately begin” the technical process of correctly identifying which prisoners should be counted where.

The thing is that Nozzolio’s colleagues in the State Assembly, according to documents, have already finished the process, and have submitted the geocoded prisoner database to the LATFOR committee. The Senate Republicans have known their Assembly colleagues have been working on complying with the law since at least the August 10 LATFOR meeting in White Plains, when a representative for the Assembly discussed where they were at in the process with Nozzolio.

A few weeks later they finished, producing documents that detail how they were able to identify 70 percent of prisoners out of the 58,000 in the state could be counted. The other 30 percent were either out-of-state prisoners, Federally incarcerated, or had invalid address for whatever reason.

That was the Friday before Labor Day. Weeks later Nozzolio issued his letter without a mention of the work done by the Assembly. In fact, looking at the letter, it could be read to suggest the Senator is calling for the process to start all over again.

But, as people testifying at LATFOR meetings have noted, the entire process is under both a compressed time frame and a tremendous amount of uncertainty. There’s the Federally mandated—and currently being litigated—requirement that New York move its primary date up in time for overseas service members to mail back ballots. When you add the promised veto by Governor Cuomo, the potential law suits, the time needed before deadlines for candidates to get on the ballot, and a picture of chaos begins to emerge.

With all this uncertainty it’s interesting that Nozzolio and the Senate Republicans—who have the most to lose from prisoner reapportionment—are saying they’ll conform to the law, but in practice aren’t taking the easy road. There doesn’t seem to be any actions accompanying Nozzolio’s letter from last month. A key member of LATFOR wasn’t present at the last public hearing, meaning any discussion about the reallocation process won’t happen until—at the earliest—at the October 27 meeting in Old Westbury.

I reached out to Nozzolio’s office a bit ago to find out why the Senator didn’t mention the work done by Assembly Democrats and to find out what, exactly, would impede his colleagues in the Senate from accepting their methodology. I’ll post their response.

After the jump are the Assembly's documents describing the process they used for reallocating prisoners.

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The Empire

Civil rights advocates propose their own redistricting maps

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

As we've noted before, the redistricting process is more than simply Democrats and Republicans carving out the most advantageous districts for themselves. For communities--especially ones that have historically been under served--this once-a-decade process provides an opportunity to push for political boundaries that take their interests into account.

This week a coalition of minority civil rights and social justice groups made a direct appeal for those interests. The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, LatinoJustice and others have come out with their own maps for New York State Assembly and Senate districts. The commission in charge of drawing the lines, LATFOR, has put out a call for maps previously.

These "communities of interest" maps stuck to the basic redistricting rules--no more than a plus or minus five percent population variance, conforming to the Federal Civil Rights Act rules on protected minority communities (duh), while trying to create districts in New York City that, in their words, "reflects [the city's] changing demographics and protects the voting rights of Blacks, Latinos, and Asian Americans."

The new maps, in essence, boost the number of minority majority districts. Specifically:

  • Increasing the number of majority Asian American Assembly districts from one to four--three in Queens and one in Brooklyn.
  • Creating a majority Asian American Senate district out in Flushing, and increasing the percentages of Asians in two other districts. Currently there are no majority Asian American Senate districts in the city.
  • Going from two to five majority Latino Assembly districts, with two districts being created in northern Manhattan and one out in Queens.
  • In the Senate, there would be two additional Latino majority districts--on centered in the Bushwick neighborhood in Brooklyn, and a redrawn district in the Bronx.
  • Majority African American districts throughout the city have been preserved.

The new maps are below.

According to AALDEF's executive director Margaret Fung, the maps have been submitted to the LATFOR committee. She said the committee was expected to present its first draft map in early November, with a new round of public comment after. After that the process often devolves into legal limbo, as the Department of Justice has to review and clear the lines, and lawsuits are filed by groups who felt the process violated their rights.

It's through that lens these maps can be partially viewed.

"If for some reason the legislature does not adopt a map that protects the voting rights of communities of color, we would obviously have to consider taking legal action," Fung said.

This isn't to say LATFOR won't take the maps into account. In fact, it could make their lives a lot easier. Of course, there is one group who will likely not be pleased by the maps: the incumbents who could see radically different voters under these new lines. All of the districts were drawn, as they say, "incumbent blind."

Unity Map Packet (3)

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The Empire

Deacy opens Assembly district office in Rockaway

Saturday, August 06, 2011

(Colby Hamilton)

Around the corner the last stop of the shuttle train that connects the western part of the Rockaway peninsula to the Manhattan-bound A train, in the middle of a strip of single floor store fronts, Republican volunteers and leaders from Brooklyn and Queens joined Jane Deacy this morning as she opened the doors of her campaign office for the 23rd Assembly District.

"Deacy wants to go to Albany," the candidate, whose name is pronounced like the nation's capitol, told about 40 supporters. Deacy is an energetic former police officer and school teacher, as well as the local Republican party leader. She's facing off against Phil Goldfeder, a former aide to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and US Senator Charles Schumer.

Deacy, like her Republican compatriot for congress, Bob Turner, has an uphill battle: her district is 2-to-1 Democrat. But that's not as bad as local City Council District 32, which is almost 3-to-1. Republican Eric Ulrich won there back in another special election in 2009, and went on to retain it in the general election in 2010.

Given this backdrop, Ulrich's success presents a possible road map for Deacy who talked about small-bore local issues--the threat closing of Peninsula Hospital posed to the seniors, the need for both jobs and security as the nearby Aqueduct Race Track racino looks to move forward--while imploring supporters to help her build an on-the-ground volunteer network throughout the district.

"I'm asking for you to tell 100 people, and for them to tell 100 people, and for them to tell 100 people," she said. "I'm also a real estate broker and I'll tell you this: the best customer you get is someone who comes as a referral. If you ask people to support me because they'll understand that you know the issues, and that you are involved."

If there's a path to victory, it will surely rely on the evolving special election expertise of those connected to Ulrich. He is the indisputable glue holding the local Republicans together, and a rising star in local politics. He casts Deacy as the straight-talking anti-insider--"a breath of fresh air." Multiple speakers compared Deacy's outsider status to the well-connected Goldfeder, who left Schumer's office to run the race for Assembly.

"Her honesty is going to resonate with the voters," Ulrich said. "She doesn't have all the answers and you're not going to agree with her 100 percent of the time but she's not there to blow any smoke."

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The Empire

New York State legislators get big boost as Cuomo's favorable ratings inch even higher in latest Siena poll

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mr. Popularity, Governor Andrew CuomoHalf of all New Yorkers believe the 2011 state legislative session put New York on the right track according to the latest Siena Research Institute poll released this morning.

Governor Andrew Cuomo's approval ratings squeaked up even higher to 71 percent after what many have hailed as a highly successful first session, while the oft-maligned state legislature managed to improve in the eyes of a sizable number of New Yorkers.The state senate's favorable rating improved by 11 points, from 30 percent to 41, while the assembly shot up by 12 points, from a 26 percent favorable rating to 38. Of course, both houses are still unfavorable rating by a plurality of New Yorkers according to poll results.

“For years, the word most often heard to describe state government generally and the Legislature specifically has been ‘dysfunctional.’ In voters’ minds, the Governor and  Legislature took a step forward this year to change that,” Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg said in a press release. “Nearly half--including at least 45 percent of Democrats, Republicans and voters from every region--said this year’s session shows that state government has become less dysfunctional, while only 18 percent said it has become more dysfunctional and 28 percent said the level of dysfunction remains unchanged.”

Both ethics reform and tax cap legislation scored big points for putting the state on the right track according to the poll. A plurality of voters--46 percent--said the same for same-sex legislation, while 23 percent--the most for any of the pieces of legislation in the poll--thought it made no difference at all.

While Cuomo remains very popular, New Yorkers said the governor should give potential presidential ambitions a break. “Presidential speculation is nothing new for New York governors, however, voters think it is way too early to start printing Cuomo 2016 bumper stickers,” Greenberg said in the release.  “At least 80 percent of voters from every party and region say that the speculation is premature and he should focus on his responsibilities as governor."

Overall, 48 percent of New Yorkers say we're headed on the right track--the best numbers since February 2007 according to the press release. The poll had a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percent.

PDF of the poll results below.

SNY0711 Crosstabs

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It's A Free Country ®

Where Prisoners Get Counted as Citizens and Why it Matters

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Justice Department just approved New York's right to count prisoners in their home districts, rather than in their county of incarceration. How will that change the state legislative map in a year when redistricting reform already has blood boiling in Albany?

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It's A Free Country ®

What's Stopping Gay Marriage From Being Legal in New York?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Public support for same sex marriage in New York state is at an unprecedented 58 percent. Only 36 percent of New Yorkers are opposed. Taking those numbers along with Governor Andrew Cuomo's recent insistence upon marriage equality legislation getting passed this year, it suddenly seems likely that the state could see another vote on the issue sooner rather than later.

But we've been down this road before, and same sex marriage can't seem to get past the State Senate. With the Assembly perennially in favor, and public support ever increasing, what seems to be the trouble? 

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WNYC News

Legislature Rejects Paterson's Deficit-Closing Bills

Monday, November 29, 2010

WNYC

The New York State Legislature met in a special session called by Governor David Paterson, but failed to act on the governor's bills to close the latest $315 million budget gap.

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