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State Government Editor of The Gotham Gazette
On a day when a Siena poll showed Gov. Andrew Cuomo's job approval rating drop to 50 percent from previously stratospheric digits, the governor took to the air to admit that two of his major policy points will not come to a vote this session.
Cuomo blamed the Independent Democratic Conference for not bringing his women's agenda and campaign finance reform measures to the floor of the Senate for a vote.
"I think it’s a mistake for the IDC, who are theoretically Democrats,” Cuomo told Susan Arbetter during an interview on “The Capitol Pressroom.” “It’s not what they said initially, and I think that’s what’s giving people pause. Women’s Equality, especially, campaign finance, public finance, what they’re really saying is, these are going to be election issues next year. And they’re not going to take them up governmentally."
Earlier in his term, Cuomo enjoyed high approval numbers and was able to tap what seemed like unlimited reserves of political capital to get the Legislature to do what he wanted.
If Cuomo's poll numbers continue to drop — as they have since he forced a gun control package through the Legislature earlier this year — then legislators will have even less hesitation to challenge his agenda.
Actor Martin Sheen, the lead actor in Apocalpyse Now and The West Wing is putting his weight behind a push to get farmworkers' rights legislation passed in Albany.
Sheen, a long time activist and friend of civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, recorded a voiceover for a YouTube video put together by The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.
Rural legislators are generally averse to the legislation because farm groups say giving workers overtime, days off and access to unemployment insurance could be cost prohibitive to small farms.
A compromise deal has become a real possibility over the last few days and could address that by carving out small farms and ensuring that only large agribusinesses that hire a significant amount of workers each season are effected.
Sen. Adriano Espaillat, of the Senate Democrats and Sen. Diane Savino of the Independent Senate Democrats have been working to get a deal done before the end of the legislative session.
Cuomo's Women's Agenda Stalls
In an attempt to gain support from Senate Republicans Gov. Andrew Cuomo and women's advocates offered an amendment to the abortion plank of his 10-point women's agenda yesterday. The amendment made it clear that the bill that creates an affirmative right to abortion "as established by the United States Supreme Court in the 1973 decision Roe v. Wade" would not allow for partial-birth abortions or interfere with the federal ban on them. Cuomo and advocates have insisted that all 10 points must be voted on as a whole. Republicans and members of the Senate's Independent Democratic Conference have said they would vote on 9 of the points that include measures to assure pay equity, tough penalties for sexual harassment and domestic violence. The amendment was dismissed by Republicans on Thursday who have insisted the bill will not come to a vote.
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Common Cause says Gov. Andrew Cuomo needs to get his veto pen ready to stop the city from bringing back its old-school lever voting machines for this year's elections.
Both houses of the state Legislature are working on bills to allow the city's Board of Elections to delay a runoff in the mayoral primary and allow the city to use the lever machines.
The Senate version, sponsored by Republican Sen. Marty Golden of Brooklyn, would allow New York City to use lever machines in all non-federal elections. It would delay the runoff to three weeks after the election.
The Assembly version, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Michael Cusick of Staten Island, would only allow use of the antiquated machines for the runoff. The delay of the runoff would be the same as Golden's bill.
Common Cause refers to Cusick's legislation as "the less of two evils." Most good government groups oppose the use of lever machines at all and say the BOE should get its act together.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg had a victory in the state Legislature today after a measure to reform the New York City Housing Authority was sent to the governor for his signature.
The legislation does away with the $186,00 annual salaries they receive and adds three new members to the board. Three members will now be required to be residents of public housing. Board members will also no longer enjoy having a driver on call at all times as they do now.
“Across the country, cities have abandoned public housing, but we refused to do that," Bloomberg said in a statement. "We continued to invest and support our public housing system, and these reforms will help us continue to improve it — in spite of a decade cutbacks by Congress."
Bloomberg thanked Assemblyman Keith Wright and Sen. Marty Golden for their help moving the bill.
NYCHA is expected to go forward with layoffs, a hiring freeze and the closure of community centers as well as youth and senior programs because of the federal sequester. Almost 100,000 residents who receive reduced rent through a federal program will see their rent increase by up to $72 a month.