Gotham Gazette

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Andrea Stewart-Cousins

Andrea Stewart-Cousins

  • What's In, What's Out: 2022 State Legislative Session Ends with Major Policy Decisions

    An Albany rally for abortion rights (photo: Mike Groll/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)


    State lawmakers voted on legislation late into the night Thursday, the scheduled end of the legislative session, and while the State Senate finished its business the Assembly continued passing bills throughout Friday and into Saturday.

    A number of major deals were reached in the final week as the session came to a crescendo, while other marquee proposals fell by the wayside.

    And as of Saturday morning, with the Senate on break but the Assembly still wrapping up business, the fate of at least two

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  • Explainer: New York Abortion Rights and Proposals for Additional Pro-Choice Actions

     

    Gov. Hochul speaks at an "abortion justice" event (photo: Mike Groll/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)


    A draft majority opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court, which was leaked and reported on by Politico on Monday, would strike down the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that granted a federal constitutional right to an abortion. Though the opinion — on Dobbs v. Jackson

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  • 12 Issues to Watch in Albany's Post-Budget Legislative Session

    Legislative leaders Stewart-Cousins and Heastie (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor)


    With a whopping $220 billion state budget approved, Governor Kathy Hochul and the State Legislature now move on to the post-budget legislative session with a long list of issues to address. The governor and two legislative majorities, all Democrats, have their own priorities, and New York City Mayor Eric Adams also has unfinished state business that he is hoping to accomplish before the session is over.

    But the clock is ticking, with the legislative session scheduled to end June 2, just

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  • Promising ‘New Era’ of Collaboration and Sweeping Agenda, Hochul Delivers First State of the State Address

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    Governor Hochul delivers her 2022 State of the State (photo: Darren McGee/Governor's Office)


    Governor Kathy Hochul delivered her first State of the State address on Wednesday, laying out a vision for New York's future as the state enters another year of pandemic and economic recovery. Facing a primary in June, Hochul's speech outlined the agenda of her first — and possibly only — full year in office.

    Speaking to the State Legislature and all New Yorkers from the Assembly Chamber — a return to tradition but a break from her predecessor, disgraced former

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  • In the 'New Albany,' State Senate Regularly Outpaces Assembly on Reform

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    The New York State Senate (photo: NY Senate Media Services)


    For years the Democratic majority of the New York State Assembly advanced bills its members knew the Republican-controlled State Senate wouldn't pass. Still other legislation, especially related to government ethics, transparency, and elections, stewed on the backburner with neither majority moving it forward. Those were the days of two-party rule in Albany, of a group of breakaway Democrats who buoyed Republicans, and a governor happy to straddle the middle.

    Since

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  • Major State Ethics and Governance Reforms Hoped for Under Hochul

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    Then-Gov. Cuomo with current Gov. Hochul (photo: Governor's Office)


    With the abrupt end of the ten-year reign of Governor Andrew Cuomo, reformers inside and outside of state government are looking for change. Unspooling their wishlist has been a kind of inaugural red carpet for Governor Kathy Hochul, who took office last month after Cuomo resigned amid a flurry of scandal -- almost all connected, in some way, to government ethics, transparency, and the erosion of checks and balances.

    Hochul immediately pledged to take steps to undo Cuomo's

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  • ‘An Amazing Transition’: Andrea Stewart-Cousins on the New Era in State Politics and What’s Next

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    Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (photo: NY Senate Media Services)


    Amid major upheaval in state government and ongoing pandemic-era crises in New York, State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins is embracing a sense of stability and an opportunity for more collaboration among political leaders.

    During a recent appearance on the Max Politics podcast from Gotham Gazette, Stewart-Cousins, a Democrat

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  • Max Politics Podcast: Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins on the New Era in State Government and Upcoming Priorities

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    Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (photo: NYS Senate Media Services)


    September 8, 2021 - Max Politics Podcast: Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins on the New Era in State Government

    New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Democrat from Westchester, joined the show to discuss the new era in state government, the transition from Governor Andrew Cuomo to Governor Kathy Hochul, her conference's upcoming priorities, and a variety of key issues in state government and New York

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  • Fighting Covid, Distributing Aid and Changing Albany's Culture: Governor Hochul Outlines Priorities in First Public Address

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    Governor Kathy Hochul (Mike Groll/Governor's office)


    Newly sworn-in Governor Kathy Hochul said Tuesday she would take proactive measures to fight the spread of the Covid delta variant, quickly distribute federal relief funds and immediately strengthen state ethics and sexual harassment regulations as she seeks to change the culture in Albany that she inherited from disgraced former Governor Andrew Cuomo.

    Hochul, a Democrat, was sworn in earlier in the day, becoming the 57th governor of New York State and making history as the first woman to hold the

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  • Governor Cuomo Sexually Harassed Multiple Women, Investigation Finds

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    Photo: Kevin Coughlin/Governor's Office


    Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple current and former state employees, and his executive office retaliated against one woman who publicly accused him of harassment, according to the findings of an investigation released on Tuesday by New York State Attorney General Letitia James.

    James released a lengthy report concluding a five-month investigation by independent attorneys

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  • As Cuomo Says He's Not Stepping Down, Legislative Leaders Point Him Toward Resignation

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    Gov. Cuomo, Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins & Speaker Heastie (photo: June 2020/Governor's Office)


    Shortly after Governor Andrew Cuomo on Sunday gave a defiant press briefing in which he reiterated he has no plans to resign from his position, two major shoes dropped in the scandals engulfing the third-term Democratic governor: State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins called on Cuomo to resign and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said he supports Stewart-Cousins' questions about Cuomo's ability to govern and that the governor

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  • New Yorkers Celebrate Biden Victory, Defeat of Trump

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    Brooklynites celebrate Biden's win, Trump's loss (photo: Ethan Geringer-Sameth/Gotham Gazette)


    It was a great day for the Doppler effect Saturday in Brooklyn as a near constant stream of car horns trumpeted elation after it became clear Joe Biden had won Pennsylvania and clinched the 2020 presidential election. Throngs of New Yorkers took to the streets, plazas, and parks to breathe a collective, mostly masked, sigh of relief.

    In New York, that sigh took the form of spontaneous dancing on sidewalks and in streets, clanging pots and pans, and uncorking

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  • The State of Play in the State Senate as the 2020 Election Moves to Counting Absentee Ballots

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    The New York State Senate chambers (photo: NY Senate)


    Though hundreds of thousands of votes across New York are still to be counted and many races are not yet called, it appears certain that Democrats will retain the majority in the State Senate that they won two years ago, and by a fairly wide margin. But, Republicans seem poised to regain several seats in the chamber to narrow what has been an exceptionally wide 40-23 seat margin and keep Democrats from expanding it to ...

  • De Blasio Reups 2016 Board of Elections Reform Plan in 2020

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    Mayor de Blasio after voting (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    In April 2016, just after party primary elections featuring a major error by the New York City Board of Elections, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he would push for legislation in Albany to professionalize the day-to-day operations of the Board, among other bills that could improve the city's perennially bungled election administration and create more access to the ballot box for New Yorkers. Over four years and several poorly-run elections later, de Blasio made a similar announcement

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  • Democrats Eye Supermajority, Republicans Look to Regain Seats: The 2020 New York State Senate Battle

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    Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (photo: NY Senate)


    Two years ago, Democrats won a majority in the New York State Senate for the first time in eight years, winning full control of the state Legislature and the governor’s office and allowing them to pursue a raft of progressive legislation that had stalled under Republican obstruction. As the New York GOP has continued to diminish since that election, including another wave of retirements among state senators, and as President Donald Trump remains unpopular in the state, Democrats now see an opportunity to

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  • Despite Requests, No Sign of De Blasio Plan for Managing Billions in City Borrowing He's Seeking

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    Mayor de Blasio (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)


    Mayor Bill de Blasio continues to insist that New York City needs authorization from the state to borrow billions of dollars in operating funds to balance its budget, at least in the absence of federal aid to cover some of the massive loss in revenue from the pandemic fallout. The drastically-slashed new city budget for this fiscal year passed July 1 included $1 billion in undefined labor savings, which de Blasio said could be covered by federal aid or borrowing, or, if neither of those come through,

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  • Where De Blasio's Push to Borrow Billions Stands

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    The Financial Control Board meets (photo: Benjamin Kanter/Mayor's Office)


    Mayor Bill de Blasio has until the end of September to present a state fiscal oversight body with a plan to find $1 billion in savings that will help balance the city budget for the current fiscal year. In lieu of a federal aid package to help replace lost tax revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic, the mayor and labor union leaders are pushing the Legislature and Governor Cuomo to allow the city to borrow billions of dollars to cover operating expenses, a proposal that many city and state

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  • 'Break in the Dam': New York Sees Flood of Long-Stalled Police Reforms in Response to Outcry

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    Eric Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, at a recent press conference (photo: Emil Cohen/City Council)


    New York, and the nation, was teetering on the edge when it was suddenly and violently pushed over it on May 25, as George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota by police officer Derek Chauvin. It was an incident as shocking as it was familiar, an unarmed Black man dying at the hands of a police officer with the episode caught on video and broadcast to millions of people.

    “I can’t breathe,” Floyd cried out, as Chauvin knelt on his

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  • ‘Not a Budget Anybody Should Be Celebrating’: Democratic Legislators Displeased with Albany Compromise

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    A nearly-empty State Senate Chamber as business is conducted amid coronavirus outbreak (photo: NY Senate)


    If New Yorkers take Governor Andrew Cuomo’s word for it, the new $177 billion budget approved last week will “deliver results” for the people of the state and was a far cry from a “bare minimum” spending plan at a time when the state’s finances are racked by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. But within his own Democratic Party, which controls both houses of the Legislature where the plan was passed, the budget is a highly unpopular document that to

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  • Three Democratic Leaders in Albany, Three Different Positions on Altering Bail Reforms

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    Gov. Cuomo and other state leaders (photo: Darren McGee, Governor's Office)


    In the opening days of the 2020 state legislative session, debate continues to rage over whether to revisit major changes to the bail system made last year and key Albany policy-makers have been staking out initial positions in a reignited conversation that could lead to revising the reforms.

    The three top decision-makers -- Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, all Democrats -- have each taken a

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  • Issues to Watch in the 2020 Legislative Session in Albany

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    (photo: governor's office)


    The 2019 legislative session in Albany was, as Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins described it, “[T]he most historic and productive legislative session in New York State history, period.” The Democratic-controlled Legislature notched up a long list of victories, including many progressive bills that had languished under prior Republican leadership in the state Senate. But there remained unfinished business, imperfect new laws, and pressing concerns that have carried forward and will define the legislative calendar in 2020, which

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  • State Lawmakers Criticize Campaign Finance Commission Results While Legislative Leaders Stay Mum

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    (photo: @FairElectionsNY)


    A state commission charged with creating a system of public financing for state elections has prompted harsh rebukes from several state legislators for proposing what they say is watered down campaign finance reform and for ostensibly advancing a political agenda that targets longtime critics of Governor Andrew Cuomo.

    The New York State Public Campaign Financing Commission was appointed by Cuomo and state legislative leaders after a failure of consensus on overhauling the state’s campaign finance system. It was tasked in

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  • State Commission Approves New Campaign Finance System, Raises Bar for Political Party Ballot Access

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    the state campaign finance commission at its final meeting


    The New York State Public Campaign Financing Commission held its final meeting on Monday, voting to institute the creation of a new system for public funding of campaigns for statewide and state legislative offices, with lower contribution limits intended to reduce the effect of money in elections. Though the commission did not act to eliminate fusion voting, as minor political parties and their allies feared, it did move to increase the threshold for parties to obtain a position on the ballot, creating uncertainty

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  • Advocates Remind State Leaders of Approaching Deadline to Name Redistricting Commission

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    (photo: Mike Groll/Governor's Office)


    New York State government leaders are fond of appointing commissions, but those bodies are not known for meeting their deadlines. With those facts in mind, an advocacy group released a public letter Tuesday with an important message about governmental machinations that will significantly impact the state’s future.

    With the 2020 Census around the corner, the League of Women Voters of New York State is urging the state Legislature to keep its eye on a key deadline that falls ahead of the all-important population

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  • Amid Another Poorly-Run Election, Top New York Officials Point Fingers, Offer Plans, or Say Nothing

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    Mayor de Blasio on line to vote (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    Hours-long lines for early voting in New York City have become the latest fodder for New York’s highest elected officials to renew calls to overhaul the New York City Board of Elections. The general request comes from some government leaders every election cycle but has never been followed with action by those in power and there is little indication that this time will be different.

    Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, three of the

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