Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

State Legislature

State Legislature

  • sen rox pers2

    State Senator Roxanne Persaud (photo: @SenatorPersaud)


    Coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic devastation, crime, particularly gun violence, has increased across New York City, a trend that began even before the coronavirus outbreak but has worsened since. The spike in shootings and murders has been particularly large in sections of Brooklyn. The 19th State Senate District, covering southeastern parts of the borough, including Canarsie, East New York, Brownsville, and

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  • Myrie Gianaris State Senate voting

    State Senators & election officials (photo: Senator Gianaris' office)


    After the June primaries, when tens of thousands of absentee ballots were rejected on technical grounds or never cast because they were mailed to voters late or not at all, state lawmakers passed a series of measures aimed at correcting some of those mishaps. But several other bills introduced by legislators and pushed by voting rights advocates that could prevent thousands of ballots from being thrown out are still on the table as the clock ticks toward the

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  • requests despite mayor

    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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  • 2 youth wave

    Queens Assembly candidate Khaleel Anderson (photo: @KhaleelAnderson)


    A younger generation of Democratic political candidates — which has grown up amid the Great Recession, growing inequality, rising costs of higher education and massive student loan debt, the ticking time-bomb that is climate change, and other crises including, now, the coronavirus pandemic and its fallout — has been offering ambitious policy goals and great urgency around achieving them, resonating with voters and finding success in their runs for office.

    In recent election cycles, New York

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  • 1 billions push

    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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  • new york state legislature senate chamber electoral

    Inside the State Senate chamber (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)


    The New York State Senate and Assembly, both now in Democratic hands, last month gave first passage to several changes to an earlier constitutional amendment, adopted in 2014, creating a so-called Independent Redistricting Commission to redraw district lines every ten years for those two houses and the state’s Congressional districts. If passed by the Legislature again next year, and then approved by the voters, these amendments to that

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  • 1 40 bn

    New. Yorkers seeking help (photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayor's Office)


    As a new report indicates unemployment in New York City may be as high as 33%, the state’s labor commissioner testified at a Thursday legislative hearing that since early March, the New York Department of Labor (DOL) has paid almost $40 billion in unemployment benefits to more than 3.3 million New Yorkers, compared to $2.1 billion in all of 2019.

    The impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and its fallout on the state’s workforce was the subject of an oversight hearing held by both houses of the State Legislature

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  • 1 democratic socialists

    The 5 NYC-DSA-backed candidates for State Legislature, including guests Brisport (center) & Salazar (right)


    August 12, 2020 - Max & Murphy Podcast: Democratic Socialists Ascendant, with Senator Julia Salazar & Jabari Brisport

    State Senator Julia Salazar & likely State Senator Jabari Brisport, both Brooklyn Democrats backed by the New York City-Democratic Socialists of America, joined the show to discuss their ideas for helping New York recover from the many coronavirus-related crises, whether the

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  • Myrie Senate

    State Senator Myrie in the Senate chamber (photo: State Senate)


    After June saw drastic shifts in how voting in New York is conducted, elections administrators, state legislators, and watchdogs have a long list of changes they want to see enacted before the general election this fall. But above all they want clarity from Governor Andrew Cuomo.

    Many of the key players in New York City and State elections testified Tuesday at an oversight hearing held by both houses of the Democrat-controlled Legislature examining the June primary, its successes and

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  • passed prop what

    Inspecting voting equipment (photo: Senator Michael Gianaris)


    The June 2020 primaries in New York were an unusually thick morass of bureaucratic challenges as the city and state election systems shifted to a mostly-mail-in format amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

    In New York City more than 80,000 mail-in ballots were disqualified on technical grounds -- a full fifth of the 400,000-plus ballots cast that way and a tenth of the total. Tens of thousands of ballots were either sent out late by the New York City Board of Elections or never delivered to voters who

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  • 2 very pathetic

    Charles, left, & Inez Barron, right, at a ceremony with the Mayor & others (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    Anything short of a revolution won’t satisfy Charles and Inez Barron, the married Brooklynites who hold seats in the State Assembly and City Council, respectively, and the police reforms and city budget passed in the wake of recent widespread Black Lives Matter protests serve merely as a distraction to their radical idea of Black-led politics. 

    Assemblymember Charles Barron and City Council Member Inez Barron, both Democrats, have a

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  • voting New York City booths

    Voters cast many absentee ballots (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    Over a month after the June primary, the New York State Board of Elections has certified the results, which show a relatively large voter turnout aided in part by the pandemic-induced expansion of absentee balloting. Almost all of the primaries in New York City were among Democrats, including a number of hotly-contested races for the House of Representatives, both houses of the State Legislature, Queens Borough President, and more.

    The elections saw several

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  • 1 how unfold

    Emily Gallagher with campaign supporters (photo: @em4assembly)


    Community activist Emily Gallagher ran a successful insurgent Democratic primary campaign like few others: one with no endorsements from elected officials, no support from ascendent lefitist groups the Working Families Party or New York City branch of the Democratic Socialists of America, and relatively little money compared to her opponent, a 47-year incumbent State Assembly member who had not even faced a primary challenge for a decade.

    Gallagher, who has lived in North Brooklyn’s Assembly

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  • phara souffrant forrest

    Phara Souffrant Forrest (photo: @phara4assembly)


    Leftist organizations like the Working Families Party and New York City branch of the Democratic Socialists of America are piling up wins in the June primaries, with absentee ballot counting near an end and a wide array of candidates they supported — many of whom are challengers to incumbents — on the verge of winning seats in Congress and the New York State Legislature.

    The wins shatter preconceived notions that incumbents are heavily favored to win, conventional wisdom that was deeply

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  • Eric Garner police reform NYPD

    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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  • 2 facial recog

    An NYPD command center (photo: Edward Reed/Mayor's Office)


    In the four months since the NYPD first published protocols limiting its use of facial recognition software, the coronavirus-caused state of emergency and recent civil unrest over police brutality made the considerable leeway in the policy all but total. Absent any formal legal framework at the city, state or federal level, the internal, non-binding departmental protocols are the only public policy governing New York's lawless frontier of biometric surveillance.

    The police department has insisted it

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  • must address jails

    A rally to end solitary confinement (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    On April 14, 60-year-old Leonard Carter died of COVID-19 while incarcerated at Queensboro Correctional Facility. He had already been granted parole and, after a quarter century behind bars, was just weeks from his release date. He was the brother of one of us writing to demand change here

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  • Cuomo budget presentation bowl guests

    Gov. Cuomo presents a budget plan (photo: Darren McGee/Governor's Office)


    The job of state legislators is to craft laws that protect New Yorkers and advance equal opportunity and justice. A significant part of that job is shaping our state budget, which funds our schools, our health care, our transportation systems, and a long list of vital other public services. During a global pandemic, this already crucial responsibility has reached a new level of importance. But, over the years, in the strange world of Albany, the role and

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  • rosenthal absentee ballot mailbox

    Voting absentee (photo: @HelenRosenthal)


    A law passed by the New York City Council in 2016 could have helped prevent some of the many problems plaguing the absentee ballot process from the June 2020 primary elections. But that law was never implemented by the New York City Board of Elections, a quasi-state agency that routinely refuses to abide by local mandates.

    The June primaries saw a record number of absentee ballots cast by voters, facilitated by an executive order from Governor Andrew Cuomo that mandated that local boards of

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  • Senator Andrew Gounardes Brooklyn Albany presser

    State Senator Andrew Gounardes in Albany (photo: @sen_gounardes)


    Pro-NYPD and Black Lives Matter protesters clashed, sometimes violently, in Southern Brooklyn last weekend, a conflict emblematic of the changing and complicated politics in traditionally moderate to conservative neighborhoods that have been home to leftward political movement, partially due to an influx of new residents.

    One marker of the changes was the 2018 election of Democrat Andrew Gounardes in State Senate District 22, where he defeated long-time

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  • boe nyc votes table pandemic

    Voting during a pandemic (photo: @NYCVotes)


    Ahead of a special state legislative session set for next week, a coalition of election reform advocates is backing ten bills that would change or codify elements of the now widely-used absentee voting process before the fall general election.

    The agenda, released Thursday by the Let NY Vote coalition, comes amid party primary elections where the voting is over but the counting

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  • 5 progressive assembly

    The State Assembly (photo: @NYSA_Majority)


    For some time, a lack of Democratic control in the New York State Senate prevented progressive legislation from becoming law. But even after the chamber flipped from red to blue through the 2018 elections and a long list of Democratic priorities were acted on, some bills that once passed the State Assembly when Republicans held the Senate are now having trouble reaching that chamber’s floor, leading to frustration that multiple insurgent campaigns capitalized on in this year’s primary

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    Voting has changed dramatically in New York (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor)


    As hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots are being counted more than two weeks after the June 23 primary elections, state lawmakers are pushing a bill that would allow absentee voters to track their ballots and would require election administrators to provide an individual explanation when a ballot is disqualified.

    The latest effort to pass the legislation, which was first introduced in 2013, comes amid an unprecedented increase in absentee voting due to

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  • New York State government capitol building Albany legislators

    The State Capitol Building (photo: Governor's Office)


    The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black people at the hands of police sparked righteous calls for change across New York State and led to meaningful action in Albany. We were proud to vote for police reforms that promote more transparency, accountability, and justice for those we represent. These were important steps, but they fall short of addressing the harm that happens to our constituents behind bars.

    For years, we’ve spoken with

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  • 6 jabari brisport eyes

    Jabari Brisport marching (photo: @JabariBrisport)


    This year’s Democratic primary for Brooklyn’s 25th State Senate District mostly flew under the radar, but was one of the most interesting races in the city, with an energetic activist and teacher, Jabari Brisport, backed by the Working Families and Democratic Socialist of America-New York City, taking on Assemblymember Tremaine Wright, whose district overlaps with part of the Senate district and who had the backing of the retiring senator, Velmanette Montgomery, among many others in the political

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