Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

State Legislature

State Legislature

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    Health care professionals (photo: John McCarten/NY City Council)


    Finalizing a budget can be chaotic in the best of times. This year, we hammered out the last details of the state’s $177 billion spending plan as the COVID-19 crisis was approaching its peak in New York State. 

    It was in this context that the Legislature agreed to a little-noticed recommendation from the Governor’s Medicaid Redesign Team II (MRT II) that strips a critical federal benefit from health-care providers and patients in New York. Luckily, we have until April 1, 2021 to undo this

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    Gov. Cuomo at the New York Stock Exchange (photo: Darren McGee/Governor's Office)


    This story was published in partnership with New York Focus, an independent, investigative news publication covering New York state and city politics, as part of its launch.
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    As the pandemic roiled markets in the spring, New York recorded surging revenue from an obscure

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    Part of the new absentee ballot envelope design


    The New York State Board of Elections has approved a new design for absentee ballot envelopes to be used statewide in the upcoming general election. The new layout, mandated by Governor Andrew Cuomo in an executive order, is intended to make it more obvious where a voter needs to provide a signature in order to have the ballot accepted by elections administrators under state law and avoid mass disqualification of absentee ballots as New York saw during the June primaries.

    The

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    Voter registration (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    A bill that would have made it possible for many thousands of New York City residents to register to vote online, which passed the State Senate but stalled in the Assembly earlier this year, is unlikely to pass before the general election registration deadline and would be too late to be implemented even if it did, officials say.

    The legislation, first introduced in the summer of 2019, would allow the New York City Campaign Finance Board to open the online voter registration portal it created

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    State Senator Michael Gianaris (photo: Senator Michael Gianaris' office)


    September 23, 2020 - Max & Murphy Podcast: Senator Gianaris on Next Steps in New York's Recovery

    State Senator Michael Gianaris of Queens joined the show to discuss next steps in reopening the New York economy, how the State Senate Democratic majority is thinking about addressing the state and city fiscal crises, and more.

    Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter ...

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    Governor Cuomo at a correctional facility (photo: governor's office)


    The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Daniel Prude, and scores of Black Americans have once again put a spotlight on the brutality of policing in this country. But policing is only one part of a criminal legal system that was founded on dehumanizing and oppressing Black people. There are countless Black lives, including those of Kalief Browder, Layleen Polanco, Benjamin Smalls, and Lulu Benson-Seay, that have been taken away in jails, prisons, and detention centers across New York. Now is the time to

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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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 (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'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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    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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    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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    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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