Thursday, January 5, 2017

And we’re back!

The 2017 legislative session is officially underway and what a better way to start the new session than with two totally opposing opening remarks from our legislative leaders. While Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie highlighted the bipartisan nature of his house and the Assembly’s willingness to work with the Senate; Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan swore to keep his house independent. How will this shake out in the upcoming session? Only time will tell.

Heastie highlighted education, health care, and reproductive choice as his top priorities for this session.  Flanagan made several remarks about Upstate jobs and the moderate successes of Start Up NY and the Regional Development Council. Much of his speech appeared to be digs at the Governor. The Assembly finished their session rather quickly while the Senate lingered until 3:00pm debating the lack of democrats on the Senate Ethics Committee and a new rule change that would ban Senators from using their phones to take photos or videos while in the Senate Chamber. The general public has already been barred from using cell phones while in the galleries but now the rule applies to Senators and the press alike.

The day ended with countless receptions held throughout the Capital. We spoke to many members and found that legislators regardless of party expressed anger over Governor's meddling in the Wage Commission which had been set up to be outside of the political haggling. That feeling seemed to shadow the first day of session as well as the feeling that the Governor had disrespected the legislature's rightful position by moving the State of the State outside of the Capitol. There was also among many members, a veiled threat of budget negotiations being impaired by this level of animosity between the executive and legislative chambers.

Next week we will begin business as usual and hopefully get a chance to attend Governor Cuomo’s State of the State road tour. Here are the dates and locations:

  • Monday, 11 a.m.: One World Trade Center in Manhattan
  • Monday, 3 p.m.: University at Buffalo Center for the Arts
  • Tuesday, 10:30 a.m.: SUNY Purchase Performing Arts Center
  • Tuesday, 1 p.m.: Farmingdale State College on Long Island
  • Wednesday, 10 a.m.: University at Albany Performing Arts Center
  • Wednesday, 1 p.m.: Carrier Theater in Syracuse

Here’s hoping this session brings some actual ethics reforms! 

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