Coverage of Albany and New York State government

  • Governor Signs Bill Restricting E-Cigarettes
  • Governor Signs Bill to Provide Benefits to Volunteer Firefighters With Cancer
  • Governor Announces Cancer Research Initiative
  • New York Plans to Sue EPA Over Cross-State Smog Pollution
  • Senate Task Force Calls for Better Efforts to Combat Lyme Disease
  • State Board of Elections Seeks Funding for Cybersecurity
  • State Conservative Party Releases Annual Ranking of State Legislators
  • Political Update
  • Coming Up

Governor Signs Bill Restricting E-Cigarettes

Last week, Gov. Cuomo signed a bill into law that adds electronic cigarettes to the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act, prohibiting vaping anywhere that smoking cigarettes are already prohibited.  The ban goes into effect in 30 days.

Gov. Cuomo said:

“These products are marketed as a healthier alternative to cigarettes, but the reality is they also carry long-term risks to the health of users and those around them.  This measure closes another dangerous loophole in the law, creating a stronger, healthier New York for all.”

Governor Signs Bill to Provide Benefits to Volunteer Firefighters With Cancer

Gov. Cuomo recently announced that he has signed a bill into law that provides benefits for volunteer firefighters diagnosed with certain cancers.

Effective Jan. 1, 2019, qualified firefighters diagnosed with cancer will be eligible for a $25,000 lump sum payment, depending on the diagnosis. Firefighters who are disabled because of cancer may also receive up to $1,500 a month for 36 months and a death benefit of $50,000. In order to be eligible, firefighters must have served at least five years fighting fires inside structures and have had a physical exam that showed no cancer before he or she began volunteering. They must also be active or within five years of volunteer service.

Gov. Cuomo said:

“New York is forever grateful to the 96,000 volunteer firefighters who selflessly put their own personal safety at risk in order to keep their neighbors and communities safe.  With this measure, we will provide these courageous New Yorkers the protections they need and the peace of mind they deserve.”

Governor Announces Cancer Research Initiative

Last week, Gov. Cuomo announced a $500,000 initiative to examine cancer trends and the potential causes of cancer in four regions across the state that have a higher incidence of certain cancers than other regions.

The state Department of Health (DOH) will review cancer data, potential demographic and occupational factors, and will consult with the Department of Environmental Conservation on environmental factors contributing to patterns of cancer incidences in Western New York, two downstate regions, and in the Warren County area.  DOH expects to report its findings within one year.

Governor Cuomo said:

“The ongoing battle against cancer is a global challenge that will only be addressed by bringing top-notch medical experts and institutions together to find a solution. This investment and statewide study will open doors to new developments and shine light on what New Yorkers can do to improve the health and well-being of themselves and their families, as we continue to work toward a stronger, healthier New York for all.”

New York Plans to Sue EPA Over Cross-State Smog Pollution

Last Thursday, Governor Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that New York State plans to sue the federal government over its failure to limit pollution from other states that causes dangerous levels of smog in New York. (Read the notice of intent to sue here.)

According to the Attorney General’s office, the EPA failed to meet a statutory deadline to adopt a plan to reduce pollution from 24 states, including several that are upwind of New York.  Power plants in these states produce pollution that causes ground-level ozone that makes the air unhealthy to breathe when the chemicals interact with sunlight, resulting in smog that can cause damage to lung tissue and worsen conditions such as asthma.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said:

“Millions upon millions of New Yorkers are still breathing unhealthy air due to smog pollution, a huge amount of which is blowing into New York from upwind states. If the EPA won’t follow the law, we’ll sue to protect the health of New Yorkers.”

Senate Task Force Calls for Better Efforts to Combat Lyme Disease

Last week, the Senate Task Force on Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases released a report aimed at combatting the spread of Lyme and tick-borne diseases (TBDs) in the state.  The report calls for an immediate statewide action plan, empowering patients and funding research to reduce the tick population.

In August, the Task Force held a public hearing where members heard from experts in the field, medical professionals, insurance industry representatives, patients, and advocates to develop effective solutions to empower patients and prevent New Yorkers from contracting tick-borne diseases.

The report calls for the state Department of Health (DOH) to create a protocol for medical practitioners to diagnose and treat tick-borne illness, and to provide patients with information to help them understand test results. It also recommends appropriating funding for research on tick-borne diseases; pursuing other funding to support similar research; reinstating a commission to assess the cost of insurance coverage for long-term antibiotic treatments; and promoting testing in children to avoid delays in getting diagnosed.

State Board of Elections Seeks Funding for Cybersecurity

At its meeting last week, he State Board of Elections (SBOE) said that will request a $15 million funding increase in next year’s budget, most of which will be dedicated to enhancing cybersecurity. The new spending comes in the wake of reports of Russian effort to interfere in the 2016 elections.

According to an SBOE spokesperson, the funds will be used to pay for systems monitoring; incident response; and improving policies, procedures and training.

In June, Gov. Cuomo announced that he had directed the New York State Cyber Security Advisory Board to review the state’s voting infrastructure, and to report its findings and make recommendations to the Governor and State Board of Election by mid-September.  However, the Advisory Board has not yet done so.

State Conservative Party Releases Annual Ranking of State Legislators

 Last week, the New York State Conservative Party released its annual ranking of state legislators’ voting records. (Read the Assembly rankings and the Senate rankings.) The bills the Conservative Party incudes in its analysis include “spending, crime, education, nanny state legislation, and pro-life issues,” among others.

The average rating for State Senators, whose house is controlled by the Republicans, decreased from 69 percent in 2016 to 55 percent in 2017.  The average rating for members of the Democratic-controlled Assembly went from 42 percent in 2016 to 37 percent in 2017.

The group found that the most conservative State Senators are James Tedisco (R-Schenectady County); Fred Akshar (R-Broome County); Sue Serino (R-Hudson Valley); and Kathy Marchione (R-Saratoga County), while the most conservative Assembly members are Kevin Byrne (R-Westchester County), Michael Fitzpatrick (R-Suffolk County), Joe Errigo (R – Livingston County) and Christopher Friend (R-Chemung County).

Conservative Party State Chair Michael Long said:

“Voters are encouraged to contact their legislators to remind them that conservative fiscal policy and  principles  make  New  York  business  friendly  and  encourages  entrepreneurs  to  open businesses here to provide jobs and keep families here in the Empire State.”

Political Update

Winners & Losers

Each week, City & State New York publishes a list of the week’s political “winners” and “losers.”  Read last week’s list here.

Coming Up

November 7 is Election Day.

The State Board of Regents holds its next meeting on November 13 and 14.

The Public Service Commission holds its next meeting on November 16.

The State Board of Elections holds its next meeting on December 15.