Coverage of Albany and New York State government

  • State’s Highest Court Rejects Constitutional Right to Physician-Assisted Suicide
  • Schneiderman Files Multistate Lawsuit Over President Trump’s Action on DACA
  • State Elected Officials Meet With President Trump on Gateway Tunnel Project
  • Governor Announces State Tax Credits for New Amazon Fulfillment Center
  • Governor Deploys National Guard, State Search and Rescue Teams to Assist in Response to Hurricane Irma
  • State Announces Federal Funding for Counterterrorism, Emergency Preparedness
  • Queens Assemblyman Dies at Age 45
  • Political Update
  • Coming Up

State’s Highest Court Rejects Constitutional Right to Physician-Assisted Suicide

Last Thursday, New York State’s highest court unanimously upheld the state’s ban on physician-assisted suicide, finding that the state law does not violate individuals’ constitutional rights. (The decision was 5-0; two justices did not participate.)

The plaintiffs in the case, Myers v. Schneiderman, asked the Court of Appeals to declare a constitutional right to “aid-in-dying,” which they described as “the right of a mentally competent and terminally ill person to obtain a prescription for a lethal dosage of drugs from a physician to hasten death.”

The Court declined to do so, finding that:

“Although New York has long recognized a competent adult’s right to forgo life-saving medical care, we reject the plaintiffs’ argument that an individual has a fundamental constitutional right to aid-in-dying as they define it. We also reject plaintiffs’ assertion that the state’s prohibition on assisted suicide is not rationally related to legitimate state interests.”

In effect, the decision means that advocates for “aid-in-dying” will have to seek legislative action on the issue.

Schneiderman Files Multistate Lawsuit Over President Trump’s Action on DACA

Last Wednesday, State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that, as part of a coalition of 16 state Attorneys General, he has have filed a lawsuit to protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) grantees. DACA, which was established in 2012 by President Obama, DACA gave legal status and work permits to about 800,000 youthful immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children by their parents. Most have little contact with their native lands and consider the U.S. to be their home.

President Trump announced on Tuesday that he has ordered the program to be ended, but said that he will give Congress six months to pass a replacement before he begins phasing out its protections.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.  It claims that the Trump Administration has violated the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution by discriminating against people of Mexican origin, who make up 78 percent of DACA recipients; violated Due Process rights; and harmed States’ residents, institutions, and economies.

Attorney General Schneiderman said:

“Immigration is the lifeblood of New York State. The Trump administration’s decision to end DACA is cruel, inhumane, and devastating to the 42,000 New Yorkers who have been able to come out of the shadows and live a full life as a result of the program.  These DREAMers play by the rules. They work hard and pay taxes. America is the only home they have ever known – and they deserve to stay here and keep contributing to our state and our nation.”

State Elected Officials Meet With President Trump on Gateway Tunnel Project

Last Thursday, New York and New Jersey elected officials met with President Trump seeking a federal funding commitment for the Gateway Tunnel project.  The project, which is expected to cost about $30 billion, would connect New York City and New Jersey through two Hudson River tunnels.

Amtrak has warned the existing two-track tunnel could fail in the coming decade because of damage sustained during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.  Such a failure would be a disaster for the regional transportation system.

President Trump has promised to make infrastructure improvements a focus of his administration, and Gov. Cuomo has urged him to make the Gateway project a top initiative.

Gov. Cuomo said:

“While the White House meeting was productive, it was inconclusive. The leaders from New York and New Jersey reiterated that construction of new passenger rail tunnels under the Hudson is not only urgent, but critical for the entire northeast region and long overdue.”

Governor Announces State Tax Credits for New Amazon Fulfillment Center

Last Wednesday, Gov. Cuomo announced that Amazon will open a $100 million in Staten Island, creating 2,250 new, full-time jobs. The 855,000 square-foot facility, which is expected to open in 2018, will be the company’s first fulfillment center in New York State.  The company receive $18 million in state tax credits through the Excelsior Jobs Program.

Gov. Cuomo said:

“Amazon’s decision to establish the first state-of-the-art fulfillment center in New York affirms our position at the forefront of the growing global innovation economy, and this investment will create thousands of jobs and opportunities for the Staten Island community.  New York continues to demonstrate that we have the workforce, the technology, and the pro-business climate to help companies grow and succeed.”

Governor Deploys National Guard, State Search and Rescue Teams to Assist in Response to Hurricane Irma

Last Thursday, Gov. Cuomo announced that the state is deploying 124 Airmen from the 106th Rescue Wing of the New York Air National Guard to Puerto Rico and Task Force 2 (NYTF-2), a specialized team of first responders and equipment skilled in structural collapse rescue, excavation emergencies, technical rope rescues, confined space rescue, and other specialized rescues to Florida.

Gov. Cuomo said:

“New York has had much firsthand experience with extreme weather and the devastation it leaves behind.  Just as New York stood shoulder to shoulder with Texas and Louisiana during Hurricane Harvey, we stand ready to provide any support and assistance we can for our neighbors in need. From Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, to the Dominican Republican and other Caribbean nations in Irma’s path, New York is here to help.”

State Announces Federal Funding for Counterterrorism, Emergency Preparedness

Last Thursday, Gov. Cuomo announced that the federal government is providing more than $220 million in grants to support counterterrorism and emergency preparedness activities in counties across New York State. The funding, provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency through its Homeland Security Grant Program, supports regional preparedness efforts, including planning, organization, and training activities that are critical to sustaining and improving community prevention, protection, response, and recovery capabilities.

Gov. Cuomo said:

“The safety and security of New Yorkers is the number one priority of this administration, and we will continue to ensure our first responders receive the very best training and equipment, as we focus on statewide preparedness to keep our communities safe.  This federal funding is essential to every county across the state, and I thank our local, state and federal officials for helping bring these grants to New York, as we work to protect visitors and residents in the Empire State.”

Queens Assemblyman Dies at Age 45

Last week, Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz (D-Queens) passed away. He is survived by his wife, Jennifer, and four children.

Simanowitz was first elected to the Assembly in 2011.  He previously served as Chief of staff to then- Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn.

His seat, the 27th Assembly District, will be filled at the November 7 general election. The district includes College Point, Whitestone, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens Hills, Electchester and Richmond Hill.

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

Primary elections were held in local races throughout the state yesterday.  We’ll have a full write up in next week’s post.

The Public Service Commission (PSC) holds its next meeting on September 14.

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

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) holds its next meeting on September 19.

The Assembly Committees on Health, Aging and Social Services are holding a public hearing in Manhattan “examine the safety and quality of residential units and public spaces” in adult homes on September 19.

Also on September 19, the New York State Republican Party holds its annual meeting in Albany.  Incumbent Chairman Ed Cox is expected to be elected to a fifth two-year term.

On September 26, the Assembly Labor Committee is holding a public hearing on the New York State Workers’ Compensation Permanency Impairment Guidelines.

Also on September 26, the Senate Consumer Protection committee is holding a public hearing “to investigate how best to protect consumers, such as seniors and internet users, from the theft of their personal information.”

On October 30, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) is holding a public hearing on its proposed lobbying regulations and source of funding regulations.