Plugged In @ Hinman Straub – December 27, 2018

What’s Inside

  • Governor Lays Out Progressive 2019 Agenda
  • Speaker Heastie Announces Leadership Positions, Committee Chairs
  • Senate Minority Leader Flanagan Announces Top Deputies
  • Attorney General Announces Settlement With Charter for Defrauding Internet Subscribers
  • Attorney General: Trump Foundation Agrees to Dissolve
  • Attorney General Announces Settlement With Sprint Over Unpaid Sales Tax
  • Eighth Round of REDC Awards Announced
  • County Health Officials Concerned About Plan to Legalize Marijuana
  • Political Update
  • Coming Up

Governor Lays Out Progressive 2019 Agenda

Gov. Cuomo delivered a speech in New York City last week, where he invoked former New York governor and President Franklin D. Roosevelt as he unveiled his 2019 agenda.  The Governor continued to speak of the federal government hostility to New York State as he urged state lawmakers to act on his priorities in the first 100 days of the next legislative session.

Most of the policy items have been previously proposed, and many are lacking in details.  The Governor’s 2019 Justice Agenda includes:

  • maintaining the state’s progressive income tax with a millionaire’s tax
  • making the 2 percent real property tax cap permanent;
  • codifying the NYS Health Exchange in order to protect it if Obamacare is repealed
  • requiring coverage of pre-existing conditions;
  • enacting the Reproductive Health Act and the Contraceptive Coverage Care Act;
  • addressing gun violence by enacting a “red flag law,” a longer waiting period for purchasing a gun, and banning bump stocks;
  • launching a $150 billion infrastructure plan;
  • enacting a congestion pricing system;
  • restructuring the MTA;
  • ensuring that poorer schools receive an equitable share of funding;
  • enacting the DREAM Act;
  • a ‘Green New Deal’ to make the state’s electricity 100% carbon neutral by 2040;
  • allowing voting by mail, enacting early voting, instituting same day and automatic voter registration, synchronizing federal and state elections and make Election Day a state holiday;
  • closing the LLC loophole, banning corporate campaign contributions, overhauling the state’s campaign finance system and ending outside income for lawmakers;
  • protect public sector unions and expand workers’ rights in the private sector;
  • enacting the Child Victims Act;
  • legalizing, regulating and taxing the adult use of recreational marijuana; and
  • addressing injustice in the criminal justice system by ending cash bail and enacting speedy trial and discovery reforms.

Gov. Cuomo said:

“Let this agenda be New York’s Declaration of Independence. We declare independence from this federal government’s policies. We disconnect from the nationalism, and the racism, and the chaos, and the xenophobia, and the misogyny, and the discrimination, and the dissembling of this Washington administration. We proclaim our Federal Government’s policy not only regressive, not only repugnant to New York values, we declare it un-American. Let us pass this ambitious progressive agenda as New York’s restoration of true democracy, restoring fairness, progress and pride.”

Speaker Heastie Announces Leadership Positions, Committee Chairs

Last Monday, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) announced that he has appointed Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D-Buffalo) to serve as Assembly Majority Leader.

A former Erie County legislator who was first elected to the Assembly in 2002, Peoples-Stokes will succeed Joe Morelle, who was elected to Congress.

On Tuesday, Speaker Heastie announced his full list of leadership positions and committee chairs for 2019.  Changes from 2018 include:

  • Catherine Nolan (D-Queens) as Deputy Speaker;
  • David Gantt (D-Rochester) as Assistant Majority Leader;
  • Harry Bronson (D-Rochester/Chili/Henrietta) as Aging Committee Chair;
  • Donna Lupardo (D-Endwell) as Agriculture Committee Chair;
  • Michael DenDekker (D-Queens) as Consumer Affairs Committee chair;
  • Michael Benedetto (D-Bronx) as Education Committee Chair;
  • Michele Titus (D-Queens) as Government Operations Committee Chair;
  • Marcos Crespo (D-Bronx) as Labor Committee Chair;
  • Fred Thiele (I-Suffolk County) as Local Governments Committee Chair;
  • Tom Abinanti (D-Westchester) as Oversight, Analysis and Investigations Committee Chair;
  • Al Stirpe (D-Onondaga County) as Small Business Committee Chair; and
  • Did Barrett (D-Columbia County) as Veterans Affairs Committee Chair.

On Wednesday, Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua) released his leadership positions and committee chairs for 2019. Changes from 2018 include William Barclay (R-Oswego County) as Ranking Minority member on the Ways & Means Committee.

Senate Minority Leader Flanagan Announces Top Deputies

Last Friday, Senate Republican leader John Flanagan (R-Suffolk County) announced the top-level leadership positions for the incoming Senate Minority Conference.

Senator Joe Griffo (R-Oneida County) will serve as the Deputy Leader; Senator James Seward (R- Otsego County) will serve as the ranking minority member on the Senate Finance Committee; and Senator Fred Akshar (R- Binghamton) will chair the Senate Republican Campaign Committee.

Attorney General Announces Settlement With Charter for Defrauding Internet Subscribers

Last Tuesday, State Attorney General Barbara Underwood announced $174.2 million consumer fraud settlement with Charter Communications for defrauding internet subscribers, which will results in $62.5 million in direct refunds to consumers. The agreement settles a consumer fraud action alleging that the state’s largest internet service provider, which operated initially as Time Warner Cable and later under Charter’s Spectrum brand name, denied customers the reliable and fast internet service it had promised.

Attorney General Underwood said:

“This settlement should serve as a wakeup call to any company serving New York consumers: fulfill your promises, or pay the price.  Not only is this the largest-ever consumer payout by an internet service provider, returning tens of millions of dollars to New Yorkers who were ripped off and providing additional streaming and premium channels as restitution – but it also sets a new standard for how internet providers should fairly market their services.”

Attorney General: Trump Foundation Agrees to Dissolve

Last Tuesday, Attorney General Barbara underwood announced that the Trump Foundation has signed a stipulation under which it will dissolve under judicial supervision, with review and approval by the Attorney General of proposed recipient charities of the Foundation’s remaining assets. The Attorney General’s office brought this action against the Trump in June, alleging a pattern of persistent illegal conduct that includes unlawful political coordination with the Trump presidential campaign; repeated and willful self-dealing transactions to benefit the President’s personal and business interests; and violations of basic legal obligations for non-profit foundations.

Attorney General Underwood said:

“Today’s stipulation accomplishes a key piece of the relief sought in our lawsuit earlier this year. Under the terms, the Trump Foundation can only dissolve under judicial supervision – and it can only distribute its remaining charitable assets to reputable organizations approved by my office. This is an important victory for the rule of law, making clear that there is one set of rules for everyone. We’ll continue to move our suit forward to ensure that the Trump Foundation and its directors are held to account for their clear and repeated violations of state and federal law.”

Attorney General Announces Settlement With Sprint Over Unpaid Sales Tax

Last Friday, Attorney General Barbara Underwood, with Acting Tax Commissioner Manion, announced a $330 million settlement in a False Claims Act lawsuit against Sprint, the cell phone carrier, and some of its subsidiaries. The lawsuit alleged that for almost a decade Sprint knowingly failed to collect and remit to the state more than $100 million in state and local sales taxes owed on its flat-rate wireless calling plans sold to New Yorkers.

Attorney General Underwood said:

“Sprint knew exactly how New York sales tax law applied to its plans – yet for years the company flagrantly broke the law, cheating the state and its localities out of tax dollars that should have been invested in our communities.  Now, Sprint will pay the price with this record-setting settlement. This should serve as a clear reminder that the New York False Claims Act protects New Yorkers from companies that attempt to flout their obligations under New York tax law.”

Eighth Round of REDC Awards Announced 

Last Tuesday, Gov. Cuomo announced the eighth round of funding awards through the state’s Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) competition. The program has been one of the Governor’s main economic development programs since he took office in 2011.

A total of $763 million in economic and community development funding was awarded through the program this year.  (The full list of award recipients is here.)

Gov. Cuomo said:

“Over the last eight years, we have implemented a vision to move New York State’s economy forward by allowing communities to make strategic investments to help grow their local economies and reenergize and develop their unique regions. Regional-based economic development is vital for maintaining New York’s thriving, prosperous economy. I congratulate all of the winners of this year’s REDC awards and look forward to working together to build a stronger New York for generations to come.”

County Health Officials Concerned About Plan to Legalize Marijuana

The New York State Association of County Health Officials (NYSACHO), the association that represents county health departments throughout the state, has expressed a series of concerns on Tuesday about the state’s possible legalization of adult recreational marijuana. The group, which formally opposed legalization earlier this year, called on state lawmakers to “approach legalization thoughtfully and with extreme caution.”

Among their concerns are “future high risk” of addiction to other drugs, harmful cognitive and academic effects, adverse cardiac and respiratory events, unintentional exposure to children, and crashes resulting from drugged driving.

The group is calling on state lawmakers to set the legal age for sales at 21; add marijuana to the Clean Indoor Air Act; fund studies that will help evaluate reliable methods of toxicology field-testing and impairment levels which will help set evidence-based regulations for impaired driving, as it pertains to marijuana use; allocate additional funding to local health departments for anticipated increases in workload; and formulate safety regulations for edibles, including child resistant packaging and restricting products/packaging that appeal to children.

NYSACHO President Paul Pettit said:

“As county health officials who serve as the first line of defense in our communities, we have seen up close the devastation associated with the abuse of legal prescription opioid medications. We need to be certain that the implementation of any recreational marijuana policy does not create another unintended public health crisis.”

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

On January 1, 2019, Gov. Cuomo will deliver his 3rd inaugural address on Ellis Island, the historic gateway for millions of immigrants coming to the United States.

The New York State’s 2019 legislative session begins on Wednesday, January 9.

The state Board of Regents holds its next meeting on January 14 and 15.

The Public Service Commission (PSC) holds its next meeting on January 17.

On January 23, the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee is holding a public hearing “to examine recycling-related issues.”

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) holds its next meeting on January 29.