Plugged In @ Hinman Straub – January 25, 2019

What’s Inside

  • Governor Signs Reproductive Health Act
  • DREAM act Passes in Both Houses
  • Governor’s Energy Czar Steps into Downsized Role
  • Governor Announces Four New Metro-North Stations in the Bronx
  • Governor Directs SUNY/CUNY to Help Students Impacted by Shutdown
  • Attorney General Announces Settlement with Walgreen Co.
  • Attorney General Announces Settlement with Johnson & Johnson
  • NYRA Board Asks CEO to Step Down
  • Updates, Reminders, and Links
  • Coming Up

Governor Signs Reproductive Health Act

Late on Tuesday night, Governor Cuomo signed into law the Reproductive Health Act in a ceremony that included Sarah Weddington, the attorney who argued the Roe v. Wade case in the Supreme Court. This is the first year the measure has passed in the Senate. The bill was passed, in a coordinated effort between the Senate and Assembly, on the 46th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. Lawmakers say the measure is needed because the balance of power on the Supreme Court has shifted on the issue. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 38-24 with all republican members and two democrats voting no, while the Assembly passed the bill by a vote of 92-47.

The Governor said:

“In the face of a federal government intent on rolling back Roe v. Wade and women’s reproductive rights, I promised that we would pass this critical legislation within the first 30 days of the new session – and we got it done. Today we are taking a giant step forward in the hard-fought battle to ensure a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her own personal health, including the ability to access an abortion. With the signing of this bill, we are sending a clear message that whatever happens in Washington, women in New York will always have the fundamental right to control their own body.”

The Jose Peralta New York State DREAM Act Passes in Both Houses

On Wednesday, the Senate and Assembly passed the DREAM act, named after the recently deceased former sponsor of the bill. The bill will allow undocumented children the ability to qualify for state aid for higher education, create a Dream Fund for college scholarship opportunities and remove barriers that prevent undocumented families from college saving programs. Another proposal long held by a republican majority in the Senate will now likely be signed into law by the Governor. This is the ninth time the bill has passed the Assembly.

Bill Sponsor, Senator Luis Sepúlveda said:

“I am honored to sponsor the José Peralta New York State DREAM Act. This essential piece of legislation will create new pathways to higher education for our bright undocumented students who form an important part of our American family. Immigrant workers make approximately 17 percent of the overall labor force in the U.S. In our state, that number is much higher. Immigrants are 25 percent of our labor force and add roughly $100 billion in consumer power to our economy yearly. Immigrant students will now reach even greater heights because of the improved access to a world-class education. Through the Jose Peralta New York State DREAM Act, our shared American dream becomes a reality for thousands of deserving young immigrants.”

Governor Cuomo’s Energy Czar Steps into Downsized Role

Richard Kauffman, Governor Cuomo’s energy czar, is stepping down as chairman of energy and finance, a role he has held since 2013. In that role, Kauffman was charged with coordinating all energy policy initiatives among the various agencies in order to provide a cohesive strategy. Kauffman will remain as chairman of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). It is unlikely that the position will be filled as it was created in the wake of Hurricane Sandy with the former Goldman Sachs executive in mind. “I think it’s fair to say I am changing my role rather than departing,” he said in an exclusive interview with POLITICO Wednesday. “I think I’ve been working for Governor Cuomo’s administration for six years. I worked at the Obama administration for a couple years before that. So eight years of full-time government service is a full dose of public service.”

Governor Announces Four New Metro-North Stations in the Bronx

Good news for east Bronx commuters, the Governor this week announced that projects will begin on adding four new Metro-North stations with service into Manhattan. The new service will bring Metro-North trains over the Hell Gate Bridge into Queens and will merge with the LIRR’s route through the East River Tunnels into Manhattan and west to Penn Station. The new stations will be located in Hunts Point, Parkchester/Van Nest, Morris Park, and Co-Op City. The MTA’s 2015-2019 Capital Program contained the initial investment of $695 million towards the project, including $250 million in State resources will be provided through Empire State Development. The MTA is seeking additional funding in the 2020-2024 Capital Program to complete the project.

Governor Directs SUNY/CUNY to Help Students Impacted by Shutdown

This week the Governor directed SUNY/CUNY officials to assist students impacted by the federal government shutdown providing temporary relief to students who are federal employees, dependents of federal employees, or who depend on loans from the federal government. Payments for tuition or other college related expenses will be postponed and any late fees will be waved.

Cuomo said:

“As the federal shutdown continues to devastate the hardworking men and women of this country, New York’s students are among those hit hardest by Washington’s inaction. We will not stand idly by as the federal administration undermines students’ ability to achieve a higher education, and today’s action will help ensure furloughed federal workers and their families get the support they need during this precarious time.”

Attorney General Announces Settlement with Walgreen Co.

This week the Attorney General announced a settlement has been reached with Walgreens as part of a joint effort with multiple states and the federal government. The settlement stems from the allegations that Walgreens violated the False Claims Act by billing Medicaid at rates higher than its usual and customary (U&C) rates for certain prescription drugs. New York will receive over $6.5 million of the total $209.2 million settlement.

Attorney General James said:

“My office will continue to investigate and stop unlawful practices that hurt New York State’s Medicaid Program. We will never let companies get away with illegally billing Medicaid with inflated amounts for prescription drugs.”

Attorney General Announces Settlement with Johnson & Johnson

Another settlement was reached this week between Johnson & Johnson, parent company of a medical device business known as DePuy Incorporated, and a coalition of 45 state attorneys general over misleading advertisement of the survivorship of one of their hip replacement products. New York will receive over $4.5 million of the $120 million settlement.

Comptroller Announces List of Fiscally Stressed School Districts

New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced the list of school districts that have been designated fiscally stressed by the Comptroller’s Fiscal Stress Monitoring System. The list includes 26 school districts that are fiscally stressed or susceptible to fiscal stress. Districts contained in this report do not include any school districts from the “Big Four” cities of Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers, which will be released later in the year. The Comptroller’s monitoring system does not monitor New York City districts. Only 12 districts were designated as stressed in both 2018 and 2017.

The Comptroller said:

“Despite the ongoing financial pressures facing school districts, our fiscal stress monitoring system has revealed encouraging results in several communities. However, school boards and superintendents must remain cautious. Today’s budget decisions can have long-lasting implications and can quickly move a district into fiscal stress.”

NYRA Board asks CEO to Step Down

NYRA announced this week that it had accepted the resignation of CEO and President Chris Kay. Kay took over at NYRA in 2013 and led the board through the recent re-privatization efforts. An anonymous source told the Albany Times Union that the board asked for Kay’s resignation after allegations that he used employees for maintenance and yard work on his own home for an extended period of time. NYRA officials and Kay declined to comment.

Monticello Raceway Casino to Close

Empire Resorts, Monticello Raceway Casino’s parent company, announced this week that the racino would be closing in April. The harness track is expected to remain open, for the time being, but no long-term guarantee was made in the filing submitted to the SEC. Nearby Resorts World Catskills casino will absorb the displaced workers.

Ryan Eller, Empire Resorts’ CEO, said

“This move will allow us to not only increase operational efficiencies but enhance the casino experience at Resorts World Catskills for our guests with access to the industry’s newest slot products and more than 150 live table games.”

Updates and Reminders

City & State NY’s weekly Winners & Losers here.

City & State NY’s Meet the New State Senators here.

City & State NY’s Meet the New State Assembly Members here.

The Buffalo News reports Ingersoll Rand to leave the state here.

A Rochester area domestic terrorist plot was foiled this week here.

US Supreme Court to hear a challenge to a NYC gun law here.

Coming Up

Joint Budget Hearing Schedule.

The NYS Gaming Commission will hold a meeting on Monday January 28 where it plans to discuss sports betting regulations.

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

The PSC will hold its next meeting on February 7th at 10:30am.

The Board of Regents will hold its next meeting on February 11th and 12th

The legislature will hold a joint public hearing on Sexual Harassment on February 13.

The Senate plans to hold a hearing on LIRR on-time performance, no date set currently.