Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Sen. John Flanagan are at odds over opioids.

Opioids Create a Strange Alignment: Cuomo Agreeing with Democrats

In the closing days of the legislative session, the opioid crisis is turning into the latest flashpoint. State Senate Republicans passed a bill to make it easier for law enforcement to arrest drug dealers and impose longer sentences. Meanwhile, Gov. Cuomo has lined up with the Assembly Democrats in advocating for more treatment, including more insurance coverage for substance abuse counseling and rehabilitation.

The state legislative session ends next week, meaning that the “three men in a room” will need to agree to something over the next week in order to enact it into law.

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Cuomoville, as activists are calling it: a big protest against Cuomo's housing policies.

Housing Activists Camp Out for Action from Cuomo

A coalition of housing groups is planning to camp out to pressure Gov. Andrew Cuomo to stop the growing problem of homelessness and take action to protect renters.

The groups involved include some of the most active in New York City: Alliance for Tenant Power (an umbrella organization of eight other groups including New York Communities for Change, Make the Road NY, and others), Community Voices Heard, Vocal-NY, Citizen Action of New York and Manufactured Housing Action. They’re going to erect what they’ve called “Cuomoville” outside Gov. Cuomo’s office to demand action.

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Andrew Cuomo at the New York Fights Back rally. Is he using it to lay the groundwork to run for President?

Cuomo Takes on Republicans (or at least some of them)

Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched a campaign to go after Republicans. Standing beside House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Cuomo declared that New York would fight back to take back Congress district-by-district.

Yet this “New York Fights Back” is an interesting campaign.

Why now?

For one, Cuomo has not previously expressed much interest in Congress. In 2011, his first year as Governor, he promised to veto gerrymandered districts; instead he settled for a half-measure that won’t take effect until 2022. When the State Senate and Assembly deadlocked over how to gerrymander the districts, he allowed a court to draw the Congressional lines for New York without offering any input. In 2014, former Rep. Steve Israel (Long Island), then-chair of the national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, panned Cuomo’s efforts in an interview with the New York Times: “We had conversations several months ago with the governor’s staff about helping to organize and coordinate a campaign and I didn’t see the fruition to those conversations.”

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Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio

Cuomo and de Blasio engaged in more one-upmanship?

Mayor Bill de Blasio is planning on signing new laws this week to help low-wage workers. So, of course, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration is trying to pull one over on them.

In this case, the issue is low-wage worker scheduling. The city’s rules would forbid stores and fast-food restaurants from cancelling workers’ shifts without notice. It would also require that companies increase workers’ hours before hiring new employees. The state rules are still being formulated and might apply to more workers. However, the regulations could be weaker on the city rules and prevent New York City and other localities from imposing stricter rules.

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Recently, countdown clocks have shown more and more delays for subway riders.

MTA Leaving Subway Riders High and Dry

  • After weeks of increasingly severe subway delays, the MTA voted on a new spending plan that does not include additional money for repairs and could lead to higher fares.
  • Advocates and unions say more money is needed to actually fix the MTA.
  • Cuomo’s promises of attention so far haven’t translated into significant action.

Just a day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a contest to quickly improve the subways following mounting delays, the MTA board voted for a spending plan that showed where its priorities really are: not with riders.

What’s in the new spending plan?

The MTA voted for $3 billion in new spending between now and 2019. That money will go toward these main expenses:

  • $1.5 billion for a new Long Island Rail Road track
  • $700 million to begin construction on the second phase of the Second Avenue Subway
  • $400 million to replace tollbooths with electronic systems

Replacing the subway’s outdated, Great Depression-era technology did not get any additional funding and the MTA actually pushed back work on the 8th Ave A/C/E lines until 2020. They also cut over $1 billion in funding for new trains.

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New York's Constitutional Convention won't look quite like this.

Will New York have a Constitutional Convention?

In November, New Yorkers will vote on whether to hold a constitutional convention (or Con Con, as its been called). For many parts of the state, it’ll be the most consequential and contentious election of the year. But what’s it all about?

A Constitutional Convention? What’s that?

Remember your old high school history textbook with Washington, Hamilton, Franklin, and Madison coming together in Philadelphia to write the Constitution? Well so New York’s Constitutional Convention will be a little like that, but for New York and without the Founding Fathers.

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Trump's signature healthcare plan will have vast impacts for New York.

Trumping the AHCA? How New York will respond to Trumpcare

Since the House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act and its impact on New York has become more clear, the reaction has been angry towards the Republican Party which pushed it through. After several false starts with Paul Ryan repeatedly delaying a vote on Donald Trump’s signature proposal, the measure squeaked by on a 217 to 213 vote. A series of polls in early May found a paltry 31% approval rating for the plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, while nearly 50% of the country disapproved.

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IDC Leader Jeff Klein and Republican Leader John Flanagan could be in trouble because of the Senate lulu scandal.

Why the Senate Lulu Scandal Might Be Trouble for Everyone

Right now, the top news in the New York politics is the story of the State Senate’s lulu payments, the extra money that legislators in leadership positions earn. A New York Times investigation discovered that seven Senators (three Independent Democrats and four Republicans) earned lulus for positions they did not hold. While the legal fallout is unclear, the consequences will reverberate throughout New York politics.

Thanks to his coalition with the eight-member Independent Democratic Conference, Republican Leader John Flanagan (Long Island) leads the Senate even though there are 32 Democrats and only 31 Republicans. To maintain support, he arranged for seven Republican and Independent Democratic Conference members to earn larger lulus by paying committee vice-chairs as if they chaired the committees. This continued a practice of his predecessor, Dean Skelos (since convicted for corruption). Flanagan must have figured no one would notice.

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