New York State Lawmakers Preview New Session
With Gov. Andrew Cuomo promising an aggressive agenda during the first 100 days of his third term, it figures to be a busy session when the full state legislature convenes in Albany January 9.
Legislators have a number of issues to tackle including marijuana, education, climate change and infrastructure spending. Democratic Assemblyman John McDonald represents the Capital Region’s 108th district: "There's a lot of different priorities. Obviously it's gonna be interesting now that we have all three branches of the legislature and the executive all the same political party, so it appears a lot of the issues that have been bottled up for years should be able to be addressed."
44th District Senator Neil Breslin of Albany predicts fellow-Democrats now in the majority will pass "a lot of progressive legislation." "We'll do campaign finance reform. We'll do voting reform. We'll allow early voting and absentee voting without an excuse, and we'll do the Child Victims Act. We'll try to do everything we can to satisfy school funding, both in New York City and the rest of the state as well. And to achieve a balance and parity, and that's just a few, and I might add under that upstate roads and bridges and then New York City subways and railroads."
Breslin believes areas of the state he reckons have "gone underserved for a number of years" will fare much better under the Democratic majorities.
North Country Republican Senator Betty Little of the 45th district is zeroing in on internet and telephone communications. "We still have many areas in our district that do not have broadband, do not have cell coverage. And in order to attract people to the North Country I think that we need it, not just for health and safety, but for our economy."
109th district Assemblywoman Pat Fahy of Albany: "I'm always optimistic that we'll have a lot of success on things that have been one-house bills for many many years like election reform and I hope some campaign finance issues, but also environmental and climate change bills that are very near and dear to me."
Fahy, also a Democrat, says she'll continue her push to legalize electric assisted bicycles. "That's a bill that's actually passed in the Senate. That's one that we have work to do in the Assembly. But we do have a new chair and I plant to talk to him as soon as we come back."
McDonald plans to focus on concerns constituents have brought to his attention, beginning with urban blight. "I'm trying to accelerate the foreclosure process on abandoned properties. Properties where nobody steps up and takes care of them because at the end of the day the taxpayers are burdened with it and it also hurts the neighborhood."
46th District Senator George Amedore, a Republican from Rotterdam, has a message for both houses. "I hope that the governor and the new majority in the Senate and in the Assembly realize that New York state has a huge problem, and this the out-migration of population. Now we have the reports that New York state may lose two congressional seats in the next reapportionment or census year coming up. That is extremely disturbing, and we have in Upstate New York have really lost great people, lotta good working talent, skilled labor, they're going elsewhere because they can't afford New York. The taxes are too high, the cost of living is too high, and we need a government that will listen and get the work done to make New York more affordable."