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New Legislative Session Begins This Week In Albany

New York State Capitol ~ Albany New York ~ Major General Philip H Sheridan ~ Equestrian Statue
Onasill ~ Bill Badzo / flickr

November’s elections are behind us, and Wednesday, their consequences will be felt when the full state legislature convenes in Albany.

As lawmakers head to State Street, this week they're thinking about things like campaign finance and voting reforms, further legalization of marijuana and climate change.

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, a Republican from Canandaigua, ranks "the priorities of all New Yorkers" at the top of his list — he calls them "kitchen table issues."    "What can we do to repair our failing infrastructure. The problems we're having with subways. Transportation in New York City. Economic development programs that have failed. So that means we're not having good jobs. We have out-migration, population are leaving our state in droves. The high cost of property taxes, college education for families. All of these are what I believe and whet we believe are important to the everyday New Yorker."

Carrie Woerner, a Democrat from the 113th Assembly district, says rural communities are her chief concern.    "So I'm looking at rural health care and how any conversation about health care reform will apply in the context of rural delivery systems and rural medicine. I'm looking at community paramedicine and the opportunities that that has for ensuring for lowering hospital re-admits and for providing post-hospital care. I'm looking at how do we ensure that we have an adequate supply of family practicioners, of pediatricians, of obstetrics and gynecology in our rural communities. How do we strengthen our rural hospitals?"

Newly-elected Republican state Senator Daphne Jordan says she is excited to get to work for the people of the 43rd district. She’s replacing her former boss, the retired Republican Senator Kathy Marchione.  "I'm looking to advance any smart legislation that's out there. I'll work across the aisle, as long as it helps all New Yorkers, helps the upstate. I'll support good ideas and you know I also expect to be a fighter and marshall public opposition against bad and costly ideas."

110th district Assemblyman Phil Steck represents the Albany County Town of Colonie. The Democrat says he's excited about the new Democratic majority in the Senate, and the possibility that this will be the year for legislation he's promoted to allow all local governments to participate in county-insured health plans.   "I also am a very strong proponent of the stock transfer tax. New York state had a one-quarter of one percent, that's .0025 - that's about the lowest tax you ever heard of on the sale of stocks and bonds from 1905 to 1981. I'd like to see that re-instated."

Schoharie Republican Assemblyman Chris Tague of the 102nd district  is big on ethics reform and term limits.   "I myself support no more than six two-year terms for members of the Senate and the Assembly, and no more than two four-year terms for members of the executive branch. And as far as the ethics reform goes I think folks that have been convicted of crimes against the people of the state of New York within government, they should lose their pensions and retirement."

The legislative session begins Wednesday, and Governor Andrew Cuomo has already been sworn in for a third term.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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