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Blair Horner

  • Each governor annually issues a “State of the State.” This is required by the state Constitution, “The governor shall communicate by message to the legislature at every session the condition of the state, and recommend such matters to it as he or she shall judge expedient.” From that one sentence, New York’s State of the State addresses have evolved into a long speech – usually around one hour – in which governors use the bully pulpit to largely congratulate themselves and lawmakers on the great achievements that been made.
  • Governor Kathy Hochul has been sworn in to her first full term as governor and state lawmakers return this week to Albany. While the swearing-in of Governor Hochul marks the first time a woman has been elected as the state’s chief executive, in many ways January 2023 is not markedly different than 2022.
  • Concern over the fate of American democracy hit a fever pitch after the coup attempt by former President Trump following his election loss in 2020. Americans across the nation expressed their worries to pollsters earlier this year when it was reported that more than half of all American adults believed democracy is not working well.
  • New York's Climate Action Council began its work two years ago and last week publicly released its plan. The 400-plus page document is expected to be approved with little or no changes at a meeting of the Council this week.
  • The elections are over, the year is winding down, and . . . a pay raise for state legislators may be in the offing. Historically, pay raises have been considered right after elections since lawmakers know that the public doesn’t support raises and it gives them a couple of years to cool off. Holiday-filled December is usually the month and so rumors abound in Albany that this is the year for another one.
  • New York’s efforts to finalize its political boundaries for the State Legislature entered a new phase last week. A Redistricting Commission – made up of equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans – released a proposed map for the New York State Assembly. This proposed map is set for public hearings over the next few months with legislative action to follow. The plan is for the new Assembly maps to be in place in time for the 2024 election.
  • This past election New Yorkers were inundated by political ads paid for by Big Money. Huge campaign contributions from lobbyists and those who have contracts – or are seeking them –with the government, as well as unlimited spending by wealthy special interest patrons, dominated the political landscape. Those groups spoke with the equivalent of a megaphone amplified through rock-arena speakers. In contrast the voices of average New Yorkers were barely a whisper.
  • Americans made their way to the polls last week and collectively voted to keep the status quo, more or less. The U.S. Senate will remain in Democratic Party control with a razor thin majority; control of the House is still up for grabs. Whichever party ends up in the majority, that margin will also be small.
  • As the nation focused on the midterm elections, the world’s attention has been on Egypt, the location of the COP27 – the meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) – the 27th United Nations Climate Change conference. The conference started November 6th and will continue until November 18th. COP27 is this year’s annual gathering of nations to advance the world’s attempts to minimize the ongoing – and worsening – climate crisis. At these events, countries review and revise their pledges to curb greenhouse gas emissions – largely those produced by the burning of oil, coal, and gas.
  • A poll released by the The New York Times and Siena College Research Institute last week found that over 70 percent of registered voters agreed that democracy was “under threat.” Given the lies about the 2020 election being “stolen,” such a view is not surprising. But the poll found that the concerns ran much deeper.