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Can Senate Democrats become the majority in 2016?

The leadership battle in the New York State Senate has been an intriguing storyline since the 2008 election. You may remember the Democrats took control for the first time in four decades only to lose it for about a month in the summer of 2009 during the infamous coup, when two renegade members joined the Republicans before returning to the fold. In 2010, the GOP wrestled back control but two years later it looked like the Democrats might once again seize power until a breakaway group of fou...
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Brian Flynn/WMHT

A water crisis in the upstate village of Hoosick Falls

You've likely heard of the water crisis happening now in Flint, Michigan. Here in New York, one village in Rensselaer County is having one of their own.
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About two dozen tenants rights activists, as well as several Democratic State lawmakers were arrested at a protest on the lack of action so far on reforming New York City’s rent laws , which expire on June 15th, to include more protections for tenants.

Assemblyman Dick Gottfried, who has been in office for forty years, says he has not been arrested for civil disobedience since the 1990’s, but feels it’s important to make a point now, as there’s been little movement on changing the rent laws, less than two weeks before they sunset.

Karen Dewitt

One day after Governor Cuomo arranged a meeting  with some state lawmakers and Catholic Church leaders to promote the education tax credit, the measure seems to be losing support among Assembly Democrats, with some Democrats saying they are angered by tactics used by backers, which has included picketing their offices.

Matt Ryan/WMHT

Catholic bishops met at the governor’s mansion with some state lawmakers Monday for a meeting arranged by Governor Cuomo on the earned income tax credit.

New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, speaking after the lunch with Assemblymembers and Senators, says it was a positive discussion, and there may be hopes of compromise. The bill includes tax credits for donors who give money for scholarships for children at private and parochial schools.

“There seemed to be a conciliatory atmosphere,” Dolan said. “I just found it very helpful.”

Matt Ryan

Despite the arrest of the leaders of both houses of the legislature on corruption charges, Governor Cuomo and state lawmakers say they have no plans to pass any additional ethics reforms this session.

It appears likely that a legislative session in which the Speaker of the Assembly and President of the Senate have both been indicted will not end with any significant new reforms.

Governor Andrew Cuomo visited a state prison Thursday to announce he’s hiring more guards, and to push for a change in how 16 and 17 year olds are treated in the state prison system.

Matt Ryan/WMHT

The former leader of the State Senate was formally indicted on federal corruption charges Thursday. Senator Dean Skelos resigned as leader earlier in May after the accusations against him were announced by the US Attorney.

The indictment alleges that Senator Skelos and his son, Adam,  “ engaged in a  corrupt scheme to monetize” Dean Skelos’ position as head of the Senate. It accuses them of obtaining  hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes, and extortions from campaign donors to enrich the younger Skelos, who was struggling to find a steady job.

Matt Ryan/WMHT

In the final weeks of the legislative session, groups are lobbying for some of the major remaining issues still on the table, including the Mayor of New York, and groups who want a property tax break for homeowners struggling to hold on to their houses. And both accuse Governor Cuomo of not taking an active enough role.

New York State has a new education commissioner. The state board of Regents, after a lengthy closed door session, chose Mary Ellen Elia, a former Western New York school teacher who was most recently the superintendent of a large school district in Florida.

Matt Ryan / WMHT

A new poll finds Governor Andrew Cuomo with the lowest approval ratings since he took office, in a year where corruption scandals have dominated news at the Capitol.  

There’s a push by business groups and Republicans in the State Senate, as well as Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, to make the state’s 2% per year property tax cap permanent. Backers have issued a report to bolster their views, and say public opinion is on their side.    

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