Good Morning from New York…

speaker heastieGovernor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State Address will be held January 8th, coinciding with the first day of the 2020 Legislative Session. A separate budget address will be held on or before January 21st. The $6.1 billion budget deficit gives added urgency to that fiscal plan. Expect a litany of State of the State policy proposals to be rolled sooner including Cuomo’s first State of the State proposal to ban individuals that have committed crimes in other states from owning guns in New York. 

The State’s Public Campaign Financing Commission’s controversial recommendations from last month are set to become law this Sunday, December 22nd. Many legislative opponents have made clear a desire to amend the recommendations prior to their implementation in 2026, two years after the next Gubernatorial Election. 

Meanwhile, the Conservative and Working Family Parties continue to challenge the Commission’s very existence. Arguments were made last week in a Niagara Falls courtroom. The lawsuit, originally filed in July, contends that the delegation of power  to the Commission is unconstitutional. After nearly three hours of legal arguments Thursday, State Supreme Court Justice Ralph Boniello did not say when he would rule. A decision could overturn the Commission’s work, although it seems likely  his ruling will be appealed to higher courts. We will be continuing to follow this case, and potential legislative action,  throughout 2020 and perhaps beyond.
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In Washington D.C., decision makers are managing the parallel tracks of impeachment proceedings as well as the task of governing including Fiscal Year 2020 funding agreements and major trade agreements. The House Judiciary Committee, led by Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) (pictured)  ratified Articles of Impeachment against President Donald Trump in back to back votes of 23 to 17 along strictly party lines last Friday. This sets the full House up for a vote on the articles of impeachment this Wednesday. Amidst the fierce partisan back drop of the impeachment hearings, Senate and House Appropriations Chairs Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Representative Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) reached an agreement in principle to fund the Government for all of Fiscal Year 2020, that bill includes $1.375 billion for Trump’s border wall (far short of the President’s $5 billion request.) Legislative staff worked over the weekend drafting the 12 appropriations bills and hope to bring the Legislation to floor votes this week ahead of the midnight deadline on Friday. 

1858bc08 d54d 4614 b93a 94867f63ccf8In addition to a possible funding deal, the White House reached an agreement with House Democrats to move forward on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Free Trade Agreement, which was more than a year in the making as Republicans and Democrats worked through contentious issues on labor, the environment, intellectual property, and the digital economy. United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer  (pictured) admitted that Democrats “had won the House,” as House Democrats celebrated “major wins.” The White House will now submit ratifying Legislation to Congress, which could be finalized before the end of the year although one issue appears to remain. Further, Lighthizer and the White House also announced a deal with China that will reduce some US tariffs on Chinese goods in exchange for increased Chinese purchases of US agricultural, manufactured and energy products by some $200 billion over the next two years.

 — Jack O’Donnell

NYS GOP Senators Face Steeper Climb to Regain Seats

NY Senate GOP leaderNew York State Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan acknowledged Wednesday that he faces a steep path to retake the chamber majority next year, especially with many of his GOP colleagues not seeking re-election. Since Thanksgiving, four Republicans said they wouldn’t run for re-election, expanding the field of open seats in November. The coming vacancies include districts in the Hudson Valley and Western New York, where Democrats have an enrollment edge. In power in Albany for the first time in a decade, Democrats have advanced a more progressive agenda, passing rent overhauls and tighter emissions standards, among other measures that had long been held up by Republicans.
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The D.N.C. Chairman Knows No One Is Happy. Neither Is He.

Being a national chairman for the party DNC chairthat doesn’t hold the White House is among the worst jobs in American politics. It’s a high-profile position with little power. There is endless grief from fretting party regulars and nonstop comparisons to the president’s party, which has the president himself as its chief fund-raiser. [Read more.].

Congratulations to our Washington Mike Merola headshotcolleague, Mike Merola, who was recognized as one of The Hill’s Top Lobbyists of 2019. In a busy and testing year for the influence world, Mike was among the people who wielded their clout and knowledge most effectively in delivering results for their clients in the halls of Congress and the administration. 

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How John Williams’s Star Wars Score Pulls Us To The Dark Side

It’s said that the Devil gets the best tunes. That maxim applies to Sith lords, too.

Within Star Wars’ ever-expanding library of leitmotifs — recurring, malleable musical symbols — much of the most insinuating material belongs to the villains, from Darth Maul to Jabba the Hutt to Supreme Leader Snoke. [Read more.]

Real Estate’s Nemesis May Be Its Best Hope in Albany

The New York State Assembly for years passed tenant-friendly bills, and the Senate killed them.

NY Assembly SpeakerBut now the Assembly — and its speaker, Carl Heastie — may represent the real estate industry’s best chance in Albany. With the Senate lurching from the Assembly’s right flank to its left last session, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s priorities shifting, what had long been dead-end legislation started reaching the governor’s desk — and getting signed. When the legislature reconvenes next month, other measures anathema to property owners, such as “good cause” eviction, are liable to pass. [Read more.]

Jacobs School of Medicine 

UB Launches Health Disparities Research Institute

The University at Buffalo has launched another new resource to help address health disparities on Buffalo’s East Side. The UB Community Health Equity Research Institute will bring together researchers from the university with community partners and faculty, as well as students from 10 UB programs. [Read more.]

Strong Museum of Play

The Strong National Museum of Play Launched a New Game to Raise Money for Expansion Project

Powered by Play is available online. Sharing the game on social media unlocks more levels to play which promote and raise money for the museum’s expansion.