Good Morning from Lake Placid…

f38b4591 617b 4f5d a096 b2b4d40ccfd5Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “30 Day” Amendments to the Executive Budget were released on Thursday. The Amendments included new proposals on expanding Medication Assisted Treatment—putting continued emphasis on the opioid crisis throughout the State—and the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act, which could dramatically expedite the State’s Article 10 process for permitting of renewable energy projects. You can read all of the amendments here.  The next step in the budget process will be the Assembly and Senate Budget proposals, expected in mid-March. 

As we await the Legislature’s proposals on Adult Use Marijuana, either in the One House Budgets or as standalone bills, Cuomo and his team will travel to four State’s where recreational marijuana is currently legal—Massachusetts, Illinois, California, and Colorado—where he will educate himself on “what worked and what did not work”. The Governor is pushing hard to get Adult Use Marijuana done in the Budget. These tours follow up on a series of summits of the summer with the Governors of Connecticut and New Jersey on a regional approach to recreational marijuana legalization. 

c7198599 0a7d 4fcd b39a 25f4a7063fe0The Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT II) held two more public comment forums this week—two more steps in a rushed process that has drawn skepticism from both the Legislature and the public for a lack of transparency and community engagement. Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan) said he believes the MRT’s proposals are merely a charade to mask “proposals written in December” by the Executive as part of a deliberative process with stakeholder throughout the State and the Legislature, and Senate Health Committee Chairman Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx) called their last public hearing “another dog and pony show.” The MRT, tasked with identifying $2.5 billion in Medicaid cuts, industry efficiencies and/or additional revenue before the April 1 budget deadline, will be meeting again on March 2. 

Outside of budget news, Cuomo and President Donald J. Trump remain in a stand-off over DHS’s removal of New Yorkers from trusted travel programs with no end in sight. In a move calculated to defuse the standoff while also giving some assurance to the undocumented immigrant community, Cuomo said late last week that he is exploring “alternatives” to access to the DMV database, including removing social security numbers and also increasing the penalty for unauthorized use of the data. As of today, the Trump administration has not offered a response. 

3c895604 f386 4729 8d29 69e7550ec823In Washington, the House Appropriators are two months away from the allocations process that will determine nearly $1.4 trillion in discretionary spending among the various federal agencies. Under the tentative schedule, the committee would wrap up all the markups by May 19, clearing the way for House Democratic leaders to try to achieve their goal of passing all the bills on the floor before the start of July. The Senate Appropriations Committee typically starts its process a little later. House and Senate appropriators have their work cut out for them this year, with only about $5 billion more to spread around the dozen spending bills than they had for measures covering the current fiscal year, ending Sept. 30. That skinny increase, allowed under the budget deal enacted last summer, is split evenly between defense and nondefense programs, for a less than 0.4 percent boost on average.

— Jack O’Donnell

27f03967 cf92 40ba b0de d1f012b75131

Bernie Sanders Decisively Wins Nevada Caucuses

Sen. Bernie Sanders won a resounding victory in the Nevada caucuses Saturday, providing another boost to an insurgent campaign that is challenging the Democratic establishment and stifling the plans of rivals who still hold out hope of stopping him. Sanders’s advantage in Nevada was overwhelming, with substantial leads in nearly every demographic group, allowing him to set down a marker in the first state with a significant share of nonwhite voters. [Read more.]

One Mike Bloomberg Spent $340 Million on Carefully Polished Ads. The Other Mike Bloomberg Stepped Onstage in Wednesday’s Debate.

For anyone who had watched the Democratic debate the night before, the man onstage in Salt Lake City on Thursday was difficult to reconcile with the one who had shown up Wednesday. It’s a problem his campaign is now grappling with, as it scrambles to regain momentum in the weeks before the make-or-break Super Tuesday primaries on March 3. The most expensive political campaign in American history has found itself at a crossroads, with two Mike Bloombergs running for president at the same time. [Read more.]

90bc1368 b4d4 4edf a307 881fd50fcf46

The Hockey Team That Beat the Soviets—and the 1970s Malaise

40th anniversary of the “Miracle on Ice”

It wasn’t at all clear on Feb. 22, 1980, that America would win the Cold War. One could make a case that the bad guys had us on the ropes. It was even harder to believe that U.S. amateurs could prevent the Soviet hockey machine from claiming its fifth straight Olympic gold medal. But the U.S. kids pulled off the greatest upset in sports history and inspired Americans to believe that we could beat the commies outside the rink, too. [Read more.]

e0395402 feb9 4ab3 be36 0a08feb8a899

Scandal-Plagued Bronx Politician Plots Against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

One of the most controversial pols in the City Council is trying to topple Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Councilman Mark Gjonaj — who has a record of taking campaign contributions from alleged mob affiliates — is helping Councilman Fernando Cabrera’s primary challenge to AOC. [Read more.]

5161b8b7 9904 4ab3 923d 6dcefda3726f

Nine Ways to Make Your Work Day Better

Is it reasonable to expect to enjoy your job? That’s a question many of us have wrestled with, often as we lie awake with anxious thoughts about our careers. But work doesn’t have to be awful. We could bring back satisfaction to our work by alleviating some of the excess stresses of our professions. Here are nine interventions from the book, based on workplace research. [Read more.]

bb0844f1 224b 4238 93e7 53b121fba33b

Labor’s Civil War Over ‘Medicare For All’ Threatens Its 2020 Clout

“Medicare for All” is roiling labor unions across the country, threatening to divide a critical part of the Democratic base ahead of several major presidential primaries. In union-heavy primary states like California, New York, and Michigan, the fight over single-payer health care is fracturing organized labor, sometimes pitting unions against Democratic candidates that vie for their support. [Read more.]

d59c1536 457b 41a5 920f 5efe3036eff7

Women Who Popped the Question

An old tradition holds that every leap year, on Feb. 29, women may propose marriage to men without censure or stigma. Sources disagree about the origin of this privilege. One attributes it to St. Brigid, who became concerned for all the unmarried women in 5th-century Ireland and persuaded St. Patrick to grant them this relief. Another gives the credit to Queen Margaret of Scotland, who supposedly had the custom written into Scottish law in 1288. [Read more.]