Good morning from Wellington, New Zealand where Team USA and the Netherlands played to a 1-1 draw last week in the 2023 Women’s World Cup. The Americans currently sit at 1-0-1 and have their final match of the Group Stage at 3 a.m. on Tuesday morning against Portugal. Let’s go USWNT!
Back in New York, Republicans filed a notice of appeal seeking to overturn an Appellate Court’s decision ordering the State’s Congressional lines be redrawn prior to next year’s election. The decision was a major win for Democrats and their hopes to win a majority in the House of Representatives. Now, Republicans are hoping the Court of Appeals, the State’s highest court, will reverse course and allow the current maps to remain in place. The Court of Appeals is on recess until September 12th while the State Constitution requires election map making to be completed by September 15th, giving credence to one of the Republicans’ main arguments that there is simply not enough time to draw and enact new maps before the deadline.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding Congressional maps, there remains a great deal of interest!
On Long Island, New York State Senator Kevin Thomas announced his campaign for Congress in NY-04 against incumbent Republican Rep. Anthony D’Esposito. NY-04 was one of the five districts flipped by Republicans in 2022 and Democrats widely view it as one of the most favorable for them heading into 2024. Sen. Thomas was the first Indian American to win state office in New York and in 2018, won in a traditionally Republican held district. Five other Democrats have filed to run in the primary, including former Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen who lost to D’Esposito in 2022, and Sarah Hughes, a former Olympic figure skater.
In Central New York, Senator John Mannion announced his candidacy for Congress in the Syracuse-based NY-22 district. The seat is currently held by first term Republican Rep. Brandon Williams and, like NY-04, Democrats view the district as winnable.
Mannion has been a prolific fundraiser during his time in the State Senate and, as a former teacher, has enjoyed the support of the state teachers union who are likely to support him in this race as well.
Mannion also won a close race in a very competitive seat altered by last year’s redistricting process. Sarah Klee Hood, an Air Force veteran who finished in second place in the 2022 primary, is also running for the Democratic nomination.
State Senator James Skoufis, a Democrat from Orange County and Chair of the Senate Committee on Investigations and Government Operations, has submitted a criminal referral to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office over alleged wrongdoing by the County’s Industrial Development Agency (IDA). The referral comes after an investigation by Skoufis’ Senate Committee over improper granting of tax incentives to local businesses, specifically Milmar Foods. Skoufis offered, “We’ve known for some time that when an Orange County applicant comes to town looking for corporate welfare, they’ll say ‘jump’ and the Orange County IDA will always respond with ‘how high?’ without any consideration of the facts.”
In other major government news, Governor Kathy Hochul announced the appointment of Blake Washington as the State Budget Director. Washington previously served as Secretary to the Assembly Ways and Means Committee where he has worked since 2002. The Governor offered, “With years of public service and a deep knowledge of the budget process, Blake is the perfect leader to take the helm at the Division of the Budget.” That appointment was immediately followed by an announcement from Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie naming Philip Fields as the new secretary to the Ways and Means Committee and Matthew Golden as Director of Budget Studies. Budget Director is one of the most significant and consequential positions in state government and Washington commands enormous respect in Albany and across the State. Another great choice by Hochul.
In Washington, D.C., Congress is officially on their six-week recess with no shortage of work awaiting lawmakers when they return. One of those items, a House GOP-led extension of Trump-era tax cuts, is in jeopardy over objections from moderate Republican members, largely in vulnerable districts. The “SALT Caucus” is working with Democrats to prevent a cap on the amount taxpayers can deduct from federal income tax for state and local taxes (SALT). The $10,000 cap tends to impact taxpayers in states with higher state and local taxes and now, Republicans from those states are using the narrow GOP majority in the House to force a change on the issues. Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY), who said he will vote against the tax package if it does not lift the SALT cap said, “As has been evidenced in this Congress, there’s strength in numbers and we have the numbers.”
The House ended up adjourning for recess one day early last week over a disagreement on another issue, the Agricultural Appropriations Bill. Leadership had hoped to bring the bill to the floor before the recess but moderates and Freedom Caucus members remained at odds over spending cuts. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise downplayed the infighting saying, “There’s members that want to do deeper cuts. There’s other members who have been vocal that they won’t support the bill under deeper cuts. So, we’re still having some fun on negotiations.” Scalise indicated the House will take up the bill when they return in September, but did not specify any potential changes to placate either side. Democrats demanded a vote now, but simply do not have the votes.
Ohio, like six other states have done in 2022, is attempting to codify the right to abortion in the state constitution via a ballot measure. Reproductive rights activists have collected over 700,000 signatures, more than enough to get the initiative on November’s ballot, but have run into a new hurdle. Republicans have filed a ballot measure of their own that would require all new amendments receive 60% of the vote, an increase from the current simple majority. Also working against Democrats, the Republican measure will appear on the August 8th special election ballot and if passed, would apply to the abortion initiative in November. The issue has driven turnout for Democrats in places as unlikely as Kansas, but only two of the six states that passed abortion ballot initiatives cleared that 60% threshold.
Proud client moment…
Bethlehem Steel, once the epicenter of the steel industry, is now being transformed into a major hub for a new industry …sugar! Sucro Sourcing, an Ontario-based sugar refining company, has invested $35 million in facilities upgrades and repurposing equipment in order to ramp-up operations. (📸: Before)
Board Chairman Don Hill has said they have plans to expand production at the site, creating additional jobs for
the surrounding communities and helping to revitalize a manufacturing corridor that has largely sat vacant. (📸: After)
As we head into August, here’s something to consider before the summer gets away from us: Americans are taking off work and vacationing more than they have in over a decade. In some cases, their employers are forcing them to. In similar fashion, Monday Morning Memo will be on vacation the last two weeks of August, but returns on September 4th!
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