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Good Morning from Albany, New York where the Assembly spent two days in town last week. It was a relatively quiet end to the 2023 Legislative Session, but noteworthy action included passage of a bill banning employer non-compete agreements as well as a measure to require LLCs to disclose their beneficial owners.

More notable is what did not get done, including addressing healthcare for immigrants, passing “Sammy’s Law” to allow New York City to set its own speed limits, and a comprehensive housing plan. Lawmakers also left Albany without formalizing a new compact with the Seneca Nation. As it stands, the State and the Senecas need to negotiate a new deal after an earlier agreement in principle failed to achieve legislative authorization in the face of zealous opposition, especially to the secret plan to allow a new Rochester area casino. The opposition came from the Monroe County state delegation, organized labor, editorial boards, and good government groups more broadly.

Assemblyman Harry Bronson, an influential member of the Rochester delegation, has strongly opposed the plan to add a casino offering, “What happens from here is that the governor’s folks and the Seneca Nation need to go back to the negotiation table and try to come up with an alternative plan.” Whatever deal is eventually reached, there will be widespread pressure to publish the terms before any vote by the Legislature. The current compact expires in December, but can be extended through mutual agreement of the Executive and the Seneca Nation.

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New hope for a Seneca Gaming Compact?

Albany’s attention now turns to the 896 bills approved by both the Senate and Assembly. While Governor Hochul has ten days to sign or veto those bills, the Legislature has until the end of the calendar year to officially transmit the bills to her, officially beginning that ten-day window. Expect dribs and drabs to be sent for consideration each week. 

The under-the-radar story of the week is that tomorrow is Primary Election Day! 

Some notable primaries to watch: 
New York City Council 

In New York’s City Council, a number of incumbent Democrats are facing primary challenges from the center of the party. Councilwoman Marjorie Velazquez (Listen to her interview on ‘From the Lobby with Jack O’Donnell’), a first term councilmember from the Bronx, has two primary challengers taking a more moderate lane. In Harlem, there are three candidates running for the seat vacated by Kristin Richardson Jordan, a Democratic Socialist. 

Queens & Bronx District Attorney

In Queens, incumbent District Attorney Melinda Katz is facing a serious primary challenge from George Grosso who has accused her of being soft on crime. In the Bronx, Tess Cohen, a criminal defense attorney, is challenging incumbent DA Darcell Clark and has espoused herself to be the more progressive choice.

Buffalo Common Council 

There are a number of competitive City Council races in Buffalo this cycle including in the Ellicott District where Council President Darius Pridgen decided to forgo reelection. Leah Halton-Pope, a senior advisor to Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, is running against Matt Dearing, a former staffer for Assemblyman Pat Burke, Eddie Egriu, a community organizer, and a former Buffalo Police Officer, Cedric Holloway. In the Masten District, Zeneta Everhart, a senior advisor to state Senator Tim Kennedy is running against India Walton who nearly beat Mayor Byron Brown in 2021. 

Erie County Legislature 

In the GOP primary for the 10th district, Lindsay Bratek-Lorigo was recently endorsed by Carl Paladino in her race against James Malczewski. The endorsement reportedly caused one of Bratek-Lorigo’s campaign consultants to resign over concerns regarding Paladino’s past inflammatory and racist statements. 

Rochester City Council 

Mary Lupien, the current Council Vice President, is facing a strong primary challenge from Paul Conrow (Listen to his interview on ‘From the Lobby with Jack O’Donnell’)an East High school teacher and self-described “extreme moderate.” In the South District, community organizer Barbara Rivera is running against incumbent LaShay Harris. 

You can find your polling place here

In Washington, D.C., an Appropriations showdown is heating up that will rival the recent debt ceiling morass. The date to keep in mind is September 30th, which—as we discussed last week—has multiple authorizations due and funding for the Federal Government will also expire. Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to advance all twelve appropriations bills along party lines. The $1.59 Trillion Package—which is capped by the recent debt ceiling agreement—will be the Democrats’ opening salvo in negotiations with the House GOP.

“The challenges we face under the limits imposed by the debt ceiling deal do not get easier or better if we start going backward, if we abandon our return to regular order, or write unserious bills. And as we all know, chaos only helps those who want to see our government shut down, including our adversaries—like the governments of Russia and China—who are rooting for Congress to descend into chaos,” said Senate Appropriations Chair Patty Murray, during the Committee markup on Thursday.

For Fiscal Year 2024, the Fiscal Responsibility Act, which contained the debt ceiling authorization, sets statutory limits of $886.3 billion in new budget authority for defense, and $703.7 billion in new budget authority for nondefense, for a total of $1.59 trillion in new budget authority. The House GOP’s Appropriations package would slash funding levels negotiated by Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy by $120 billion, leaving very little room for agreement between House GOP and Senate Democrats.
“Because of years of out-of-control spending, it has been and will continue to be my priority to pass conservative bills that focus our limited resources on the core responsibilities of the federal government, including national defense, our veterans, and our border. The Fiscal Responsibility Act set a topline spending cap – a ceiling, not a floor – for Fiscal Year 2024 bills,” said House Appropriations Chair Kay Granger.

President Biden hosted a state dinner for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week. While not treaty-bound allies, the U.S. has been cultivating closer ties with India as a cudgel against China’s influence in the region.

In his remarks at the dinner, President Biden offered “With this Official State Visit, we are bringing together the world’s oldest and the world’s largest democracies. After years of strengthening ties, the U.S.-India partnership is deep and expansive as we jointly tackle global challenges.” UB President Satish Tripathi, originally from India, was in attendance for Modi’s speech to a Joint Session of Congress as a guest of Congressman Brian Higgins.

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There will be no Monday Morning Memo next week as the O’Donnell & Associates team celebrates the Fourth of July.
If you’re traveling next Holiday weekend, here are some travel trips from a man who has flown $23 million miles since buying a lifetime flying pass from United for $290,000 in 1990. 

And finally…
The famed midtown bar Rosie O’Grady’s is closing its doors on July 1st. The local watering hole became a regular stop for celebrities such as JFK Jr. whose magazine, George, was headquartered just blocks away. 

Jack O’Donnell

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Our Alec Lewis talks to former State Senator Anna Kaplan on how she plans to turn one of NY’s battleground Congressional districts from red to blue in 2024.





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Senator Schumer, At Former Bethlehem Steel Site, Reveals New ONSHORE Act

OD&A joined Chuck Schumer and Buffalo area dignitaries as the Senate Majority Leader revealed new federal legislation to create critical new federal investment into industrial sites across Upstate New York and bring good-paying manufacturing jobs back from overseas to places like Western NY. [Read more.]




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New To The NYS Legislature

Assembly Member Scott Gray was elected to the New York State Assembly after beating Conservative Susan Duffy in the 2022 General Election and previously defeating Duffy in a Republican Primary Election last June.

His district is comprised of parts Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties.

As a small business owner, Assembly Member Gray vowed to support policies that promote job creation and growth, including extending efforts to invest and protect the critical agriculture and tourism industries. He also supports cultivating the significant cultural and economic connection with Fort Drum in the community.

Known for working across the aisle to get the job done, Assembly Member Gray served as Chairman of the Jefferson County Board of Legislators for six years, and as a legislator for a total of 21 years. He has served his community in a variety of capacities as a board member of numerous local organizations including the United Way of NNY and the Carthage Area Hospital Board.

Assembly Member Gray is proud to have recently received the Secretary of the Army’s Public Service Commendation Medal, which is awarded in recognition of service or achievements that contribute significantly to the accomplishment of an Army activity.

Assembly Member Gray is the fourth-generation owner of Gray’s Flower Shop in Watertown; he currently lives in Watertown.





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Client News: Court Upholds Tonawanda’s Right to Take Over Long-Shuttered Huntley Power Plant

The Town of Tonawanda has tried and failed for years to bring development to a prime – if problematic – parcel of waterfront property. That may be about to change. A state court has ruled that the town has the right to use eminent domain to take over the former Huntley power station site. [Read more.]