House approves opioid bill with Maloney, Faso pieces

Both Reps. John Faso and Sean Patrick Maloney got proposals they pushed for included in a bill combating the opioid crisis that sailed through the House on Thursday.

For Faso, a Kinderhook Republican, it was a measure intended to curb the mailing of deadly synthetic opioids like fentanyl from China and other countries by enabling postal authorities to track and try to intercept packages from known sources before they leave for the U.S. Faso became the prime sponsor for that legislation this year after a previous sponsor left Congress.

Maloney’s contribution was a new requirement that the federal government publish an annual report on internet opioid sales and the covert websites that peddle those drugs.

“The fact that we don’t even know the extent of this problem is just crazy to me,” Maloney, a Cold Spring Democrat, said Friday in response to the bill’s passage. “This bill will make that right and put another tool in our toolbox to fight this epidemic.”

The House voted 353-52 for compromise legislation that had both Faso’s and Maloney’s measures.

“This legislation is the result of input and compromise from members of both parties in the House and Senate,” Faso said in a statement. “I’m encouraged that we came together to craft a real solution to this problem that is realistic, implementable, and effective. This is a big step in our fight to rid our communities of deadly synthetic drugs, such as fentanyl.”

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Assembly passes single-payer health plan again (updated)

A perennial bill to institute single-payer health insurance coverage for all New Yorkers cleared the Assembly for the fourth year in a row in a party-line vote on Thursday.

The Democratic proposal would replace the hodgepodge of private and public medical insurance with universal government coverage, funded with federal money already going into programs such as Medicaid and Medicare and a new payroll tax, similar to the existing one for Medicare. Employers would pay at least 80 percent of the payroll tax. New Yorkers would have no network restrictions, co-pays or deductibles.

“The Assembly Majority believes that decisions regarding medical care should not be based on cost,” Speaker Carl Heastie said after the 91-46 vote. “Despite Washington’s efforts to undermine access to affordable care, we recognize that New Yorkers, and all Americans, deserve a healthcare system that guarantees coverage for all.”

All three Democrats representing Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties – Kevin Cahill, Aileen Gunther and James Skoufis – voted in support. The region’s two Republican Assembly members – Karl Brabenec and Brian Miller – opposed the bill.

Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, the Republican candidate for governor, blasted the bill for adding a new tax burden and putting the state in control of health care.

“While Albany-run government-based health care legislation was passed today by the New York State Assembly, it isn’t going anywhere in the Senate this year, and that’s a good thing,” Molinaro said. “But passage of the bill reveals a dangerous mindset, first the absolute willingness of some legislators to impose a huge additional tax burden on already struggling New Yorkers.”

(Update: Tom Basile, one of two Republicans competing to run against Skoufis for the 39th Senate District seat, let fly at Skoufis on Friday for supporting “state-run socialized medicine” and “a proposal straight out of the Bill de Blasio and Bernie Sanders agenda.”

“High quality healthcare shouldn’t be a privilege, but a $200 billion expansion of state government we can’t afford won’t improve services or lower costs,” Basile said. “Mr. Skoufis and New York City Democrats’ support for this bill means they support doubling income taxes, doubling the state budget and kicking New Yorkers off of their insurance.”)

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Three Dems spend $700K in leadup to NY19 primary

Three of the seven Democrats competing in a June 26 primary to challenge Republican Rep. John Faso each spent more than $700,000 on TV ads, mailings and other campaign expenses in a little over two months, according to financial reports filed with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday.

The top spenders from April 1 to June 6 – the final reporting period before the primary – were Pat Ryan, $774,215; Antonio Delgado, $744,588; and Brian Flynn, $714,133.

Delgado, who has been the most prodigious fundraiser in the field, collected almost $340,000 during the latest reporting period, the most by far of any of the candidates.

Here are the amounts each Democrat running for New York’s 19th Congressional District raised and spent from April 1 to June 6 and how much they had in their accounts as of June 6:

Jeff Beals

Raised: $51,767

Spent: $77,132 (plus $28,000 loan repayment)

On hand: $32,750

Dave Clegg

Raised: $127,699 (includes $90,000 he loaned his campaign)

Spent: $113,897 (plus $190,000 he repaid himself)

On hand:$275,730

Erin Collier

Raised: $66,604

Spent: $70,700

On hand: $56,992

Antonio Delgado

Raised: $337,875

Spent: $744,588

On hand: $758,800

Brian Flynn

Raised: $119,452 (includes $50,000 he loaned his campaign)

Spent: $714,133

On hand: $301,968

Gareth Rhodes

Raised: $112,912

Spent: $286,605

On hand: $303,985

Pat Ryan

Raised: $296,469 (includes $50,000 he loaned his campaign)

Spent: $774,215

On hand: $468,902

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Coates joins Dem race for 104th Assembly district

A former Poughkeepsie councilman and school board president has joined the field of Democrats looking to succeed the late Frank Skartados as assemblyman for the 104nd District.

Ralph Coates, director of the after-school Liberty Partnership Program in Newburgh, announced his candidacy on Thursday for an Assembly district that consists of the cities of Newburgh, Poughkeepsie and Beacon and towns of Newburgh, Marlborough and Lloyd. Skartados, a Milton Democrat, represented the district for eight years until his death from pancreatic cancer in April.

Coates may compete with two Democrats in a Sept. 13 primary for the 104th Assembly District. The Orange County Democratic Committee endorsed county Legislator Kevindaryan Lujan to run for that seat last month, and Newburgh Councilman Jonathan Jacobson – a former Orange County Democratic chairman – also plans to run for the seat.

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Cuomo leads Molinaro by 19 points in Siena poll

Gov. Andrew Cuomo leads Marc Molinaro, the Republican candidate for governor, by 19 percentage points in a Siena College poll released Wednesday, which shows the two-term Democrat dominating in New York City, ahead by a large margin in the suburbs, and trailing the Dutchess County executive among upstate voters.

Asked who they would vote for if the election were held today, the 745 likely voters Siena called last week picked Cuomo over Molinaro by 56 percent to 37 percent. The split in New York City’s suburbs – which includes Orange County – was 55-38 percent for Cuomo. Upstate, which includes Ulster and Sullivan counties, went 49-43 percent for Molinaro.

Cuomo led Cynthia Nixon, the actress and activist who’s challenging him in a Democratic primary, by 61-26 percent, a 35-point spread. Yet Nixon also led Molinaro, by 46-35 percent, in an election matchup between those two candidates.

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Assembly GOP demands oversight of “lump sum” spending

The Assembly’s Republican minority is pushing a one-house bill in the closing days of this year’s session to impose stricter oversight of how the state doles out economic development money and budgetary “lump sums.”

Among other provisions, the bill would require the state comptroller, budget director and attorney general to review every pending grant to make sure the recipient has no conflict of interest. It also would mandate that lawmakers see and approve lists of grants that would be distributed through undefined lump sums like the State and Municipal Facilities Program, a pork-barrel funding pot that majority-party lawmakers tap to give out money in their districts.

Republicans staged a press conference with the advocacy group Reclaim New York on Wednesday to promote the bill, which Assembly Democrats put on hold in committee in April. They timed it to coincide with the start on Monday of the federal corruption trial for former SUNY Polytechnic Institute CEO Alain Kaloyeros, who’s accused of rigging development bids for some of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s campaign donors.

“The corruption in our economic development programs and utter failure by the Cuomo administration to address it is eating away at the fabric of our state’s government,” Assemblyman Karl Brabenec, R-Deerpark, said in a statement afterward.

“I am proud to say there are legislators on both sides of the aisle who support measures to make economic development more transparent,” said Assemblyman Brian Miller, R-New Hartford, whose district includes seven towns in Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties. “This is not a partisan issue. This is everyone’s issue.”

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Rhodes finishes tour of all 163 towns in 19th District


Congressional candidate Gareth Rhodes completed his mission to visit all 163 towns in New York’s 19th District with a stop on Monday in its least populated town : Hardenburgh, a patch of the Catskills in western Ulster County with just over 200 inhabitants.

Rhodes, a 29-year-old Ulster County native and one of seven Democrats competing in a June 26 primary to challenge Republican Rep. John Faso, set out in an RV last fall to travel the entire district and meet voters – a task comparable to Sen. Chuck Schumer’s annual quest to stop in all 62 New York counties.

“We’ve taken our Winnebago through the Catskill Mountains, to the Mohawk River, and up and down the Hudson,” he said in a statement touting the tour’s completion on Monday. “We’ve talked to dairy farmers unable to make ends meet given the low price of milk, young people working three jobs and struggling to pay student debt, teachers being asked to do more with less, and firefighters without the resources to do their job.  Our campaign has always been about these stories.”

Rhodes now plans to hold town hall events in each of the 19th District’s 11 counties before the primary. The Ulster County one will be at 6:30 p.m. June 22 at his campaign office at 579 Broadway in Kingston. The Sullivan event will be at 6:30 p.m. June 24 at an undetermined location.

Rhodes also announced this week that Broome County Executive Jason Garnar endorsed him.

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Super PAC reserves $1 million in TV ad time for Faso

A Super PAC aligned with House Republican leaders announced this week it had reserved $1 million in TV air time for this fall for commercials to support Rep. John Faso, a swing-district freshman who has seven Democrats vying in a primary this month to challenge him.

Faso is one of 10 Republican incumbents for which the Congressional Leadership Fund said it had bought air time. It has so far announced $60 million in planned spending on TV and internet ads.

“Thanks to Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s leadership in Congress, CLF continues to break fundraising records, allowing us to be more aggressive in adding new races and increasing our previous buys,” said Corry Bliss, executive director of the Super PAC said in a press release on Monday. “These efforts ensure that CLF will have the resources needed to prevent Republican members of Congress from being outspent this fall.”

Several Democrats competing in the June 26 primary in New York’s 19th Congressional District has been raising large sums for political newcomers. Antonio Delgado and Pat Ryan both outraised Faso in the second two quarters of 2017, and Delgado had more money in his coffers than Faso as of March 31. Ryan and Brian Flynn were only slightly behind Faso in cash on hand.

The primary candidates are due to file their latest fundraising reports on Thursday.

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Senate bill targets drivers who pass stopped school buses

Senate Republicans are promoting a bill that would let school districts put cameras on the stop arms of school buses to help catch drivers who illegally pass stopped buses.

Violators could be fined $250 under the bill, which was first introduced five years ago and has never passed in either the Senate or Assembly. Sen. John Bonacic, a Mount Hope Republican and one of 17 sponsors, attended a press conference in Albany on Tuesday to urge lawmakers to pass the bill before the 2018 legislative session ends next Wednesday.

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Gillibrand touts bill to stop border agents from separating families

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced a new bill on Friday that she and her and her fellow Senate Democrats introduced to try to stop the Department of Homeland Security from taking immigrant children away from their parents at the Mexican border.

“Like millions of Americans, I am sickened that the Homeland Security Department has been tearing young children away from their parents at the border,” Gillibrand said in a statement. “This cruel, inhumane policy is the kind of thing we read about in a history book and shake our heads at in disgust, and I have no doubt that it will traumatize a generation of children, who will never forget for the rest of their lives that when they arrived in the United States, the government took them from their parents.”

The bill – the Keep Families Together Act – was sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California and co-sponsored by 30 other Democrats. Senators were told at a recent hearing that 658 children were taken from the parents over two weeks in May, the result of a new policy announced by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on May 7 that all adults stopped at the border will be prosecuted for illegal entry, even if they are seeking asylum.

The Senate bill would allow children to be removed only if their parents are trafficking or abusing them.

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