Carl Heastie

It appears Buffalo may have a powerful friend in Albany in Speaker of the State Assembly Carl Heastie.

Chris Caya/WBFO News

The State Assembly will likely take up legalizing mixed martial arts in 2016, according to Speaker Carl Heastie.

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Local elected officials believe that the best way to show that the "Buffalo Billion" is working is to show the results directly to lawmakers from downstate. So far, New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie appears impressed.

Photo from Karen Dewitt

The legislature continued negotiating and printing legislation Wednesday, one day after a framework deal was announced by legislative leaders and Governor Cuomo. The session limped to a close, after a year that’s seen the resignation of both leaders of the legislature over corruption scandals, and ongoing federal probes.

Photo from Karen Dewitt

Nearly one week after the legislative session was supposed to end, governor Cuomo and legislative leaders have announced a deal on all major end of session issues, including renewal of New York City’s rent laws and a related property tax cap, as well as a new tax rebate program for property owners.

One of the ethics reforms agreed to in the state budget has still not been passed by State Assembly Democrats, and minority party Republicans say they are worried that the bill will be delayed, or watered down.

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Lawmakers are struggling to reach end of session deals, as the corruption scandals and on going federal investigations seem to be hampering their progress. 

On the long calendar of legislation pending in Albany as the session winds down, one of the most-discussed is a proposal to allow professional Mixed Martial Arts fighting. The proposal has been blocked in recent years by former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.


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One day after Governor Cuomo arranged a meeting  with some state lawmakers and Catholic Church leaders to promote the education tax credit, the measure seems to be losing support among Assembly Democrats, with some Democrats saying they are angered by tactics used by backers, which has included picketing their offices.

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Governor Cuomo has been steering clear of public events at the State Capitol recently, after a second major party legislative leader, the head of the Senate was forced to resign over corruption charges. 

Assembly Democrats are approving a one house bill to strengthen New York City’s rent regulations in favor of tenants. The rent law renewal and many other issues, including an education tax credit and the Dream Act, are in flux as the final weeks of deal making approaches. 

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The legislature will be finishing up its work in the next couple of weeks with two new legislative leaders- one in his third month, the other in just his second week on the job.

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Now that the leadership crisis in the Senate is settled, Governor Cuomo and the legislature are pushing their education priorities.

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There’s growing support in the state legislature to address controversial aspects of the state’s Common Core learning standards and related testing.

Photo from Karen Dewitt

Earth Day 2015 is also the first day that the New York State Assembly transitioned to a paperless system. Assemblymembers have been given I Pads to read bills electronically, and supporters say it will save millions of dollars, and trees.

photo courtesy NY.gov

The New York State Legislature returns for the second half of the legislative session, once again under a cloud of corruption, and with numerous unsettled issues.

The recently completed state budget was the first real test of the new Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s leadership, who became the leader of that house in early February. 

File Photo / WBFO News

Governor Cuomo began the budget season with an ambitious agenda than included a wide array of items that he tied to the budget, including raising the minimum wage, the Dream Act, and reforming the state’s grand jury process. In the end, the governor was forced to retrench on nearly every measure.

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Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders reached a framework agreement for a budget deal late Sunday night and hope to begin passing bills Monday to meet the midnight Tuesday deadline.

Photo from Karen Dewitt

The state Assembly, Senate and Governor Cuomo continue to work on sticking points in the state budget, as yet another item has now been dropped from the spending plan, raising the state’s minimum wage.

Deadline approaches for state budget

Mar 24, 2015
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With just over a week until the state budget is due, there’s pressure to drop a number of unrelated items in Governor Cuomo’s state spending plan.

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There’s just about a week and a half left before the budget deadline, and Governor Cuomo and lawmakers remain at odds over a number of issues, including whether ethics disclosure rules should apply to Governor Cuomo as well as the legislature.

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Governor Cuomo and the Speaker of the Assembly say they hope the State Senate will sign on to their joint proposal for ethics reform, as a new poll finds the governor with dropping job approval numbers.

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Pressure is mounting to include Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins, the only female legislative leader, in the closed-door budget meeting with Governor Cuomo that now consists of four men in a room.

File Photo / WBFO Albany Correspondent Karen Dewitt

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie gave his first broadcast interview to public radio and television. In it, he expressed his frustrations over Governor Cuomo’s decision to link numerous unrelated items to the state budget.

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Newly elected Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie made clear one of his top priorities in his first news conference, where he called for passage of the Dream Act, which would offer college aid to children of undocumented immigrants.

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In Albany this weekend,  the annual Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus reception drew appearances from Governor Cuomo and Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.

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The traditional style of budget making in New York, known as "three men in a room," is coming under criticism, by among others, the US Attorney currently investigating corruption at the Capitol.  Some are wondering whether it’s time to end the secretive practice.

NYS Assembly / WBFO News

Friday marked the start of the 44th annual Lawmakers Legislative Weekend for the Association of Black, Puerto Rican, and Asian members of the state assembly.

Heastie elected new Assembly speaker

Feb 3, 2015
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The New York state Assembly has elected Bronx Assemblyman Carl Heastie as its speaker, making him the first African-American to lead the body. 

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