Administration Official Says Deal Has Been Struck on Key Parts of Cuomo's Agenda
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ Four upstate casinos and separate bills on a women's rights package including an abortion proposal that appeared to have been blocked in the Senate were part of a late-session deal, according to a senior administration official.
The official Tuesday also said there was an agreement on Gov. Andrew Cuomo's tax-free zones to attract employers tied to universities that will extend it beyond upstate to New York City and Long Island. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deals weren't scheduled to be announced until Wednesday.
Some legislative officials, however, immediately disputed some elements of the deal that is expected to see floor votes Thursday and Friday.
Michael Whyland, spokesman for the Assembly's Democratic majority, said there are 10 items in all and the chamber plans to vote on and approve them as a single bill.
Senate Republicans had supported nine of the items, but refused to pass the abortion proposal because they consider it an expansion of abortion rights. A Senate Republican official late Tuesday night said: ``There is still no commitment to bring the abortion bill to the floor.'' He wouldn't elaborate.
The Senate's Independent Democratic Conference supports the 10 items which also involve workplace protections and tougher domestic violence laws. They had spent the last several days trying to find a way to save the bills not related to abortion which the Republicans blocked form the floor.
It's uncertain how the Senate will vote on the issues, but separating the bills revives Cuomo's women's agenda.
The agreement will authorize four Las Vegas-style resort casinos in the Southern Tier near Binghamton, the Hudson Valley and the Albany area with a fourth possibly planned for the Catskills. The agreement includes a proposal for a large video slot machine center on the line between Suffolk and Nassau counties. The official said the center, with 2,000 machines, if approved in further talks, would be operated by the off-track betting agencies of each county.
Legislators, however, had said the Long Island center remained a contested item Tuesday night.
The deal with legislative leaders will mean Cuomo's abortion proposal will get the vote a coalition of women wanted. Cuomo, a Democrat, and the coalition, had refused to break off the abortion piece even though it threatened the other nine items that focused on combating workplace discrimination, domestic violence and prostitution. The 10 bills will get votes, which could result in passage of all of the measures including one to assure pay equity for women.
The abortion proposal would bring a 1970 state law into line with a more expansive 1973 federal law, allowing late-term abortions if a woman's health is danger. The current state law sets a higher bar, allowing the risky abortions after six months of pregnancy only if the woman's life is in danger.
The deal struck Tuesday night also includes legislative leader approval of Cuomo's proposal to offer tax-free zones to employers and their employees for 10 years if they set up shop on or near a college campus, a move that is expected to boost New York's growing high-technology sector.
The deal with legislators expands Cuomo's idea of reviving the moribund upstate economy by providing the program to campuses in New York City and on Long Island, the official said.