WXXI AM News

Capitol Bureau

Karen DeWitt NYS Public Radio

The next New York gubernatorial election is still nearly a year and a half away, but state Republicans are already trying to get behind a single candidate who they hope has a chance of winning in an increasingly blue state.

Republicans, who have not won a statewide election in nearly 20 years, are energized by the multiple scandals that are weakening current Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Matt Ryan New York Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that most COVID-19 pandemic restrictions have ended in New York -- but he didn't discontinue the emergency powers he’s held since March 2020, and that has state Republican leaders fuming.

There are signs that the state and much of the nation are finally entering a post-pandemic period. Cuomo, along with California Gov. Gavin Newsom, eased most COVID-19 restrictions on Tuesday and said people who are fully vaccinated can now go about their lives like they used to.

Governor Cuomo's office

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that he’s lifting all remaining state COVID-19 restrictions, including requirements for masks and social distancing, and capacity limits at events, now that New York has reached the governor’s goal of 70% of adults receiving at least one dose of the vaccine.

Cuomo, in a campaign style event held before a cheering crowd of union leaders and others at the World Trade Center, said the goal was reached sometime on Monday, according to numbers compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Governor Cuomo's office

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the state is one-tenth of a percentage point away from his goal of having 70% of New Yorkers age 18 and over obtain at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccination.

Cuomo says Sunday’s vaccination numbers show the rate at 69.9%. But, he says, the percentages vary greatly by zip code, with rates in some low-income urban and rural areas as low as 38.8%. The governor says local governments need to focus on those areas and give it "one more push."

“Go door to door,” Cuomo said. “Go to churches, go to social events, go to community events.”

Matt Ryan New York Now

The 2021 legislative session concluded in the early hours of Friday morning, with a number of measures left unresolved.

Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, speaking on the Senate floor Thursday evening as the session drew to a close, indicated the legislature’ s business is done for the year.

“We’ll be back in this chamber in January,” Stewart-cousins said. “Hopefully all together, unmasked.”

Matt Ryan New York Now

New York’s legislative session is drawing to a close, but without the usual frenzy of hallways crowded with lobbyists and protesters and few last minute backroom deals. For the second year in a row, the New York State Capitol has been off limits to visitors, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, facing multiple scandals, is largely isolated from the negotiations.  

COVID -19 pandemic restrictions have been lifted in New York in recent weeks, and sports stadiums, theaters, restaurants and bars are opening back up.

Karen DeWitt NYS Public Radio

New York lawmakers will likely not be extending alcohol to-go at restaurants and bars as part of their actions on the final day of the legislative session.  Restaurant and tavern owners, who are still struggling financially, expressed their disappointment.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo allowed restaurants and bars to offer alcoholic beverages to go along with take out food orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. He has extended that executive order several times.

Matt Ryan New York Now

The 2021 New York legislative session is in its final hours, with many items yet to be resolved. Criminal justice reforms continue to dominate at the end of the session, just as they have for the past two years.

Here’s a look at what seems to be in, and what seems to be out.

A bill that would seal some criminal records for those convicted of misdemeanors and some felonies will be ready for a vote in the Senate and Assembly by the sessions’ final day.

Governor Cuomo's office

An apparent deal has been reached between the New York State Senate and Assembly on several criminal justice measures, including the sealing of some criminal records to give convicts a second chance in life, and a measure to hold gun manufacturers legally liable for people who commit crimes with their guns.   

A rally to advocate for the Clean Slate measure turned into a cautious celebration of victory as word came of an agreement on a revised version of the measure between the Assembly and Senate.

The New York State Senate’s Judiciary Committee held — what was at times — a contentious confirmation hearing for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s nominees to the state’s highest court.

Nominee Madeline Singas, the Nassau County district attorney, faced some tough questions from senators on the left and right. In the end, Singas and the governor’s other judicial appointees, won approval in the Senate. 

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