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Back in session
If the first few days of the legislative session are any indication, the battle for control of the New York State Senate will be more vicious than ever.
On Wednesday morning, GOP majority spokesman Scott Reiff attacked Shelley Mayer, a member of the Assembly from Yonkers nominated by Westchester County Democrats Tuesday night to run for the seat vacated by George Latimer, who won the county executive race.
“Shelley Mayer was chief counsel to two Senate majority leaders who were indicted, convicted and sent to jail for corruption,” Reiff said in a statement. He said he was referring to John Sampson and Malcolm Smith, who shared power in the chamber at various times during the insane leadership struggles in 2009 and 2010.
On Monday, the first day of the Senate session, mainline Democrats surprised Republicans by raising a fuss during routine approval of so-called chapter amendments to bills passed last year. Democrats saw an opportunity when Republicans were trying to quietly walk away from a bill that would have given a break to first-time homeowners. It would allow New Yorkers to set aside money tax-free — similar to accounts used for college savings — and to take a deduction on their income tax.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo had rejected the GOP idea during budget negotiations in early 2017. The idea failed to set income limits on who could participate and did not have a funding stream to cover the lost revenue, estimated at about $21 million a year. Cuomo could have easily vetoed it, but the optics of denying a tax break probably weren’t that great, so a deal was made to turn the law into a six-month study to determine its fiscal implications and whether it would encourage homeownership
Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, leader of mainline Democrats in the State Senate, rose to speak against the deal, as did fellow party member Sen. Todd Kaminsky, saying it would put young people at an even worse disadvantage to form households.
The GOP move passed by a 36-25 vote, but Republicans were not pleased about the Democratic theatrics. Kaminsky had even posted a video of his speech on his Facebook page. After the vote, however, it appears that Sen. Elaine Phillips, who was not mentioned when the podium speaker read out the no votes on Monday night, changed her vote to no as well, according to the State Senate website.
Here Comes the Point
Long Island power couple
There’s a wedding coming up that would be the social event of the season in Long Island political circles were it not for the fact that the groom says the list of invitees will be “like four people.”
Former Rep. Steve Israel, 59, and Cara Longworth, 50, the Long Island regional director for the Empire State Development Corp., are getting married.
Israel, now chair of the Global Institute at Long Island University, told The Point the wedding will be held in May (no exact date yet), at a North Fork vineyard.
As for registering for gifts, well-wishers shouldn’t worry. Israel said: “I wanted to register at a Chinese restaurant, the Mets ticket office or a cigar store. Cara had different ideas. So we agreed on no gifts. Now that I’m out of Congress, I’ve learned how to compromise.”
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