WXXI Capitol Bureau Report

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Updated: 24 min 40 sec ago

Poll: Some New Yorkers still unsure who won the election

Tue, 11/24/2020 - 12:01pm
A new poll finds the presidential election is not settled yet for some New Yorkers. Three weeks after Election Day, 20% of respondents say it’s too early to tell who actually won. The Siena College poll measures the polarization, even in blue state New York, when it comes to politics. Even though Democrat and former Vice President Joe Biden was declared the winner of the race on Nov. 7 and has 306 Electoral College votes and 6 million more popular votes than his opponent, 20% of New Yorkers say it’s too early to tell who won. Also, 9% say they believe Republican President Donald Trump won reelection. Siena’s Steve Greenberg said part of the reason is that people now get their news from very different sources. “The president has been saying that ‘he won, he won, he won,’ and ‘fraud, fraud, fraud,’ ” Greenberg said. “And a lot of people who support this president, agree with him.” Still, nearly 70% of New Yorkers believe that Biden did win, and Greenberg said that number is likely to
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State Senate Democrats gain supermajority

Mon, 11/23/2020 - 5:17pm
Democrats who lead the state Senate announced Monday that they have won enough seats to hold a supermajority. That means they can override vetoes by the governor and potentially change the balance of power at the State Capitol.
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Cuomo imposes tighter restrictions on portions of state as coronavirus surges

Mon, 11/23/2020 - 2:14pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo intensified restrictions in several parts of New York on Monday as the coronavirus infection rate climbs. He also delivered a stern warning to New Yorkers who are tempted to break the rules during the holiday season, saying careless behavior will lead to more deaths. Cuomo designated parts of upper Manhattan and portions of Long Island as yellow zones. On Staten Island, which is now an orange zone, hospital space is running out, and the state will reactivate and emergency health facility there which was created last spring. Parts of the cities of Rochester and Syracuse and some surrounding suburbs will also be designated orange zones, with restrictions on public gatherings, houses of worship, and a ban on indoor dining, gyms and personal care services, including hair salons. Schools will be closed, except for remote learning, and can open only with adequate testing of students and teachers. There are several areas that Cuomo said are on the “warning track,” including
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Cuomo warns NYers to take precautions against COVID-19  on Thanksgiving  

Sun, 11/22/2020 - 4:58pm
As the Thanksgiving holiday week begins, New York State officials are recommending that dinners and other gatherings of family and friends be limited or even cancelled, to prevent a further rise in COVID-19 transmission. New York’s rate of the virus has been creeping up all fall, though the state is still at a significantly lower rate than most of the rest of the nation. 2.74% of all tests were positive on Saturday, and 30 people died of the disease, and 2562 were in the hospital. Governor Andrew Cuomo, says the weeks between now and January 2nd are a “dangerous period” for New Yorkers, as pressure to participate in social interactions, intensifies during the holiday season. Cuomo, who has already limited indoor gatherings to ten people or fewer, says we’ll know by early December whether or not New Yorkers were careful over the Thanksgiving holiday and took precautions like mask wearing, safe social distancing. “People get infected, you need an incubation period for the virus, they
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Businesses plead with state officials to avoid wider economic shutdowns

Thu, 11/19/2020 - 12:05pm
This week, as the coronavirus infection rate climbed higher in New York state new microcluster zones were announced in New York, and some existing ones were intensified. A business group is asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to stick to that approach of limited closures, saying they won’t survive a complete economic shutdown. Greg Biryla with the New York chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses said another shutdown like the one imposed in the spring would cause many struggling businesses to close for good. He hopes the state can continue targeting specific locations where the virus is rising, and then imposing restrictions in that area to contain it. “Without a doubt, it’s better than a complete economic shutdown. That is our biggest fear,” Biryla said. “We think it would be a catastrophe.” He said there’s no immediate aid coming from the federal government, and the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, business loans approved by Congress in the spring have run out. Some
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Cuomo places new restrictions on WNY hot zones; NYC closes its schools as virus rate climbs

Wed, 11/18/2020 - 4:43pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has declared more regions as microcluster coronavirus hot zones as the rate of COVID-19 continues to climb in New York. The new designations come as New York City’s mayor closed the city’s schools effective Thursday, as the virus rate there reached 3%. Cuomo is changing some yellow zones in western New York to orange zones. Effective Friday, there will be new restrictions on religious gatherings, along with some business closures, including gyms, hair salons and tattoo parlors. Indoor dining is banned. And schools in the orange zone, which include most of the city of Buffalo and many of its suburbs, will close for four days, and can reopen only with more intensive testing of students and teachers. The Buffalo region overall is at a 5.1% virus positivity rate, which the governor said is the “worst situation” in the state. The Rochester-Finger Lakes region has the second-highest COVID-19 rate in the state, followed by central New York. Portions of those regions remain
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December state legislative session not ruled out 

Tue, 11/17/2020 - 5:15pm
Now that elections are over, leaders of the New York State Legislature are facing pressure from a wide range of groups to reconvene and deal with pandemic-related economic problems. Legislative leaders say they are not ruling it out.
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Cuomo threatens to sue Trump Adm over Covid vaccine plans   

Sun, 11/15/2020 - 1:02pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in a speech at a Black church in Manhattan, vowed to sue the administration of President Donald Trump for violating the constitutional rights of African-American and Hispanic New Yorkers, if it does not make changes to its COVID-19 vaccination plan. Cuomo condemned a Trump Administration plan that relies heavily on private pharmacy chains like CVS and Walgreens, and private hospitals and doctors’ offices to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine, when one is ready. He says many poorer communities, where Black and brown New Yorkers live, don’t have those pharmacies and live in what Cuomo says are “health care deserts”. “The president talks about CVS and Walgreens and national chains,” Cuomo said, speaking at the Riverside Church in Manhattan. “But they are mainly located in rich communities, not in poor communities. We can’t compound the racial injustice that Covid already created.” The governor says the plan violates the constitutional rights of African-Americans and
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Absentee ballot counting drags on 

Fri, 11/13/2020 - 3:41pm
In New York, absentee ballot counting is just getting underway in many counties, more than a week after Election Day. Because so many more people voted by mail, eight close State Senate seats are undecided until the ballots are processed and it’s possible the new legislative session could begin in January before some of the races are decided. There are about 1 million more ballots to count than in any previous year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order allowing any registered voter to cast their ballot by mail this year. State Sen. Michael Gianaris, who is the Democratic deputy majority leader, said despite the extra ballots, it should not take this long to find out who won an election. “If we were a swing state, we would be in the middle of a national scandal right now,” Gianaris said. Gianaris has introduced a bill that would speed things up. Elections officials would be allowed to process and verify the ballots as soon as they are received, and
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Thruway to make switch to cashless tolls overnight Friday 

Thu, 11/12/2020 - 3:05pm
Overnight on Friday, the New York State Thruway will make the switch to all cashless tolling. By Saturday morning, cameras mounted on steel gantries above the roadway will extract the tolls from E-ZPass accounts or send bills to motorist without one. Cameras on 70 gantries at 58 locations on the Thruway will be turned on simultaneously early Saturday morning, and all of the remaining toll booths will shut down. Thruway Authority Executive Director Matt Driscoll spoke about the project earlier this fall. “They all have to turn on at the exact same time,” said Driscoll. “So that we can start recording that accordingly.” The tolls for E-ZPass holders will remain the same, but for those without the electronic passes, the Thruway Authority is proposing that tolls be increased by 30% beginning in January. Bills will be sent to the address where the car is registered. There will also be late fees if the balance isn’t paid within 30 days. Driscoll recommends buying an E-ZPass . “We encourage
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Cuomo orders new restrictions on bars, restaurants, gyms, in-home gatherings 

Wed, 11/11/2020 - 3:55pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is imposing new restrictions on bars and restaurants and limiting the number of people at a home gathering to 10 or fewer, effective on Friday. The governor said that it’s due to climbing rates of COVID-19 in New York as the nation breaks another record for the number of cases. In New York, 2.9% of coronavirus tests were positive Tuesday, a rate that is nearly three times what it was for most of the summer and much of the fall. There are 1,628 people in the hospital for COVID-19, and 21 died of the disease on Tuesday. Cuomo said he’s taking steps to limit the spread in three key areas. Effective Friday, restaurants and bars must shut down by 10 p.m. He said social dining, whether indoors or outdoors, is one of three “main spreaders of COVID.” He urged local authorities to enforce the new rules. “A bar, restaurant should be closed at 10 o’clock,” Cuomo said. “If the lights are on, and people are drinking, they get a summons.” Restaurants will still be allowed to serve
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Cuomo to declare more COVID-19 hot spots   

Fri, 11/06/2020 - 2:02pm
While the outcome of the presidential election has been the focus this week, the coronavirus pandemic has not taken a break. It’s on the rise in New York, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he’s considering placing new restrictions on portions of western and central New York, and the Rochester region, and has declared a town along the Connecticut border as a hot spot. Cuomo said the rate of the virus is climbing in the Buffalo area, where it has risen to 3.1% in Erie County, including the city of Buffalo, and suburbs of Tonawanda, Hamburg, and Orchard Park. Monroe County is also seeing a spike, to 2.6%, with Rochester and its suburbs of Pittsford, Penfield and Webster showing the highest numbers. And in central New York, the rate has risen to 2.2%. Syracuse and its suburbs of Cicero have seen case numbers double in recent days. Another region of concern is Portchester, in Westchester County along the Connecticut border, a state where the virus is rising. Portchester will be designated a yellow
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With elections over, New York must resolve a multibillion-dollar deficit

Thu, 11/05/2020 - 4:00pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he’d wait until after the general election before deciding how to close the state’s multibillion-dollar budget gap, hoping that Democratic wins for president and the U.S. Senate might lead to a larger federal relief package for blue states. Now that Election Day has come and gone, and with the most likely scenario a President Biden but a Republican-led U.S. Senate, the governor and the State Legislature will have to soon make some big decisions.
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Republicans tout wins in state races; Democrats say not so fast

Wed, 11/04/2020 - 4:09pm
Election Day brought mixed results for Democrats and Republicans in New York’s congressional and legislative races. Republicans were quick to claim victory, but Democrats -- who will remain in the majority no matter the outcomes of contested races -- say the record number of absentee ballots needs to be counted first, and it might take weeks. Many races have not been called and might not be definitive for weeks. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rules in New York state were changed to allow anyone eligible to vote to cast an absentee ballot. Republicans are ahead in several contested races in early and in-person voting. They include Rep. John Katko in central New York, and Claudia Tenney, who was seeking her old congressional seat back in a district that stretches from the Southern Tier to parts of the North Country. Republican Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis has already declared victory over Democrat Max Rose in a seat that includes Staten Island. State Republican Party Chair
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Early and in-person voting boost some GOP State Senate candidates, but absentee ballots uncounted

Wed, 11/04/2020 - 9:25am
Many New York State Senate races have not been called -- and might not be for weeks, until the record number of absentee ballots cast this year are counted. This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, all eligible voters were allowed to cast mail-in ballots. They have not yet been counted, and may not be for several days. The results of early voting and in-person voting favor Republicans in five contested seats: on Long Island and in the lower Hudson Valley and New York City. Democrats are favored in three districts in the Rochester and Buffalo areas. In the GOP column so far: Three Long Island first-term Democrats -- Monica Martinez, James Gaughran and Kevin Thomas -- are all trailing their GOP challengers. A New York City seat long held by a Republican until 2018 might be back in GOP hands. Vito Bruno is currently leading freshman Democrat Andrew Gounardes. And in the Hudson Valley, former Westchester County executive and gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino is ahead of first-term
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It's Election Day, and many New Yorkers have already cast their ballots

Mon, 11/02/2020 - 3:57pm
Voters in New York who have not cast their ballots early in person or by mail go to the polls Tuesday. While Democrat Joe Biden is heavily favored to win the state over President Donald Trump, there is plenty of action in congressional and state races for voters to weigh in on. The 2020 election is the first major one in New York where voters had the choice of casting their ballots early. Polls were open from Oct. 24 through Nov. 1. According to the state Board of Elections, over 2.5 million people took advantage of that option, many waiting in long lines. Also, because of the coronavirus pandemic, any eligible voter was able to cast an absentee ballot, to be delivered either through the mail, at early polling sites, or on Tuesday at any polling location. Over 1 million voters have sent in absentee ballots. In total, a quarter of New Yorkers eligible to vote have already cast their ballots. Jennifer Wilson with the League of Women Voters said her group and other voting advocates
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Multiple races in play in New York State Senate

Sun, 11/01/2020 - 3:40pm
All 212 seats in the New York State Legislature are up for election this year. There are over a dozen contested seats in the state Senate where Democrats are favored to win in many of the contests and potentially gain a supermajority. But Republicans say they hope to gain some seats, too. Democrats, who took over the Senate two years ago in a decisive series of wins, are poised to pick up even more seats, said Sen. Michael Gianaris, who is overseeing the Democrats’ strategy. Gianaris, who represents portions of Queens, spoke on his cellphone while he was standing in line to vote early. He said he’s encouraged by the high number of New Yorkers casting their ballots so far. “The enthusiasm we are seeing both in the big numbers of absentee votes, as well as early votes, is largely due to people very energized to vote against Donald Trump,” Gianaris said. “We are seeing a very big Democratic advantage in these early votes, and that’s going to inure to our benefit for our candidates down
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State Senate Democrats two seats away from holding a supermajority

Wed, 10/28/2020 - 2:08pm
Most of the attention this election season has been focused on the presidential campaign, but there are also a significant number of New York State Senate races in play. Democrats need just two more seats to gain a supermajority that could potentially override any vetoes of legislation issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Democrats hold 40 seats in the 63-member Senate chamber. In 2018, they decisively took the Senate from the Republicans after a century of nearly continuous GOP control of the chamber. If Democrats can win just two more seats in November, they would gain a veto-proof majority. The State Assembly already has more than enough Democrats to launch an override vote. Sen. Michael Gianaris, who is leading the campaign efforts by Senate Democrats, said a veto-proof majority would strengthen the hand of Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins during budget negotiations with Cuomo, where many other major policy matters are also decided. “It helps, whether or not we end up overriding any
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Former inmates ask Cuomo to release more prisoners to quell rising COVID-19 spread  

Tue, 10/27/2020 - 4:58pm
Protests were held Tuesday in four locations in New York over the growing number of state prison inmates infected with the coronavirus. There have been outbreaks in at least four prisons: the Greene, Clinton and Cayuga correctional facilities and in Elmira, where over 450 inmates have now tested positive for the virus. The demonstrators, who chanted “free them all,” are part of long-standing prisoners’ rights groups, including Release Aging People from Prison, or RAPP, and the HALT Solitary campaign. They held protests simultaneously at the Elmira prison and in New York City, on Long Island, and outside the State Capitol in Albany to ask that sick and elderly prisoners be released early. Thomas Kearney, a RAPP regional organizer and a former inmate, said he remembers what the judge told him the day he was sentenced to prison for a crime that resulted in harm to another person and “displayed a depraved indifference to human life through risk of death.” Kearney said the judge told him
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Cuomo continues to attack White House on COVID-19 leadership

Mon, 10/26/2020 - 3:13pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo continues to take issue with comments by White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who said over the weekend that the federal government does not plan to get control of the COVID-19 pandemic. Meadows said on CNN Sunday that the federal government instead will focus on getting out a vaccine and prescribing therapeutic remedies for those who do get sick. Cuomo, for the second day in a row, fumed that Meadows, and his boss, President Donald Trump, are giving up, and that as a result, 160,000 more Americans could die of the disease by February. The governor said New York demonstrated in the spring that it is possible to control the virus, and he said the state is now actively targeting microclusters of virus outbreaks to keep it from spreading more widely. “It is COVID whack-a-mole,” Cuomo said. “One pops up -- bang.” There are currently several microclusters, or hot zones, in the state, where stricter rules for schools and businesses are in effect. They include Brooklyn
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