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This Week in News: 20190120

Jan 19, 2019 12:01 am
The biggest news locally this week came in Albany with Democrats in control of both chambers of the legislature. David Lombardo reports in the Albany Times Union that Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a $175 billion state budget Jan. 15, with many new initiatives expected to pass the legislature with only Democrats in control in Albany. "There's been a lot that's been bottled up for many, many years that we couldn't get done," Cuomo said during his "State of the State" speech. "In many ways, I feel the state has now been liberated with the Senate Democratic caucus." Cuomo's budget includes an increase in education spending, and sports betting in casinos. He would make Election Day a holiday and open polls upstate at 6 a.m., like the rest of the state. Cuomo's marijuana legalization proposal only allows corporations, not individuals, to grow the plant; allows counties and cities to opt out of selling it, and hopes to create $300 million in revenue starting in 2021. Democratic State Senators mostly liked the proposals, though they want to increase education spending by twice as much as Cuomo proposed. Read the full story in the Albany Times Union.

MidHudsonNews [dot] com is reporting New York lawmakers wasted no time in approving some major voting reforms, Jan. 14. During their first session day the members of the Assembly and Senate gave their okay to early voting 10 days prior to primary day and general election day. The measure provides each county with at least one early voting site for every 50,000 registered voters. Legislators also consolidated primary day. The federal primary has been held in June with the state primary in September, but both will now be held on the fourth Tuesday in June. The first step in enacting same-day registration and no-reason absentee ballots were also approved. Both of those reforms require constitutional amendments, and must be approved by two consecutive state legislatures followed by a public referendum. Jesse McKinley and Vivian Wang are reporting for The New York Times the full roster of reforms, which also includes preregistration of minors, voting by mail and closing the so-called LLC loophole, now brings the state into line with policies already in place in other liberal states, like California and Washington. “We are finally beginning to see New York’s elections begin — just begin — to catch up with the rest of the country,” said Susan Lerner, the executive director of Common Cause New York, a good-government group.

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced Jan. 15 that she is forming an exploratory committee to run for President of the United States. PLAY CLIP. Spectrum News reports Gillibrand will be at the Country View Diner in Troy with an event sometime Jan. 16, and several news outlets report she is opening her campaign headquarters in Troy.

Brian Nearing is reporting for the Times Union the Troy Record will close its small, rented office on River Street next month. Once the location is closed, staffers will work digitally without a central location, management said. However, the newspaper, which has been publishing in the city for 232 years, will continue to publish its printed edition and post to its website. "Our commitment to The Record's readers is strong," Ron Rosner, senior editor of the Troy Record and The Saratogian, wrote in a column Jan. 12. "We have served Troy and the region for more than a century and we take our role as an institution in the area quite seriously. With this initiative, we will keep that tradition alive and stronger than ever." Rosner wrote that The Record office would close by late February so staffers could be "positioned in or around the Capital Region." City Editor Nicholas Buonanno declined comment, referring questions to Rosner, who declined to say anything beyond his written statement. The newspaper's owner, Digital First Media, has been steadily selling off the papers assets, including its former home for $2.65 million. Since Digital First took ownership of the former Journal Register newspaper chain, staff at Digital First newspapers has been cut by more than 50 percent, more than double the industry average, according to a study by The News Guild, a national union representing newspaper workers. Read the full story in the Times Union.
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