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Capitol Bureau

Matt Ryan New York Now

2018 might finally be the year that Democrats regain control of the state Senate. But they face a number of obstacles, and Republicans aren’t ready to give up any time soon.

Two feuding factions of Democrats in the Senate have agreed to reunite later next year and perhaps rule the chamber, but it can happen only if a number of events occur first.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, under pressure from left-leaning Democrats to be a peace broker, last month called on the eight breakaway members of the Independent Democratic Conference to rejoin with the rest of the Democrats.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who’s vowed to lead a campaign against the state’s Republican Congressional representatives in the 2018 elections, has spent the final weeks of 2017 feuding with them over their votes on the federal tax overhaul bill.

Cuomo has been saying for weeks that the overhaul would be “devastating” to New York’s finances and to many of its taxpayers, and he’s called Republican House members who support the plan “traitors” and “Benedict Arnolds.” 

The tax overhaul plan passed Tuesday in the House of Representatives is drawing a mostly negative reaction from the state’s union and business leaders.  

The president of the state’s AFL-CIO, Mario Cilento, says the measure is a gift to the wealthy and corporations, and while some union members in New York may see a temporary increase in their paychecks, it will not equal the amount that they’ll lose when they can no longer deduct their state and local taxes from their federal tax payments.

Matt Ryan New York Now

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has instituted a minimum wage increase for most workers in the state, now wants to extend that rate to tipped workers, including wait staff and car washers. That news is causing a backlash from restaurant owners and small business groups.

The current state minimum wage for tipped workers is $7.50 an hour. That’s lower than the minimum wage for non-tipped workers, which ranges from $9.70 an hour upstate in some industries to $12 an hour for fast-food workers in New York City.

Matt Ryan New York Now

With a projected multibillion-dollar deficit and looming federal changes that could cost the state billions more, the biggest obstacle in the upcoming 2018 legislative session will be balancing the state budget.

The second-highest-ranking Republican in the Senate, John DeFrancisco, said the budget will be “horrible” and the worst in at least seven years.

“I think it’s going to be very, very difficult,” DeFrancisco said. “Probably the most difficult budget year the governor has had since he’s been governor.” 

Matt Ryan New York Now

A ceremony to award economic development grants to regions of the state was overshadowed by developments on the federal tax overhaul plan in Washington, as the House and Senate announced agreement on a final plan to be voted on as early as next week.

Matt Ryan New York Now

Governor Cuomo’s getting a head start on his State of the State proposals, and says he’ll propose a bill to close a loophole that allows some convicted of domestic violence to possess guns.

New York law already allows a judge to confiscate firearms from anyone convicted of felony or other serious offenses. Cuomo would amend the law to apply also to those who commit misdemeanors, which include crimes like assault and battery and strangulation. And it would extend the law to so called long guns like rifles, which are currently exempt from the law

There’s now one official candidate running for governor of New York in 2018, and that’s the Assembly’s Republican leader, Brian Kolb.

He announced his plans in a video released Tuesday.

Kolb, who’s been an Assembly member since 2000, is also a businessman. He’s the founder and past president of two companies in the Rochester area, where he grew up. Kolb said he’d draw on the experiences of both worlds if he were to lead the state.

He said he’s been traveling and meeting with New Yorkers and asking them whether state government is working for them. 

At an event that’s become increasingly rare in state politics, two politicians from opposing parties sat down together and had a civil discussion about issues facing New York.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, a Democrat, and Republican state Sen. John DeFrancisco spoke in Albany during a forum about state issues and politics. 

“To have a vibrant civic dialogue is important,” said Miner. “The fact that it’s been missing, we’ve all suffered for it.”

DeFrancisco, who also is from Syracuse, agreed.

According to published reports, some of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s hiring practices are the subject of an FBI investigation.

The Albany Times Union first reported that the FBI is looking at Cuomo’s longstanding practice of hiring employees for his office but paying them through other state agencies.

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