News Washington Bureau Chief Jerry Zremski is looking into proposed changes in Medicare Advantage and what impact cuts in the Defense Department budget will have on Western New York.
February 21, 2014 - 12:05 PM
By Jerry Zremski
WASHINGTON -- In today's top read, the Washington Post tells us that in President Obama's worldview, the age of austerity is over.
Meanwhile, The Hill reports that House Speaker John Boehner may be the biggest obstacle to a higher minimum wage.
And off the beaten path, Politico surveys the changed politics of late-night TV.
February 21, 2014 - 11:30 AM
By Robert J. McCarthy
That's how many names have been added to a petition sponsored by State Sen. Mark J. Grisanti, R-Buffalo, opposing Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's plan to provide free college to state prison inmates.
"The more signatures we can get, the stronger our message becomes," Grisanti said. "Reaching 5,000 signatures shows how impassioned Western New Yorkers are against this issue, and how supportive they are of middle-class taxpayers struggling to pay the increasing costs of higher education."
The senator launched an electronic petition drive on Monday against the proposal, which calls for allowing inmates in 10 regional prisons to earn associate's and bachelor's degrees.
February 21, 2014 - 11:23 AM
State Sen. Timothy Kennedy has adopted a pro-choice position on abortion. The News' Bob McCarthy tells Brian Meyer the move has sparked criticism from Bishop Richard J. Malone:
February 20, 2014 - 2:53 PM
Rep. Chris Collins Thursday jacked up his opposition to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's proposal to provide college educations for prison inmates by introducing legislation blocking use of federal dollars for the program.
Collins said the federal Bureau of Prisons provides states with funding for educational and other programs at state prisons and correctional facilities, adding his bill would ban states from using the money to fund college degree programs for convicted criminals.
“The governor’s latest plan to fund college educations for convicted criminals with New Yorkers’ tax dollars is an insult to law-abiding citizens all across our state,” he said. “We hear over and over again from politicians concerned about the growing cost of higher education and the amount of student debt our young people are sacked with after earning their degree. Strangely, many of these same politicians think tax dollars should be spent to give convicted criminals a free college degree.”
Collins said he will formally introduce the legislation in the coming days.
February 19, 2014 - 9:13 AM
By Jerry Zremski
WASHINGTON -- Just when you thought the national security state couldn't get any more up-close-and-personal, The Washington Post tells us that the Department of Homeland Security is planning a national license plate database.
Meanwhile, The New York Times reports that President Obama's vote-seeking tactics aren't helping his health care law.
And Reuters notes that the harsh winter weather could chill the economy.
February 18, 2014 - 10:44 AM
By Jerry Zremski
WASHINGTON -- I was in Buffalo and Syracuse last week, but I am back at my desk today and back with my must-reads.
Topping today's list is Politico's look at Rand Paul and his big plans for the Republican party.
Meanwhile, The New York Times tells us that a wealthy financier aims to try to sway public opinion on climate change.
And The Washington Post reports that student debt could be hampering the housing recovery.
February 14, 2014 - 3:07 PM
By Robert J. McCarthy
The New York State Independence Party -- as expected -- announced its backing Thursday for re-election of Republican State Sen. Mark J. Grisanti of Buffalo this year.
But tea party activist Rus Thompson of Grand Island -- who is enrolled in the Independence Party and is closely aligned with 2010 Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl P. Paladino -- said he may very well challenge Grisanti for the line in the Independence primary. He said he would also consider a challenge if Republican County Legislator Kevin R. Hardwick of the City of Tonawanda decides to enter a Republican primary against Grisanti.
Thompson said he has made no final decision, but has the ability to qualify for the ballot as a registered member of Independence.
Meanwhile state Independence Chairman Frank MacKay followed his 2012 backing for Grisanti wtih another endorsement this year.
"We are confident that Senator Grisanti will be successful in November, and the Independence Party will gladly provide our endorsement, support, resources, and anything else that he needs to continue to be an independent voice for the people of Western New York," said MacKay.
February 14, 2014 - 11:05 AM
Many leaders in the Republican Party are eager to resolve the question of whether Donald Trump or Rob Astorino will be the GOP candidate for governor. The News' Bob McCarthy talks with Brian Meyer about recent twists:
February 12, 2014 - 5:09 PM
By Tom Precious
ALBANY -- Tobacco companies spent more than $7 million during just the first six months of 2013, as much as they did during all of 2011 and 2012 combined, the New York Public Interest Research Group reported Wednesday.
Much of the money was spent lobbying local governments, including Buffalo.
Interestingly, one lobbying firm, Nixon Peabody, represented during the same period in 2011 and 2012 both Altria, makers of Marlboro and other brands, and Roswell Park Cancer Institute, whose scientists for years have been producing major reports on cigarette smoking and cancer.
In all, 27 separate lobbying firms represented the tobacco industry in the past couple years, NYPIRG reported. Altria, at $4 million, was chief among the big spenders, not including $300,000 in campaign donations, the group said.
While Senate Republicans received the most in tobacco industry donations, NYPIRG noted that the New York Democratic Party, controlled by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, ended its promise, enacted in 2000, to stop taking cigarette industry money.
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About Politics Now
Robert J. McCarthy
A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.
Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.
Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.
Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.
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