This is a busy summer for observers of state politics. There are three investigations percolating on multiple allegations against Governor Cuomo. There is a gun violence state of emergency. And while there was a lot of hullaballoo around the signing of the new Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) there appears to be just as much stirring around nominating the heads of the two new cannabis boards created by passage of the law.
Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins discussed these issues with Capital Tonight, starting with her position on the governor’s state of emergency around gun violence, which she agrees with.
“I think we all know that on a national level there is a state of emergency as it relates to the spike in gun violence,” Stewart-Cousins said. “So, we are not alone, sadly. And I think it needs all-hands-on-deck, in order to really deal with the problem.”
The majority leader pointed out that the Senate majority “has not been slouches” when it comes to dealing with gun violence.
The conference initially funded the SNUG Neighborhood Violence Prevention initiative (SNUG is ‘guns’ spelled backwards) in 2009. The program, which is considered a “violence interrupter,” has been successful, and is one of the programs that will be funded by the governor’s initiative.
This year, the Senate invested in gun violence prevention programs, passed the gun industry liability act and funded summer job programs for at risk youth.
“We are really trying to attack it everywhere” Stewart-Cousins said. “So, I’m happy that we are looking at it in the way that it should be looked at – it’s a public health emergency and we have to do all we can to fix it.”
Capital Tonight also asked the majority leader whether she views Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation into Governor Andrew Cuomo to be only part of a whole, or if she believes it should stand on its own as an indictment or an exoneration of the governor.
“As you said, there are multiple investigations going on,” Stewart-Cousins said. “I have been very, very clear that I’ve been waiting to get the information that the AG’s investigation has. As you know, I’ve said…the governor should resign (months ago).”
“I’m sure the investigations will be able to shed light on so many of the different allegations, and…I do believe that each investigation should stand on its own merit.”
Finally, Capital Tonight asked the majority leader about a story in the New York Post claiming that “New York’s legalized pot program is on a train to nowhere” because the governor is unhappy that the Senate won’t agree to his plan to split the leadership of the Metropolitan Transportation Association (MTA).
“Well, I hope it’s not true,” the majority leader said.
Regarding the MTA, Stewart-Cousins said that nothing (the governor’s nominees) has officially come before the Senate.
“We know who the names are, but they haven’t sent them down,” she said. “So that’s number one. Number two is that he is looking at making a change in the governance of the MTA, going back to where it was before. The structure that exists now is the result of good government groups and so on saying that the structure now makes more sense for the structure of the MTA.”
Stewart-Cousins said the governor is pushing the idea of returning to a system of governance that wasn’t productive.
“In the intervening months, so many stakeholders have come, whether it’s the Transportation Workers Union (TWU) and various groups who are really, really, really concerned about doing what the governor is proposing,” she said.
Stewart-Cousins told Capital Tonight that they proposed holding a hearing on the governor’s idea.
“But the reality is, there are a lot of stakeholders who are extremely concerned about going back to a system that previously existed that presumably wasn’t good for making sure the MTA operates,” Stewart-Cousins said.