As November Ends..Where Things Stand in New York

As November draws to a close and the Holiday season is in full throttle, I thought it would be a good time to recap where things stand in New York.  November started with uncertainty in respect to natural gas development, the results of a looming Election Day, a toll hike proposal and potential special session of the legislature that would presumably take up a hike in the minimum wage.

And because this is New York, guess what…December is starting with many of those questions still unanswered.

The devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy has ended the talk of a special legislative session.  That we know.  The status of minimum wage remains in flux, but I can say with a comfortable level of certainty that we will be talking about this issue well into the upcoming legislative session.

As for the toll hike issue, well, a third meeting of the Thruway Authority Board was cancelled in mid-November.  At that point, the vice-chair of the Board sounded off and was critical of the plan.  Finally, Governor Cuomo called the toll hike proposal “detrimental” and that the Thruway Authority needed to “get creative”.  Does your head hurt yet?  Perhaps there will be some resolution before December ends..and from my perspective, it better end with a forensic audit of the Authority.

Natural gas development…sigh.  Yesterday was the deadline for New York to finalize proposed regulations for Hydraulic Fracturing.  However, in October, it was announced that a comprehensive health review of the process was underway which had basically made yesterday a moot point to many observers.  As expected, the deadline came and went and now a NEW public comment period will begin on December 12th.  New regulations have been posted and comments will be made.  What happens then?  Your guess is as good as mine.

And finally, election results.  The critical piece to this is the State Senate.  To put it simply, and mildly, it remains in a constant state of flux.  Two recounts are still on going, with many eyes on the NY 46th.  There are 877 disputed ballots with George Amedore clinging to a slim lead.  Currently there are 31 elected Democrats and 30 elected Republicans.  Of course, newly elected Simcha Felder announced that he was going to caucus with the GOP.  Then of course we have the Independent Democrat Conference and reports of a coalition style government.  What that means, how that would work or even if it will ultimately work out that way…no one truly knows.

So…the more things change, the more they stay the same in some respects and a major headache in others.  Either will not be an uneventful Holiday season (politically speaking) in Albany and regardless, the next two years are going to be uncharted territory.

Time to grab some aspirin!


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About Mike Durant

Mike Durant was named New York State Director of NFIB in May 2011. Prior to joining NFIB as the Assistant State Director in May 2010, Durant began his career in the New York Senate working in the Office of Member Services. From there, he served in a number of positions during former New York Governor George E. Pataki’s administration. As a Research Specialist in the New York State Office of Demographic Policy, Mike was responsible for drafting a redistricting proposal for Governor Pataki. In addition, Mike served as a Research Specialist for the Empire State Development Corporation, as well as the Associate Commissioner of Human Resource Management with the New York Department of Labor. Durant also spent four years working at the Questar III BOCES as a specialist focusing on the complex formulas that drive aid to school districts across the state while also taking a lead role in the state legislative/budget process as it related to education policy. These past positions have given Mike a deep understanding of the complex political economics of the State of New York. Active in the community, Durant has served on a number of boards in both the village of Ballston Spa and Town of Milton. Durant received his bachelor’s degree from Siena College in Loudonville, New York and resides in Ballston Spa with his wife and two children.
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