Gov Cuomo gives State of the State address

Governor Andrew Cuomo officially outlined his priorities for the year at his State of the State address Wednesday afternoon in Albany.

Cuomo took his sky-high popularity into his third year with an agenda to ban assault rifles, raise the minimum wage, revive the still-slow economic recovery, and more.
Cuomo's address sets the stage for much of this year's legislative agenda, although the Senate and Assembly majorities are deeply divided on issues.

Cuomo's other priorities include his effort to legalize casinos off Indian land to boost jobs and tax revenues and another to restrict the New York City Police Department's stop-and-frisk procedures that critics say impinge on civil rights.

Cuomo was not expected to discuss fracking, but more than a thousand protesters showed up chanting "Ban Fracking Now!" in downtown Albany's Empire State Plaza concourse where lawmakers passed on their way to the speech. More than 80 Central New Yorkers took part in the protests.

Cuomo stressed the need to fortify New York's power and telecommunication systems after Superstorm Sandy.The November storm damaged or destroyed 305,000 housing units in New York and more than 265,000 businesses were disrupted in the state. More than 2 million customers lost power. Cuomo said New York customers cannot afford to face catastrophic power losses every few years when powerful storms hit.

On gambling, Cuomo propose


that an expansion of gambling in New York begin with three casinos upstate and none in New York City.

The state Legislature is expected this year to consider final passage of an amendment to the state constitution that would allow up to seven Las Vegas-style casinos beyond Indian land. If approved by lawmakers, voters could make a final decision on the amendment in November.

Cuomo said he would propose a "phase one" plan focusing on three upstate casinos. The governor said he wants to bring visitors from downstate and other states to upstate areas.

A gaming commission would pick the best locations and revenues would be split 90 percent for education and 10 percent for property tax relief.

Cuomo is also proposing to create a "Green Bank" to spur private investment in clean energy projects. In his State of the State address Wednesday, Cuomo says various state entities now collect and spend $1.4 billion a year on renewables and energy efficiency, with 80 percent of the spending in the form of one-time subsidies. He said his proposal would encourage more private market activity in clean energy, create jobs, and reduce consumer prices for renewable and energy efficient energy sources.

On gun control, Cuomo is proposing that when a mental health profssional determines a person is likely to cause serious harm to someone, the person's firearm license may be revoked and law enforcement could take the person's weapons. He's also proposing harsher penalties for illegal gun activity.

A deal in the works by state lawmakers could soon make New York one of the first states to pass gun control laws following the Dec. 14 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. New York's effort was hastened further by the Christmas Eve killings of two firefighters in western New York.

New York Assemblyman Marc Butler says a proposed ban on assault weapons could cost central New York 300 gun manufacturing jobs. The Republican represents Ilion where Remington Arms Co. employs about 1,000 people. Butler says the deal approaching agreement in Albany will cost 300 jobs that the company could move to another state.

Remington now legally makes a rifle that could become illegal under a new assault weapon ban in New York. An assault weapon was used in the December shooting of children at a Connecticut school.

Remington's rifle has a pistol grip and accepts a detachable magazine. It is currently legal under New York law unless it has another enhancement like a bayonet mount or flash suppressor. Remington declined comment.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner announce that her 2013 State of the City address will be held at 5:30 p.m. January 24 at Dr. Edwin E. Weeks Elementary School Cafeteria.

(Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.)