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CNY issues prevalent in Gov. Cuomo's 2018 State of the State address

Gov. Andrew Cuomo gives State of the State address in Albany

From the Syracuse Chiefs, to algae blooms in area lakes, to Interstate 81, central New York had a strong presence in several proposals that Gov. Andrew Cuomo pitched Wednesday in his 2018 State of the State address — the eighth one of his tenure.

The governor used the speech at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany to lay out his legislative agenda to an audience that included state lawmakers and newly inaugurated Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh.

SEE ALSO | Watch the raw video of Gov. Cuomo's entire 2018 state of the state address

We've highlighted some of the issues of local interest below:

Syracuse Chiefs Mets

Back in October, the New York Mets announced they would be purchasing the Syracuse Chiefs and bringing the triple-A club under their umbrella. Chiefs stakeholders approved the sale in mid-November.

Cuomo announced Wednesday that when the Chiefs become part of the Mets organization in 2019, they will adopt the Mets name to reflect the new ownership.

When asked about the governor's claim by CNYCentral Sports Director Niko Tamurian, Chiefs General Manager Jason Smorol confirmed that the team would have a new name for 2019, but didn't confirm what the name would be.


Infrastructure Overhaul

The New York State Thruway would receive some upgrades under one of the governor's proposals.

Gov. Cuomo is pledging to use $11.7 billion to enhance state transportation systems, which the Democrat said would include expanding cashless tolls to the entire thruway system by 2020 and upgrading all 27 thruway service areas through a public-private partnership.

"We should make [the Thruway] faster and cleaner, the way it's working so well in downstate New York," Cuomo said.

Regarding the other interstate that passes through central New York, Cuomo said the state will conduct a Draft Environmental Impact Statement of Interstate 81 as a tunnel "and/or" as a community grid, "so we can look at both options and proceed on the inland port at DeWitt."

Opioid Epidemic

New York will join the growing list of states and counties taking legal action against pharmaceutical companies over the opioid crisis and will work with the state Attorney General's Office to take "enforcement actions" against opioid distributors in the U.S.

Cuomo said any funds received from actions taken against the companies will be used to support the state's anti-opioid addiction campaigns.

"We will make them pay for their illegal and reprehensible conduct," Cuomo said. "The time for action is now before we lose another single life."

Several counties in New York have already taken legal steps against the industry, including Onondaga County. The county legislature announced in July it intends to sue large pharmaceutical companies for compensation for the money the county has spent on opioid-related problems. Oneida County announced a similar proposal in December.

The opioid epidemic has been a growing problem in central New York over the past several years. In September, a report found that opioid-related deaths in Onondaga County have tripled since 2012.

Fighting algae blooms

As he previously outlined during a visit to SUNY ESF last month, the governor is proposing a new $65 million four-point initiative to target harmful algae blooms in New York lakes — the presence of which caused several beach closures and warnings about drinking water sourced from the lakes — including at Cayuga, Owasco and Skaneateles lakes — last summer.

"In upstate New York, in the beautiful lakes of upstate New York, we now have a toxic algae that is spreading and is literally endangering the drinking water," Cuomo said.

The governor's proposal would see four regional councils make action plans to address algal blooms at 12 lakes identified as most urgently in need of attention in 2018. From there, other lakes would also receive treatment based on what is learned from the first twelve, Cuomo said.

Other issues

According to the Associated Press, other proposals Cuomo made during his state of the state address include:

FEDERAL TAX LAWSUIT: Cuomo plans to sue the federal government to challenge the new Republican tax overhaul, which he calls an unconstitutional assault on state's rights. The new law caps a former deduction for state and local taxes at $10,000, a move that Cuomo says will lead to big tax increases for many homeowners in high-tax states like New York.

SEXUAL MISCONDUCT: A new, uniform sexual harassment policy for all state and local officials in response to the national attention on sexual misconduct in the workplace.

ELECTION INTEGRITY: Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election have prompted proposals from Cuomo and lawmakers to require the disclosure of groups paying for online political ads.

VOTING REFORMS: New York is now one of a minority of states that don't allow early voting. Cuomo wants to allow voters to cast a ballot up to 12 days before an election. He's also seeking changes to voter registration to make it easier for more people to participate.

EDUCATION: Enhance and expand early childhood programming and improve access to food at school to ensure no student goes hungry.

CLEAN ENERGY: More offshore wind energy projects in New York waters. Cuomo wants New York to seek 800 megawatts of new offshore wind projects in 2018 and 2019, enough to power 400,000 households.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: Anyone convicted of a domestic violence crime would have to surrender any firearms.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Eliminate longstanding practice of requiring defendants to post monetary bail in misdemeanor and non-violent felony cases.

ECONOMY: $750 million for more regional economic development competitions and $100 million for another round of downtown revitalization funding.

FOSSIL FUEL DIVESTMENT: Wants to see New York state's pension fund get out of investing in fossil fuels.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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