E-Mail Newsletter – February 8, 2015

After a few intensive weeks and exhaustive discussions about what is best for the future of the Assembly and the strength of the institution, on Tuesday, Feb. 3rd, the Assembly Majority elected Bronx Assemblymember Carl Heastie as the new Speaker with a unanimous vote.

Although I stated a preference for the original schedule of a Feb. 10th vote to allow more opportunity to meet to discuss changes and reforms, I respect and support the consensus of my colleagues to vote, and I am proud to join them in this history making vote - and to get back to work. In the 238 year history of the Assembly, Carl Heastie is the first African-American Speaker to be elected by the members.

During this time, I have worked with dozens of members in recommending that reform be a priority as noted in this City & State article. In our discussions, Speaker Heastie addressed important, direct questions about the future of this body and indicated he would be a welcome partner in reform and in re-building confidence in the Assembly.

New York State Board of Regents Appointments. The terms of seven members of the New York State Board of Regents ends this year. The 17-member Board of Regents are responsible for the general supervision of all educational activities within New York, presiding over the New York State Education Department and higher education. The Regents are organized into standing committees, subcommittees and work groups whose members and chairs are appointed by the Chancellor. The Board will also vote on a new Education Commissioner to replace John B. King Jr.

The Assembly will be interviewing Regents candidates during the next couple of weeks beginning on Monday. Given my serious concerns regarding numerous current and proposed education policies, I have encouraged candidates to apply and will participate in interviewing candidates. The Regents are crucial to addressing challenges and changes in education including, testing policies, Common Core standards, and teacher evaluations. The vote on the seven appointments up this year will be held March 10th.

Appearances on radio and TV. This week, I spoke with Dr. Alan Chartock on WAMC’s The Capitol Connection about the tumultuous last couple weeks in the legislature and my priorities for this legislative session. You can listen to the full show at the WAMC Web site.

I also sat down with City & State's Ashley Hupfl at their “State of our State” reception to discuss the upcoming 2015 session, including the push for more education funding.

Grant funding announced to support State Archives. AT&T and the New York State Archives today announced they will provide $20,000 in funding to help the restoration and digitalization of historic state artifacts. The 1911 fire at the New York State Capitol, completed only a few years prior, proved to be a monumental loss to some of our state's precious historical documents and artifacts. I applaud AT&T's financial commitment to the New York State Archives to ensure these recovered documents are digitized and properly preserved for future generations of researchers and students.

Public forum regarding Northeast Direct pipeline. On Thursday, Feb. 12 at 6 p.m., Kinder Morgan/Tenneco will host a public forum on the proposed Northeast Direct pipeline expansion project at the Colonie Golf & Country Club (141 Maple Road, Voorheesville). This will be the only forum of its kind in Albany County. The proposed expansion will follow existing right-of-way natural gas lines through Knox, Berne, New Scotland, and Bethlehem. The public is encouraged to attend.

Pine Bush Environmental Leaders Week. During the winter school break from February 16 through 20, the Pine Bush Discovery Center will be hosting a variety of events as part of “Environmental Leaders” week. The Pine Bush will have programs scheduled for all ages with both indoor and outdoor options. Programs are $3 per person and $5 per family (children under 5 years free). Pre-registration is required for all programs. The Discovery Center is located at 195 New Karner Road in Albany. To sign up for any of these programs, please visit AlbanyPineBush.org or call (518) 456-0655.

Hiring Our Veterans Job Fair. The New York National Guard in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is holding a Hiring Our Heroes Veterans Job Fair at the Division of Military and Veterans Affairs Headquarters (330 Old Niskayuna Road, Latham) on March 5 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The job fair is free and open to all of our currently serving service members (both Active, Guard, and Reserve), Veterans and their Spouses. 75 employers will be present at the fair.

Albany Marching Falcons raising money for trip to Ireland. The Albany Marching Falcons are teaming up with the Albany Devils to help raise money for their upcoming trip to Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day.

The Devils have generously offered to donate all proceeds from the 50/50 raffle and “Chuck-a-Puck” fan activity at their Friday, Feb. 13 home game to support the Marching Falcons. Visit AlbanySchools.org to find out how to order tickets for the game and support our students.

Visit by Guilderland Central School District. Many thanks to the students, parents, school district officials, and teachers from the Guilderland Central School District) visited my office at the end of the week to advocate their thoughts and concerns on this year's proposed state education budget.

Submit to regional film festival. The Knickerbocker Film Festival will be marking its sixth year here in Albany. Short films up to twenty minutes in length will be accepted through March 6. For more information, visit their website.

Job Opportunities: New York State has setup a new job portal entitled Jobs Express, where thousands of private and public sector jobs are listed. Visit jobs.ny.gov for more information on how to apply for these opportunities.

As always, for the latest news or for upcoming events, please visit my office online, on Facebook, on Twitter, or my Times Union blog. If you would like to reach my office, please feel free to send us a note.

Sincerely ---