NEW YORK—In the lengthy 1 hour and 17 minute speech, Gov. Andrew Cuomo listed his bold legislative agenda for 2013 which include a ban on assault weapons, rebuilding post-Sandy, and a women’s equality plan, which drew the loudest applause and standing ovation for Cuomo.
“New York is on its way, coming back stronger than ever before, rising to meet some of the biggest challenges in our history, remaining as a progressive beacon of light to the rest of the nation, and standing out as a model of effective government,” Cuomo said in Albany Wednesday.
The governor promised groundbreaking gun control reform, an effort he hopes will lead the nation to follow. Cuomo, who said he owns a Remington firearm, assured naysayers that the reforms are not about taking guns away from people, but about banning assault rifles.
“It’s simple. Nobody hunts with an assault rifle,” Cuomo said. “Nobody needs 10 bullets to kill a deer. End the madness now.”
He gave a seven-point plan that included a ban on assault weapons, closing the private sale loophole with background checks, and putting a cap on high magazines.
It’s simple. Nobody hunts with an assault rifle. Nobody needs 10 bullets to kill a deer. End the madness now.
—Andrew Cuomo, governor
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a staunch supporter of gun control, strongly supported the governor’s strong stance for reform. “New York State has led the nation with strong, common-sense gun laws, and the governor’s new proposals will build on that tradition. They will help law enforcement keep guns out of the hands of criminals and other dangerous people and save lives,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “We strongly support his proposals to close loopholes and strengthen existing laws, and we look forward to working with him and the State Legislature to adopt them.”
With the Hurricane Sandy relief package not passed 73 days after the storm hit New York and New Jersey, Cuomo was once again critical of Congress for only passing $9 billion of the $60 billion aid. “This is an unprecedented situation in modern times where the federal government has not been responsible in the face of a disaster,” Cuomo said. He urged Congress to pass the bill, pledging New York would remember how slow the aid came.
Cuomo proposed an out for homeowners affected by the storm that do not want to rebuild, offering to buy them out and let them move on. For homeowners who would like to rebuild, the governor said plans have to include foresight for the changing climate. “I would rather pay more and put a house on pillars today than rebuild that house three times in the future,” Cuomo said.
Following the storm, Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) came under intense scrutiny by Cuomo and during his speech, he vowed to abolish it. “It has never worked. It never will. The time has come to abolish LIPA. Period,” Cuomo said to thunderous applause. Cuomo said he wants to see LIPA privatized, but promised customers would be protected from rate hikes by a rate hike freeze.
Cuomo, who has three daughters, introduced a 10-point plan to help equalize pay and end discrimination against women. He also hopes to protect a woman’s freedom to reproductive choice saying three times loudly, “He body, her choice!” which received a thunderous applause. “Maybe it is a man’s world. But it is not a man’s world in New York anymore,” the governor said.
After pointing out the disparaging gap between the cost of living and minimum wage, he said he would like to see the minimum wage raised to $8.75.
With Mayor Bloomberg in attendance, Gov. Cuomo spoke out against stop and frisk, citing its use in putting young black and Hispanic males in jail for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The governor wants to see quantities of 15 grams or lower decriminalized to prevent the lives of those arrested ruined.
Despite a rowdy protest by anti-fracking supporters prior to his speech and growing discontent on both sides of the debate, hydraulic fracturing was not mentioned in the governor’s speech. Cuomo’s energy plans included an investment in an electric car charging station network statewide and more money for renewable energy, including an extension of the solar job program. He also appointed Richard Kauffman as energy czar to help oversee the state’s energy portfolio.
While the governor touted much of the forward progress his administration has made, he did back peddle on the casino issue, which he had pushed for in his 2012 State of the State. He proposed three casinos, but none in New York City, saying the economic draw for upstate was needed much more.
According to the governor, this year’s State of the State, at 300 pages, was the most ambitious plan yet. He closed with a passionate rally cry for the legislators tasked with working together. “The state of New York State is that New York State is rising,” Cuomo said. “New York State is rising with a passion and a commitment to make this state better than it has even been with a brighter future than it ever had for your family and for my family and New York is rising with us together as one committed to that vision and making it a reality this year.”
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