While You Were Out: Jan. 8, 2020

Whirlwind of a day, and it’s not even close to over yet…Some headlines to consider thus far:

President Trump backed away from further military action against Iran and called for a new diplomatic effort as the bristling confrontation of the last six days appeared to ease after Iranian missile strikes that proved more symbolic than deadly.

U.S> Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, flatly refused today to negotiate with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the terms of the Senate’s impeachment trial of President Trump, and accused the speaker of playing politics with a solemn process at a time of possible war.

Entering the second year of an all-Democrat state government, Gov. Andrew Cuomo kicked off the 2020 session with a State of the State address built around a series of progressive themes, including social justice initiatives, legalizing marijuana, improving health care and expanding education programs.

Facing a multibillion dollar budget gap and a restive, emboldened left-wing of his party, Cuomo laid out his 2020 agenda, promising to legalize marijuana, boost environmental spending and build on a raft of legislative wins in a Democratic-dominated capital.

Cuomo proposed $3 billion in borrowing to help bolster the state’s environment. The money would be gained through a bond act, which would have to be given final approval by voters. The money would be put toward habitat restoration, as well as an effort to cut down on risk of flooding.

Cuomo floated a reduction in the state’s corporate franchise tax — from 6.5 percent to 4 percent — for businesses with fewer than 100 employees, a move that would benefit an estimated 36,000 taxpayers while bucking an expectation of fiscal belt-tightening to fight the deficit.

People who ride in stretch limousines should be required to wear safety belts, Cuomo proposed in his State of the State address.

Here’s a link to the State of the State book, in case you have some spare time on your hands.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are quitting the royal family.

…In an extraordinary move — and after spending six weeks away in a multimillion-dollar bolthole in Canada — the couple said they wanted to take a “progressive new role” and leave their roles as “senior” royals.

Palm Beach police say they are conducting an “open and active criminal investigation” at Trump’s South Florida home, Mar-a-Lago, following an unspecified incident.

A New York appeals court upheld a lower court ruling blocking the Trump Administration from enacting a new regulation making it easier to deny green cards and visas to immigrants.

Attorney General Letitia James expects state lawmakers to take up changes to the state’s cash bail law due to “unintended consequences” with the law, she said.

The campaign to modify the new bail law will be the sharpest test yet of Democratic Party unity since it won complete control of the State Legislature in 2018, and a barometer of whether the party’s insurgent progressive wing can maintain its influence.

In court documents obtained by NewsChannel 13’s Mark Mulholland, Washington County Judge Kelly McKeighan is sharply critical of the new bail laws.

Yesterday, Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan released what amounted to an early prebuttal to push back against Cuomo’s State of the State. To sum up: Where the governor and his allies will see success, Republicans in the state Senate see concerns.

Harvey Weinstein’s lawyers asked the judge in his New York City rape case to step aside today – a day after he threatened to jail the disgraced movie mogul for texting in the courtroom.

Burdened with years of budget cuts and a recent increase in workload to implement a new tax law, the IRS struggled to deliver on its mission in the past fiscal year, according to an annual report from the Office of Taxpayer Advocate.

Marty Vanags, the president of the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership, has resigned and will leave immediately, the organization announced Wednesday. Shelby Schneider, currently its vice president, has been appointed interim president.

More than 15 members of a ring that allegedly used airplanes to move cocaine into the Capital Region were charged in felony drug indictments unsealed in Albany County Court.

Republican NY-21 Rep. Elise Stefanik’s stand-out role in House impeachment hearings sparked unprecedented levels of political donations to Stefanik and her Democratic opponent, Tedra Cobb, promising a well-funded and contentious rematch between the adversaries in 2020.

Disgraced former NY-24 Republican Rep. Chris Collins is seeking a no-jail sentence for his insider trading conviction — claiming his fall from grace has left him “humbled, penitent, and remorseful.”

A range of Republican luminaries on the national, state and local level wrote to a federal judge last year urging leniency for Collins. Among those urging Judge Vernon Broderick to consider Collins’s career in business and public service was former House Speaker John Boehner, who is neighbors with Collins in Florida.

America’s Most Convenient Bank? That’s what TD Bank sees as a winning strategy as one of more than two dozen institutions seeking to grow its market in the Capital Region.

The Albany Police Department has signed a lease for a new training academy at 215 Washington Ave. Ext.

The MTA has yanked its 300 newest subway cars off the rails, because of problems with their doors, the agency said.

The cancer death rate in the United States fell 2.2 percent from 2016 to 2017 — the largest single-year decline in cancer mortality ever reported, the American Cancer Society reported.

The New-York Historical Society has acquired the papers of “The Power Broker” author Robert Caro — some 200 linear feet of material that will be open to researchers in its library. And just as important to the 84-year-old Caro, it will create a permanent installation in its museum galleries dedicated to showing how he got the job done.

Actress Fran Drescher, the creator and star of one of the most beloved sitcoms of the ’90s, is developing “The Nanny” into a musical bound for Broadway, the production announced.

RIP Dino De Cherro, who spent a lifetime looking like Elvis but being utterly himself. He died Dec. 31 at home after a short illness at the age of 76.

After a recent study done by ‘WalletHub’, New York was found to be the sixth-best state to raise a family in the U.S. with Pennsylvania landing in the twenty-fourth spot.

It is not your imagination. There really are a LOT of squirrels in Central Park.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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