This Week’s Headlines: 'Double taxation' for New York
New York played a big role on the national stage this week, from the local impact of the president’s tax reform proposal to the state’s part in providing aid to Puerto Rico. But the biggest news in New York – other than construction work getting safer – was the overturned conviction of former state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. While he may be free for now, the Skelos-tons of corruption in his closet may come back to haunt him in a future retrial.
Another conviction overturned
Former state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son, Adam, are sentenced in 2015. (Arman Dzidzovic)
Being a corrupt lawmaker in Albany has consequences – but they’re not always bad. Former state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who was arrested alongside his son in 2015 on charges of extortion, bribery and fraud, had his corruption conviction vacated by a federal appeals court on Tuesday. Like the overturned conviction of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in July, the ruling hinged on the U.S. Supreme Court decision McDonnell v. United States, which set new standards for defining corruption. The 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals found that the Skeloses’ jury had been improperly instructed under the new standards. But the duo shouldn’t get comfortable – prosecutors intend to retry the case, which could lead to another conviction by a properly instructed jury.
New York City construction bill safely passed
The New York City Council unanimously passed a controversial bill on Wednesday requiring at least 40 hours of safety training for workers on most construction sites. The original bill introduced in January required 59 hours of training, but opponents argued it helped union workers and harmed smaller companies as well as minority- and women-owned businesses who might not be able to cover the costs. After months of talks, the bill that passed included $5 million to assist smaller businesses and extends the implementation timeline.
New York offers help to Puerto Rico
New York State Troopers depart to aid Puerto Rico's recovery effort. (Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor)
New York continued its efforts to assist Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Rep. Nydia Velazquez and Assemblyman Marcos Crespo visited the island, and the governor announced a state aid effort headquartered at the Javits Center, where the New York National Guard will be managing donations – including a $1 million gift from Jennifer Lopez. Cuomo also announced a deployment of the guard and state police to Puerto Rico. Given the state’s strong ties, New Yorkers were eager to help with fundraisers held throughout the city.
Tax reform trouble for New York
President Donald Trump’s tax reform plan, unveiled on Wednesday, would repeal the federal tax deduction for state and local taxes, which would harm New Yorkers who rely on the deduction to ease state income tax payments. The plan was quickly criticized by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who said that losing this would be tantamount to “double taxation.” House members from both parties were wary of the tax plan, and Reps. Tom Reed and Brian Higgins even met with Trump on Tuesday to try to convince him not to remove the deduction. After the plan was released, even more Republican lawmakers voiced their criticism. “It’s clear people on Long Island would definitely lose under this tax reform,” said Rep. Pete King, a prominent Trump supporter.