ALBANY (AP) - New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will take his sky-high popularity into his third year with an agenda that includes a ban on assault weapons in the aftermath of last month’s school massacre in Connecticut and the killing of two firefighters in the western part of the state on Christmas Eve.
Cuomo’s State of the State address Wednesday afternoon in Albany will set the stage for much of this year’s legislative agenda, although the Senate and Assembly majorities are deeply divided on issues. He is also expected to address raising the minimum wage and reviving the still-slow economic recovery.
Cuomo and the Democrat-led Assembly are pushing for bans on all assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. New York already has some of the nation’s strictest gun laws, but calls have grown louder to crack down on military-style assault rifles.
Republicans who control the Senate called for enhanced penalties for existing gun laws, but Cuomo said that doesn’t go far enough. On Tuesday, he got support from a conservative New York City borough president when James Molinaro, of Staten Island, said it was “common sense” to ban the weapons, capable of firing several rounds quickly.
The State of the State address in an influential state home to the nation’s largest city is usually political theater, but Cuomo and legislative leaders will try to make deals on several major initiatives, including:
- Raising the minimum wage to $8.50 an hour from $7.25.
- Securing billions of federal dollars for local and state governments and victims of Superstorm Sandy and establishing preventive measures for the next big storm. Nation-leading climate change initiatives are expected, too.
- Changes to schools to improve student performance that could include longer days and academic years.
- The continuing need to create jobs and rev up the economy.
- Legalizing casinos off American Indian lands to boost jobs and tax revenues.
- Restrictions on the New York City Police Department’s stop-and-frisk procedures that critics say impinge on civil rights.
Cuomo’s other priorities will include his effort to legalize casinos off Indian land and another to restrict the New York City Police Department’s stop-and-frisk procedures that critics say impinge on civil rights.