Senator John DeFrancisco

Karen DeWitt / WXXI News

The New York State legislative session is drawing to a close, and Democrats and Republicans are digging in on the remaining issues of 2017 including a measure to extend the New York City Mayor’s control of the public schools, which has now been linked to a number of diverse issues effecting people in the rest of the state.

nysba.org

The New York State Bar Association is joining civil liberties and other groups in trying to get better legal help for the state’s poor citizens.  Onondaga County is at the center of the controversy over providing fair legal representation.

Scott Willis/WAER News

The twists and turns of the options to address the aging I-81 viaduct through Syracuse and what residents think or really desire is about to take center stage this Wednesday evening.  A public information forum will be held at Henninger High School with members of the State D-O-T and a local delegation of state elected officials to listen. 

Senator John DeFrancisco says there are members of the public who feel the options haven’t been considered in a comprehensive way.

“We understand what the DOT wants to do. But we really want to get points brought out in the public, and more importantly, questions answered as far as what is going to happen, and some think that other alternatives have to be explored.”

John Smith/WAER News

  A law ten years in the making to punish repeat drunk driving offenders isn’t as far reaching as State Senator John DeFrancisco would have liked but, he feels it will get people to think twice about the consequences.  MaryJo Heitkamp-France joined DeFrancisco Wednesday announcing the signing of the law named for her daughter.

Karen Dewitt/WXXI News

  Lobbying for and against the minimum wage is intensifying at the State Capitol, with just over two weeks to go until the budget deadline.

Union workers gathered at a rally outside the State Capitol, where the main speaker was Governor Cuomo.

“We’re going to get a $15 minimum wage passed!” Cuomo shouted.

John Smith, WAER News

Following Governor Andrew Cuomo’s stop in Solvay this week to tout the benefits of raising the minimum wage, Republican State Senator John DeFrancisco and business owners and other groups including Unshackle Upstate are attempting to stifle any enthusiasm for the plan.  They say the plan could really amount to placing them at a disadvantage; which actually would be the reverse of Cuomo and his supporters’ optimism.  If the wage increase is implemented, they say it would ultimately raise their costs so much, some of their lower wage employees could see their hours reduced or risk losing their jobs altogether.  DeFrancisco has been the subject of attack ads on TV by SEIU Local 32BJ casting him with holding a net worth of $6 million dollars.  We caught up with DeFrancisco just as he was being informed about another group swinging punches at him for his opposition of the Cuomo plan.

Official Flickr of Governor Andrew Cuomo

  Central New York’s Regional Economic Development Council continued its winning ways this year, walking away from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Upstate Revitalization Initiative (URI) and Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) Awards with a total of $500 million.

The region will receive the money over the course of five years in roughly $100 million increments.  

Provided photo / Office of Sen. DeFrancisco

Central New Yorkers came through once again to help soldiers overseas keep in touch with their loved ones.  Senator John DeFrancisco's 7th annual Cell Phones for Soldiers collection drive netted more than 1,100 used mobile phones.  

  The national non-profit program recycles the devices and  uses the proceeds to purchase international calling cards for deployed troops.  One recycled phone provides an average of 30 minutes of talk time.  That means this year's collection will give troops roughly 33,000 minutes of free calling card time.  

John Smith / WAER News

We can stay in touch pretty easily these days with cell phones, but when you’re overseas in the military, it’s not that simple. US Soldiers serving overseas can actually get some free minutes to call home through the Cell Phones for Soldiers program.  State Senator John DeFrancisco explains how people can generate those calling card minutes.

nysenate.gov

Senate Republicans have a new strategy in what’s shaping up to be an election battle for control of the State Senate. They say now that a group of breakaway Democrats is abandoning them and rejoining the rest of the Democrats, the Senate will be dominated by New York City liberals who won’t care about Upstate and Long Island.

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