ALBANY, N.Y. — Last week, the House passed its bill on net neutrality without the support of Rep. Tom Reed who claims the legislation gives too much control to federal regulators. In the New York Assembly, Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton voted to block a plan that would expand access to free college tuition for children of veterans killed in the line of duty. 

Rep. Tom Reed (23rd Congressional District)

The House had a short session last week before legislators left for a two-week break. Democrats brought forward a bill meant to force the FCC to prohibit internet providers from restricting or throttling services between different individuals. The bill passed the House despite Republicans claiming the measure would give the FCC too much control over the internet service providers. Rep. Reed joined with his fellow Republicans in opposing the measure.

“This whole effort, this blatant misrepresentation by the Democrats to say this is about net neutrality under their proposal is just a falsehood,” Reed said on a conference call with reporters last week.

Related: Reed outraises Mitrano in early campaigning, but less than last cycle

Republicans in the Senate pronounced the bill dead on arrival, in their chamber.

Reed also paid a visit to Ithaca College where he spoke to students about the Green New Deal, social security and college endowments.

Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (125th Assembly District)

The New York Assembly committee on higher education voted to block a bill last week that would expand access to free college tuition for children of veterans killed in action. Lifton was one of 15 Democrats who opposed the measure, citing budgetary concerns.

“As a member of the Assembly Higher Ed committee, I listened carefully to the discussion between my colleague who proposed this bill and Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, who chairs the committee,” Lifton wrote in a statement to The Ithaca Voice. “I’m very sympathetic, of course, as Chairwoman Glick clearly is, to families who have experienced these losses. Assemblywoman Glick pointed out that the state currently allocates $2.7 million a year for family members of those killed in combat zones to receive a free SUNY or CUNY education. This proposal would have considerably expanded those eligible to receive these benefits. Because this would require over $3 million, this becomes a budget matter, and unfortunately, we recently finished approving the budget and it was too late to consider this bill this cycle. That said, Chairwoman Glick made it very clear that the Higher Ed committee will be looking at the possibility of expanding those eligible in the next budget cycle, and I was glad to hear that.”

However, since the controversial vote, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he will expand the scholarship program anyway.

Senator Tom O’Mara (58th Senate District)

Republicans in the New York Senate, including Senator Tom O’Mara, continued railing on a legislative proposal that would expand labor requirements on farmworkers. O’Mara called for more hearings on the proposal in a release last week.

“The profound consequences of this legislation to a foundation of New York State’s economy and culture demands a comprehensive series of statewide public hearings,” the release noted.  “There should be hearings in every agricultural region, including the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions. Every voice that deserves to be heard should have the chance to provide direct input.”

The Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act would give farmworkers the right to collective bargaining and limit the hours they can work in a given week.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer & U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

Democrats representing New York’s rural counties gathered in Syracuse last weekend. They were joined by Senator Chuck Schumer who, despite being a downstate native, touted his reputation for regularly visiting upstate localities.

“All of these big issues in Washington where the hard right runs the show and the courts let them do it affects our rural communities in very very significant ways. All the guardrails and all the barriers that would’ve stopped these things from happening 30 or 40 years ago are gone, mostly by the courts,” Schumer told the gathered Democrats.

Schumer also congratulated former Tompkins County Democratic Committee chair, Irene Stein, on her service to the Democratic party.

Last week, reporters discovered ties between Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s father and the capital region marketing company, NXIVM, which is under investigation as a sex cult.

Editor’s Note: All the legislators are on break for a few weeks and so will Capitol Watch!

Vaughn Golden

Vaughn Golden is a freelance radio and print reporter covering politics around the southern tier and central New York. He authors the weekly "Capitol Watch" watchdog report on Ithaca's representatives...