Niagara Gazette

June 19, 2013

Cuomo, Albany leaders reach deal on casinos, Tax-Free NY plan

Staff Reports
Associated Press

Four upstate casinos and separate bills on a women's rights package including an abortion proposal that appeared to have been blocked in the Senate were part of a late-session deal, according to a senior official in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration.

The official late Tuesday also said there was an agreement on Cuomo's tax-free zones to attract employers tied to universities that will extend it beyond upstate to New York City and Long Island. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deals weren't scheduled to be announced until Wednesday.

Some legislative officials, however, immediately disputed some elements of the deal that includes Cuomo's Women's Equality Agenda and is expected to see floor votes Thursday and Friday.

Michael Whyland, spokesman for the Assembly's Democratic majority, said there are 10 items in the women's bill, including a measure to strengthen New York's abortion law, and the chamber plans to vote on and approve them as a single bill.

Kelly Cummings, spokeswoman for Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, said the party still objects to the abortion measure.

"We expect to pass nine of the 10 elements of the governor's women's equality agenda, however, we continue to oppose bringing the abortion provision to the floor," she said.

The Senate's Independent Democratic Conference supports the 10 items, which also involve pay equity, workplace protections and tougher domestic violence laws. They have spent the last several days trying to find a way to save the bills not related to abortion.

It's uncertain how the Senate will vote, but separating the bills revives Cuomo's women's agenda.

The agreement will authorize four Las Vegas-style resort casinos upstate: In the Southern Tier near Binghamton, the Hudson Valley, the Albany area and a fourth possibly planned for the Catskills. The agreement includes a proposal for a large video slot machine center on the line between Suffolk and Nassau counties. The official said the center, with 2,000 machines, if approved, would be operated by the off-track betting agencies of each county.

Legislators, however, said the Long Island center remained a contested item Tuesday night.