ALBANY, N.Y. — In New York state government news, no group hoping to influence state lawmakers spent more on lobbying in the first half of 2017 than Uber, as the ride-hailing company worked to convince lawmakers to allow it to expand upstate.
Meanwhile, Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie is casting doubt on a special fall legislative session.
A look at stories making news:
HEASTIE NOT HASTY
The Bronx Democrat told reporters this week that unless officials in Washington make additional funding cuts affecting the state’s bottom line, he doesn’t believe lawmakers must return to the Capitol early for a special fall session.
Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo had suggested the idea of a special session this year, focused on addressing the effects of federal cuts and on passing additional financial assistance for communities affected by flooding along Lake Ontario.
Lawmakers are already expected back in Albany in early January to kick off the 2018 session. Heastie said that, at this point, he’s not sure a special autumn session is warranted.
“I’m hoping that there isn’t anything bad that requires us to come back,” he told reporters Tuesday, when he and other Assembly Democrats gathered for a one-day retreat at the Capitol. “If nothing else worse happens, I think we’re fine.”
UBER FIRST IN LOBBYING
The app-based ride-hailing service reported nearly $1.8 million in lobbying expenses for the first six months of 2017, beating out the AARP, the teachers unions or the trial lawyers.
It may have been a wise investment. For years the company’s efforts to move outside of New York City fell flat but this spring, lawmakers voted to authorize the expansion into cities like Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany. Uber and its competitor, Lyft, began picking up passengers this summer.
Here’s the list of the groups who spent the most lobbying Albany in the first half of 2017:
— Uber: $1.78 million
— Greater New York Hospital Association: $1.45 million
— Rent Stabilization Association of NYC: $943,000
— United Teachers: $860,000
— AARP: $790,000
— Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America: $788,000
— Healthcare Association of New York State: $714,000
— Trial Lawyers Association of New York State: $660,000
— United Federation of Teachers: $658,000
— United University Professions: $642,000