All Hands on Deck

Redistricting Redo, NY Budget Boogie, Looming DC Deadline

Good morning from Albany, New York where lawmakers will return to town after a week-long recess. Top of the agenda?  Redistricting. The fate of New York’s Congressional map now lies in the hands of legislators after the Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) formally voted to advance a new map earlier this month. The Legislature can decide to adopt the IRC-drawn map, or scrap it and come up with their own as they did in 2020. The map advanced by the IRC includes modest changes in Central New York—making Republican Brandon Williams’ District a bit more Democratic—and makes GOP Rep. Mark Molinaro’s District more Republican, and Democrat Pat Ryan’s District more Democratic, but does little overall to help Democrat’s chances of flipping key seats on Long Island or in the Hudson Valley, leading to calls from some lawmakers for the Legislature to reject the plan. State Senator James Skoufis, a Democrat from Orange County, has been the most outspoken, calling the maps a “disgrace,” especially because it splits Orange County while Senate and Assembly leadership have given little indication of how they are leaning, at least publicly. Governor Hochul offered that she will remain neutral saying, “There’s a process to be played out. The next step is (with) the Legislature and let's see what they come up. I'll not be putting my finger on the scale.”

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries has no such reservations, coming out almost immediately against the map and urging New York Democrats to do the same. In a statement, he said, “The IRC map breaks apart six additional counties in New York State, including one that appears gratuitously designed to benefit an incumbent in the 19th Congressional District. That would be a clear violation of the New York State Constitution.” Jeffries is keenly aware that the path for Democrats to win the House goes through New York and according to the Cook Political Report, four of the seats that Republicans flipped in 2020, NY-04, NY-17, NY-19, and NY-22, would all still lean towards the GOP under the IRC-proposed map. 

The Senate Democratic Conference held a caucus meeting on Monday while their Assembly colleagues met on Friday, though no agreement or path forward was agreed on. Privately, some lawmakers have expressed skepticism towards the map and would prefer to reject the proposal. When the New York Court of Appeals ordered the map to be redrawn, it set a deadline for the IRC to submit a proposal, but somewhat paradoxically, did not set a deadline for the Legislature to vote on those maps or to create their own maps. Preparing for the possibility that the Legislature does reject the map, Democrats are pursuing legislation that would require any future legal challenges be filed in State Supreme Court in Albany. Republicans successfully challenged the Legislature-drawn maps in 2020 win deep-red Steuben County, setting off the whole redistricting saga in the first place. (How would you vote? Have your say in our poll.)

Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson is equally focused on New York, traveling here last week to campaign for freshman Representatives Brandon Williams in NY-22 and Marc Molinaro in NY-19.  At a Central New York fundraiser for Rep. Williams, Johnson made it clear that New York, and NY-22 in particular, could decide whether the GOP keeps their majority, telling supporters, “This is one of the districts that is going to decide the fate of the country… This district may very well be one of the decision points on whether we keep the majority, grow the majority in the House.” Democrats have attempted to use the visit to tie Republican candidates to some of Johnson’s more conservative positions that may not be as popular in New York swing districts. In a statement, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said, “Marc Molinaro played a ‘pivotal role’ in making Mike Johnson — who wants to ban abortion and slash Social Security and Medicare — Speaker of the House and now, he has the gall to bring Johnson to Broome County.” Johnson would agree with that assessment, saying he told Molinaro “I owe you, bro” in reference to his support of Johnson’s Speakership. Whether that association hurts or helps Molinaro and other Republicans in districts won by President Biden in 2020 remains to be seen. 

“Marc Molinaro played a ‘pivotal role’ in making Mike Johnson — who wants to ban abortion and slash Social Security and Medicare — Speaker of the House and now, he has the gall to bring Johnson to Broome County.”

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

State lawmakers in Albany are in the thick of budget rush, with the Senate and Assembly expected to release their respective one-house budgets the week of March 4 (though that remains fluid with Redistricting expected to consume a great deal of conference time). For many in the Legislature, this budget season will be their last. This year has brought an unusually high number of resignations, either to retire or to seek higher office. Here is the list so far: 


  • Kevin Thomas (D) - SD 6 (Congressional Run) 

  • Neil Breslin (D) - SD 46 (Retiring) 

  • John Mannion (D) - SD 50 (Congressional Run) 

  • Tim Kennedy (D) - SD 63 (Congressional Run) 


  • Fred Thiele (D) - AD 1 (Retiring)

  • Taylor Darling (D) - AD 18 (NYS Senate Run)

  • Jeffrion Aubry (D) - AD 35 (Retiring)

  • Daniel O'Donnell (D) - AD 69 (Retiring)

  • Inez Dickens (D) - AD 70 (Retiring)

  • Kenneth Zebrowski (D) - AD 96 (Retiring)

  • Aileen Gunther (D) - AD 100 (Retiring)

  • Patricia Fahy (D) - AD 109 (NYS Senate Run)

  • Phil Steck (D) - AD 110 (Albany County DA Run)

  • Marjorie Byrnes (R) - AD 133 (Retiring)

  • Joseph Giglio (R) - AD 148 (Retiring)

  • Andrew Goodell (R) - AD 150 (Retiring)

Other branches of state government will be going through personnel shakeups as well. Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid announced last month that he will be leaving to join the Open Spaces Institute.

This week, Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos announced he will be leaving government after running DEC for more than eight years. Also, Diane Burman, a longtime Commissioner of the Public Service Commission, announced she will not be seeking another term. 

In Washington, D.C., the government will officially hit the first of two funding deadlines this Friday, meaning a partial government shutdown could follow if Congress fails to act. Lawmakers are hoping to pass the first four funding bills, Agriculture-FDA, Energy-Water, Military Construction-VA, and Transportation-HUD before Friday’s deadline, giving themselves another week before the second deadline on March 8th to iron out more controversial issues like Homeland Security and Health and Human Services appropriations. 

The GOP Freedom Caucus is pressuring Speaker Johnson to include significant policy riders on issues like border security and abortion, or to pursue a year-long Continuing Resolution that enacts spending cuts across the board. Freedom Caucus Chair Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) said in a letter to Johnson, “If we are not going to secure significant policy changes or even keep spending below the caps adopted by bipartisan majorities less than one year ago, why would we proceed when we could instead pass a year-long funding resolution that would save Americans $100 billion in year one?”

Despite the broad disagreements and short turnaround time, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer remains optimistic they can stave off a shutdown, telling reporters, “There's broad support in the Senate — and I believe in the House, where we worked with Speaker Johnson on the last bill — to not shut down the government and fund things.” Johnson and Schumer came to an agreement in January on a stopgap measure to avoid a shutdown and agreed on a deal to fund the government at $1.66 trillion, but where that money goes and what policy is attached to it is where things get complicated.

Senator Schumer is also pushing for a solution on another unresolved issue, the foreign aid package that garnered bipartisan support in the Senate and included $60 billion in military assistance for Ukraine.

Schumer traveled with a congressional delegation to Ukraine this past week where he met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and urged Speaker Johnson to take up the Senate’s bill. In an interview, Schumer said, “We need Speaker Johnson to make sure that we get that aid. If he put the bill on the floor, it would pass. There are a good number of Republicans in the House who know how important it is, and he has to see that history is on his back.” Johnson has pushed back, citing the lack of action on the border, as the reason for blocking a vote on the package. 

Which issues will dominate the 2024 Legislative Sessions from D.C. to Albany?

Jack lays it out in our annual Legislative Preview.

Read it here.

South Carolina held its Republican presidential primary election on Saturday where former President Donald Trump soundly defeated former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley in her home state, dealing another blow to Haley’s beleaguered campaign. Trump beat Haley by more than 20 points and won all but three counties in a state that likely represented Haley’s last best chance to win a primary contest over the former President. 

Haley has said she plan to remain in the race through Super Tuesday on March 5th, telling supporters, “In the next 10 days, another 21 states and territories will speak. They have the right to a real choice. Not a Soviet-style election with only one candidate.” 


As if regular soccer is not difficult enough, these Brazilians are taking to the banks of the Amazon River to play ‘mudball.’ 


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Client in the News

Sucro Sourcing at Renaissance Commerce Park, on the former Bethlehem Steel site. Photo: Derek Gee/Buffalo News

Rebirth of the Former Bethlehem Steel Site Continues

The former Bethlehem Steel property west of Route 5 in Lackawanna, once the epicenter of Buffalo Niagara’s industrial might and its subsequent decline, has undergone a revival in recent years.

And that rebirth continues.

New companies have moved in to the complex, including OD&A client, Sucro Sourcing. [Read more.]

EDWARD A. JOHNSON (1860-1944)

In 1917, Johnson became the first African American elected to the New York State Legislature representing the 19th Assembly District.

Should the NYS Legislature approve the new Congressional maps set by the Independent Redistricting Commission?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Results of the Last Poll

Do you think Biden, Trump, both or neither are "too old" for another term as President?

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Employee Spotlight

What do you do at OD&A?

OD&A welcomed me to the team in Buffalo to assist with scheduling and outreach after I arrived from Ireland on a Graduate Visa with the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE). My mum, dad, and younger brother are at home in Donegal getting ready for the lambing season. I'm from a little village, the birthplace of Saint Colmcille, 10km (about 6 miles) from Glenveagh National Park, home to Red Deer, Golden Eagles, and Glenveagh Castle. Saint Colmcille is one of the three patron saints of Ireland along with Saint Patrick and Saint Brigid.  

What do you like most about your work?

I love the challenge of learning new things, especially in a new country. I also enjoy getting to learn more about our clients, their priorities, and their impact on New York State and the country as a whole.

What are your proudest accomplishments/achievements at OD&A?

Working as a scheduler for the first time, and having it pretty much figured out after 3 months!

What is something you wish people knew about your job?

There's a lot of background work that goes into scheduling calls and meetings. I have to stay organized and on top of my work, so I don't let things fall through the cracks which can have a big impact on clients and our team.

What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?

I love travelling and seeing new places. So far, I've visited Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy, and Greece to name a few. Cultures and food intrigue me a lot. I've eaten some quirky things like kangaroo and ostrich, but I drew the line at snails and frog legs!

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This Day in History

February 26, 1993: The World Trade Center in New York City was bombed in an act of terrorism, and Islamic radicals were later convicted for the crime. Read a note left behind by one of the trapped victims.


Worth a Read

Sam Mendes Sets Beatles Biopic Movie Series at Sony

Four features, one from each of the Fab Four's perspectives, are in the works. [Read more.]