* As this year’s legislative session came to a close, the environmental community came up short on solar energy when the Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo failed to push through a bill to boost long-term solar energy investment in the state. “If there was one particular disappointment, it was in the area of solar energy,” Dan Hendrick, a spokesman for the New York League of Conservation Voters, said late last night. “The environmental community has been pushing for a long-term, robust solar program for years, and polls show the overwhelming majority of New Yorkers want more solar. But at the end of the day, neither house passed transformative clean-energy legislation and the governor was not able to forge consensus on energy issues, like he did last year. The Assembly, Senate and the Governor all need to sharpen their pencils if we are ever going to make New York a clean-energy leader.” A solar energy bill that built on the governor’s more modest NY-SUN solar initiative targeted one of four key issues by the League of Conservation Voters and other environmental groups this session. The other priorities were stricter standards for hydrofracking wastewater, boosting the Environmental Protection fund, and a bill that was passed on “sewage right to know,” which requires public notification of high sewage levels in waterways like the Hudson River.
* It’s unclear whether the four members of the Independent Democratic Conference – which broke off from the main Senate Democratic conference in early 2011 – will end up being a friend or foe as New York progressives try to win back the state Senate majority. But the powerful Working Families Party, whose left-leaning agenda has been stifled under Senate Republican rule, is nonetheless giving its ballot line to all four IDC members: Sens. Jeff Klein, Diane Savino, David Valesky and David Carlucci. “WFP evaluates all candidates based on their records and their public positions,” WFP executive director Dan Cantor said in a statement to City & State. “If they stand with us on issues like raising the minimum wage and limiting the role of big money in politics, then we’ll stand with them. We also believe that IDC members should rejoin the Democratic caucus as they would be more effective at advancing those issues.”
* With City Councilman Charles Barron’s congressional campaign gaining some surprising traction, political observers are beginning to acknowledge that he stands a chance of upsetting Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries in Tuesday’s congressional primary. But even if that occurs, a future that includes Rep. Charles Barron would not be assured, according to a number of Brooklyn political observers, who said Jeffries could run in November on the Working Families Party line — something Jeffries has reportedly already said he would do. Because most Democratic voters are accustomed to voting for the Democratic nominee in general elections rather than looking over to Row D and the Working Families Party line, running solely on the WFP line is an uphill battle for any candidate. The challenge for Jeffries would be educating non-prime, less politically educated Democratic voters about the down-ballot race. “Hakeem certainly could win the general election,” said Democratic consultant Doug Forand, noting that he believes Jeffries will win on Tuesday. “It would take a massive ground operation and a lot of work by advocacy organizations.” Meanwhile, Barron deflected questions about Jeffries possibly continuing to run against him in November. “I don’t know, don’t know, don’t care,” Barron said. “You need to ask him that.”
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