- Associated Press - Saturday, December 3, 2016

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - This week in Albany, Assembly Democrats return to the state Capitol amid talk of a special session, and vote counting continues in a contested Long Island state Senate race. Meanwhile, anti-hunger advocates mull over their response to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s veto of a bill to encourage food donations, and Republicans and Democrats vie for control of the state Senate.

A guide to what’s coming up in the Capitol:

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SPECIAL SESSION

The Assembly’s Democratic majority will gather in Albany on Monday, a gathering that comes as top lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo discuss convening a special session focused on a legislative pay raise.

Lawmakers now make $79,500 and haven’t had a raise in nearly two decades. A state commission recently balked at authorizing an increase. Lawmakers have until the end of the year to vote to give the commission more time to reconsider if any pay raise is to take effect next year.

If they return, Cuomo wants lawmakers to pass a series of significant ethics reforms including a possible constitutional amendment that, if approved by voters, would impose term limits.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, of the Bronx, says he won’t trade legislation with Cuomo to win his support for a pay raise.

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LONG ISLAND SENATE RACE

Vote counting will resume on Long Island where Democrat John Brooks and Republican Sen. Michael Venditto remain locked in a tight contest weeks following Election Day.

Brooks declared victory on Thursday but Venditto isn’t giving up. Hundreds of votes remain to be counted, and it’s likely to be a couple of weeks before a victor is declared.

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SPEAKING OF THE SENATE

Democrats and the GOP are battling for control of the 63-seat chamber, where Republicans now have a tenuous grip on power thanks to the support of the breakaway faction known as the Independent Democratic Conference.

If Brooks’ win holds, Democrats will have a technical majority and could take control if they convince the Independent Democrats to return.

With only weeks to go before the 2017 session begins, Democrats are pressuring Gov. Andrew Cuomo to settle the dispute.

“Now is the time for Gov. Cuomo to step up and unify the members of his party,” Democratic Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said Thursday.

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ANTI-HUNGER ADVOCATES RESPOND TO VETO

Anti-hunger advocates will meet Tuesday near Albany where they’re likely to discuss their response to Cuomo’s veto of a bill that would have created a tax credit for farmers who donate to food banks.

Cuomo has now vetoed the bill twice, saying that while he supports the idea, tax credits should be incorporated in the state budget and not stand alone legislation.

Susan Zimet, the director of the Hunger Action Network of New York State, wants lawmakers to attempt to override the veto this month if they return for a special session.

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