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Gov's Progressive Approach A Welcome One For Caucus

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Governor Andrew Cuomo addressed the annual conference of black and Latino legislators in Albany Sunday night, where he was warmly received for talking up issues that are high on the group's to-do list. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

The agenda for Andrew Cuomo's third year in office has been described repeatedly as his most progressive. That has brought criticism from the right, but with black and Latino lawmakers -- most of whom are from the city -- it's been welcome news.

"The prime mover for this progressive agenda is this caucus. They fight every day. Every day in every way. And all of the progress we have made, none of it would have happened without the caucus," Cuomo said.

The governor's agenda includes raising the minimum wage, a women's equality act and ending arrests for small amounts of marijuana when individuals are stopped and frisked.

"I am the father of two boys. And they have seen me stopped and frisked and I don't think they will be immune from stop and frisk as they get older, so it's a deep, deep concern," said State Assemblyman Keith Wright.

Cuomo's recent gun control legislation also received high marks.

"The governor rolled up his sleeve and finally stepped up to the plate as a leader and took a political move that was to some extent politically unpopular. But he did it, and we will be there for him as a result that he has been there for us," State Assemblyman Felix Ortiz.

But the governor's relationship with the black community in particular has not always been this strong. Two years ago, he got a bad reception at the caucus.

"I know across the state and especially in our communities, there was some concern that the governor may have been a little bit too much on the conservative side. But it seems the governor has his ducks in order," said State Assemblyman Nick Perry.

"I think I've had good relations all along. Every year do you have someone who is unhappy about something? Yes. If we didn't have someone who was unhappy about something we wouldn't be doing our job," Cuomo said.

The only portion of his agenda where the governor hedged at all was on minimum wage. Now that President Barack Obama has called for a raise in the minimum wage at the federal level, and some Republican senators are using that as an excuse not to take action at the state level, Cuomo said all this complicates the issue.

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