ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — In New York state government and political news, Republicans say they're confident they'll hold on to control of the state Senate after two special Senate elections next month and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo says that while he favors new restrictions on firearms, they need to come at the federal level.

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Democrats are feeling good about their chances of taking over the state Senate by winning two upcoming state Senate seats next month — a familiar feeling to the Republicans who now control the 63-seat chamber. Several times in recent years, Democrats thought they had a good shot at taking control only to see the GOP pull out election wins or retain power by exploiting Democratic disunity.

Two special Senate elections will be held April 24. A race in the Bronx looks like a lock for Democrats. The party has a 20-1 registration advantage over the GOP in the district, and Democrat Luis Sepulveda, a state assemblyman, doesn't yet have a Republican opponent. The second race, pitting Republican Julie Killian against Democratic Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer in Westchester, is expected to be much more competitive, though Democrats are betting that President Donald Trump's unpopularity will help.

If Democrats win both seats they'll have the majority, though they'll also have to resolve the schism between the mainline Democrats and the eight-member Independent Democratic Conference that broke with mainline Democrats years ago to empower the Senate's GOP leaders. The two sides have agreed to reunify, however, if the Democrats win both seats.

You'd think Republican leaders night be sweating, but Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, said she is "very confident" the GOP will retain its majority. She said voters like having Republicans in charge of the Senate as a bulwark against Democrats in the Assembly, who Republicans often accuse of focusing too much on New York City.

"We need balance in state government between New York City and the rest of the state," said Young, the chairwoman of the Senate Republican campaign committee.



Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo favors stronger gun control, but says it must be done at the federal level.

Cuomo pushed through the state's SAFE Act five years ago following the Sandy Hook school shooting. There's no new effort in Albany to pass further restrictions following last month's school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Democrats last week tried to force a vote on four gun control bills in the state Senate, only to be blocked by Republicans.

On Friday, Cuomo stopped short of endorsing the maneuver and said that it should be up to Congress to pass any meaningful restrictions.

"I support more protection for New York on the gun laws - there's no doubt about that," he said on WNYC's Brian Lehrer show. He then added: "We already have the best gun laws in the country. A state, by definition, cannot handle this issue because the guns come in over the border."

Cuomo has blasted federal inaction on guns, and said recent calls to restrict access to those under 21 are "incremental at best."



Republican Sen. Marty Golden celebrates Lunar New Year Sunday in Brooklyn; the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources meets Tuesday in Albany; and the Senate and Assembly are in session Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. It's the first three-day work week of the year, and a sign that work on the state budget is ramping up ahead of the April 1 deadline.

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