Thursday, October 23, 2014

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Divided State Senate Still Neglects Legislation

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For another day, the bitterly-divided State Senate was forced by Governor David Paterson to meet Wednesday afternoon for a brief, fruitless special session.

Both Democrats and Republicans gaveled in together, but the feuding political parties gaveled out separately.

Republican Senator Dean Skelos and Democratic Senator Pedro Espada Jr. held a "leaders' meeting" before the special session, but no other Democrats attended.

Espada voted for GOP leadership during a June 8 coup that brought the Senate to a standstill.

"We're prepared to negotiate a long term agreement in terms of how the Senate should operate from this day through the end of 2010," said Skelos.

"Their problems are our problems because without their full empowered participation we cannot resolve the impasse," said Espada.

Paterson has pledged to continue to call special sessions through July 6th and has told senators to plan on being in Albany for the long holiday weekend.

"I think that there has to be a coequal power sharing agreement," Paterson said. "I honestly think that as I read through the other agreements around the country, somebody was in charge before there became a tie. Remember in the United States Senate the Republicans controlled the Senate until there was a tie. So it's not who was in control in the last second before there was a tie, it's that there is now a tie."

Meanwhile, some lawmakers are hinting at a possible resolution to the ongoing power struggle.

Queens Democrat Hiram Monserrate, whose defection last month swung power to Republicans, has once again set the Capitol rumor mill into overdrive with word he'll defect yet again to reelect Espada Jr.

When asked by NY1 about the possible move, Monserrate shrugged and said "You can list me down as a no comment."

In a statement, he later added "My vote for temporary president of the senate -- whether for John Sampson, Pedro Espada or Eric Schneiderman -- will only be done in consultation with my Democratic colleagues."

Throughout the day Tuesday, all 62 senators met for court-ordered special sessions, but Republicans and Democrats quickly gaveled in and gaveled out without acting on legislation.

Earlier in the week, Democrats claimed to have passed more than 100 bills after Republican Queens Senator Frank Padavan walked through the chamber, which Democrats say gave them a temporary quorum.

Padavan said he was simply on his way to get a drink and was not present for the session. Paterson took the senator's word and refused to sign the bills.

Senators failed to pass several other expired laws, including $7.2 billion in federal stimulus funds for New York State and an increased city sales tax that Bloomberg claimed would have brought the city $60 million a month.

The Senate also failed to renew mayoral control of city public schools, so the seven-year-old system expired at midnight Wednesday, leaving schools under the control of a newly-formed Board of Education.

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