Tuesday, June 5, 2018

NY State Senate Partisan Gridlock Appears to End

A Legislative Agenda that would otherwise get little attention at the New York Capitol did more than get noticed in the hallways here, as a collective sigh went out by Lawmakers and Lobbyists as the Senate, for the first time since May 16th, began passing Bills again in a peace deal that may or may not last until the 2018 Session ends, later this Month.

The Senate had been at a Standstill since Mid-May following the Departure of a Long Island Republican who has stayed in Office but returned to Active Naval Service, Thomas Croci (R-3rd District, Suffolk County). The development created a 31-31 split between the GOP Majority, and their one Democratic Renegade, who Conferences with Republicans, and Democrats, who had been in the Majority.

Democrats have been threatening to introduce Amendments to force a Vote on Measures to Expand Abortion Rights and Contraceptive coverage. They were going to use Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat who legally Presides over the Senate, to help their cause, by breaking the tie.

But at Midday Monday, Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-35th District, Westchester County), was spotted walking outside the Senate Chamber on her way to what turned into an hourlong Meeting with Senate Majority Leader John J. Flanagan (R-2nd District, Long Island), I’m trying to find a way forward, the Democratic Leader said in a brief interview.

The route to at least a Temporary Peace was Bill Ratios. Democrats, with an effective Split in Control of the 63-Member Chamber, wanted assurances that more of their Bills would be put on the Floor to be Passed. Of course, that’s very important to us. We are 50 percent of the body, Stewart-Cousins said when asked if more Democratic Bills getting Passed could be a part of the Deal to end the Gridlock. Of the 130 Bills the Senate Passed Monday, 30 were Sponsored by Democrats.

If some Advocates did not want Senate Democrats to Abandon their Reproductive Rights Campaign, Senators signaled the Issue will live to Fight another day. Whether that is this Session, or next year after the November Elections when Democrats hope to take over the Senate, remained only for guessing. Democrats said their Point was made.

Republicans, eager to pass their own Bills on a host of Topics before hitting the Campaign Trail in earnest this Summer, said the opportunity now exists for both sides to focus on bread-and-butter matters.

As part of the deal, Hochul did not show up to Preside over the Monday Session to avoid a Parliamentarian showdown; Senators said she was not even in the Capitol during Session.

In the first 30 minutes of Session, the Senate Passed 54 Bills, with little or no Debate, almost as if no one wanted to Test the shaky Partisan relations. A Republican congratulated one Democrat for getting his first Bill Passed since joining the Senate in April.

Some Bills were hyperlocal, others more broad. Some have No Chance of becoming Laws, others were completing Final Passage of Bills already Passed by the Assembly. A number began to undo the Dysfunction that has led many Government Officials around the State worried about Bills of Regional importance that do not rise to Top-Shelf items that get Media attention in Albany.

Many were Must-Do items, like a Bill regularly Passed to give Erie County some flexibility when it goes to the Bond Market to Borrow. Some were Measures that have died in the Assembly and may or may not happen this year, such as a Bill to Lower the Speed Limit in Downtown Niagara Falls to 25 mph.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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