Every Senator Counts
June 30th, 2009
The fate of a number of key pieces of legislation — including the hike in the city sales tax — apparently now hinges on whether or not GOP Sen. Frank Padavan of Queens was or was not on the Senate floor today.
Padavan’s alleged — and clearly brief — presence on the floor, along with that of all 31 Democrats, gave the body a quorum. (Senators do not have to remain in the chamber for the entire meeting to be counted as being there.) That has enabled the Democrats to begin passing legislation.
Itís not over yet, though, Gov. David Paterson told a 12:30 p.m. briefing that the Republican conference maintains that Padavan never signed in and so cannot be counted as legally present. Referring to his eight years as a Senate floor leader, Paterson said,” Senators donít sign in. They just walk in, and they’re recognized.” He did express reluctance, however, to sign legislation that may have been passed without a quorum.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who appeared at the briefing via a video link, said he had heard various stories about Padavan’s whereabouts: that he was on the floor briefly, perhaps, or only in the lounge, And David King reports from Albany that some people think Padavan did venture onto the Senate floor — and may have done it intentionally to break the gridlock.
Expressing disgust with the conflicting reports over whether the Senate could legally act on bills, Paterson said, “There better be an explanation for the circus that has gone on this afternoon.” Bloomberg agreed, saying, “”I would be hard-pressed to explain to the children in our school system this kind of democracy.”
For his part, Paterson tried to keep the pressure on, saying he would cal another extraordinary session for 7 p.m. tonight and would also have the senators gather throughout the weekend. He urged Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli to reverse his decision to let the senators continue to collect their salaries. “The people of New York run the state, not a bunch of inadequate, do-nothing state senators,” Paterson said.By Gail Robinson on June 30, 2009, 12:14 pm
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