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State Government Editor of The Gotham Gazette

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Senate Republicans passed a to amend Gov. Andrew Cuomo's SAFE Act gun control package to a vote at about 2 this morning. The bill has already passed the Assembly. The amendment would exempt former law enforcement officials from the SAFE Act's ammunition restrictions. Fourteen legislators voted against the amendment.

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The bill drew a storm of opposition and outcry from Republican legislators who want a full repeal of the act.

A number of Republican Senators including Sens. Kathy Marchione, Cathy Young and John DeFrancisco voted against the amendment saying that they did not there should be a special exception for one group of "law abiding citizens" and that they instead favor a full repeal.

Sen. Marty Golden voted for the measure and argued that law enforcement officials need to carry firearms because they can run into people they put into jail. "If anyone has the right to a 10-bullet magazine it is the people that have the experience to use them," said Golden.

Sen. Greg Ball said that people on "his side of the aisle" voted on the bill at 2 a.m. because they, "don't want to know what is going on."

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Despite failing to come to a deal on a campaign finance reform the state senate nearly voted on a bill that would have enacted a public financing campaign at around 10:20 tonight.

Senate Democrats introduced a hostile amendment to a bill crafted to allow the use of old-school lever voting machines in New York City's mayor primary and runoff elections this year.

Republicans ruled that the hostile amendment was not germane to the bill but Sen. Gustavo Rivera argued for it. The entire body took a vote on whether the amendment was germane.

The vote was 30 for the amendment--2 votes short of what were needed. All of the Independent Democratic Conference that has been chastised by advocates for not bringing campaign finance reform to a vote in the senate and most of the Democratic conference voted for the bill. Democratic Sens. Ruben Diaz and Malcolm Smith voted against the amendment. Sen. Simcha Felder who was elected as a Democrat but conferences with Senate Republicans also voted against the amendment.

Smith is under federal indictment for trying to bribe his way on to the Republican ballot for NYC mayor.

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The State Senate approved Tom Prendergast as chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority at around 9:30 tonight.

Prendergrast has been acting chair since January and he was nominated in April by Cuomo to replace former MTA chair Joe Lhota who left to run for mayor.

Prendergrast previously worked as the head of New York City Transit and president of the Long Island Rail Road.

“Tom Prendergast has a proven track record of leadership and transportation expertise, especially when it comes to the managing the vast transportation network of the MTA,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “As Interim Executive Director, Tom was vital to the recovery of the MTA after Superstorm Sandy and he will continue to play a crucial role in making the MTA more modern, efficient and storm ready. I look forward to Tom’s continued success in running the nation’s largest transportation system.”

Transportation advocate Gene Russianoff of the New York Public Interest Research Group's Straphangers Campaign praised Prendergrast:

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Cuomo to Investigate Legislature

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday that he could not come to terms with the state legislature on campaign finance reform and anti-corruption legislation and as a result will empanel a Moreland Commission to investigate campaign finance practices at the State Board of Election. Cuomo has long threatened such a move but after a session marred by multiple indictments of sitting legislators on federal corruption charges, Cuomo pledged he is prepared to act. Cuomo said a deal with the legislature failed because he felt they wanted to police themselves. A Moreland Commission would not be able to prosecute legislators but could refer cases. "I want to restore a level of trust," said Cuomo.

Other Stories We're Following

Teachers' Union Backs Thompson's Bid For Mayor (NY Times)

State Expected to Reduce Role of Long Island Power Authority (NY Times)

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The State Senate and Assembly have reached a compromise on a bill that will delay any primary runoff in the city's mayoral race and allow the city Board of Election to use lever machines.

The compromise favors the Assembly's version of the legislation that only called for use of the lever machines for this year's primary and runoff. The Senate's version would have allowed the use of the machines in any non-federal elections. The new version will restrict the use of lever machines to 2013 alone.

Good government groups have railed against the move to use lever machines, saying it is unnecessary and a step back from electronic voting machines. The city BOE has had a series of election mishaps over the last few years and Mayor Michael Bloomberg came out in favor of using the lever machines as did the BOE.

"I was the only guy supporting this and then the mayor of New York came out and said we need this," Sen.Martin Golden, the sponsor of the bill in the senate, told the Gazette.