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The New York Public Interest Group reports that the total number of bills passed by both houses increased this year from 571 to 650.
However, Bill Mahoney of NYPIRG reports, "The total of 650 bills is remarkably low by historical standards."
The report shows that the three lowest years for two house bills since 1915 are 2009, 2012 and 2013. "It seems that a smaller quantity of two-house bills is a new reality in New York," writes Mahoney. Mahoney speculates the trend could be due to the growing importance of the state budget, which is jam-packed with legisaltive items and the small majority in the Senate.
Also noteworthy is the fact that 2013 featured the fewest messages of necessity issued by a governor since at least 1995. Only three bills were passed with a message of necessity this year, while five were passed in 2012 and 29 in 2011.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has drastically reduced his use of the messages as good government groups criticize the process for subverting debate. Cuomo's use of the measures is tiny compared to his recent predecessors.
It may surprise some but even after a legislative session marred by arrests and scandal and a Senate session that came to an odd end with two marathon session days, one of which ended at 6:30 a.m., at least one Senator says he would like to return to Albany to get more done.
"I believe the legislative session that ended at 6 AM Saturday morning should be categorized as a session that could have done so much more," said Addabbo in a statement.
Addabbo praised the legislature's action on the budget, gun control, the minimum wage increase, hurricane Sandy assistance and a bill allowing for a speed camera program near schools. But he noted, "certain targets were missed badly." "I don’t believe the session should have ended without addressing the need for stronger ethics and anti-corruption legislation," wrote Addabbo. "Campaign finance reform and hydrofracking were other issues we had the opportunity to work on, but didn't address. The State Legislature might have another shot at hitting these targets before the end of the year. I am hopeful we'll give it our best efforts for the sake of our people and their government."
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.
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."
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.
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: