Gotham Gazette

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Citizens Union

The Eye-Opener

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Sen. Diane Savino may be getting tired of advocates pressuring her and other members of the Independent Democratic Conference to move progressive peices of legislation through the Senate. 

Savino told advocate Bryan John Ellicott in an exchange on Facebook, that it wasn't her fault that the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act has not come to a vote, instead casting blame for the delay on fellow Democrat state Sen. Daniel Squadron for being too busy running for Public Advocate to tend to his legislation. 

Savino told the Facebook poster : "You already ave my vote, but maybe you should speak to the sponsor of the bill, Dan Squadron. I know he is busy running for another office, but it is his bill and he needs to move it. Legislating does not mean introducing a bill and then doing nothing. I have a full agenda of my bills and I don't leave them to anyone else" 

Savino and her IDC colleagues have faced pressure to move progressive legislation since forming a governing coalition with Senate Republicans last year.

"We all have to make sure we have the votes. It is part of our job," Savino said.


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With six days left in the legislative session, the state Senate is sprinting through all sorts of legislation. The Senate active list features 85 bills that are quite frankly all over the place. Here's a few worth a glance.

There is a lot of work left to do on bills specific to localities around the state. One bill deals with bonds in Yonkers, while another the tax status of Crystal Lake Zen Community.

Other bills increase penalties for dangerous driving and establish new rules for sex offenders. There is also a bill that requires wrestling teams to participate in an online training course about the dangers or staph infections.

All of this legislation gets crammed through the Senate today with a lot more to follow in the remaining day — -and that is before we get to whatever "Big Ugly" deal regarding the major issues of the day like casinos, the women's equality agenda, ethics reform and campaign finance reform.

Those issues are likely being hashed out behind closed doors while rank-and-file legislators lend their votes to bills that may or may not become law. 


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With seven days left in the state Legislature's session, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has unveiled a package of legislation to overhaul public financing of campaigns.

The package includes a 6-to-1 public matching system, an overhaul to the State Board of Elections and tweaks to laws that the governor says will make it easier to prosecute political corruption.

Even before Cuomo made his announcement today, Republican Senate Leader Dean Skelos told reporters he would block any vote on public financing of campaigns.  

Cuomo announced the package knowing he didn't have the full Legislature's support and repeated a threat that has become a mantra for him: If the Legislature doesn't act on some kind of reforms, he will invoke a Moreland Commission with broad powers to investigate the Legislature.

When pressed if he was prepared to call for such a commission by the end of session,  Cuomo snapped "yes" almost before the question was out of the reporter's mouth. 


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Two female Assembly staffers have filed a lawsuit against Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Assemblyman Vito Lopez.

The lawsuit claims that Lopez sexually harassed both women and that Silver provided "assistance" that allowed the harassment to continue. 

Silver's office reached a secret $103,000 settlement with two former Lopez staffers who accused him of sexual harassment but Silver did not stop Lopez from hiring more female staffers. The two women who Lopez fired have since come forward to detail their harassment and have now filed this suit. They are listed as current employees of the Assembly in the lawsuit.

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics issued a report last month that detailed a littany of alleged sexual misbehavior by Lopez but the panel did not look into Silver's role in keeping them out of public view.

Silver has apologized for his handling of the matter but has dismissed calls for his resignation. Calls to his office have not been returned. The incident has shined a spotlight on Albany's culture of sexual harassment


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Democratic State Sen. Kevin Parker, of Brooklyn, isn't interested in hearing about a dysfunctional Legislature mired in corruption and inaction. He's been busy introducing bills — lots and lots of bills.

Parker introduced 43 bills on May 16 — the Senate's last day of unlimited bill introduction. 

The 43 bills run the gamut of legislative matters:

  • S.5442 would require the state parks commissioner to create a New York Abolition and Civil Rights History Trail.
  • S.5523 would create a pilot program for social impact bonds designed to lower recidivism in juvenile justice programs
  • S.5386 would require creditors to inform debtors that written communications are available in large print.
  • S.5446 would allow same day voter registration and voting.

Last month, Bill Mahoney of The New York Public Interest Research Group estimated that the Legislature is on track to duplicate their performance from last year when they passed the fewest bills two-house bills since 1914.

And Mahoney says that, as of now, the Legislature is still on pace to perform just as badly.