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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.
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."
Common Cause says Gov. Andrew Cuomo needs to get his veto pen ready to stop the city from bringing back its old-school lever voting machines for this year's elections.
Both houses of the state Legislature are working on bills to allow the city's Board of Elections to delay a runoff in the mayoral primary and allow the city to use the lever machines.
The Senate version, sponsored by Republican Sen. Marty Golden of Brooklyn, would allow New York City to use lever machines in all non-federal elections. It would delay the runoff to three weeks after the election.
The Assembly version, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Michael Cusick of Staten Island, would only allow use of the antiquated machines for the runoff. The delay of the runoff would be the same as Golden's bill.
Common Cause refers to Cusick's legislation as "the less of two evils." Most good government groups oppose the use of lever machines at all and say the BOE should get its act together.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg had a victory in the state Legislature today after a measure to reform the New York City Housing Authority was sent to the governor for his signature.
The legislation does away with the $186,00 annual salaries they receive and adds three new members to the board. Three members will now be required to be residents of public housing. Board members will also no longer enjoy having a driver on call at all times as they do now.
“Across the country, cities have abandoned public housing, but we refused to do that," Bloomberg said in a statement. "We continued to invest and support our public housing system, and these reforms will help us continue to improve it — in spite of a decade cutbacks by Congress."
Bloomberg thanked Assemblyman Keith Wright and Sen. Marty Golden for their help moving the bill.
NYCHA is expected to go forward with layoffs, a hiring freeze and the closure of community centers as well as youth and senior programs because of the federal sequester. Almost 100,000 residents who receive reduced rent through a federal program will see their rent increase by up to $72 a month.
As I reported on Monday, a number of issues important to New York City were tossed out of state budget negotiations or barely dealt with including The DREAM Act, SUNY Downstate and speed cameras.
As it turns out, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is not too pleased with the Legislature's failure to enact a bill that would allow the city to use up to 40 speed cameras in high-risk areas.
“Frankly, reckless and negligent are some senators blocking our ability to save lives of our kids with speed cameras,” Bloomberg told reporters today.
Bloomberg told reporters to give out the names of three State Senators who he held responsible for blocking the bill to parents who lose children in traffic accidents — Sens. Dean Skelos, Marty Golden and Simcha Felder.
"I have no idea!" Golden responded on Sunday when I asked him what happened to speed cameras in the budget.
Keeping the SUNY Downstate Hospital in Brooklyn solvent was a major focus of the budget debate in the Senate last night. The budget bill as passed calls for the financially troubled institution to come up with a "sustainability plan" by June. Sen. Kevin Parker and a number of his colleagues from Brooklyn don't feel that is enough.
SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher said earlier this year that Downstate is losing $8 million a year and needs over $150 million to survive another year.
Parker introduced a hostile amendment to the budget health bill that would have given Downstate $150 million and required the legislature have oversight over any restructuring plan. The amendment was ruled out of order and Democrats did not have enough votes to overrule.
The current budget language requires SUNY to submit a sustainability plan by June and implement it in two weeks. It also loosens up the bidding process on contracts so the school can save money.
Sen. Gustavo Rivera questioned Sen. John DeFrancisco at length about the budget language on SUNY Downstate. Sen. Daniel Squadron also spoke passionately about preserving the hospital.