Skip to comments.State Senate Democrats use bizarre maneuver to start passing bills
Posted on 06/30/2009 3:44:32 PM PDT by Chet 99
Updated: 06/30/09 01:48 PM State Senate Democrats use bizarre maneuver to start passing bills
ALBANY In a bizarre twist, Senate Democrats claimed this afternoon they have established a quorum when a Republican senator on his way to a lounge adjacent to the chamber was counted as present for the purposes of holding a legal session.
The Democrats quickly gaveled in and started passing a long list of stalled bills submitted by Gov. David A. Paterson.
"I think it's fraud," said Sen. Frank Padavan, a Queens Republican, who the Democrats counted as present for the noon-time session.
Padavan said the hallway was blocked by cameras and reporters, so he cut through the Senate chamber to get to a lounge off the Senate floor where food and drinks are provided free for the legislators.
"I walked through before session began," Padavan said.
But Democrats said the journal clerk, the official who checks in lawmakers, saw Padavan and recorded him as present. Senate rules state that a lawmaker not in his chair is recorded as voting yes. As a result, they claim Padavan gave the Democrats not only the quorum but also the 32 votes needed to pass the bills that have been stalled for weeks.
Down the hall from the chamber, Republican lawyers scurried into meetings to discuss the sudden developments. A short time later, the Republicans said they will go to court later this afternoon to contest the votes taken by the Democrats.
Sen. Pedro Espada, a Bronx Democrat elected June 8 as Senate president during the coup, said Padavan talked to the governor and assured him he was not in the chamber at the start of session.
Paterson sent mixed messages, saying at one point he thought the Senate action was legal. Later, though, he said he would not sign the bills because he thought the passage of the bills, still going on at 1:30pm, was not legal. He is planning to call another special session tonight at 7 p.m.
"I would demand an apology from Malcolm Smith for putting this institution through an additional day of shame,'' Espada said of the person he and Republicans claim was deposed as Senate president and majority leader on June 8.
Padavan said he had been cutting through the back of the chamber to get a can of Coke.
The latest developments come after the two sides had met briefly this morning in their first real session since June 8 but without taking any action. The meeting took place after an appeals court judge declined to issue a stay of a ruling Monday by a state judge ordering the warring factions to meet in a single session. After the request for the stay failed, Senate Republicans filed into the chamber 10 minutes after Democrats had gaveled in.
The sides already were due back in court this afternoon to argue a procedural matter, even before the Democrats latest parliamentary maneuver. If there is not a political resolution, lawyers were predicting the case with its many constitutional issues might not be a quick one for the courts to resolve.
After Republicans took their seats for this morning's initial session, a surprised-looking Sen. Malcolm Smith, who the Democrats claim is the Senate president, sought to recess the chamber. But the maneuver was blocked by Republicans. A huddle between Smith and Sen. Dean Skelos, a Long Island Republicans who claims the majority leader's post following the June 8 coup, ended with Skelos addressing the chamber.
Skelos, likely for legal reasons, twice said the Republicans were in the chamber to abide by the governor's special session call but do not recognize the lawmaker Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins that Democrats had in the presiding officer's chair for the session. The Republicans said only Skelos or Sen. Pedro Espada, the Bronx Democrat they installed on June 8 as Senate president, can select the occupant of the presiding officer's chair.
"We do not believe you are appropriately standing there as presiding officer," Skelos said to the lawmaker.
Skelos also took Sen. John Sampson, the Democrats' new conference leader, up on his offer from Monday to stop private meetings over the leadership spat and hold a public session. Later, Republicans had said they would be in the Capitol room at 1 p.m. for the session but that was before Democrats claimed Padavan as part of their quorum and started voting on bills.
A number of laws face a midnight deadline for extension or they expire, including the Power for Jobs program, which supplies nearly 600 companies and not-for-profits with low-cost power. Republicans say Paterson has discretionary pots of funding from the state budget that he can tap to keep the program running, a claim the governor's office denies.
Today's developments came a day after Supreme Court Judge Joseph Teresi ordered an end to separate sessions the Republicans and Democrats have held over the past week. With neither side recognizing the other's leadership claims, the dueling sessions led to no bills being passed because with a 31-31 tie in the chamber neither side had the 32 members present for a quorum.
Republicans believed they had the right to an automatic stay, but an appellate division judge, Bernard J. Malone Jr., declined the stay request, forcing the Republicans to come to the chamber this morning. He ordered the sides to submit papers by 3 p.m. to the full appellate division panel. That will only pertain to the stay request, which would decide, for instance, whether the Republicans have to show up for future special sessions called by Paterson.
The merits of the case Republicans claim the courts do not have the jurisdiction to get involved in the internal workings of a separate branch of government are potentially days away from being argued.
The sides have been engaged in parliamentary combat since June 8, when two Democrats joined with 30 Republicans to wrestle control of the chamber from the Democrats, who took over the Senate in January after 70 years of GOP dominance.
Uncertain is how long the court battles including the new one over today's votes by Democrats could take. Paterson, who called for the special session this morning, has scrubbed his trip to Buffalo today for an announcement by Yahoo about moving a facility to the region.
Taking their lead from Nancy “Banana Republic” Pelosi.
When the USHOR passes “bills” that don’t even exist in any one form, and that no one has read, why not count “present” people who are obviously not on hand to legislate but instead are running to the crapper, etc.?
The childishness of these New York liberals is beyond belief. First they lock up the legislature with padlocks and then they count some as present via a bathroom break.
Yet people will still vote for them, which speaks volumes.
But, to read the “news media” this was a “god thing” .... Right?
What in the hell game do these Democrats think they are playing? This is lawsuit time.
This has got to be the poster child for political stupidity / futility. For years people have focused on Italy and Taiwan for fractious politics, but now we have one of our very own! Congratulations to the Empire State of New York - boy what a mark you are making!
It just doesn’t matter. Upstate folks will rightly be upset, and want to “throw all the bums out” - and they likely will do so next election. Meanwhile, the NY City politicians involved will all come back, based solely on pork, patronage, special interests, and race. This episode will simply give more power to downstate pols.
We are no longer a great nation because we are no longer represented but ruled over. The Rats have power and the believe that they can literally do anything they want and to hell with rules and laws and the Constitution.
Well, you’re witnessing history unfolding before your eyes. It’s the post democracy America.
This is an absolute joke.
I will be running commercials on WBEN starting tomorrow morning.
Good. Maybe you can wake up some in Buffalo to this nonsense.
If only we could convince the cities to go more conservative.
Imagine, Democrats cheating...AGAIN!
Why anyone would vote for these lunatics is beyond me.
It’s on FOXNews.com now.
Caffeine Fix Sets New York Legislature in Partisan Frenzy
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