Senate Democrats continued raising concerns today that Republicans are gearing up to pass rules changes that would, among other things, strip the lieutenant governor of breaking a tie when voting for the majority leader.
“This is an unconscionable subversion of the rules of power in the state constitution,” said Queens Democratic Sen. Michael Gianaris at a news conference of the Senate Democrats this afternoon.
Republicans last week attempted to pass the changes, which would also end post-budget adoption hearings around the state and require the Senate to certify elections, but failed to do so after Sen. Ken LaValle was a no-show.
The working theory in Albany is that Republicans are concerned one or two members may retire soon, putting their district up for grabs. The chamber is currently split 32-30 in favor of the GOP.
“They’re doing it now, because there’s a possibility that situation could exist,” said Senate Minority Leader John Sampson, D-Brooklyn.
Democrats once again pointed out that the “power grab” takes away the vote of the highest-elected official from upstate, Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy. Duffy, a Democrat, is the former mayor of Rochester.
“As an upstater, I’m particularly offended,” said Sen. Neil Breslin, D-Albany, the deputy minority leader.
A vote on the rules is expected to be held later today. It’s likely the changes will pass this time. Democrats probably won’t be able to sue to block the changes until a tie-breaking situation exists.
Here’s some video from the news conference: