The Senate GOP is still backing away from their promise to support independent redistricting by quietly burying the centerpiece of Governor Cuomo’s agenda to clean up Albany: the Redistricting Reform Act of 2011. The bill is buried in the Senate Rules Committee where it can anonymously avoid public oversight, Senate Democrats today presented and delivered a petition seeking to force a vote and public hearing on the Governor’s legislation.
As a piece on the State of Politics Blog reports, Senators Mike Gianaris and Neil Breslin questioned Deputy Senate Majority Leader Tom Libous’call for more time on redistricting while they keep putting other bills on the agenda. One bill on today’s agenda would regulate prisoners’ spitting. Liz Benjamin’s post “Spitting On Reform?” said:
Sen. Mike Gianaris was dispatched by the Democrats to push back against Deputy Senate Majority Leader Tom Libous’ call for more time on redistricting reform.
The Queens Democrat, who has championed an independent redistricting commission since his Assembly days, said he finds the majority’s claims of being too focused on the budget to do anything else at the moment disingenuous.
Gianaris noted the Senate is poised to act on a bill today that would prohibit inmates from “throwing, tossing, expectorating or expelling of saliva or other bodily secretion” on prison employees.
“While they have time to regulate spit, they’re spitting on the governor’s top reform proposal,” Gianaris said.
“It’s curious that they claim they don’t have time to deal with anything but the budget, but they have time to regulate prisoners spit.”
At 1 p.m. this afternoon, the Senate Democrats plan to again rattle the GOP’s cage on redistricting reform, delivering the Rules Committee a petition signed by one-third of its members seeking a public hearing on the governor’s bill.
This has been possible since at least the last time the Senate rules were changed back in 2009. A hearing has to be held within two weeks of the petition unless the majority of Rules Committee members vote not to do so.
Whart the Democrats really want here is to get the Senate Republicans on the record voting “no” on redistricting reform – a vote they will no doubt seek to exploit during the next campaign.
In addition to the comments in the below video, Senators from the Democratic Conference had this to say:
Deputy Democratic Leader Neil Breslin said, “Convening a public hearing will allow those members who have voiced concern with the Governor’s legislation the full opportunity to discuss their issues in an open forum, instead of hiding behind an undemocratic legislative process. I invite all of my Republican colleagues on the Rules Committee who intend to keep their promise, to sign this petition and give the Governor’s legislation the open and fair hearing voters deserve.”
Senator Mike Gianaris (D-Queens) said, “With each passing day, the Senate Republicans’ cynical plan becomes further exposed. They all promised to support independent redistricting in order to get elected, then ran away from that promise at record speed because it no longer suited their partisan politics. It is Albany politics at its worst and it is shameful. It’s time to Keep the Promise and Pass the Pledge.”
Senator Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx) said, “We shouldn’t have to keep making excuses for Republican Senator Skelos’ failure of leadership and failure to keep a campaign promise to his constituents and the people of New York. The rules are there to bring order, to pass legislation and make progress happen, not to block it. That’s why I support this petition to bring a vote on Governor Cuomo’s independent redistricting to the floor of the Senate.”
Senator Daniel Squadron (D-Brooklyn/Manhattan) said, “54 out of 62 Senators signed Mayor Koch’s pledge to support independent redistricting and other vital reforms. This initiative is too important to let die in a back room. 54 of 62 Senators must be given the opportunity to make good on their pledge.”
Senator Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan/Bronx) said, “Voters elected us to reform Albany and fix the broken status quo that Senate Republicans seem hell bent on preserving. Instead of perpetuating the continuing dysfunction in Albany, Senate Republicans should put aside their political maneuvering and allow debate, sponsorship, and an up or down vote on Governor Cuomo’s independent redistricting proposal. Most of the Senate Republicans joined their Democratic colleagues in supporting Ed Koch’s pledge to pass independent redistricting, but now Republican support in the Senate appears to be more smoke and mirrors from a disingenuous Senate majority.”
Senator Shirley L. Huntley (D-Jamaica) said, “The blatant disregard some New York State Senate members have for Ed Koch’s New York Uprising Pledge is both disrespectful and dishonorable. Senate Republicans who signed the pledge and have continuously said that our state government must be reformed, have now suddenly become quiet, and unmoved, as the Senate Democrats have championed Ed Koch’s mission, and the will of New Yorkers. Now is not the time to sit on the sidelines, as our great state comes through a myriad of fiscal and ethical challenges. We must ensure that New York State government is fair, effective, and transparent and once again be a leading example for other states in our union. Those who choose not to embrace this cause will have failed their constituents, their duties and responsibilities as an elected state official, and most of all the 19 million plus residents of the great state of New York.”