Super Lobby Day
From the Capital Tonight morning memo:
Tuesday is the traditional day for Albany and the state Capitol to be overtaken by a variety of groups seeking to influence state lawmakers on a range of issues. If you work in and around the Capitol building, it’s not a day to forget your ID for the turnstile.
But today’s is a different kind of Lobby Day, with an unusually busy amount of activity swirling around the Capitol before lawmakers return home for a week and don’t come back to Albany for a legislative session until Feb. 27.
The leaves less than a virtual month to complete the state budget, which is supposedly drama-free this year, and is really due by March 21 as Passover comes early this year.
So, as groups come to Albany to bring attention to issues like the Scaffold Law or increasing the state’s minimum wage, there is a sense of urgency that time to influence the final budget document is slipping away before Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduces his 21-day amendments.
One issue that has been seemingly settled — at least when it comes to passing a law and then the governor signing it — is the sweeping gun control measure from January that Cuomo spent a good portion of his political capital on.
Republican former gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino will likely receive the lion’s share of the attention today. Paladino isn’t known for saying the most politically correct things and the cameras will certainly want to capture the image of the Buffalo businessman back in Albany for the first time since his tea party-fueled run for governor in 2010.
Setting the tea party tone for the rally yesterday, Paladino blasted out an email invite with a Revolutionary War-era soldier toting a very modern looking assault weapon (A challenge to would-be sci-fi writers in the Harry Turtledove mold: What if George Washington’s Army had AR-15s?).
A parallel rally in favor of the gun control law will also be held midday at the Million Dollar Staircase.
So while the cameras will be trained on Paladino, just as importantly the rally is expected to have the presence of several Senate Republican lawmakers upset over the way the law was handled.
GOP Sens. Lee Zeldin, Kathy Marchione and Greg Ball are all expected to attend the rally, all of whom are relatively new lawmakers with deeply conservative (for New York) followings that are upset with the gun control law and how it was passed (Zeldin wasn’t present for the vote, but says he would have cast a “no” vote).
Their presence highlights the internal angst within the Republican conference over how the law was passed, perhaps fueling the newly invigorated effort from the Senate GOP to launch an attack on Cuomo’s first Court of Appeals nominee, Jenny Rivera, and express unease over the Reproductive Health Act, a centerpiece of the governor’s women’s equality legislation.
Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos earlier this month admitted that in hindsight perhaps the law was approved in haste and that chapter amendments to clarify certain provisions of the law would soon be introduced.
That hasn’t seemed to re-assure those upset with how Senate Republicans — in a power-sharing agreement with five breakaway Democrats that has given them a de facto majority even if they are numerically outnumbered in the chamber — passed the law. When Paladino sent out his email yesterday, he included the names of all the Senate Republicans who voted in favor of the law, which included Skelos.
The Senate GOP counters a lot of the criticism over the law by pointing to a number of the tough-on-crime provisions that were included in the final product, many of which were measures that languished in the Legislature after facing roadblocks in the Assembly.
How far the Senate Republicans plan to go with changing the law remains to be seen. Any serious attempt to water down the law would likely be met with stiff resistance in the Democratic-led Assembly, where lawmakers who crafted the law are open to clearly exempting law enforcement from the measure (there’s a debate as to whether the law enforcement provision is even needed, but it’s not especially controversial for that chamber).
But Senate Republicans also face the question as to whether they want to go very far on gun control to make PR point for their base. After all, a Siena College poll found most New Yorkers actually back the law.
For Cuomo’s part, he’ll be in Poughkeepsie and Rockland County to deliver truncated versions of his State of the State address. Asked about the anti-gun control rally on Monday, Cuomo essentially shrugged.
“The topic of guns is controversial. We know that. It’s one of the reasons why nothing has happened for a very long period of time,” Cuomo told reporters at a news conference in the Red Room. “It’s one of the reasons why this society has been stymied for a long period of time. What the New York law does I think is common sense. I think it’s balanced. I think it’s reasonable. I think anyone who says we don’t have to do anything about gun violence is living in a different state, in a different country, on a different planet.”
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on February 12, 2013 at 10:05 am, and is filed under Albany. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|