The Senate’s News Rules And Klein’s New Role
The state Senate adopted new rules for the chamber on Wednesday that enshrine a different role for Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein.
The Bronx Democrat who leads the five-member breakaway conference will no longer hold the title of Senate co-president.
That title is being retained by Dean Skelos, who was officially re-elected majority leader of the Senate this afternoon.
At the same time, Klein will no longer have veto power over which bills come to the floor for a vote and when.
Instead, Klein will be allowed to lay aside one bill on the active list in a given day and the IDC will be allowed to request bills placed on the Senate’s active list.
IDC bills will include a star next to them denoting it’s their bill (a move that some observers are saying will allow Klein and company to highlight their legislation to supporters more effectively than lawmakers in the minority).
Klein, in a gaggle with reporters following the end of the session this afternoon, insisted the formal title doesn’t matter.
“I’m not too caught up with titles like you in the media,” he told reporters.
He also insisted his conference will still be a force in the chamber.
“The most important thing is getting things done,” Klein said. “We’ll still be able to bring bills to the floor. We’re still going to have a role in the budget process. We’re still going to have a role in the day-to-day running of the Senate.”
Still, both the IDC and the mainline conference spent a good portion of the first day of the legislative session spinning the chamber’s new rules. Democrats in the “regular” conference, chiefly Sen. Daniel Squadron, pushed Republicans on the floor for clarification on what it meant when the IDC will be in “consultation” with Senate Republicans on bills coming to the floor.
Squadron also criticized the GOP for releasing the rules just before they were due to be considered by lawmakers.
Republicans, meanwhile, sought to downplay any of changes in the Senate’s operations.
Skelos, a Long Island Republican who has led the GOP conference since 2008, told reporters he was happy with continuing the alliance in this new form.
The IDC and GOP formed a majority coalition at the end of 2012, when Republicans fell into a numerical minority in the Senate.
Under that iteration, Klein played a role in the budget talks — the so-called “three men in a room” grew to four — and had veto power over which bills come to the floor.
It remains to be seen if Klein will be included in the budget negotiations. When he held the title of Senate co-president, Klein was allowed in the room.
“I would have no objection that, but that’s up to the governor,” Skelos said. “He makes the invites.”
Klein, too, downplayed the changes as anything but a devolving of the power he once had in the chamber.
“I think moving forward you’re going to see more of the same,” Klein said. “We’re not going to agree on everything. Sometimes we’ll agree with the Republicans, sometimes we’ll agree with the Democrats. Sometimes we won’t agree with either of them.”
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on January 7, 2015 at 3:01 pm, and is filed under State Senate. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|