It’s going to be a very, VERY long night (and morning) at the Capitol as we await: 1) Conference, debate and voting on the big ugly in both houses, and 2) Conference, debate and voting on same-sex marriage in the Senate. In the meantime, some headlines to keep you busy…

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (who has left the Capitol for a family event, but is coming back) on a potential SSM vote in the Senate: “I’m cautiously optimistic. Let me just say that. I don’t want to get into private conversations that I’ve had.

Here’s what passage of a gay marriage bill would mean for LGBT couples.

Gawker gets in on the SSM action.

How states match up on gay marriage.

From the mouths of babes

“At this pace we’ll be here until Friday sundown,” said Assemblyman Micah Kellner. “The question is, do we come back on Monday?”

Senators would like President Obama to pick up the pace on his evolution on gay marriage.

Former Gov. David Paterson is collecting a $64,938 a year pension for his 27 years in state government.

President Obama flubbed at Fort Drum.

Randy Altschuler is raising campaign cash for his second attempt at ousting Rep. Tim Bishop in 2012.

The fate of a transit funding lockbox hangs in the balance in Albany.

Even Sarah Palin can’t escape jury duty.

Former NYC OTB workers are getting health insurance and other benefits, compliments of the Legislature.

No progress to report in NYC budget talks.

Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino wants Cuomo to make building a new Tappan Zee Bridge a top priority.

Whitey Bulger was a big fan of the New York Public Library.

Alesi: ‘Reprecussions’ If Marriage Bill Doesn’t Come To A Vote

Sen Jim Alesi, one of two announced Republican “yes” votes for same-sex marriage, said he expects a floor vote on the measure either today or Friday.

And he warned of “reprecussions” of the measure not going to the floor for a vote after the critical mass that’s been built for the same-sex marriage bill.

“Regardless of how many people in the conference can’t vote for this or won’t vote for this, collectively it would be difficult not to bring it to the floor right now. I think the reprecussions would not be worth not bringing it to the floor.”

The Senate remains deadlocked at 31-31 on the measure, with Sen. Roy McDonald, R-Saratoga, being the other GOP yes vote.

Senate Republicans plan to meet privately later tonight to discuss whether the bill should come to the floor for a vote in what’s most definitely going to be a very lengthy conference meeting.

“The vote on marriage equality will most likely be the last vote taken,” Alesi said.

Obama May Address Marriage Vote Tonight

President Obama may address the potential vote in the state Legislature for same-sex marriage legalization at an LGBT fundraiser in New York City tonight.

According to the pool report, Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters that he doesn’t anticipate the president endorsing measure, but says state’s should determine the course of same-sex marriage legalization.

From the pool report:

“I’m sure he will mention it and I think make the point that as he always has that he believes that this is something that states should be able to decide.”

Obama has flip-flopped somewhat in his support for same-sex marriage. He has said he supports gay unions, but as a candidate for the U.S. Senate said he backed civil unions.

In recent months, Obama’s views on marriage are said to be “evolving” and that he may change his position. The Obama administration has also determined it would not continue to defend the Defense of Marriage Act and announced it would beging dismantling the controversial policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the military.

Libous, Grisanti Meet With Cuomo, Won’t Discuss Details

Republican Sens. Tom Libous of Binghamton and Mark Grisanti of Buffalo met privately with Gov. Andrew Cuomo for about 40 minutes, but didn’t offer up too many details once the meeting was over.

“We just had a conversation about finishing up the end of session — UB 2020 and it ties into Binghamton and wrapping up and getting out of here,” Libous said referring to the economic-development program considered vital to the city of Buffalo and Grisanti’s re-election.

Meanwhile, the Legislature appears posied to vote on SUNY 2020, which, among other components, would allow for annual tuition increases over five years.

The meeting between the governor, Grisanti and Libous also included Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, who jetted back up to the third floor to avoid a media scrum. Libous, too, seemed eager to avoid the small press contingent and tried to herd Grisanti away.

It also raised a few eyebrows because Grisanti remains undecided on same-sex marriage legalization, a position he says he hasn’t changed. Libous, a firm no vote on the marriage bill, said no formal religious exemption language was shown.

You know what, I’m not going to tell you it didn’t come up, but it wasn’t heavily discussed.

GOP Competition In NY-22

Apparently, George Phillips is NOT the only Republican interested in taking on Democratic Rep. Maurice Hinchey.

Not long after I posted Phillips’ email announcing his intention to mount a third House campaign next fall, GOP consultant Rob Ryan called to say he has a client, Thomas Engel, who is also interested in running.

Ryan forwarded a letter that Engel, a private practice attorney, former assistant US Attorney, and longtime ally/appointee of former Gov. George Pataki (hence, the connection to Ryan, a former Pataki aide), sent earlier this month to GOP and Conservative Party leaders announcing his intention to raise/spent $2 million to challenge Hinchey in 2012.

“2012 will be a tougher year for Republicans than 2010; President Obama will be up for re-election, and the Democrats will be out in force registering new voters on the college campuses throughout the congressional district,” Engel wrote.

“If the Republican Party is to defeat Maurice Hinchey, we must have a candidate who can raise over $2,000,000 and wage a no-holds-barred campaign against him. If I enter this race, I will be that candidate.”

Engel contributed to Phillips last year and said he ran a “great race”, but “sadly” came up short. He’s planning on filing paperwork to establish an exploratory committee at the end of the month. (“Exploratory” because of the uncertainty that redistricting adds to the mix, Ryan said).

Engel will seed the committee with “six figures of his own money – partially a loan, partially a donation – then assess as we move forward,” Ryan said, adding: “He has wherewithal to both raise and put in money that will be needed to defeat (Hinchey).”

Obviously, Republicans smell blood in the water after Hinchey’s tough race last year.

Engel-gop Chairs Final

Silver: Nothing Ugly About What We’re Doing

Well, we’ve heard this one before.

But Assembly Speaker Sheldon Siver exited a closed-door meeting with Gov. Andrew Cuomo to say he expected the major pieces of legislation — a tax cap, SUNY tuition increase scheme, rent control for New York City — will be taken up and passed by the end of the day.

But broken out of that measure will be the SUNY 2020 plan, which will be a separate, stand-alone measure.

“There’s no omnibus, nothing’s ugly about what we’re doing. Rent, tax cap and mandate all deal with affordability of homes,” Silver said. “Upstate, downstate. That’s the only piece of legislation. Suny cuny is separate.”

Still, Silver said bill language is yet to be finalized for the non-ugly big ugly.

“There’s still drafting that’s taking place…we know where we want to go,” Silver said. “I could say to you if you want to go to california from here and I agreee we’re going I may take a different airline than you will.”

Meanwhile, he says he hasn’t seen a final copy of the religious exemption amendment for the same-sex marriage bill which already passed his chamber.

“Not a final signed off copy. Contains religious protections for religious organizations. For religious organizations period. It reinforces it a little bit,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Senate plans to conference the health-insurance exchange bill later this afternoon. A separate conference on whether a same-sex marriage bill brought to the floor for a vote is expected later today.

Upstate Advice On SSM

Assemblywoman Addie Russell is a same-sex marriage “yes” voter who replaced a no-voting fellow Democrat (Darrel Aubertine) back in 2008.

Russell represents a conservative upstate district and yet has managed to survive – and even thrive – politically despite her progressive position on this controversial issue. The assemblywoman was elected in a special election after Aubertine was elected in his own special election to a previously held GOP seat in the Senate, (he has since moved on to accept a post as Ag and Markets commissioner in the Cuomo administration).

Russell appeared on CapTon last night and offered the following advice to her colleagues across the Capitol who might be struggling with how they’ll vote on a same-sex marriage bill if it comes to the floor:

“Well, I’ve just been very upfront with my constituents,” she said. “When I first ran for office, I let everyone know how I planned to vote if the issue came up, so it wasn’t a surprise to anyone. I think if you have an opinion it’s best to state it and let the voters know that. They may not agree with you, but it’s not a surprise, they know how you’re going to vote.”

So far, only two members of the 32-member GOP conference have publicly pronounced their intention to vote “yes,” while most senators have clearly stated their “no” positions.

A small handful remain on the fence. They include: Sens. Mark Grisanti, Andrew Lanza, Greg Ball (although he has sounded a lot like a “no” of late), Steve Saland. Also being watched as potential flippers from “no” to “yes” – Sens. John Flanagan and Kemp Hannon, although he has been pretty clear about not changing his mind.

Religious Exemption Could Be In Big Ugly

The amendment to the same-sex marriage bill, which is expected to include broader religious exemption language, could be included in the “big ugly” omnibus bill, making it difficult for Republican lawmakers to vote against.

Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari said the amendment to Cuomo’s marriage bill, which already passed the Democratic-controlled chamber, will likely be released later this afternoon.

“It may be part of the omnibus, big ugly if you will. We’d do it all in one bill,” he said. “I don’t know that yet, but it may one of the pieces in the puzzle.”

The omnibus bill is believed to include a 2 percent cap on local property taxes, a long-term rent control extension for New York City and mandate relief in order to accommodate the cap.

Putting the amendment in a giant bill with so many needed pieces of legislation would be a major end-run around Senate Republicans who want a tax cap, but are opposed to same-sex marriage.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said this morning after meeting with Gov. Andrew Cuomo that minor techinical matters remain over printing the bill. And he said his GOP conference will discuss whether to bring the same-sex marriage bill to the floor for a vote.

Pataki Says He May Be ‘Compelled’ To Consider 2012 Run

Maureen Mackey of the Fiscal Times sat down for a “wide-ranging” interview with former New York Governor George Pataki, where he made it clear that he is not impressed by the current GOP field. Also specifically saying that he is upset that Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels didn’t throw his hat in the ring.

Here is an excerpt of his interview.

“Well I’m not running now, but I think we do need someone who has both a serious deficit- reduction program that they can outline and a good chance of defeating President Obama come next fall. So hopefully a candidate will emerge from the GOP field that does that, someone I could feel strongly about and support.”

“I’m disappointed that Mitch Daniels didn’t run because had he run, I think he would have made this an issue, and he certainly has the track record in Indiana of success to point to, but I hope someone fills that void. And if not, I’ll certainly feel compelled to take a look.”

Pataki has spent the past few months talking about the issue of debt, after forming his No American Debt PAC back in April. During that time he has made a lot of trips to New Hampshire, and even launched an anti-Obama ad in the Granite state.

Pataki has also been spending some time in Iowa. On Monday, he even called out some GOP presidential contenders saying they should be campaigning in the Hawkeye State, saying Iowa represents “the type of politics that is good for America.”

Senate Will Conference Gay Marriage Vote Today

It’s going to be a long day.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said this morning that his GOP conference will discuss for the first time today whether to let the same-sex marriage bill come to the floor for a vote. Skelos did not give a time for this closed-door confab.

The majority members have had several lengthy discussions about the issue of gay marriage in general, but have not yet officially wrestled with the question of whether they want to vote on the controversial issue or punt.

“We’re going to conference the language of the amendments; we’re going to conference the whole issue,” Skelos said. “And I expect that that’s going to take a little time.”

Skelos refused to say whether he believed the vote could take place in the middle of the night (to minimize TV coverage and allow for a quick getaway), as has been widely speculated. He said the conference will make that decision.

As for the “big ugly,” Skelos insisted that “everything is on track,” although some technical details are still being worked out. He said some bill printing has begun and he is “optimistic” and “hopeful” about passage sometime today.

All but one (Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr.) of the 30 Democratic senators have announced they will vote “yes” if the bill comes to the floor, including three who voted “no” when the bill failed in 2009: Sens. Carl Kruger, Shirley Huntley and Joe Addabbo.

Two members of the 32-member GOP conference have announced they will join the Democrats in voting “yes” – Sens. Roy McDonald and Jim Alesi.

That leaves the gay marriage bill one vote short of the 32 needed for passage. Republicans who have been working on this issue have insisted the 32nd vote has been secured, but they refuse to reveal who that individual is. A number of GOP senators have privately said they believe the bill will pass – perhaps even with 34 or 35 votes – if it is allowed onto the floor.

The question now is if the majority of the majority conference is willing to let the bill out. They’re under enormous pressure from the Conservative Party, which has threatened to un-endorse any Republican who votes “yes,” and the religious right, which is threatening to primary any straying GOP senators.

However, these threats are offset somewhat by the deep-pocketed and well-organized LGBT community, which has pledged to protect “yes” voters and also will undoubtedly be furious if the bill doesn’t at least come to the floor a second time.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has been pushing very hard on this one, had said he didn’t want to see the bill come to the floor if it was going to fail. But he changed his tune yesterday, saying the public deserves an up-or-down vote.