From the Capital Tonight morning memo, the second item:

Sweet sassy molassy — was there a full moon last night?

In a surprise flurry of late-night (really early morning) activity at the Capitol, the Senate approved an amendment to the state’s new gun control law by exempting retired police from certain provisions of the measure, known as the SAFE Act.

Anti-SAFE Act stalwarts like Sens. Greg Ball and Kathy Marchione voted against the measure, surprised that it came up after midnight and more than a little annoyed they were dealing with it.

Nevertheless it passed, 49-14.

The measure now goes before Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk after the Assembly approved the measure back in May.

The Senate Republicans had always indicated they would take up the chapter amendment that exempted law enforcement from the SAFE Act, they just never had actually said when, and clearly now they were waiting for the most opportune time to spring it into action, this being 2 a.m.

That they decided to take up the measure so late — so unnecessarily late — is another key indicator of the continuing fallout for the Senate Republicans and the gun control, which has deeply angered the state’s conservative voters, especially the GOP’s upstate base.

As Ball angrily put it on the Senate floor last night according to the great Jimmy Vielkind, “There’s a difference between working through the night and this crap. This is ridiculous,” Sen. Greg Ball, R-Putnam County, said on the chamber floor. “You’re going to have this conference be ripped apart.”


But the other Yikes! moment came earlier in the evening, when a confusing series of parliamentary maneuvers through a hostile amendment resulted in the defeat of public financing.

The midnight amendment, naturally, resulted in a re-opening of the intramural feud between the Senate Democrats and the Independent Democratic Conference.

A quick pause: I’m going to assume you, gentle reader of the morning memo, understand the ins and outs, dynamic and general upshot of the Senate coalition the same way a Rhodes scholar in Middle Eastern history grasps the tribal fiefdoms of Afghanistan.

At any rate, the mainline Senate Democrats offered up a hostile amendment to a New York City lever machines bill that would create a system of publicly financed campaigns.

Once the dust settled, the measure gained 30 votes — including all four of the IDC members.

Voting against the measure: Sen. Ruben Diaz of the mainline conference and Sen. Malcolm Smith of the under-indictment conference.

Let the finger pointing commence!

Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy pinned the failure of the measure on the IDC-GOP coalition, since 29 Republicans in the governing partnership did not vote for the measure.

“The alarming trend of major donors and special interests flooding elections with hundreds of millions of dollars should serve as a wake-up call to all residents of New York,” Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “Candidates are forced to raise ever-increasing sums of money just to be taken seriously in elections, which can cause the focus to shift from serving the people to serving the donors. We must reverse course, pass campaign finance reform and return government to the citizens of New York.”

IDC spokesman Eric Soufer, meanwhile, pointed to the Democrats for not having their conference uniformly lined up.

“Tonight, the Independent Democratic Conference took a stand in support of publicly financed campaigns. But once again, Senate Democrats were either too disorganized or too fractured to unite in support of public financing legislation carried by their own leader. Make no mistake: today, Senate Democrats may have just killed the best opportunity for serious campaign finance reform in over a decade.

“But the ineptitude of the Senate Democratic Conference does not end there. Minutes after all four members of the IDC stood in support of the Silver-Stewart-Cousins public financing legislation, Senate Democrats blasted out a false press release, casting blame for the failure of their leader’s bill on the IDC.

And the goo-goos, well, it was a pox on everyone’s house.