Monday, November 03, 2008

Skelos Doesn't Know His Own Job Limitations as Majority Leader

From the Binghamton Press&Sun-Bulletin:
"Senate tie -- 31 Republicans, 31 Democrats -- looms as chaotic possibility
Former Democratic Sen. Manfred Ohrenstein of Manhattan recalls what happened the last time the Senate was so closely divided it couldn't decide on a leader, in 1965.
"We couldn't do any work. We couldn't pass any bills," recalled Ohrenstein, who served in the Senate from 1961 to 1994. "We would come in every day, vote on who should be the leader, fail to agree, and then adjourn."
The deadlock was finally broken after a month, when then-Gov. Nelson Rockefeller directed some fellow Republicans to vote for Democrat Joseph Zaretzky of Manhattan, who was then elected the leader."
"Normally, the lieutenant governor would break a tie, much as the vice president does in Washington when the U.S. Senate is deadlocked. But since former Gov. Eliot Spitzer quit in disgrace in March and then-Lt. Gov. David Paterson took his place, the state hasn't had a lieutenant governor -- and won't until January 2011.
Scott Reif, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, noted that Skelos as majority leader is the acting lieutenant governor, and therefore could break a tie.
"It is clear that the majority leader -- as acting lieutenant governor -- has the authority to break all ties on procedural votes," he said.
But Gerald Benjamin, a State University of New York at New Paltz professor and the state's leading academic expert on state government, pointed out that Skelos will no longer be majority leader in January -- his term expires at the end of this year and a new leader will be elected.
"He wouldn't be the majority leader," Benjamin said of Skelos, in case the chamber is split evenly next year."

No comments: