Thursday, June 25, 2009

NY governor may tell troopers to round up senators

NY governor may tell troopers to round up senators
By Joan Gralla
NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York Governor David Paterson warned on Wednesday that if state senators go home without enacting bills, he would seek a court order to let him
tell state troopers to round them up.
"That very well might happen," the Democratic governor told Albany reporters, adding he also would order the senators' pay to be withheld from June 8 on, and block the $160 they are paid for each day they are in session.
Paterson's threats were just another twist in a dizzying series of battles over the leadership of the state Senate, which has already featured lawsuits, lockouts, shouting matches, and rival simultaneous sessions in the same chamber.
Cities, towns and counties all need the Legislature to enact routine bills that let them keep collecting taxes, for example. Also at stake is pending legislation on gay marriage, which most New Yorkers support and which already is legal in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa.
New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli warned that "chaos in the Senate" could cost local governments $750 million in lost revenues -- a sum that does not include New York City.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent who is seeking a third term, needs the state to approve a sales-tax hike as well as his continued direct control of the city's school system, the nation's largest, with more than 1 million pupils.
Paterson did not say how he would take back the pay of senators who already have been paid since June 8, which was the day the Republicans launched a coup d'etat after winning over two Democrats. But one of the rebels later rejoined the Democrats, leaving the parties deadlocked at 32 to 32.
If by tonight, state senators in both parties do not promise to stay in Albany for Thursday's special session, Paterson said he would seek a court order that morning requiring them to return.
Scoffing at Democratic senators for saying he must call both the Senate and Assembly back in session together, and not just one, Paterson said Article 4, Section 3 of the state constitution allowed him to recall only the upper chamber.
Wednesday's developments included a lawsuit the Republicans filed to force Senate staffers to give them bill jackets, the formal copies of bills, and stop locking them out of the chamber and shutting off lights and video cameras.
The Democrats rejected settling the brawl through arbitration, as the GOP proposed, as too time-consuming.
"By the time you get a panel of arbitrators together, by the time you go through the testimony and everything else, we are talking about a couple of weeks," said Senator Malcolm Smith, who says he remains the Democratic Majority Leader.
While the Democrats have proposed rotating the presidency of the Senate, the Republicans have rejected that plan.
(Reporting by Joan Gralla; Editing by Jan Paschal)

Source: Reuters

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