State Senate is about sharing now, apparently

Thumbnail image for NYS Capitol from ESPWith Andrew Cuomo supplying a carefully choreographed order to the executive branch of New York State government, it's good to know that we can continue to count on the state Senate to provide the political drama we've come to expect from the Capitol.

The latest turn in the ongoing drama: Republicans and the Independent Democratic Conference -- a group of four (now five) breakaway Democrats -- announced today that they've formed a coalition to grab control of the chamber.

From the press release:

Under the unprecedented agreement, the Independent Democratic Conference will be formally recognized as a third, permanent Senate conference. Senator [Jeff] Klein and Senator [Dean] Skelos will assume the roles of Conference Leader for their respective conferences and will administer joint and equal authority over (1) the daily senate agenda (a/k/a the "Active List," which lays out which bills will be voted on each day), (2) the state budget, (3) appointments to state and local boards, and (4) leadership and committee assignments for their respective conferences. Under the agreement, coalition leaders will need to work together to lead the Senate forward. The new agreement will also provide for a process by which the title of Temporary President will alternate between the two conference leaders every two weeks. Therefore, the role of the temporary president will be constitutionally fulfilled at all times.

What could go wrong? And if we're going to have coalition government, maybe the Senate should make like Parliament, with Question Time for the Temporary President and yelling backbenchers. We'd watch that.

The development included extra drama in the form a B plot line involving Democrat Malcolm Smith, who was part of the Senate leadership when it was briefly (and chaotically) under Democratic control. It came out today he's joined the IDC. (We hope there was some sort of dramatic reveal.) [NY Post]

So what?

+ Well, this coalition highlights that even though Democrats could theoretically have enough members to form a majority, they can't line everyone up. As you can imagine, this is irksome to them. [State of Politics]

+ Andrew Cuomo's actions -- an inactions -- have indicated he'd prefer working with a Republican state Senate, so he could win (more) with this arrangement.

+ State government has typically been run by The Three Men in the Room, that is, the governor and leaders of the Assembly and Senate. As Casey Seiler points out, it could now be Four Men in a Room: "Does this mean Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver gets to bring a friend?" [TU CapCon]

+ And this coalition reduces the overall importance of the still-undecided election in the state Senate 46th between George Amedore and Cecilia Tkaczyk. The outcome of that election could have shifted the balance of the power.


I'm really happy. There was a time when New York was known to have the most dysfunctional legislature in the country. And now look at us! Everyone is cooperating and doing whatever it takes to make us look like a shining example of how to govern. Yippee! And with the grace and poise he has exhibited through this proud time it is clear that Andrew Cuomo might be the most selfless person ever!

Question Time is freakin' awesome.

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