Brigid Bergin is the City Hall reporter for WNYC. She covers city politics including the 2013 mayoral race and transition.
In the midst of budget season, Senate Democrats are raising concerns about the conduct of the Republican Majority. Senator Liz Krueger (D- Manhattan) says she learned just hours before this week's Senate session that her resolution supporting the re-authorization of the federal Violence Against Women Act was not on the calendar.
Resolutions are nonbinding statements written in support of issues as diverse as “Recognizing the unique characteristics of Plum Island in Suffolk County” to “Congratulating Richard Lee on attaining the rank of Eagle Scout.” But Krueger argues that this move by the Republican Majority is indicative of bigger problems.
“What they’ve done is turn it into something silly and weird," said Sen. Krueger who accuses her colleagues of censoring legislation adding, "If you can't even get a simple noncontroversial resolution through, how do imagine they're going to handle complex, important legislative changes for the state of New York.”
Senate Democrats spent an hour on the chamber floor Wednesday, stalling action on the day’s business, asking why three resolutions introduced by their members were left off the calendar. The other two resolutions were seeking support from New York’s Congressional delegation for the National Women’s History Museum’s efforts to find a permanent site, the other was in support of the federal DREAM Act.
Speaking from the Senate floor, Republican Deputy Majority Leader Sen. Tom Libous described the resolution calendars as being wholly subject to the discretion of the president pro tempore.
Scott Reif, a spokesman for the Senate Republicans, said there was nothing out of the ordinary about what happened, but that the reaction is a demonstration of where the parties’ priorities lie.
“While the Senate Democrats are arguing about non-binding resolutions, we’re talking about the need to include job creation initiatives that put people back to work in this year’s budget,” said Reif via email.
This is not the first resolution Krueger has introduced, related to women’s health, that has not made it to a vote in its original form. In January, Krueger introduced a resolution calling on Governor Cuomo to declare January 22-28, 2012 as “Reproductive Rights and Justice Week.” Senate Republicans offered a revised version of the bill that struck all references to reproductive rights from the resolution.