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For about four hours now, rank-and-file lawmakers have just been milling around and waiting while backroom negotiations continue on the major bills at the end of the legislative session. Activists on either side of the same-sex marriage issue have been shooed out of the State Senate chamber but have taken to shouting at legislators from behind the glass doors. In general, aggravation is rising.
“You walk the hallways and I’ve been here 14 years and I haven’t seen the levels of anxiety and passion,” Sen. Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan) said, “and frankly, it’s very scary.”
The session was supposed to conclude Monday. By midday Friday, there was still no indication exactly when the final push would commence.
Espaillat is among the Senate Democrats who have focused their criticism on the Republicans who have a majority in the chamber for the delays. GOP senators have acknowledged they aren’t going to tackle the same-sex marriage bill until other high-profile issues – property-tax cap, rent control and a State University of New York tuition plan – are complete. The Senate Democrats didn’t disparage Assembly Democrats or Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
Each day for the past few days, the leaders – Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) – have said the agenda could be wrapped up that night. Only it didn’t happen.
“We were in Capitol for 13 hours yesterday. We were in session for only one hour,” Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Manhattan) said, describing the lack of actual action. “There’s no excuse for the slowness and delay.”
Not only are activists becoming frazzled, lawmakers are, too.
“People are fatigued. There is Albany fatigue,” Espaillat said, “and we need to bring closure to this.”