Nearly empty Capitol halls a contrast with 2011

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Spin Cycle

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If there’s one tell-tale sign of the intensity of the state legislative session, it’s the volume of lobbyists and activists lining the Capitol hallways and alcoves as lawmakers debate bills.

And today, those roosts are nearly empty.

The few veteran lobbyists who were around said the silence was striking, given there are just five session days left. They said it’s the surest sign of a quiet march to adjournment, set for next Thursday.

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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and legislative leaders have made a point of saying they’ve already completed the heavy lifting for 2012, most of it in March, when they finished the state budget.

Cuomo has been predicting a “relatively quiet” homestretch – especially compared to last year, when the fight over legalizing same-sex marriage drew national media attention. Making your way through the Capitol halls meant shouldering people out of the way at times.

This year, the issues dominating talks as lawmakers move to adjournment are low-profile compared to last year: for example, a minimum-wage hike, a restriction on access to teacher evaluations, a ban on children 16 and younger from indoor tanning and a tax credit for New York microbreweries.

To be sure, there are plenty of important “local” bills that affect specific communities – such as the measure to allow Nassau University Medical Center to refinance its debt. Otherwise, no issues are generating statewide controversy – or hallway hubbub.


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