NY’s Legislature adjourns for longer break after passing budget

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ALBANY -- If Mark Twain was right that no one’s “life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session,” then New Yorkers are safe this spring break from Albany.

The Senate last met on the night of March 31, congratulating each other for passing a fourth on-time budget. They aren’t due back in session until at least April 23.

That includes calling off the April 1-2 scheduled Senate session days.

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The Assembly passed its version of the budget later on the night of March 31 amid its own congratulations. The Assembly also called off its April 1-2 session days, then returned for relatively short sessions on Monday and Tuesday, canceled Wednesday’s session, and now plans to return April 28.

This time of year, the Senate and Assembly usually meet in Albany Monday through Wednesday, with a shorter day on Wednesdays. So counting only typical session days this time year, the Senate had 10 vacation days from Albany while the Assembly had nine session days off.

That’s a longer break from session than any year dating to at least 2003, according to a review of past years’ schedules. Last year, the Senate had nine session days off and the Assembly had six. From 2003 to 2012, the break was about five days, often spread over two weeks.

Legislators has said the break is needed for religious observance of Easter and Passover. Good Friday is April 18 and Easter Sunday is April 20; while Passover is April 14-22.

“The Senate was in session 21 days during the month of March,” said Senate majority spokesman Scott Reif. “Members are working all the time, not just when they are in Albany.”

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 Assembly majority spokesman Michael Whyland said the break is always two weeks.

The holidays change annually, making the Albany break inconsistent year to year.

The Legislature meets January through June for a regular session, but spend many days in between session in “legislative days” which include public hearings, meeting with constituents and lobbyists, and bill drafting. In election years like this one, they also spend time campaigning and raising campaign contributions.

They can work more days and longer days leading up to the April 1 budget deadline.

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