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Cure for NY legislature's extra innings, opaque session? One pol says cut session in half

Assemb. James Tedisco (R-Scotia) is seen in a

Assemb. James Tedisco (R-Scotia) is seen in a photo taken Nov. 18, 2008. Photo Credit: AP

ALBANY - As the state Legislature's session marks a week of overtime, one assemblyman says he has a cure for what he calls the Albany dysfunction: cut the session in half.

Assemb. Jim Tedisco (R-Scotia) said he will propose Wednesday that the Legislature move to a three-month session, which he said could cut costs to taxpayers by hundreds of thousands of dollars. Tedisco made the comment as the Assembly and Senate rushed to draft, print, read and debate a massive "big ugly" deal struck Tuesday by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and legislative leaders.

"They only work on a crisis basis, anyway," Tedisco told Newsday. "What taxpayers should be asking is, 'What have you been doing on these big issues for six months?' "

He noted the issues negotiated together in closed-room talks by leaders and wrapped together in a big deal with few public details were well-known months ago. Those issues include rent regulations to protect moderate income tenants and a developers' tax break mostly for New York City, aid to nonpublic schools, and some property tax relief.

Legislative leaders have said the rare extra week of the six-month session can be blamed primarily on the replacement of the Assembly speaker and Senate majority leader when they were hit with corruption charges earlier this year.

Tedisco, however, notes that every end of session seems to be dominated by the quick, secretive handling of major issues that were clearly top priorities in January.

The effort is supported by other Assembly Republicans. However, it faces little chance of getting a floor vote. As members of the minority conference, they have little power to force their bills to the floor controlled by the Democratic majority.

In Albany, the majority party holds great power over legislation in each house.


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