Legis. Peter Schmitt (R-Massapequa) lost no time in setting the tone as presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature.
He breezed through the inaugural meeting on Monday, passing procedural resolutions appointing a clerk of the legislature, establishing committees and instituting new rules for the how the legislature conducts its business.
Democrats, who lost control of the legislature in the November election, made two efforts to amend the rules, but Schmitt batted away both attempts, which would have required the new Republican majority to bring a bill up in committee within 45 days or provide a written notice stating why it was not being considered.
“You are aware, I’m sure that there is no item that can get to committee unless the presiding officer assigns it to a committee. That has always been the rule in his legislature for 14 years and has to continue to ensure the orderly operation of business,” he said.
“I will be held accountable, and fully intend to be held accountable for what happens ... but I have no interest in engaging in partisan games and I have no interest in bogging down committee chairs and members of this legislature with unnecessary paperwork,” he continued.
“ Items that are filed by the minority will be treated by my office the same way as items filed by the majority. It will go to counsel. It will be reviewed and a determination will be made by my office whether it is sent to committee, and if it is not sent to committee, I will return it to you with an explanation as to why we’re not considering it at this time. It is not necessary to bog us down in arcane procedures and artificial timelines that will impede our ability to move forward,” he said.
Legis. Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury) was among the Democrats who tried to argue, but Schmitt waved her off.
“Reasonable minds can disagree,” Schmitt said. “Want to make a motion to amend? Make a motion and we’ll take a vote.” Of course, he knew he had all 11 GOP votes, just as he knew he had all 9 GOP votes when he was minority leader.
The Democrats made their motions. They were defeated 11-8. The new rules went into effect.