With just five days left before the end of the legislative session, Albany lawmakers moved quickly Monday to pass a major ethics bill and set the stage for a vote to legalize same-sex marriage.
The Assembly and Senate overwhelmingly approved ethics reform legislation that will require lawmakers to disclose a range income from outside businesses/employment and clients they may have who do business with the state.
Critics said a complex system of approvals needed to start an investigation provide a type of veto for an ethics board member that could block a probe of someone of the same party and branch.
Still, Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union, a watchdog group, said the bill “definitely has more teeth than what we have now.”
Lawmakers yesterday also appeared poised to pass another of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top priorities: gay marriage. Just two Republican votes are needed to pass the measure, which Cuomo believes could happen before the session ends Monday.
In the Senate, where a similar bill failed in 2009, three Democratic members considered swing votes – Joseph Addabbo, and Shirley Huntley (of Queens) and Carl Kruger (Brooklyn) – now back the measure.
“We’ll keep our fingers crossed. Twenty-nine out of 30 is a powerful, a powerful statement,” Cuomo said of the Senate Democrats backing the bill. Bronx Sen. Ruben Diaz is the Democratic holdout.
A Republican conference is expected to meet Tuesday to decide whether to bring the issue to a full vote. Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said yesterday his members would vote their conscience.
Another key issue – capping property taxes – also remains on the Legislature’s agenda. Assembly leaders want it tied to the expiration of rent control laws in the city. The rent laws expire Wednesday, and Assembly Democrats want them strengthened in favor of tenants.