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Flanagan is Smart, But This is Dumb

May 14, 2015

It’s been a whole week without writing about policy. Shame on us.

Of course, we do have an excuse. The political drama – it certainly was consuming. But now it’s time to get back to issues and the question is: What can be done in the time remaining in the legislative session?

Lawmakers have an early adjournment this year – June 17th. Assuming no further shocks that paralyze the system and no extensions of the session, it leaves a little more than four weeks to go.

Against this backdrop, the leaders met for the first time yesterday with the new guy at the table:  Flanagan.  When they all emerged, they seemed loose and upbeat.  One of the first things they made clear was that there’ll be no new ethics legislation. Although this isn’t the best of messaging in a scandal-plagued year, it does make some sense. In this regard, the Skelos matter really doesn’t cry out for specific legislation.  Nepotism is already against the law, so what would it be? The only thing we can think of is a Leonard Litwin provision.

The leaders seemed to suggest that it was unlikely that rent regs, real estate tax credits and mayoral control of schools will be addressed substantively. Instead, they’ll do one-year extenders. On larger issues, such as the Dream Act, justice reforms and a parochial school tax credit, there’s no movement. Even though these are much desired by the Governor, they are pretty much dead in one or the other house.

In the doable category, there’s college sexual assault legislation, which polls extremely well, and maybe there’s an element or two of the women’s agenda.

Passing the sex crime bill and a few women’s equality provisions, plus the extenders would show continued minimal functioning in Albany.  It’s probably not bad given the fact that the leaders of the Assembly and Senate were whacked this year. And yet… it really doesn’t get at the unmet needs in the state.  Not at all.

In this regard, we can’t help thinking about what people like Stephanie Miner are saying: “Hello, Albany. Can we talk about struggling cities and towns? Infrastructure? Essential services? Quality of life? It’s the future of Syracuse, Yonkers, Binghamton and countless other communities.”

But nobody in Albany is talking about that, and nothing will be done for them.

Instead, to the extent there’s a sleeper issue in this session, it might be the SAFE Act. And this drives us absolutely nuts. Never has there been a stupider issue.  Think of the way these people have carried on over the last three years? Over what? How has life been impacted for gun owners in New York? Was anyone’s gun taken away? No, the only thing that happened was that gun owners panicked. They started hoarding ammunition and it drove up the prices by 300 percent or more. Only now are ammo prices coming down, but it was all a ridiculous overreaction.  All they accomplished was paying more for ammo. We wonder: Do they see that now? Do they understand what actually happened?

Back to Albany: There’s this tradition that a new legislative leader is afforded some manner of victory in his first session. It’s a weird analog to a Governor being entitled to enact elements of his platform after an election. Lawmakers give him something in that first year. And governors and legislative colleagues “give” a new leader something in his first cycle.

It happened with Heastie during the budget cycle – Cuomo relented on a host of areas at Heastie’s request. The most notable was the uncoupling of education aid and performance criteria. He looked good in his conference as a result.

Is Flanagan really going to make SAFE Act amendments his ask? Really? Just because Paladino has threatened to primary Republicans in Western New York?

Flanagan is smart, but this is dumb, dumb, dumb.

But hey, maybe Cuomo can work with it.  If the Republicans will give him the Dream Act or something that’s meaningful in return for tinkering with the SAFE Act, do it.  After all, it’s not like it matters.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Fred Thiele permalink
    May 14, 2015 1:59 PM

    Perhaps the votes need from upstate members to become leader didn’t come free……

  2. Bob Sarbane permalink
    May 14, 2015 4:58 PM

    It is clear you live in a bubble where ignorance of the Second Amendment, firearms, and mental health issues make it impossible for you to fathom the objections of millions of New Yorkers to the SAFE Act. There are so many problems with the SAFE Act it is hard to know where to begin.

    There is a reason virtually every county legislature north of Westchester voted to oppose it, why local law enforcement refuses to enforce it, why Grisanti, O’Brien, Gibson and “she whose name we cannot spell or pronounce” lost their senate seats, and a no-name, no-money candidate beat Cuomo almost everywhere in upstate just by saying “repeal the SAFE Act”.

    Your arrogance and glibness suggests you are in the same company of Pauline Kael circa 1972. I’d write more but the Duck Dynasty commercial break is ending…

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