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Albany Reform

It’s Alive. It’s Dead. It’s Three Men in a Room!

Erik Engquist at Crain's says a potential deal is in the works that would nix Gov. Spitzer's call for campaign finance reform and give Albany legislators a long-sought pay raise in return for congestion pricing approval.

An Assembly Member that I spoke with this morning, however, says that congestion pricing is totally dead or, as the Assembly Member put it, "There's no legislation to vote on, no one is planning on returning to Albany, it's in 'Nowheresville.'" Mayor Bloomberg's political people, the legislator says, are "in denial."

Meanwhile, Chad Marlow at the Public Advocacy Group reminds us of the awesome powers of Three Men in a Room and how these powers may render moot the objections of dozens of state legislators. Marlow's 30-second civics lesson is as follows:

In almost every other legislature in the country, when a bill isproposed, only the original sponsor of the legislation has the ability to pull that bill and prevent it from coming to a vote. In Albany, the original sponsor can pull his or her bill but so can the Assembly Speaker and the Senate Majority leader. So, regardless of how many of a legislator's colleagues support the bill, ifthe leader doesn’t support the legislator, it will never come to a vote. This gives the Silver and Bruno "veto plus" powers.When the governor vetos a bill there's an opportunity for the legislature to override the veto. But when the Leader pulls your bill,that’s it. It's done. That's why Albany legislators are, essentially, forced to fall in line with Silver and Bruno. If they don't, they may never get to pass another piece of legislation.

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