Redistricting Debate Roils Senate--Albany Times Union

Michael Gianaris

March 09, 2011

Today the Times Union reported on yesterday's session debate regarding the fight to bring redistrticting reform to the floor. 

ALBANY -- Senate Republicans on Tuesday rejected the Democratic minority's attempt to push for a public hearing on Gov. Andrew Cuomo's redistricting bill. But the Senate session that ensued seemed to provide at least a partial forum for Democrats' complaints that the GOP is attempting to smother the legislation.

The furor on the Senate floor stemmed from a brief meeting of the Rules Committee, where Deputy Majority Leader Tom Libous informed Bethlehem Democrat Neil Breslin that his petition for a public hearing on the bill had been rejected by the clerk of the committee. Libous offered no further explanation.

Senate rules allow a third of the members of any committee to bring a petition for a public hearing, although it can be rejected by a majority vote of the panel. That vote, however, could prove embarrassing for Republicans, who before last fall's elections signed on to former New York City Mayor Ed Koch's pledge to support independent redistricting.

Over Democratic objections, the committee meeting ended after approving a single bill: Cuomo's plan to reform the Power for Jobs program, designed to provide low-cost electricity to small businesses and nonprofits.

Back in the chamber, one Democrat after another objected to the acceptance of the panel's report, arguing that its proceedings had been undermined by the improper rejection of Breslin's petition.

"This has become anything but a democratic institution," said Michael Gianaris, D-Queens, a freshman senator who began pushing for redistricting reform during his years in the Assembly.

Read the full article at the Times Union