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by Jay Gallagher

Monday, February 8, 2010

Assembly overrides gov on ethics; Senate action unlikely

The Assembly today overrode Gov. Paterson’s veto of ethics legislation supported by the League, but the effort in the Senate was expected to fail.
The Assembly voted 136-2 to buck the governor on the bill, which calls for stepped-up enforcement of campaign-finance laws by the state Board of Elections as well as new oversight bodies to ride herd on lobbying, executive agencies and the Legislature.
Paterson vetoed it last week, saying it didn’t go far enough in requiring disclosure of business relationships of lawmakers and in limiting campaign donations, among other flaws. He proposed a compromise Saturday, but lawmakers weren’t interested.
“This is a beginning for a whole lot of reform,’’ said Assemblywoman Sandra Galef, D-Peekskill, before voting for the override.
But approving the watered-down bill “means that ethical reform in this state is now dead,’’ said Assemblyman Greg Ball, R-Putnam County.
The bill was the best that could be expected to pass both houses of the Legislature, said League Legislative Director Barbara Bartoletti.
“Historically, one house of the Legislature would vote for (reform) while the other would vote for a different bill and we’d be left with the status quo,’’ she said.
“Because of the public outcry against ethical lapses, at last we can move forward on the issue,’’ she said, and restore “a modicum of integrity back to New York.’’
But in the Senate, lawmakers said Republicans and Democrats still remain divided on the measure, making an override vote unlikely. A two-thirds vote is needed to thwart the governor. There are 32 Democrats in the Senate and 30 Republicans.
The push for reform picked up steam last year when the former majority leader of the Senate, Joseph Bruno, was convicted of criminal charges of using his public office for his personal gain. Another former lawmaker, Anthony Seminerio, D-Queens, was sentenced last week to six years in prison on corruption charges.

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