Thursday, February 16, 2012

June Primary, the Budget and more Redistricting

June Primary
Over last weekend, Speaker Sheldon Silver, and Assembly member Michael Cusick introduced legislation that would return New York to a June 26 primary for State legislative elections.  This legislation would also decrease the number of signatures necessary on petitions and would lessen by 10 days the amount of time the parties had to gather those signatures.  The League has been strongly in favor of a “permanent” June date since 1957.  We feel that a single June primary is best for voters, candidates and boards of election.  This legislation passed the assembly elections committee on Wednesday, February 15, and is scheduled to go to the assembly floor when legislators return from their Presidents’ Day recess.  The League is actively lobbying the state Senate to pass similar legislation in that chamber so that localities will not have the extra cost estimated at between $300,000 and $500,000 for a separate September primary. Federal Judge Gary Sharpe, in late January ruled that NY must hold its congressional primaries on June 26, 2012 in order to comply with the federal MOVE Act.  Unless the Legislature changes the date for State Legislative, there will be three major primaries in NYS; a presidential primary in April, congressional primary in June and legislative primary in Sept.  Local municipalities would be responsible for financing these three distinct primaries as well as village elections, and other local fire and water district elections The League will continue to Lobby vigorously in the next several weeks to ensure that our military and overseas voters have the ability to vote and have their votes counted.

Redistricting remains an issue on the minds of all legislators here in Albany.  The last of the public hearings will end this week. And it is generally felt, here in the Capitol, that a second set of lines is ready to go, so that the most egregiously drawn lines will be replaced by lines that may indeed be more acceptable to governor Cuomo thus avoiding a gubernatorial veto.  It is generally believed that the permanent lines will be passed by the legislature, at the latest, in early March.  However, there is a lawsuit pending over the constitutionality of the 63rd senate seat.  That suit has been brought by the Senate democrats and is on a parallel court track. 

Other activity in Albany was driven by the budget with lobby days becoming crowded and noisy.  It is believed that the budget will be earlier this year, most likely finishing up the third week in March.  Governor Cuomo appears to have used the powers given to him by several recent state court decisions and, with the 30 day amendment process now complete, the budget battle seems to be muted this year. The legislature will be in recess next week but the last week in Feb is sure to bring increased activity in several legislative issues.  Stay tuned…

Friday, February 3, 2012

More Redistricting and Primary Date

If you have been living your life or maybe living in a cave this past week, you may not have focused on the intricacies of redistricting and the issue of the federal election primary. 

On Friday, January 29th, Federal Judge Gary Sharpe issued a decision that will move the Federal primary election to June 26th.  As of now the state legislature has not agreed to move the state legislative primaries from September to June which means that there may be three primaries in New York in the 2012 election season.  Since 1957, the League's position has been in favor of a June primary, so we have applauded the Judge's decision and will lobby the state legislature to change state legislative primaries to the June date. This issue has a direct impact on redistricting as the congressional lines need to be drawn in an expedited manner and they have yet to be drawn. 

The League testified on Monday at the LATFOR hearing in Albany that the legislative lines drawn by LATFOR had been drawn by a partisan panel of legislators to protect incumbents and therefore we reiterated our call for the governor to veto those lines. The short testimony can be read on the Leagues website.  As League members know, local Leagues have testified across the state for several months now on our position that an independent nonpartisan commission should draw lines without regard to incumbents or political parties.  The governor has publicly stated that he would veto partisan lines drawn by LATFOR.

Also, on Tuesday the Senate Health Committee passed out of committee the tanning bed bill that the League supports.  This legislation would ban tanning bed for young women under the age of 18yrs.  The Assembly last year passed this legislation but it died in the Senate.  Now that the legislation has passed the Senate Health Committee, the League will begin to lobby for the bill to come to the floor.

Stay tuned as the redistricting issue continues to be on the front burner.