The nanny state is creeping across the border.
New Jersey lawmakers traveled all the way to New York City Hall Thursday to announce their plans to introduce legislation boosting the tobacco purchase age in the Garden State to 21. The announcement comes less than a month after City Council Speaker Christine Quinn unveiled similar plans for the city, which were quickly followed by lawmakers in Albany.
Bronx City Councilman Fernando Cabrera was ready to defy established order.
He sensed that Speaker Christine Quinn was losing her grip on the legislative body.
“I’m scared,” he told Politicker at the time. He kept the petitions he gathered at home–just to be safe.
Mr. Cabrera, a pastor, quietly went from colleague to colleague to rally support for two bills that the speaker had stalled, one that would let churches rent school property and another codifying a Tenants’ Bill of Rights. He said he gathered the dozen signatures necessary to give him the power to force a vote—a tactic, called a motion to discharge, that has not been deployed during Ms. Quinn’s tenure.
As the spotlight shines on mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn’s record as City Council Speaker, at least half a dozen members are considering forcing measures she opposes to the floor in an unprecedented display of rebellion, Council sources said Friday.
At least one member has already collected the seven signatures needed to file two motion to discharge petitions to bypass Ms. Quinn—a tactic that was threatened in the paid sick leave fight, but that no member has dared yet under her tenure.
Law & Order
After a series of New York officials were arrested and charged with corruption last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo says he has the solution–or at least the first step. Accordingly, at press conference earlier this afternoon, Mr. Cuomo unveiled a legislative package aimed at curbing the problem.
“Over the past few days, there have been several charges brought against public officials; they span city and state government,” he began. “And they paint a truly ugly picture of our political landscape. I’d like to say that this is an unprecedented situation, that public corruption is a new problem. But it isn’t and, in many ways, that’s what makes it worse.”
Land of Rand
Earlier this week, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul reportedly endorsed a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. And although Mr. Paul disputes that exact phrasing to describe his speech, it was a notable announcement from the Tea Party conservative as the U.S. Congress debates the issue. Indeed, New York’s own Senator Chuck Schumer, part of a bipartisan octet negotiating a comprehensive immigration bill, praised the move last night.
“I think the bottom line is having Rand Paul come out for something not that far away from our group of eight is really helpful,” Mr. Schumer said on Inside City Hall. “After all, he’s the hard right. He’s the Tea Party. And if he can be for it, so can most Republicans. And that gives me a lot of hope we can pass a bill in both the Senate and the House. And the House will be even tougher than the Senate.”
eye in the sky
New York may join the list of states across the country that have been curtailing the use of unmanned drones. Newly-elected Bronx Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda just announced he is “preparing legislation to circumscribe the domestic usage of drones.”
“The Assemblyman believes that not enough attention is being paid to their operations in the United States, and envisions that without appropriate safeguards, they can be used for malicious and intrusive purposes,” a press release from Mr. Sepulveda’s office declared. “Mr. Sepulveda is open to coordinating with civil libertarian groups to ensure that any bill originating from his office will be adequately comprehensive to “stay ahead” of this burgeoning technology.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who previously declined to slam House Speaker John Boehner over Congress’ stalled Hurricane Sandy aid, took his argument to the next level this morning and suggested federal lawmakers are partially to blame for the delay in the vote on the package because they insert “things that are totally extraneous” into bills such as this. Although Mr. Bloomberg didn’t specify the extraneous problem items, the legislation has been criticized by Republicans like Rep. Paul Ryan for being “packed with funding for unrelated items, such as commercial fisheries in American Samoa and roof repair of museums in Washington, D.C.”
“There’s this ‘Christmas Tree effect’ where legislators put in their favorite bills and tack them onto something. The [Obama] administration does that, that’s why you have an omnibus bill–to force everybody to vote for things that would never stand up in the light of day if they were individual,” Mr. Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show with John Gambling. “I’m sympathetic. Yelling and screaming at [Mr. Boehner] is just not my style. It may be effective, it may not be. Everybody’s got to make their own decisions. I think the legislative leaders who criticize and those in the Legislature should stop and think, they do exactly the same thing in terms of ladling on things that are totally extraneous but it’s the only way they get them through.”
On The Capitol Pressroom this morning, the host, Susan Arbetter, pressed Governor Andrew Cuomo on whether he values the end product of legislation is more important than having a democratic and open process when passing it. Mr. Cuomo, who worked with the Legislature to pass a massive set of bills while you were probably asleep last night, said he wasn’t especially worried about the issue.
“The issue of transparency always comes up in Albany,” Mr. Cuomo admitted. ”It’s true, you can always have more transparency. On the other hand, I think you can become overly fixated with observing … process with no product.”
cuomo on tv
In typical Albany fashion, the New York State Legislature suddenly passed a slew of bills in the middle of last night. Governor Andrew Cuomo went on to tout the significant policy changes in a video released this morning.
Mr. Cuomo’s successful negotiations with the Legislature included a compromise on redistricting reform, a new tier of pensions to restrain costs, a new DNA databank aiming to curb crime, a constitutional amendment to legalize casino gambling, and a deal on teacher evaluations.
“My friends, change is never easy, but today we have shown that it is possible,” Mr. Cuomo stated. “Once again we are putting the voices of the people ahead of the demand for the special interests. The government works for the people, that’s the way it should be.”
Watch Mr. Cuomo make the pitch for the late night legislation below: