WXXI Local Stories
Wed January 26, 2011
Senate Democrats Say GOP Trying to "Gut" Duffy's Powers
By Karen DeWitt
Albany, New York – Senate Democrats are taking the fight over proposed rules changes by the GOP to the hometown of New York's Lieutenant Governor. The Democrats are calling on two Republican Senators in the Rochester region, Senators Joe Robach and Jim Alesi, to oppose rules changes that they say would diminish the powers of former Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy.
Senate Democrats accuse the Majority Party Republicans of voting in committee for Senate rules changes that they say are "a disastrous effort to gut the powers of Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy". The proposal would no longer allow the lieutenant governor to cast the tie breaking vote in procedural matters, for instance, if there is a split on which party should control the Majority in the chamber. The proposed rules change ultimately failed in committee, because one GOP Senator, Ken LaValle, from Long Island, was absent, but the Republicans say they will vote on the proposal again, as early as next week.
In a statement, Senate Democratic spokesman Travis Prouix says the measure would "strip Upstate of it's highest ranking voice in state government, and could land our state in a costly legal battle over constitutional authority". The state's constitution says the Lieutenant Governor is allowed to cast tie breaking votes in procedural matters.
Senate Leader Dean Skelos denies Democrats charges of a "power grab", saying it's merely an attempt to "clarify" the Senate's rules.
A spokesman for Governor Cuomo and Lieutenant Governor Duffy had no comment.