Last week, civil rights leaders joined with Senate Democrats at a rally in Harlem to denounce the state Senate’s new power-sharing deal, charging it prevents black lawmakers from assuming positions of power and influence in Albany.
Led by Rev. Al Sharpton, they promised to pressure the Independent Democratic Conference to reconsider their decision to align with the Senate’s 30 Republican members for the 2013 legislative session that begins in January. All but one of the members of the Senate Majority Coalition are white, while the Senate Democratic caucus includes 14 black and Hispanic members and is led by an African-American.
At the event, Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson said that he would step down as conference leader if it meant that Democrats could come together to support a Democrat to serve as Senate Majority Leader.
In a radio interview on Monday, Gov. Cuomo said that he will not get involved in the chamber’s leadership battle, calling it an “internal, Democratic dispute.”
Later in the week, Gov. Cuomo said that it will be “a problem” if Senate Republicans do not embrace the Governor’s legislative agenda next year. The Governor’s agenda includes a minimum wage increase, campaign finance reform and decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Senator Skelos Re-Elected as GOP Leader
On Tuesday, Senator Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) announced that the Senate’s Republican Conference voted unanimously to re-elect him to that position in a closed-door meeting of the conference at the Capitol. Senator Skelos will share the title of Temporary President of the Senate with Independent Democratic Caucus Leader Jeff Klein for 2013 and 2014.