Aubertine Sues Assembly Over ‘Power For Jobs’

<br />State Senator Darrel Aubertine
State Senator Darrel Aubertine

State Senator Darrel Aubertine is suing the State Assembly to try to force the Assembly to take up bills the Senate Democrats say they passed, but which may not be legal.

Aubertine, the Democrat from Cape Vincent who represents Oswego County, filed a lawsuit Monday that is primarily over a pet issue of his, the state’s Power For Jobs economic development program.  The Power For Jobs program is one of many state programs that have technically died because the Senate is deadlocked and the political parties are not able to agree on how to hold a session and pass bills.

“The hundreds of businesses enrolled in the Power For Jobs program with more than a quarter of a million employees across the state need this legislation signed into law. Taxpayers in my district and across the state need these home rule bills enacted,” Sen. Aubertine said in a written statement. “My colleagues and I voted to protect these jobs and give our localities the resources they need to keep property taxes in check. Under the rules of the Senate, our votes count. The Assembly does not have the constitutional authority to say otherwise.”

But Aubertine’s statement brushes over a key problem.  He and the 31 Democrats in the state Senate believe they approved extending the Power For Jobs program and a host of other bills in a recent session.  It takes 32 Senators to have a quorum and Democrats rushed to pass bills while a Republican senator walked through the Senate chamber on his way to a vending machine.  They counted him as present, and, because he didn’t object when votes were taken, counted him as a “yes”.

Governor Paterson is refusing to sign the bills the Democrats say they passed that day.

Aubertine’s lawsuit will be heard July 17 in Albany.

Meantime, the two sides appear to be no closer to an agreement on getting back to business.  The day’s developments:

  • State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli moved closer to withholding paychecks for State Senators, which are to be issued this week.
  • Governor Paterson did not shoot down an idea floated by some good government groups to end the stalemate.  They interpret the state Constitution to allow Paterson to appoint a Lieutenant Governor — a position that’s been vacant since he rose to the Governor’s seat.  The Lieutenant Governor runs Senate sessions and breaks ties, which is where the Senate is right now.  Attorney General Cuomo thinks the idea might not be legal.
  • Some Senators are continuing to negotiate to try to find a way to get back to work, but talks aren’t going very far.