Legislature Goes Out Like a Lamb

In this update: 1. Final-day legislative marathon yields little 2. Repairs to Impartial Justice Act passed by Legislature Legislature Goes Out Like a Lamb

Email date: 4/23/10

In this update:
1. Final-day legislative marathon yields little
2. Repairs to Impartial Justice Act passed by Legislature

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Final-day legislative marathon yields little
The state Assembly pulled another all-nighter last night, finally adjourning at 4:15 this morning with very little to show for its effort. Most everything the Assembly did was merely symbolic because the Senate adjourned at about 2 o’clock in the afternoon, effectively ending the Legislature’s 2009-2010 session. That left the Assembly in a position of only being able to approve Senate-passed bills without amendment. But the Assembly soldiered on into the night, with Republicans at one point asking unanimous consent to “eat pizza and play cards.”

Discord and tension between majority Democrats in the Senate and Assembly became plainly evident in the waning hours of the session, as intraparty divisions doomed a number of pieces of legislation. A green energy jobs bill was perhaps the highest-profile casualty, but was by no means the only example. A number of reform bills supported by the Democracy Campaign died because of the inability of the two houses to reach agreement.

A bill improving the disclosure of out-of-state campaign money and another allowing local governments to experiment with innovative campaign finance policies were passed by the Assembly, but the Senate refused to take up either one. On the other hand, the Senate passed legislation requiring corporations to notify and get permission from shareholders in order to use their money for election spending, but the Assembly refused to act on it. And a Senate-passed bill closing the “issue ad” loophole ultimately was not acted on by the Assembly, despite the fact that 55 of the lower house’s 99-members were on record in favor of the legislation.

Even though the state Government Accountability Board approved new rules in March closing the issue ad loophole, the Democracy Campaign worked especially hard to get final action in the Assembly on the issue ad bill to cement the policy in state law, and the bill was actually put on the Assembly’s agenda for Tuesday but never acted on. Assembly leaders steadfastly refused to allow a vote on the Senate-passed bill. At least four different Assembly substitute amendments were floated behind the scenes, but none was brought to the floor and debated.

The 55 Assembly members who are on record in support of the legislation include 51 listed here as “disclosure yes votes” as well as four others. Democrats Kristen Dexter and Peter Barca were sponsors of the legislation and Republicans Don Pridemore and Roger Roth voted for it in committee.

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Repairs to Impartial Justice Act passed by Legislature
One bill that did make it through both houses before the end of the session makes clarifications and technical modifications to the new system of public financing for state Supreme Court elections established last year. The legislation now goes to the governor for his signature.