Albany’s Term-Limits Bill Passes Committee Without a Republican Vote

senate elections Albanys Term Limits Bill Passes Committee Without a Republican VoteALBANY—With fireworks not normally seen in committee hearings, the Senate Elections Committee just voted along strictly partisan lines to approve a bill that would require a voter referendum on the repeal of term limits.

It was expected to pass the committee, but is not necessarily expected to get much further.

Republican State Senators Tom Morahan, Joe Griffo and Tom Libous voted against the bill, with Libous leading the charge and raising questions. He claimed that there was not enough time to pass the bill and hold a referendum by May.

"The bill is poorly drafted and it should be specific to New York City," he said. His questions were cut short due to time constraints, causing more ire.

State Senator Kevin Parker, the bill's sponsor, attended the hearing and fielded Libous' questions.

"I don't think that the democratic protections should be only for the people of New York City," Parker said. "By definition, democracy is the highest value we have in this state. Frankly I don't think we could put a price on that."

After the committee's vote—Chairman Joe Addabbo voted for the bill, as did Jose Serrano (by proxy), and both Martin Malave Dilan and Brian Foley voted yes but "without recommendation"—Parker claimed that the Republicans opposed the bill in "collusion" with Michael Bloomberg.

"They're in the pocket of Mayor Bloomberg," he said. "The amount of money that Mayor Bloomberg gave to stop us from taking the majority is well-documented." (Libous denied any collusion with the mayor.)

In the room I spotted Michael Avella, now counsel to the Bloomberg campaign; Michelle Goldstein, New York's top lobbyist; and Bloomberg's spokesman Matthew Gorton.

Deputy Mayor Ed Skyler told me earlier that this issue is "not on [his] agenda."

The bill will now go to the Senate Finance Committee. It is currently also sitting in the Assembly Ways & Means Committee, where Chairman Denny Farrell told me yesterday, "We're reviewing it."

Parker seemed confident it wouldn't have problems in the Senate Finance Committee. Libous vowed to bring up his concerns there.

Majority Leader Malcolm Smith has not taken a position on the bill.