ALBANY—Even as he delivered another 11 bills for an extraordinary session of the hobbled State Senate scheduled for this afternoon, David Paterson's top attorney said he would rather see legislation passed in a regular session without the current "legal cloud" of a one-house extraordinary session.
"I don't want to get into the legal weeds. I would just like to make one observation: The whole point of the governor calling the extraordinary session is to try to force the two sides to resolve their conflict and get a working, functional majority, because it's paralyzing the state," Peter Kiernan told a gaggle of television cameras and reporters as he personally verified that the bills had been received.
"So we're not trying to venture into the unknown, into a legal morass where there is no certainty simply because this has never been done before," he said. "We're not trying to construct tortured legal theories so as to force things that are being done in bizarre circumstances to become laws. The notion of two parties having dual sessions and passing overlapping bills, each claiming 62 to nothing votes, is just nonsense. It's not what we're trying to achieve. We're trying to get them to work together. If they had worked out a power-sharing arrangement or resolved the leadership issues, then they could go into regular session and pass the bills; there wouldn't be a cloud over the bills, there wouldn't be any legal ambiguity."
Later, he acknowledged that the standing of the legislation passed yesterday is dubious, and that the state is "venturing into the legal unknown."
"At this point, when we haven't had sufficient time to analyze, look at the tape, review the transcript and make some determination as to whether it has the color of validity, we haven't had a chance to do that yet," he said. "But it creates a lot of legal ambivalence and legal ambiguities for the governor to sign those and to call those laws. I think we would have litigation, and we might have chaos, and that's not our intention. We're trying to avoid that kind of legal nonsense. So we're going to keep our focus on the objective of trying to get the Senate leadership to resolve who is in the majority and who is in the minority or have some sort of cooperative arrangement."
But if the Senate reconvened itself in a regular session, David Paterson would have no influence over the active list. He amended his proclamation for today's session to become a political wish list: It calls for a vote on same-sex marriage, a spending cap, expanding access to health care for young adults, enacting a farmworkers' bill of rights, a green jobs program pushed by the Working Families Party and putting more apartments back on rent regulation rolls.
Of course, even if the bills are not acted on by senators—a possibility that seemed likely Tuesday night—Paterson can claim credit for trying.
Peter Kauffmann, a Paterson spokesman, said the intent is for the extraordinary session bills to become law.