With Lieutenant Governor David Paterson becoming governor on Monday, the responsibilities and powers of his old job—most notably, the responsibility of becoming governor should the office become vacant—will fall onto the lap of the man who will surely be working to block his agenda: Republican Majority Leader Joe Bruno.
Now, there may be a move afoot to change that.
Assemblyman Jose Rivera, the Bronx Democratic County Leader, has drafted a bill to “amend” the state constitution with respect to filling the slot of lieutenant governor. According to a draft of the bill, which he provided to me, the new law would give “the legislature the duty to fill the vacancy.”
With the largest voting bloc in the two-house legislature being the 101 Democratic state assembly members, the new law would, in effect, allow Assembly Speaker Speaker Sheldon to pick whomever he wants.
In the bill‘s memo, it says “Currently, when the office of the lieutenant-governor is vacant, there are no succession procedures to fill the position. The temporary President of the Senate assumes the duties of the lieutenant-governor but the office is not officially filled.”
When I asked Rivera if this was just a move to block Bruno from being next in line of power, Rivera said, “By the time the bill passes, the majority leader in the senate could be Malcolm Smith.” He went on to say he just wants to provide “clear language” in this situation.