TRENTON – Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) was buttonholing his colleagues yesterday in search of votes for the controversial Cooper Ambulance Bill, votes he has summoned – according to a source – without the assistance of his old nemesis, former Senate President Dick Codey (D-27).
A second source told PolitickerNJ that Sweeney initially expected Codey to support the bill, but when he gut-checked late with the Essex senator, Sweeney discovered that Codey had no intention of voting “aye” on the George Norcross Special. The bill – first reported on by PolitickerNJ – removes control of emergency ambulance services from one South Jersey hospital and goves it to Cooper, the domain of South Jersey Democratic pit boss Norcross.
There were no desks hurled.
But on Tuesday, the Codey-sponsored S-2876 came off the board list; presumably, the source said, as punishment for Codey refusing to vote for Sweeney’s Cooper bill. Codey’s legislation, incidentally – itself a politically thorny proposition – would require ambulatory centers to partner with medical schools if they want to open facilities in New Jersey.
The first source said Sweeney this morning has the votes in the senate to get the ambulance bill done, and maintained that Senate Bill 2876 came off the board list at Codey’s request and is now on Monday’s board list.
The assembly is another story. A source told PolitickerNJ that Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32) is not exactly doing any heavy lifting for the “power grab” Cooper bill and there remain real questions about South Jersey’s ability to muster the requisite lower house votes to get the bill done. A source told PolitickerNJ that Norcross was hitting the phones this morning. Another one – this one with South Jersey tentacles – laughed off the frantic last minute storyline as completely bogus and said there is no doomsday scenario for the ambulance bill, assuring PolitickerNJ that it will pass in the assembly.