No Guarantee Other Ethics Reform Measures to Pass Before Session Ends

With bill language being considered for some other ethics reform measures in Albany, there's still no guarantee they will pass before session wraps up next week. Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman looks at what lawmakers are still divided over.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- State lawmakers are winding down the legislative session, but an agreement on a constitutional amendment that would require corrupt officials surrender their pensions remains up in the air.

“We have had ongoing discussions in a broad rubric about ethics as a macro issue. But pension forfeiture has come up,” said Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan insists active negotiations continue on the pension forfeiture amendment. The GOP-led Senate and Democratic-controlled Assembly have approved different versions.

“I'll hasten to add last year there was an agreement reached on pension forfeiture and the Assembly passed what was agreed to at the time,” said Flanagan.

Good-government advocates have called on Albany lawmakers and Governor Andrew Cuomo to do more. A constitutional amendment wouldn't take effect right away and would still need to be voted on again by lawmakers next year and then approved by voters.

“It's very frustrating. This is Albany's Watergate moment and instead of the burglars getting arrested, and Albany's equivalent is to give them a parking ticket,” said NYPIRG Legislative Director Blair Horner.

The ethics push comes after a series of scandals that have rocked the Legislature and not taking any action could have consequences for state lawmakers, all of whom are up for re-election this year.

“I think voters should take out their frustrations in November. The number one, one of the top issues New Yorkers are complaining about is corruption at the state capitol and yet nothing is happening. Lawmakers' jobs are to come to Albany and solve problems. Corruption is one of the biggest problems and they're not dealing with it,” Horner said.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has rolled out a series of campaign finance measures in recent weeks, but there's very little time left in the session. He calls a pension forfeiture agreement the least lawmakers can do.

“I think it would be adding insult to injury if we did not accomplish pension forfeiture. We've been working on it since last year,” Cuomo said.

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