Silver's Sentence Handed Down on Same Day Lawmakers Return to Capitol

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Lawmakers returned to Albany on Tuesday for a post-budget legislative session push, with ethics dominating the headlines once again.

"It's the end of a dark chapter for the Assembly and I guess we have to get back to life," said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, when asked about the 12-year sentence handed down to his predecessor, Sheldon Silver.

Lawmakers expect to come to a compromise on the first passage of a constitutional amendment that would strip corrupt officials of their pensions. Good-government advocates like NYPIRG believe that's a good start, but not enough. 

"We think the judge should have the authority to yank their pensions, but don't think it would have the deterrent effect for future bad behavior. That's the difference," said Blair Horner, NYPIRG legislative director.

In the Senate, Democrat Todd Kaminsky was sworn into office after running on a platform of ethics reform. His seat was previously head by disgraced former Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who is due to be sentenced later in May.

"Look, I think my election is one of those results when you don't get reforms done," said Kaminsky, D-Long Beach. "I took a seat that was held by the same party when I was in first grade. Things don't change lightly. They change when there are big, seismic changes. I think that's what's happening. 

Questions meanwhile continue over the investigation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's confidant and former aide Joe Percoco, who received as much as $125,000 in consulting fees from companies with business before the state. 

"This is just a terrible situation for him, first of all, for his family. To read about yourself in the newspaper - it's terrible," said Cuomo, D-New York.

Speaking with reporters on Monday night, Cuomo said Percoco had raised the possibility of doing consulting work while also running his re-election campaign in 2014. The governor insisted he didn't know the details of Percoco's outside work. 

"I knew he might be consulting arrangements with other companies, but beyond that, no," said Cuomo.

The final day of the legislative session is scheduled for June 16. 

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