Monday, July 06, 2009

Brennan Center Statement on Gianaris Proposal for Appointing a Lieutenant Governor

Today Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Queens) outlined the legal argument supporting Governor Paterson's power to appoint a Lieutenant Governor to preside over the Senate chamber.

Such an appointment would provide the Senate with the leadership necessary to pass critical legislation during extraordinary session without intervening in the ongoing fight for control of the Majority Leader and President Pro Tempore positions or affect the leadership of the Senate in 2010.

"This proposal seems to provide a viable roadmap for ending the current gridlock in Albany," says Lawrence Norden, senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice. "The law suggests that the Governor may have the ability to facilitate the passage of necessary legislation while staying well within the powers of the executive branch."

"A Lieutenant Governor would not affect the number of Senators necessary to call the Senate into regular session," continued Norden. "However, all members are under a court order to appear for extraordinary session. This means there will be a quorum for all extraordinary sessions, and the new Lieutenant Governor could act as presiding officer of the chamber to ensure that legislation on the calendar for such sessions received a legitimate vote."

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