Local Lawmakers Not Convinced Special Session Will Happen

December 20, 2016 - 11:00 pm
Buffalo, NY (WBEN/AP) - As reports continue to hint at maneuvering behind the scenes to convene a special session of the state legislature, just how likely is it that lawmakers will return to Albany before the end of the year?

As the days go on, not very.

"I don't think there is a likelihood, I don't think it's going to happen," said Assemblyman Mickey Kearns. "Many of the different legislators have vacations planned."

State Senator Patrick Gallivan said that if a special session were to happen, a decision would have to be made within the next day. Senator Mike Ranzenhofer doesn't believe one will happen either.

"It's increasingly unlikely that there will be a special session, but Albany being as it is, typically things happen very quickly," said State Senator Tim Kennedy.

It seems the push for a special session has to do with proposals for legislator pay raises. One proposal would boost it to $99,500, which would give New York lawmakers the second-highest salary, just behind No. 1 California at $100,000. Another would raise it even higher, to $116,000. The legislature must approve a raise by December 31 for it to take effect next year.

Locally, lawmakers are quick to say they don't favor a pay raise, but there is a different issue that could bring them back.

"A pay raise shouldn't be in the cards, clearly the downstate folks are driving that initiative," Kennedy said. "At the same time, I do believe strongly that the sooner we can get ridesharing like Uber and Lyft passed in the State legislature the better off we're going to be here in Western New York."

Ranzenhofer rejects the idea that one issue could be used to lure lawmakers to the other.

"I don't think there should be any linkage," Ranzenhofer said. "I'm not in favor of a pay raise, and have not supported that at any time. I think it is very important though to talk about ridesharing. It's a tragedy that we don't have it here. Those are issues which have been talked about at the end of the last session, but I don't believe that it would be necessary to do that before the end of the year."

The Senator added that because he isn't interested in the idea of pay raises, there's no reason for him to want to go back before the new year. He expects lawmakers will return in the first week of January to begin working on other items, like ridesharing, left over from 2016.
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