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Avella: Independent Dems schedule delayed in Albany

By Madina Toure

Given Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision to postpone the annual State of the State address, the Independent Democratic Conference will need another two weeks or so to get back on schedule, state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) said.

Cuomo decided to combine the State of the State address, which is typically held in early January, with the 2015-16 budget presentation so that both will be held jointly Jan. 21 after the death of his father, the late former Gov. Mario Cuomo Jan. 1.

“Based on late Mario Cuomo’s death, obviously the governor put it off so we’re a little bit off kilter in terms of where we move in terms of starting to set the agenda for the new year,” Avella said about the entire Senate body.

The committee schedules have not been set up yet, but things will develop as they move on, Avella added.

But Avella said new rules adopted at the first session now allow state Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx), head of the Independent Democratic Conference, to lay aside one bill per day, according to state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside).

“The rules that were adopted at the first session allow for the head of the IDC to work with the majority to put bills on the floor and that the leader of the IDC — in this case Senator Klein — will have the ability to lay aside one bill for a day,” he said. “If the majority puts a bill that we think is inappropriate, the IDC can have the ability to lay aside for one day one bill.”

Back in November, Avella pledged to stay with his colleagues in the IDC despite impressions that the breakaway group might rejoin the GOP, which regained control of the Senate in the November election. At the time, state Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) said he was willing to work with the Republicans.

The IDC previously controlled power of the state Senate in a coalition with Republicans, but because the GOP won 32 seats for a majority in the chamber, they did not need the five rogue Democrats anymore.

At a Bay Terrace candidate’s forum during his tight primary challenge from former city Comptroller John Liu, Avella said he would not stay with the IDC if the group rejoined the Republicans.

The senator later said that his remarks were taken out of context in published reports.

But Avella said the IDC’s bipartisan stance is what allows the group to get things done.

“I’m very proud of the fact that we have this bipartisan attitude that helps to get things done because that’s what we’re elected to do,” he said.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour‌[email protected]‌local.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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