State Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Hollis) was absent in Albany more than all his colleagues in the chamber, except for Sen. Adriano Espaillat (D-Washington Heights), who was mounting an unsuccessful bid for Congress.
But Smith was among the Senate’s top 10 drafters of resolutions adopted by both houses, the New York Public Interest Research Group’s review of the 2014 state legislative session found.
NYPIRG, a nonpartisan good government group, compiled an analysis of this year’s action in Albany. The report found lawmakers have sent fewer bills to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk than any state executive has received in the past century.
NYPIRG hypothesized legislating has grown abbreviated as state budgets have become lengthier and more complex. It also said the slim majority the parties that have controlled the Senate have had in recent years may present a barrier to bills.
Besides examining legislative action, NYPIRG tabulated state Assembly members’ and senators’ attendance rates and voting records as well as how much lawmakers spoke on the floor.
Smith was among seven senators who were absent and excused from at least 100 votes in 2014, NYPIRG’s report said.
Smith, who spent part of the session on trial in a federal corruption case, missed 808 votes. This put him directly behind Espaillat, an uptown Manhattan congressional hopeful who was not present during 891 votes.
Smith’s office said they believed his absences all occurred when he was in federal court and on trial for allegedly attempting to bribe his way onto the Republican line in the 2013 mayoral election.
In the Assembly, NYPIRG said four Queens lawmakers were among 18 who missed at least 150 votes, including Assembly members Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) with 275 excuses or absences; Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) with 264; Margaret Markey (D-Maspeth) with 172; and William Scarborough (D-Jamaica) with 168.
Scarborough said he missed many votes on the final day of session because he was told it would end hours before voting wrapped up. At that point, he drove back to the city for a meeting with a city commissioner that it took months to schedule.
The other Assembly members cited personal matters — Markey had a 50th wedding anniversary celebration during the final hours of session when hundreds of bills came to the floor, while Simotas had medical issues.
No Queens lawmaker made NYPIRG’s lists of Assembly and Senate members who prime sponsored the most legislation that made it through their respective chamber — or both. A prime sponsor is the lawmaker who first backs a measure in his or her house.
But Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) was among 11 senators who prime sponsored at least 150 active bills in 2014, according to the report.
Avella, a member of the Independent Democratic Conference that had split from mainline Democrats and controlled the Senate with Republicans, was only able to get eight of these measures through both chambers, NYPIRG said.
Smith was the only borough lawmaker to land on NYPIRG’s lists of the 10 Assembly members and senators who drafted the most resolutions adopted by both chambers.
His office said most of the resolutions honored southeast Queens leaders that deserve recognition.
His colleagues approved 79 resolutions, non-binding measures that often urge a course of action or request consideration of a matter.
Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) also appeared to have few qualms about sounding off on issues.
NYPIRG’s review of Senate transcripts determined she spoke on the floor more than any of her counterparts from Queens. She was the eighth most talkative senator, uttering 10,435 words this session.
Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) said 209 words, fewer than every member of the chamber, but Sen. John Sampson (D-Brooklyn), who was indicted early into the 2014 session, was only recorded saying “aye” once, according to NYPIRG.
Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at strangle@c
©2014 Community News Group
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