Several significant pieces of legislation, including bills establishing the type of safeguards the nation really needs New York to set, failed to come up for vote in the Senate. They all happen to be sponsored by members of the IDC (Independent Democratic Conference).
Climate Change: Senator Tony Avella (score: 82) is the lead sponsor of the Climate and Community Protection Act. When the bill was introduced, the entire IDC was promptly listed as cosponsors and it quickly picked up support from mainline Democrats and Republicans. The bill also has the backing of more than 100 groups representing a broad array of interests – including social justice, environment, labor, clean energy, and faith.
Environmental Rights: Senator Carlucci sponsors the upper house’s version of legislation that inserts the public’s right to clean water and air and a healthful environment into our state Constitution. He engaged and built support amongst his colleagues, but the bill languished in the Judiciary Committee from the very day it was introduced.
Crude Oil Insurance: Senator Avella also sponsors this bill to require oil companies to demonstrate that they have financial surety to cover any crude oil spill and clean up costs, rather than taxpayers being responsible for the financial costs of their disaster. When Big Oil harbors desires to turn the city of Albany into “Oilbany,” legislation that passes in the Assembly with near-unanimous support should easily get a vote in the Senate. However, this bill died there again this year.
Senators Klein and Flanagan both earned scores of 71. Senator Klein provided the crucial votes that ensured Senator Flanagan’s bill to gut funding for clean energy programs was passed. Within the budget, the IDC sided with Senate Republicans to delay diesel clean up, putting the health of those with asthma and heart disease and our seniors at risk. So, the question hanging over all the members of the IDC is this: is their leader, Senator Klein, unable or unwilling to prevail on his partner, Senator Flanagan, to bring environmental priorities to the floor?
It is time for the IDC to deliver for the environment. Next year all statewide offices as well as all state legislative seats are on the ballot. Facing voters is a great motivator for any politician to deliver on public health and environmental protections – especially if you’re a member of the IDC.