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Senate Democrats: Now it's time for reforms

ALBANY –- State Senate Democrats had two years in power to pass meaningful ethics reform measures.

Now, a week out of power, they are stepping up efforts to pressure Republicans now in control to approve measures rejected over the past two years when they controlled the 62-member Senate.

“Keep your promise,’’ Senate Minority Leader John Sampson repeated several times to the Senate GOP, urging approval of a series of plans designed to make Albany more transparent.

But Sampson refused four times to answer reporters’ questions about why the Senate Democrats did not approve the bills when they ran the Senate for the first time in four decades. [The GOP took back the Senate in November and now holds a slim 32-30 margin].

Government watchdog groups for years have called for lawmakers to relax their grip on the once-a-decade reapportionment process, which will take place over the next year now that the 2010 census numbers have been released. The groups have been calling for an independent commission to redraw the legislative and congressional lines.

The redistricting commission measure was among the platforms pushed now by the Senate Democrats at a news conference Monday. They also want more information released about outside income of legislators, such as the names of clients of those lawmakers who work on the side as lawyers; the measure, though, includes some exceptions to still keep client names hidden.

The Legislature, when the Senate Democrats were in control, did pass an ethics-related bill. But former Gov. David A. Paterson vetoed it, saying it was too weak and too riddled with loopholes.

-- Tom Precious

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