Legal action over NY lawmaker pay raise under consideration

NY Capitol News

Legislators on both sides of the aisle are very upset over the pay commission’s decision to limit outside income for lawmakers as part of their pay raise. There is talk of legal action and a possible special session.

“I work 80 to 90 hours a week and I’m still a lawyer,” Senator Neil Breslin (D-Albany) said.

Senator Neil Breslin has been a lawyer for around 40 years and a Senator for over 20. He says his experience in law has helped him in drafting legislation and giving advice to other members.

“Sometimes you don’t get the breath and the quality of the individual who has been different areas in life and could make independent judgments.”

Now that outside income for lawmakers could very well be mostly banned, Breslin said that he might have to step aside from his law practice. A bit easier for him, but definitely not for Senator George Amedore.

“Our Founding Fathers have always made this process to be a citizen legislature. They were all business minded individuals or professionals in their careers,” Senator George Amedore (R-Rotterdam) said.

Senator Amedore owns and operates Amedore Homes, a development company in the Guilderland area. His father previously ran this largely successful business, so for Amedore to step away from his family’s legacy would be a whole other story.

“What the governor and the other members of the legislature are asking, anyone with a business and outside experience with government, you are no longer welcome or you will have to leave your profession.”

A big argument in favor of limiting outside income is that it would help lower corruption.

A point is being made that if a lawmaker does have an outside income to fall back on, they might be less likely to stay in the legislature.

“All it does is create now a cycle of career politicians who do not have any connection to the private sector or real-life experience of the difficulties of having to make ends meet.”

Senator Amedore says its too early to say whether he would step down as Senator in order to keep his business, but says he has been in communication with Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan about holding a special session to overturn the pay commission’s decision. They would have to do this before the new legislature comes in in January.

Another point to be made is that this limit on outside income was placed only on the legislators, not the governor or executive branch who are also receiving pay raises.

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