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New York Legislature passes gun control legislation

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Rochester: New York Legislature passes gun control legislation
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The New York SAFE Act passed with a clear majority in both the Assembly and Senate. And in the Senate, members of the Independent Democratic Caucus say this shows their new agreement with the Republicans can get things done, even controversial things. Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman explains.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Day two of the legislative session and Governor Andrew Cuomo already has a victory with a sweeping gun control law. But the measure was also an early win for the Senate coalition of Republicans and five independent Democrats after initial skepticism from Albany observers.

“Everyone talked about guns being the first test of the coalition. If it's a test, I think we passed with flying colors,” said Senate IDC Leader Jeff Klein.

Republicans and Democrats share power in the chamber and both Independent Democratic Leader Jeff Klein and Republican Leader Dean Skelos decide together when a bill can come to the floor for a vote. It's a potentially tricky agreement, but coalition leaders say the gun deal was a sign it could function.

“We've made a conscious decision that we're going to be bringing more bills to the floor and members will be able to vote yes and no as they wish,” said Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos.

Republicans ultimately won provisions in the bill that strengthened criminal penalties and expanded laws to treat the violently mentally ill. But Democrats in the mainline conference point out that it was their gun control bills that ultimately won approval. And in the end, 18 Republicans in the Senate voted against the bill.

“In the end, there were 32 votes from the people who were elected to that chamber as Democrats. So you're essentially seeing a Democratic majority pass this bill in the Senate,” said Michael Gianaris, Senate Deputy Minority Leader.

Perhaps most importantly, the coalition has won the approval of Governor Andrew Cuomo, who praised lawmakers for passing the legislation so quickly.

“This is an extraordinary beginning. It really is. I'll tell you I'm excited about this legislative session. I think the past two years you've seen a steady growth in the functional capacity of government,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

There are potential speed bumps ahead. Cuomo wants to increase the state's minimum wage, enact campaign finance reform and pass a women’s equality measure that expands abortion rights, all proposals that Senate Republicans have opposed.

Governor Cuomo has signed sweeping gun control legislation into law. Watch the signing of the NY SAFE Act:


Rochester: New York Legislature passes gun control legislation
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Read the bill here

For the latest on the gun control legislation and more political news, visit the State of Politics blog.


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