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Efforts at redistricting reform raise ruckus

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Albany/HV: Efforts at redistricting reform raise ruckus
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A fight broke out on the Senate floor on Tuesday, after Democrats tried to press Republicans on redistricting reform. The highly charged policy debate has been raging at the Capitol for weeks now. Our Mike Whittemore has more.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Senate Republicans quashed another attempt by Democrats to advance the governor's redistricting reform bill, which is currently stuck in the Senate Rules Committee.

Monday, a pack of Democrats led by Deputy Minority Leader Neil Breslin delivered a petition to Deputy Majority Leader Tom Libous' office in hopes of forcing a public hearing on the measure, which would establish an independent redistricting commission.

But on Tuesday, Republicans on the Rules Committee deemed the petition invalid and moved on, passing the governor's Power for Jobs bill before swiftly adjourning the meeting.

Undeterred, Democrats brought the fight to the Senate floor where they essentially filibustered that last piece of legislation on the agenda for the day, accusing Republicans of manipulating Senate rules to silence the minority.

"It's one thing to vote with their majority and adopt whatever rules they want to adopt. It's another thing entirely to say we will not even let you utter one word about the issue. Every time the word redistricting came up the president of the Senate interrupted. I was paying attention," said Senator Mike Gianaris.

Republicans called the move a charade and say they plan to move on independent redistricting on their terms and on their schedule.

"Three percent of the public understands what redistricting is, they need jobs! They want their taxes cut, they want government to be functional. That's what we're doing here in the senate. Redistricting will be dealt with. We don't even have census numbers yet. Redistricting will be dealt with by next year as it is supposed to be dealt with as it has been dealt with in the past," Libous said.

Senator Libous says redistricting reform will be addressed before next year, but you can expect to hear a lot more about it before then. Democrats aren't likely to give up that easy.

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