Former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos was caught on a wiretap belittling the power of Sen. Jeffrey Klein, who heads a group of five breakaway Democrats who have aligned with the Republicans.
But Skelos’ conviction might actually give Klein (D-Bronx) and his group more influence heading into the 2016 legislative session.
That’s because with Skelos’ seat open, the Republicans now have 32 members in their conference — the bare minimum needed to pass legislation in the chamber. And one of those is Sen. Simcha Felder, a Brooklyn Democrat who sits with the GOP.
That means the Republicans would need votes from Klein’s group to pass anything if just one GOP member is absent from the chamber or table impacted issues until all members are in attendance.
“When you have only 32…, it gives us leverage to get some important issues done like paid family leave, banning gun sales for people on the no-fly list, and a $15 minimum wage,” said a source close to Klein’s group.
A Senate GOP official called talk of potential chaos in the coming year a “non-issue”, saying that the Republicans were able to get things done this past legislative session when several GOPers missed several weeks because of illness.
Another insider said he doesn’t expect much to change. “They might throw him a few more bones, low level bills or more capital money for his district,” the source said.