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Special elections are set to fill 11 vacant seats at the State Capitol

February 21, 2018 06:45 PM

ALBANY -- Nine members of the Assembly and two from the Senate, in all 11 seats at the State Capitol remain empty as the most critical job for lawmakers is underway.

"It's certainly one of the higher list of vacancies that we've seen," said Russ Haven from New York Public Interest Research Group.

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NYPIRG said according to its calculations, millions of New Yorkers will be left out of the budget process as a result.

"Close to 1.8 million New Yorkers are without full representation in the state Legislature,' Haven said.

That's why the had hoped that Governor Andrew Cuomo would call the special election to fill the vacancies sooner than April 24. The state budget is due on April 1. Activists said some communities could be shortchanged on school aid and other state funding. Two of the vacant seats are right here in the Capital Region. Former Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin left his post after becoming Rensselaer County Executive and Pete Lopez left his seat for the EPA's Region 2 administrator post.

"Our offices are getting a fair amount of calls for constituent services, whether it's in the Rensselaer County seat - Steve McLaughlin's seat or whether it's Lopez seat," said Assemblyman John McDonald.

New Yorkers could also be impacted another way. The two Senate seats up for grabs could tip the balance of power to Democrats. In that case, the entire state government would be in Democratic hands. Legislation that was once blocked by the GOP in the Senate would now be revisited. Some lawmakers pointed to minimum wage and campaign finance reform

"The 'Dream Act' certainly would come into play, which the Assembly has passed," said Senator Neil Breslin.

The 'Dream Act' is a policy that would allow the children of undocumented immigrants access to higher education.

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Dan Bazile

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