On October 11, 2019, the New York Daily News reported that the New York State Legislature might return to Albany for a December special session.
According to the Daily News, the potential special session relates to the activities of the Public Campaign Financing Commission. The Commission was created earlier this year after elected officials could not reach an agreement on taxpayer funding of campaigns. The Commission is responsible for making rules that would create a $100 million matching program for political candidates. Those rules are due on December 1, and will become law automatically by the end of the year unless reversed by the Legislature. However, there is talk that the Commission may also attempt to ban the practice of fusion voting. Fusion voting allows candidates to appear on more than one party’s line in a given election, and banning the practice would dramatically weaken third parties like the Working Families Party and the Conservative Party. Some observers believe that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is hoping to ban fusion voting to take revenge on the Working Families Party for supporting the Governor’s 2018 primary challenger, Cynthia Nixon. Because many legislators support fusion voting, it is possible that they will return to the Capitol before the end of the year to attempt to reverse any Commission rules that would ban fusion voting.
There are several problems here. First, taxpayer funding of campaigns is a bad idea. Taxpayers should not be forced to fund political campaigns. Second, it is both cowardly and unwise for the Legislature to punt its responsibilities to a commission. It attempted to do so within the context of legislative pay raises, and has now done so a second time by creating the Public Campaign Financing Commission. Third, fusion voting offers voters more options when they cast their ballots; it is a good thing, and should be continued. Fourth, however, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms would prefer not to see the Legislature in Albany this year. The more time that the Legislature is in town, the more likely it is to pass bad laws.