One Legislator, Two Votes?

Now that David Paterson is becoming governor of New York, Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno is becoming lieutenant governor -- kinda, sorta. Bruno will remain ...
by | March 17, 2008
 

Now that David Paterson is becoming governor of New York, Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno is becoming lieutenant governor -- kinda, sorta. Bruno will remain in the Senate, but will also be acting lieutenant governor, although it's not entirely clear what that means.

The big question is whether he gets to break ties in the Senate. Here's one perspective, from the New York Times :

Will Mr. Bruno be able to vote twice: once in his capacity as a state senator, and again as a tie-breaker in his capacity as the acting lieutenant governor?

"It's an open question," said Richard Briffault, the Joseph P. Chamberlain professor of legislation at Columbia Law School and an authority on state government. "There is no specific answer in the State Constitution or any statute or the State Senate rules. The temporary president of the Senate -- the majority leader -- acts as lieutenant governor to preside over the Senate. There is no discussion of whether he gets any double perks -- for example, salaries. The better reading seems to be that he gets to act as lieutenant governor but isn't lieutenant governor. You could say the background norm in the American political tradition is that people don't get double votes. There's nothing that says that he can and nothing that says that he can't."

The National Conference of State Legislatures adds this context:

This has led inevitably to a question from New York to NCSL: What is the practice in other states on this matter?  The short answer is that Pennsylvania appears to be the only other state where it might be possible for a senator/acting lieutenant governor to vote twice.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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