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Legislative session again disappoints

Legislative session again disappoints

Lawmakers failed to pass much significant legislation this year

There's a scene in the baseball movie, "Major League," where a pitch to flamboyant Willie Mays Hayes inadvertently hits his bat, and rolls a few feet into the infield grass.

Hayes manages to leg out a hit, upon which the first baseman mutters to him, "You really knocked the crap out of that one."

So here it is with hearty congratulations to the New York state Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo on their accomplishments of another successful legislative session so far.

You really knocked the crap out of that one.

After nearly six months in session, state lawmakers spent the last hours of the last few days not agreeing on some key legislation, including allowing transportation services such as Uber and Lyft to operate outside New York City, legalizing online daily fantasy sports games, extending the statute of limitations in child sex abuse cases and the ever-elusive ethics reforms.

There are 212 members of the legislature, each being paid a minimum of $79,500 a year (many much more). That's almost $17 million in salaries alone, not counting perks, staff, overhead and No-Doze.

So what have they accomplished with all your time and tax dollars so far?

The answer: not much.

They did get to pose for pictures with some Tuskegee Airmen, a couple of retired NFL quarterbacks and a spelling bee champ. They did appoint the old lieutenant governor to the board of SUNY. And some of them managed to get in a nap or two during the slow periods. Rest is important.

So what else? Well, it will soon be allowable for New Yorkers to drink alcohol at brunch. But lawmakers didn't wipe out the state's oppressive blue laws as they had the opportunity to do.

They passed legislation to curb the opiate epidemic in New York. It includes expanding insurance coverage and treatment options. But the legislation doesn't crack down on the dealers who are putting heroin and other addictive drugs out on the streets. How effective is that going to be to stop them?

They voted to extend the statute of limitations for people poisoned by contamination of their drinking water, but didn't set up any hearings for victims of the Hoosick Falls contamination to get answers that we'd all like to have. Another grand effort fallen short.

Why they left the important legislation to the last minute is beyond anyone's comprehension. There was nothing pressing about any of the matters. All of the bills were pending well before Friday. The Uber legislation, for instance, got hung up on the rate of insurance the companies would be required to hold.

These issues could have and should have been settled weeks ago, if not months ago.

For your $17 million in legislative salaries, you got half-hearted resolutions to some mid-level problems.

You didn't get the full-scale ethics reform they promised after Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos got arrested. You really didn't get much of anything.

Of course, it's still possible that by the time you read this this morning, they'll have done a little more. Miracles happen.

Lawmakers are known for spending late nights at the capitol at the end of session so they can get out of town as fast as possible to run for re-election.

But for all the time they had to do something great for New Yorkers, they’ve basically squandered the opportunity.

Congratulations, lawmakers. You really knocked the crap out of this legislative session — again.

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