Senate Dems claim quorum, start passing bills

(AP) - Democrats claimed control of the split NewYork Senate on Tuesday, declaring a quorum after a Republican tooka short cut through the chamber because an exterior parlor had beenblocked by Democrats for a press conference they never held.

The Democrats voted on about 75 bills stalled by a three-weekpower struggle and declared them passed. It wasn't clear if theyengineered getting GOP Sen. Frank Padavan on the floor, or simplyexploited his presence.

While Democratic Gov. David Paterson initially said he wouldn'tsign any of the legislation, Senate Democratic leaders said it's upto the clerks of the House and Senate to certify the legislationduly passed, and at that point Paterson should be compelled to signit.

The Democrat-controlled Assembly hadn't decided Tuesday eveningwhether to certify them, spokeswoman Melissa Mansfield said.

Paterson ordered the Senate back into a special session at 7p.m. to take up a handful of time-sensitive bills. They includedmayoral control of New York City schools, which was set to expireat midnight. However, with both groups in the ornate chamber, theyalmost immediately adjourned without passing anything.

Padavan, a Queens Republican, acknowledged he walked through thechamber earlier Tuesday, but insisted that was before theDemocrats' session started and only because the Senate parlor wasblocked. "It's fraud," he said of the Democrats' claim to aquorum.

Late Tuesday, an appeals court refused to block a judge's orderthat the divided senators must convene together to comply withPaterson's call for special sessions. Paterson has said he'll keepsenators in Albany until they do their necessary work.

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