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State senate closes year with 15 hour session

ALBANY -- The end of the legislative session came to a close in Albany early Saturday morning but very few people knew it.

After a nearly 15 hour, two day marathon session of passing bills, the state senate finally closed out the year around 7 a.m. nearly 12 hours after the assembly was done.

Corruption and scandal may have headlined the entire legislative session in Albany but procrastination is a word that can be used to define how it ended.

"I'm looking forward to getting a nights sleep," said Senator Hugh Farley, R- Niskayuna. "I've only had four hours of sleep in the last two days."

According to the New York Public Interest Research Group, or NYPIRG,  in the last day and half, during the final 15 hour marathon session of the senate, almost 200 bills were passed. After midnight alone 154 bills made it to the floor, NYPIRG says.

"A lot of it was done at the very end. I wasn't pleased with going all night long but we got it done and that is what we are paid to do," said Senator Farley.

For their base salary of $79,000 state lawmakers agreed on 649 bills, according to NYPIRG that's the fourth lowest number of session bills in the past century.

Conversely a lot was left unattended. Lawmakers left Albany with no campaign or ethics reform law. The DREAM Act, use of public money to fund college for undocumented youth, never became reality despite a big push from democrats. Decriminalizing marijuana was an agenda item of Governor Cuomo but that bill also fell short. 
Also failing was the Women's Equality Act. There are no new laws dealing with women's rights because both houses could not agree on abortion.

Democratic Senator Neil Breslin, of Delmar, said because power of the senate was split this year between republicans and breakaway democrats a lot of his parties priorities were overlooked.

"It started with weakened minimum wage (and) continued on with nothing on the Dream Act, or farm labor," said Breslin. "Campaign finance reform is just a tremendous disappointment. We are are going to keep attracting bad candidates."

Unless they are called back for a special session lawmakers will not return to Albany until January for the 2014 legislative session.

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