ALBANY, NY – Governor Kathy Hochul says the federal case against Brian Benjamin was a surprise.
Now, for the second time within a year, Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins is acting Lt. Governor because of scandals in New York State’s government.
“We’ve had a pretty stable run in terms of administration in the state. And so the notion of the temporary president of the Senate, Andrea Stewart- Cousins serving in that capacity where she is acting as Lt. Governor discharging the Lt. Governor’s functions— it has happened, but never twice in such a short span of time, at least not in any recent history,” says NYS Constitution Expert Christopher Bopst.
It’s now up to the Governor to pick a new Lt. Governor. Senator Joe Griffo wants changes made to the New York Constitution so that elected officials in the Senate and the Assembly can have a say in the confirmation process.
“What I would like to see are several things. First, when you have a vacancy in the office office Lt. Governor, that we follow the federal model of the 25th amendment of the constitution— the U.S. Constitution. Which would allow for the governor to appoint whoever their choice is, but that choice would have to be presented before the legislature in joint session and confirmed accordingly. That allows for more checks and balances. It allows for vetting so we don’t run into these types of problems,” says Griffo.
Bopst weighing in on Griffo’s legislation saying it might be helpful in revealing additional information.
“How many people and what it will weed out, in terms of getting people not in that role that have a scandal, though to say how that would work in actual practice, but it would be an extra step,” says Bopst.
Griffo’s bill was first introduced over a decade ago , and it’s not the only aspect he’d like to change about the state constitution.
“Our constitution is somewhat old in a sense, where it always talks about if the governor is out of state, the Lt. Governor becomes governor. That just doesn’t make a lot of sense in rhe 21st century. When you look at the modern technology that exists.”
Senator Griffo says this will make a more orderly process and transition when it comes to the role of Lt. Governor