Senate Dems claim quorum, start passing bills

ALBANY - (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 began voting on a host of bills stalled by athree-week power struggle and declaring them passed.

It wasn't clear if the Democrats engineered getting GOP Sen.Frank Padavan on the floor, or simply exploited his presence. Inany case, the gambit was immediately rejected by Democratic Gov.David Paterson, who said he wouldn't sign any of the legislation.

Paterson ordered the Senate back into a special session Tuesday night to take up important, time-senstive bills. They includeextensions of several measures set to expire at midnight Tuesday,including mayoral control of New York City schools and a freeze onmedical malpractice insurance rates.

Padavan, a Queens Republican, acknowledged he walked through thechamber, but insists that was before the session started and onlybecause the Senate parlor was blocked. "It's fraud," he said ofthe Democrats' claim to a quorum.

A Republican-led coup on June 8 split the Senate 31-31. A judge ordered GOP senators into the special session ordered by Gov. David Paterson to deal with important legislation, including extensions of several measures set to expire at midnight Tuesday. Republicans have appealed that order.

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