Savino maneuvers around leaders on marijuana

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Diane Savino with Jeff Klein. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
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On Monday, Sen. Diane Savino filed the first move in a parliamentary maneuver that could bring her bill to legalize medical marijuana to the floor of the Senate, without the approval of the chamber's leadership.

Savino requested a "motion for committee consideration" for her bill to establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program. That request would compel the Senate's health committee to hold a vote on the legislation, according to Senate rules.

If the bill, known as the Compassionate Care Act, passes the committee, it paves the way for Savino to make an end run around Senate majority leader Dean Skelos to put the bill on the floor for a full vote.

Savino could then file a "motion for petition consideration," another little-used parliamentary provision that allows a bill's sponsor to bring legislation to the floor, if three-fifths of senators approve the vote.

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Savino has said she has the support of at least 39 senators for the bill, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

That number would also allow her to bring the bill to the floor under such a petition.

Savino, a member of the Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference, is cosponsor of the bill with Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, who chairs the Assembly’s Health Committee.

Savino’s move comes the same day Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver told reporters in the Capitol on Monday that the bill was effectively dead for the duration of the legislative session.

“I don't think it has a future in this session. There was no interest from the other parties,” Silver, a Democrat from Lower Manhattan, told reporters on Monday.

“I wasn't aware he was elected to the Senate,” Senator Savino said in an e-mail to Newsdaywhen asked to respond to Silver's comments.

A spokesman for Silver later clarified the Speaker’s remarks, saying that he meant to emphasize the need for the Senate to act on the bill.

"It has not passed the Senate, and of course we hope this is the year it finally passes," the spokesman said.