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Ritchie bill takes important step forward (but still faces bleak future)


State Sen. Patty Ritchie's bill that would have required one president per SUNY college seemed to have a tough legislative row to hoe because of the way New York's legislature works.
The Senate is run by Republicans. The Assembly is run by Democrats. So to get anything through, you need a Republican senator and a Democratic assemblymember to sign off on something. And Assemblywoman Addie Russell, D-Theresa, was cool to the idea.
But the bill picked up a Democratic sponsor anyway in Assemblyman Bill Magee, according to this report in The Post-Standard.
The legislation was drafted because of a SUNY proposal to consolidate presidencies at a few colleges — that is, two colleges would have one president. SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam were among those. They're about a 10-minute drive away. The college and the college town did not care much for this idea. And the bill would have prevented that.
The bill still faces huge hurdles, though. I've heard that the Republican leadership doesn't like the bill — it seems to have a poison pill built into it that would give the college councils, a weak advisory board, enormous sway over the selection of SUNY presidents.
And even if Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos let it come up for a vote and it passed, do you really think Gov. Andrew Cuomo wouldn't veto the heck out of this thing? The selection of college presidents would be out of the hands of the SUNY Board of Trustees, bringing it one step further away from executive control in Albany.
But hey, at least they've got an Assembly sponsor now.
And, as a quick aside, too, it's important to point out that of the three pairs of colleges where SUNY was trying to consolidate, the pair in Mrs. Ritchie's district are the only ones that SUNY has backed off from. So if we look at this legislation as a shot across SUNY's bow, perhaps we can conclude that it has had success, even if its prospects of becoming a real live law are doubtful.

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