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From our Housekeeping Files, a new memo from Senate secretary Greg Schmidt distributed to members of the Senate has ruffled a few feathers in the Democratic caucus. To the unsuspecting eye, the two-page document reads like a banal list of housekeeping measures — procedure on how to get an excused absence from Senate session, reminders to be present and on time. All that seems to be missing is a reminder to finish your homework and bring No. 2 pencils to class. But the last two paragraphs, under the sub-heading of “Floor comportment” is what had people talking, or rather, whispering, this week. At issue is the behavior of Senate staff, who some feel have apparently been exerting undue influence on the operations of the Senate. “Staff … have no right to attempt to influence the outcome of a vote,” the memo states. They “may not argue for acceptance or rejection of any measure, motion or amendment with other Senators or other individuals present in the chambers.” The memo apparently grew out of a recent incident involving a tax conformity bill by Sen. Lois Wolk and some moderate members of the Democratic caucus. That led some members to grumble the memo was an effort to muzzle the mods — similar to Don Perata’s infamous lock-out of Mod Caucus members in 2007. Others argue it will lead to Big Brother-like policing of staff conversations on the Senate floor. Steinberg’s staff says those fears are overblown, and that this memo is just a gentle reminder to members that they, not their staff, have been elected to serve their constituents. Read the memo.


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