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ALBANY-Business interest groups, organized labor and the construction trades are trying to convince state lawmakers to convene a special session in either late July or early August to deal with some unresolved issues including the development of casinos in the Catskills. While sources in Albany say that some discussions are being held regarding the need for a special session, spokesmen for Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver say no plans are in the offing at this time.

Richard O’Beirne, executive director of the Construction Contractors Association of the Hudson Valley Inc., says casino advocates have been lobbying Gov. George Pataki and state legislative leaders to hold a special session and finalize some sort of an agreement that would allow at least one casino project to move forward. He adds that reports out of Albany indicate that state legislators might return to the Capitol by late July or early August to convene a special session if a deal is ironed out.

“Fortunately Laborers Local 17 is at 100% employment, but many trades have high unemployment for mid July,” says Todd Diorio, business manager of Labor Local 17 in Newburgh and a member of the Catskill Casino Coalition. “I have confidence that our local elected state legislators as well as leaders Bruno, Silver and Pataki will come back into session and do the right thing.” However, a spokesman for the State Assembly says, “At this point there is no indication there will be a special session.” He did note, however, “There has been a lot of conjecture that the Senate would come back in late July.” However, in respect to the Assembly he says, “Sheldon Silver has never said we would have another session.”

The New York State Legislature broke session on June 24 after failing to come to an agreement on casino legislation. Pataki had tried to pass a bill that would have allowed one Native American casino project to proceed, while Bruno pushed for the state to pass legislation that would have called for three casino projects in the Catskills, a measure the State Legislature had approved a few years ago. The Pataki bill passed the Assembly, but died in the State Senate.

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