Capitol Watch: Felder rejoins Dems, lawmakers' summer plans

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - In New York state government news, a Democratic state senator who had crossed party lines to empower Republicans is being welcomed back to the Democratic majority.

Meanwhile, with the session over lawmakers are turning their attention to retail politics back home.

Here's a look at what's happening:

FELDER BACK IN THE FOLD: State Sen. Simcha Felder, D-Brooklyn, long played a pivotal role in setting the balance of power in Albany, for a time crossing his own party to give Republicans a one-vote majority in the Senate. The move endeared Felder to the GOP but angered Felder's Democratic colleagues who accused him of betrayal.

That all changed in last fall's elections when Democrats won big and secured a 39-seat majority of in the 63-seat Senate, leaving Felder in political limbo through the legislative session that ended last month.

Now, all appears to be forgiven as Democrats are welcoming Felder into their conference, with Felder as the 40th member.

Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers, made the decision official with an announcement first reported by Spectrum News. She noted that Felder was a team player, supporting Democratic legislation including bills to strengthen tenant protections and authorize driver's licenses for immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

"Following a successful and historic legislative session, Sen. Simcha Felder will be the newest member of the Senate Democratic Majority," Stewart-Cousins said in a statement.

Felder responded with a statement of his own saying "I look forward to working together with my Democratic colleagues on behalf of my constituents and all New Yorkers."

SUMMER HEATS UP: The legislative session is done and there are no elections in the fall, but that doesn't mean members of the Senate and Assembly are taking the summer off.

Instead, many are re-establishing their presence back home by hosting events intended to bring them face to face, or in some cases yoga mat to yoga mat, with constituents.

Here's a look at what members of the Senate have planned this week: Sen. Andrew Gounardes, a Democrat, will host "yoga in the park" in Brooklyn on Monday, while Republican Sen. Andrew Lanza puts on a legal services clinic for veterans on Staten Island on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, on Long Island, Republican Sen. Phil Boyle has invited senior constituents to get photo ID cards Wednesday, while in the Hudson Valley, Democratic Sen. David Carlucci and his wife will participate in a the Women's Distance Festival 5K to raise money for services for victims of domestic violence.

QUIET FALL: Lawmakers aren't expected back in Albany until January - though they could return in December for a special session dedicated to public campaign financing. A state task force has until Dec. 1 to submit its recommended rules for a new $100 million public campaign finance fund. Those rules will become law unless the Legislature rejects them within 20 days.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and top lawmakers announced their appointments to the task force last week.