Rules Committee member and leader in the drive for reform, Assemblyman Brian Kolb (R,C,I –Canandaigua) is advocating sweeping reforms that would increase accountability and help rein in state spending.
“The reforms presented today are designed to provide full transparency and better access to government for every New York citizen,” expressed Kolb. “The Rules Committee is a powerful group of the Assembly that has the task of channeling legislation to the Assembly Chamber, and therefore is a key to creating vital reforms.
“My conference and I are championing these administrative changes to have a profound, positive impact on the state budgeting process, improve customer service to all constituents and hold accountable the state spending that has too often burdened taxpayers.”
Many of the reforms proposed today are based on the Brennan Center’s recommendations for legislative reform.
Assemblyman Kolb cited unfunded mandates as just one of many measures that needs to be changed, saying that “too often well-intentioned but unfunded state mandates push the cost down the line to municipalities who have their hands tied with no other option but to raise assessments and property taxes to pay for them.”
Among the Rules changes:
- All standing committee meetings shall be transcribed and be made available on the Assembly website and in the Assembly Public Information Office;
- All legislators shall receive equal staff allotments. Currently, Assembly majority receives more than twice as much money to pay staff as do their minority counterparts ($183,373 per Majority member versus $86,092 per Minority member);
- Require immediate convening of conference committees when bills addressing the same subject have been passed by both chambers;
- Allow ranking minority members of standing committees to call public hearings;
- Committee ratios shall reflect the ratio of majority to minority members that are currently elected to the house;
- Require bills with Home Rule requests from local municipalities be considered in committee at the first meeting that is held after the bill has been in committee for three days. Currently these types of bills are jammed through at the end of session and are often used as political bargaining chips;
- All bills reported to the legislative floor must be accompanied by a detailed public committee report to help identify the actual legislative intent;
- Allow motions to discharge at any time after 20 days has passed since the bill was referred to the committee and until five days before the end of the legislative session;
- Require a fiscal impact statement on all bills;
- Require any bill that imposes a mandate on municipalities to be specifically labeled on the calendar;
- Require a super-majority (2/3) vote for final passage of a bill imposing, continuing or reviving a tax.