Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb: Today’s Passage Of Bi-Partisan Ethics Reform Was A Step In The Right Direction – But More Steps Are Necessary

January 20, 2010

“The Assembly’s passage of bi-partisan ethics reform legislation – Assembly Bill A.9544 – during today’s session was a much-needed, positive step toward state government restoring public trust and accountability. However, as I said last week, this is only a step – a great deal more is required before New York State will have the toughest ethics laws in the nation, which our Assembly Minority Conference and I have as a top government reform priority for this session.

Another common sense reform needing enactment is ensuring that elected officials convicted of a crime do not receive their public pension. Serving in public office is a privilege, not a right; when lawmakers become lawbreakers, they have violated the public trust and broken faith with the people they represent. The current, glaring loophole allowing convicted lawmakers to continue drawing a taxpayer-subsidized pension needs to be closed. Immediately.

Our Assembly Minority Conference recognizes this and already has introduced several legislative initiatives, including Assembly Bills A.1057, A.6761 and A.9730, which would bar any elected official convicted of a felony from receiving their public-funded pension or benefits. These bills are 100 percent non-partisan and would hold both political parties to the same, higher ethical standard New York taxpayers expect and rightfully deserve. We believe that these initiatives should be brought to the Assembly floor for a vote so the ‘People’s House’ can take the next logical step toward rebuilding the people’s trust.”