Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R,C,I-Schenectady-Saratoga), Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin (R,C-Melrose) and Assemblyman Tony Jordan (R,C,I-Jackson) today announced they are drafting new legislation to stop the clock on legislative proceedings at midnight to ensure that bills are debated and voted on in full view of the public and media.
Tedisco, McLaughlin and Jordan’s “New York Government Transparency Act” would put a midnight deadline on all state legislative sessions including when a Governor issues a “message of necessity” unless there is an extreme state of emergency. Any legislation passed after midnight and before 8 a.m. would be found invalid.
On Wednesday, March 14th, going into the overnight hours of Thursday, March 15th, the state legislature passed measures for redistricting, casino gambling, expanding the DNA database, pension reform, and teacher evaluations – all while most New Yorkers and members of the Fourth Estate – the press -- were sleeping. Important legislation such as the state budget is routinely enacted late at night away from public viewing.
“Voters and taxpayers should sleep comfortably with sweet dreams in the dead of the night and not have to worry about having nightmares about the actions of their legislators and governor,” said Tedisco, former Assembly Minority Leader and current Assistant Minority Whip. “Good legislation should be voted on at 3 p.m. when most New Yorkers are awake, not 3 a.m. when the only other thing on television are infomercials and Twilight Zone marathons.”
“Voting on pieces of legislation in the middle of the night, with barely any time to read what’s been thrown on our desk, all while lawmakers are sleep deprived, is not the openness and transparency Governor Cuomo promised us,” said McLaughlin. “For the sake of the people, lawmakers should be allowed time to thoroughly read, thoughtfully consider and fully debate important legislation on the floor, in the light of day. Enough is enough with the political expediency Albany has grown accustomed to. I’m proud to join Assemblymen Tedisco and Jordan in sponsoring this legislation that will force lawmakers to conduct the business of the people during normal hours and better hold them accountable as a result.”
“On a night when some of the most significant legislation affecting our State was debated and discussed, only the most ardent follower of the legislative process would have known. That is because we began debating much of this legislation after midnight going until 7:30 a.m. It's ironic that during ‘sunshine week’ this legislation is necessary,” said Jordan.