Giglio: Legislature Missed Perfect Chance To Reform State Government

February 7, 2006

Assemblyman Joe Giglio (R,C,I-Gowanda) today noted the missed opportunity when the Legislature failed to pass minority conference measures that would have made the Assembly more open, efficient and equitable to all its members and New Yorkers.

“The Brennan Center has ranked New York government as the worst, most dysfunctional state government in the nation,” said Giglio. “I came to Albany as a reformer and I intend to continue leading the fight for meaningful change. Residents throughout the state deserve an open and efficient government and I will continue to propose and support any measures that deliver that transparency.”

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law in 2004 labeled New York’s legislative process “dysfunctional” and suggested many reforms that would improve state government and constituent representation.

Giglio outlined the rules changes advanced by the Assembly minority and turned aside by the Assembly majority.

  • The ratio of minority to majority committee members should be the same as the entire Assembly membership. The majority now has one extra member per committee.
  • Allow ranking minority members of all Assembly committees to schedule public hearings of their committees. Current rules allow only the committee chairs – majority members – to do so.
  • Require a committee to consider a bill for which a home rule message has been received at its first meeting, or three days after filing of the message. Such bills under today’s system unnecessarily languish in various committees, often until the very end of session.
  • Allow a “member’s prerogative,” which would entitle each Assembly member, regardless of party affiliation, to advance at least one substantive piece of legislation out of committee and to the floor for a vote on its merits.
  • Specifically identify on the legislative or mandate calendars any state-mandated policies on localities and school districts that would not be funded by the state.
  • Require a two-thirds, or supermajority, vote for final passage of any bill that imposes, continues or revives a tax or creates a debt.
  • Require all bills be accompanied by a fiscal impact statement.
  • Amend motion to discharge rules so standing committee votes to reject or hold bills for further action wouldn’t prohibit the measures from being discharged. Under current rules, when a motion to discharge is brought to force a bill out of committee, a motion can be made to simply “hold” the bill, effectively killing it.
  • Require that, when a motion to hold a bill fails, a motion to report the bill would be made immediately.
  • Allow all members to speak on issues of concern to their constituents after the orders of the day are completed, a similar system practiced by Congress.
  • Allow open sponsorship of all bills rather than the current practice of allowing the prime sponsors to hold exclusive control.
  • Allow prime sponsors of bills to initiate the conference committee process to resolve differences in similar bills between the Assembly and state Senate.