Assemblymember Cahill Announces Bipartisan Agreement Reforming Assembly Rules

Changes to make Assembly proceedings more open and efficient
January 10, 2005

Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D - Ulster, Dutchess) today announced the passage of a series of internal rules changes that will dramatically improve the way the New York State Assembly operates.

"My colleagues and I in the Assembly, have long been committed to ensuring our state government conducts the peoples’ business in the most open and accountable manner possible," said Mr. Cahill. "These changes to the rules governing the operating procedures within the Assembly are the result of a lengthy and thoughtful debate in which Assemblymembers from all regions of the State had the opportunity to contribute."

The reforms, adopted today, are the product of an undertaking spearheaded by the Assembly Steering Committee. Committee members devoted countless hours to organizing and researching the multitude of ideas presented over the past few months. Upon introducing the proposal, Speaker Sheldon Silver acknowledged Assemblymember Jack McEneny (D – Albany), Chair of the Steering Committee, and Assemblymember Cahill, Vice-Chair of the Steering Committee, for their key roles in developing the reforms passed today.

"I am very proud of the role I took in helping in developing the reforms presented here today," said Mr. Cahill. "We listened and resoundingly responded to the concerns of our members and constituents. Rest assured, this debate will not end with the passing of these rules. The Assembly Majority is committed to continuing this important conversation as part of our overall effort to reform the way this state operates."

In order to make the Assembly more efficient, productive and responsive, the new rules include:

  • ending empty-seat voting by requiring slow roll calls on all bills;
  • instituting Tuesday sessions to allow for greater review and debate of legislation;
  • overhauling the Assembly’s Rules Committee by clarifying the committee’s function as a means for scheduling floor action and making its meetings, which will have published agendas, open and public;
  • requiring the Assembly and Senate to each pass a concurrent budget resolution in early March setting out a timetable for key budget decisions, including immediately convening a joint conference committee to negotiate differences to achieve a more timely state budget;
  • conducting annual budget hearings to ensure a consistent process for a public review of state agency compliance with the enacted budget;
  • renewing the Assembly’s efforts for a statewide public service cable TV channel to cover state government with the immediate goal of televising Assembly proceedings statewide; and
  • restricting lobbyist access in the area at the rear of the Assembly Chamber.

In addition to these changes, the Assembly Majority Steering Committee will continue to develop other reform initiatives through the use of subcommittees. The topics of continued discussion will be constitutional reform, information technology reforms for both the Assembly Chamber and legislative offices and legislative redistricting.

The Steering Committee will continue to examine more closely the Assembly’s standing committee process, including minimum meeting requirements, expanding the committee report process, possible member sanctions for breaches of Assembly rules in terms of attendance and enhanced use of conference committees.