Tedisco, McLaughlin, Lopez & Manlius Mother Who Got “Jenna’s Law” Passed Call for Rank-and-File Revolt to Clean Up Albany
Assembly members to intro “Spirit of ‘76” bill to curb power of leaders and enable legislation that has a majority of members as sponsors to be debated and voted on
December 21, 2015
Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R,C,I-Glenville), Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin (R,C,I-Schaghticoke), and Assemblyman Pete Lopez (R,C,I-Schoharie) today called for a “Spirit of ‘76” revolt by rank-and-file state legislators to clean up corruption and break the stranglehold on the Capitol that’s been exerted by powerful leaders who, time after time, have prevented common-sense reforms from becoming law in New York. The legislators are being joined in their reform efforts by Janice Grieshaber-Geddes, a Manlius mother who successfully advocated for passage of “Jenna’s Law” to end parole for first-time violent felons after her daughter, Jenna Grieshaber, was murdered by a parolee in Albany. Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver held “Jenna’s Law” from moving to the Floor despite it being supported and sponsored by 130 out of 150 Assembly members. Tedisco, McLaughlin and Lopez are introducing the new “Spirit of ’76” bill to allow for a piece of legislation that has garnered the sponsorship of 76 members of the Assembly and 32 members in the Senate -- regardless of party affiliation -- to bypass committee and move to the Floor for a debate and up-or-down vote. The “Spirit of ‘76” bill, which is attached, is being circulated for sponsorship among members and will have a bill number in January when session resumes. Currently, the Speaker and the Senate Majority Leader hold enormous power to abuse the system and stop bills from coming to the floor even if they are mathematically sponsored by a simple majority of members from each house of the legislature (76 out of 150 in the Assembly and 32 out of 63 in the Senate). “No one legislator should be able to wield political power that holds up common-sense legislation. Sheldon Silver toyed with us for an entire session, ultimately refusing, on the very last day, to allow Jenna's Law onto the floor for a vote we knew had strong bipartisan backing. I support this ‘Spirit of 76’ bill being advanced by Assemblyman Tedisco and his colleagues. It will prevent others from being held hostage by an individual with power and will give our Assembly representatives the opportunity to use their collective voices to advance good legislation, promoting bipartisan action and protecting our citizens,” said Janice Grieshaber-Geddes. “Our representative democracy was started by a revolution in 1776 against the tyranny of a king. Today, we have a state legislature that has enabled leaders to act like despots by ceding too much power to them for far too long. This unbridled power was not given to leaders by voters but by majorities in each house of the legislature. It’s time for a rank-and-file member revolt to say ‘enough is enough’ and recapture the ‘Spirt of ‘76’ and stand up and take that power back for the people. If 76 Assembly members and 32 Senators are sponsoring a bill, it should be debated on and receive an up-or-down vote and not be held in check by the whims of a leader,” said Tedisco. “For decades, the legislative leaders of both parties have had far too much power to thwart the will of the people and their elected representatives by holding bills in committee; thereby, preventing an up-or-down vote by the legislature. This vital legislation will help bring a more open government to the Capitol by ensuring that any bill that has the sponsorship of 76 Assembly members and 32 Senators will bypass the committees and go to the Floor for a vote. Our constituents send us to Albany to represent them. We are not sent there to vote only on bills that the legislative leadership deems acceptable,” said McLaughlin. “Plain and simple, if a majority of legislators are sponsoring and supporting a piece of legislation, then that bill should be allowed to come to the Floor for a vote. Legislation in Albany should advance based on the merits of an idea and not just at the behest of a leader who is allowed to accumulate power,” said Lopez. NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY INTRODUCER’S MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 2 (a) ASSEMBLY BILL: A. SENATE BILL: S. ASSEMBLY SPONSOR: James N. Tedisco SENATE SPONSOR: TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the legislative law, in relation to bills with a threshold level of co-sponsorship PURPOSE: To allow for a piece of legislation that has garnered the co-sponsorship of 76 members of the Assembly and 32 members in the Senate to be brought to the floor in that respective house for a vote. SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section 1: Amends the legislative law by adding a new section 33-a to read as follows: § 33-a. Bills with a threshold level of co-sponsorship. 1. Any bill introduced in the assembly shall, upon being co-sponsored by seventy-six or more members, be brought to the floor of the house for a vote to be taken thereon during the legislative session in which it was introduced. 2. Any bill introduced in the senate shall, upon being co-sponsored by thirty-two or more members, be brought to the floor of the house for a vote to be taken thereon during the legislative session in which it was introduced. JUSTIFICATION: In theory, any piece of legislation in any legislative body that has earned the sponsorship of more than half its members has been vetted, passed muster and merits an open floor debate and up or down vote. This legislation would require that those pieces of legislation that have garnered widespread support (76 members in the Assembly/32 members in the Senate) be discharged from committee and brought to the floor for a vote. It is the very concept of good governance and democracy for a legislative body to openly debate a bill in the public square that has the support of the majority of its members, hence a majority of that legislative body’s constituency. LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New Bill FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect on the first of January next succeeding the date on which it shall have become a law.