Assemblywoman Sandy Galef and Senator Mary Lou Rath introduce Legislation Creating a Joint Bipartisan Task Force to Improve the New York State Legislative Process

November 3, 2004

Assemblywoman Sandy Galef (D-90AD) is introducing legislation with Senator Mary Lou Rath (R-61SD) to create a Joint Bipartisan Legislative Process Task Force to examine the legislative process within and between the Assembly and the Senate, and make recommendations for improving the legislative process.

The New York State Legislature has been unable to pass state budgets on a timely basis, and has been criticized for a lack of transparency and accountability in the legislative process. Editorial boards, business organizations, school boards, not-for-profit groups, civic associations, and most recently the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s School of Law, are among those who have called upon the Legislature to change the way it operates.

"The Bipartisan Legislative Process Task Force would serve as the bridge linking the Assembly and the Senate," stated Assemblywoman Galef. "I have been working very hard over the last twelve years to make the necessary changes to our legislative process but we in the Assembly cannot act alone. We need our colleagues in the Senate as partners to achieve success, and I am delighted that Senator Mary Lou Rath is that champion."

"I have been working for reforms to Medicaid and the welfare systems for more than 20 years, first as a county legislator and now as a state senator," said Senator Mary Lou Rath (R-C, Williamsville). "In order to continue to make progress in these and other critical areas, it is necessary to implement changes in the way the state conducts its legislative business. I commend Assemblywoman Sandra Galef for working toward the same goals."

The new legislation will create the Bipartisan Legislative Process Task Force which will hold public hearings, take testimony, examine current processes, and make recommendations to the Legislature in its next Session (2005-06). The Majority Leader of the Senate, Speaker of the Assembly, Minority Leader of the Senate and Minority Leader of the Assembly will appoint a total of eight (8) members.

Task Force members will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the legislative process. The tasks include a review of the: (1) time and schedule management of all bills; (2) use of conferences and standing committees to coordinate action between the two bodies; (3) number and mission of existing committees; (4) current administrative rules and regulations; and (5) any other issues that are determined as relevant to the legislative process.

Westchester colleagues Michael Spano (R-93AD) and Willis Stephens (R-99AD) have joined Assemblywoman Galef in sponsoring the legislation. "I applaud Assemblywoman Galef for initiating a plan to mend the legislative process. Reform of the State Legislature is long overdue and something that needs the proper attention. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the State Assembly to bring about radical changes to the way the Assembly operates," said Michael Spano.

"I am pleased to join in a bipartisan effort to take a hard look at the internal procedures, practices, and policies of the legislature. This task force, once created, will examine many of the legislative and procedural reform measures for which I, and many of my colleagues, have been advocating over the past several years. It is my sincere hope that this body will serve as the catalyst for meaningful change in the way we administer the ‘people’s business’ in Albany" stated Willis Stephens.

Assemblyman Sam Hoyt (D- Buffalo, Grand Island) is also co-sponsoring this legislation. "I am pleased to once again join Assemblymember Galef in pushing to reform the way Albany does business. The time for reform has never been riper than the present. While no single reform is the beginning or the end to the improvements we can make, this proposal for a joint Assembly-Senate task force establishes a mechanism to make operations in both houses more open, transparent and responsive."