On Monday, June 8, a bipartisan coalition of state senators passed a comprehensive list of rules reforms that, if enacted, would help bring long overdue transparency and accountability to the legislative process. On the heels of that reform package, today, the Western New York Minority Delegation, led by Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,I,C-Batavia), Assemblyman Joe Giglio (R,I,C-Gowanda), Assemblyman Jack Quinn (R,C,I-Hamburg), Assemblywoman Jane Corwin (R,C,I-Clarence) and Assemblyman Jim Hayes (R-Amherst), announced their own series of initiatives, which aims to increase government efficiency, reduce costs and create a more open, bipartisan democratic process.
The Western New York Delegation package contains nine reform proposals, including:
- Term limits for Speaker, Majority Leader and Minority Leader of 6 years.
- Term limits for Chairpersons and Ranking Members of 8 years.
- Publish agendas and votes (floor and committee) online.
- All committee meetings video recorded and webcast.
- Create televised programming, NY-SPAN, by January 1, 2010.
- Divide any member items evenly.
- Messages of Necessity shall only be permitted in actual emergencies, “such as legislation related to address acts of God, natural and man-made disasters and civil unrest.”
- Institute Member prerogative to provide each member an equal allotted amount of time to advocate for issues specific to their district.
- New motion and/or petition for Consideration created.
- Separate and in addition to motion to discharge. Permits a Member to move a bill for house consideration after 10 days on 3rd reading. If approved by a majority of Members present, bill is placed on next day’s active list. Petition process is same, except must be signed by a majority of elected Members.
“Citizens in the state should never be dependent on whether their representative is enrolled in a particular party,” said Assemblyman Steve Hawley. “True representation has no party affiliation. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an enrolled or non-enrolled voter, your needs should be met. For too long, Albany has operated based upon party politics, not sound governing principles. We need to open up the process and improve transparency in order to make sure the government stands accountable to the people, not the other way around. These reforms take a step toward just that.”
“As a reformer, I have fought for changes to the way Albany does business since I came to office,” said Assemblyman Giglio. “Last Monday, the Senate passed reforms to increase transparency in government. Today, we should heed their example and take advantage of a unique opportunity to reform our own house. I call on my colleagues in the Assembly to pass these reforms as a step toward the betterment of our system and accountability to the taxpayers of our state.”
“Since I was elected to the Assembly, I have fought to change the way Albany operates,” said Assemblyman Jack Quinn. “Repeatedly though, entrenched and powerful institutions have overridden common-sense initiatives. However, calls for reform have amplified, and if we’re going to break the status quo and usher in a new era of reform and openness, then the time is now. The initiatives we introduced today mirror the proposed Senate reforms. Together, they will help reduce the stranglehold that a handful of leaders have on the legislative process, ensure all bills receive a fair vote on the floor of the chamber regardless of party, and reaffirm our commitment to taxpayers.”
“If events of the last few months have taught us anything, it’s that state government is broken,” said Assemblywoman Jane Corwin. “Monday, a bipartisan coalition of senators passed comprehensive rules reform aimed to bring long overdue change to the legislative process, expand the power of legislative committees, and put to an end an archaic and corrupt member item process that doles out resources and community aid based on politics, not need. This is our chance to instill balance and equality in the legislative process to achieve the results that New Yorkers were looking for when they went to the ballot box last November.”