Assemblymember William Colton: Bipartisan Agreement Reached on Reforming Assembly Rules
January 10, 2005
Assemblymember William Colton (D-Brooklyn) announced that a bipartisan agreement has been reached on a comprehensive reform plan that he sponsored to fundamentally improve the way the New York State Assembly operates. "It’s no secret that serious reform is needed in Albany, and I sponsored a plan to make those reforms a reality," Assemblymember Colton said. "These proposals will make state government significantly more open, accountable and responsive." For the 2005 legislative session, the Assembly – in a spirit of true bipartisanship with the house’s minority – adopted a series of internal rules changes that will dramatically improve the way the Assembly operates. The Assembly’s rules changes cover a wide range of parliamentary and procedural reforms. In order to make the People’s House 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.
- providing members with expanded information on session scheduling and bill calendars;
- member sanctions for breaches of Assembly rules – particularly regarding committee attendance; and
- enhanced use of conference committees.