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.

There are several other changes under consideration, including:
  • 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.

"These sweeping new reforms are designed to make the Assembly’s proceedings more open and efficient. I strongly support these bipartisan rules changes and look forward to expanding on them," Colton said.

"I commend the hard work, dedication, and leadership shown by Speaker Sheldon Silver in bringing about these historic bipartisan reforms and his continued commitment to improving the openness and efficiency of state government," he added.

"The message has been sent by the people of New York that reform is needed in Albany, and the Assembly has responded," Colton said. "I strongly urge the Senate and governor to join us in making our state government more responsive to the public."