2005-01-07 / Community

Smith: Reform State Senate Rules

Saying “the people of New York State made clear last November their demands for change in the way Albany works,” State Senator Malcolm A. Smith joined with Senate Democratic Leader David A. Paterson and the 25 other members of the Senate Democratic Conference to introduce proposal that would reform the rules of the State Senate.

Included in the proposal are recommendations from New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, which last year called the State Legislature the most dysfunctional in the nation. Senator Smith added that individual Senators would be empowered with more input and control over the process. “Our reforms would ensure State government becomes more open and transparent, and greater public disclosure of legislative information would be required. That would include making committee transcripts and votes, fiscal notes and expenditure reports available to the public via the Internet,” said Senator Smith. Other reforms include and end to the “three-men-in-a-room” style of making decisions on major issues; an increase in public scrutiny and opportunities for public input; a reduction in the power that is concentrated in the hands of a few leaders; a ban on “empty seat voting” by members who are not physically present in the chamber; requirements that the Senate stay in session until a budget has been passed, and that legislative pay raises be voted on prior to a general electionalternatives to the Majority’s agenda.

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