2006-12-15 / Community

Dem. Leader Calls For Special Session

Senate Democratic Leader-elect Malcolm A. Smith says the Legislature has an opportunity to “demonstrate that we are enthusiastic participants in Governor-elect Spitzer’s plan to make State government more responsive to the needs of all New Yorkers.”

Smith said the Senate should “follow the example set by Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson in their sweeping reforms of the rules and regulations governing the Executive Branch.”

Smith noted the Senate would adopt its rules early in January, but said “a commitment to reform can be made right now. We can agree that the Senate should be more open, more efficient and more responsive to the needs of our constituents.”

Reforming the Senate rules to allow more bills to come to the floor for debate and giving rank and file members more responsibility and authority “would make the Senate a gleaming example of an effective deliberative body,” Smith said.

In addition to reforming its own rules, the Senate could also take the opportunity of special session to pass legislation that would create a non-partisan redistricting panel (S.1588); ban gifts from lobbyists to legislators (S.6656 and S.6809) and make the Legislature subject to the Freedom of Information Laws from which it is currently exempt.

Smith said passing these measures would “send a message and set a tone” for the upcoming legislative session in January. But he also said the “special session is an opportunity to improve not only the Legislature, but people’s lives as well.”

Smith said he also hopes that the Senate and Assembly will agree on civil confinement legislation as well as an increase to the State’s charter school cap. “This is an opportunity to let our constituents know, to let all New Yorkers know, that the State Legislature takes its responsibilities and obligations seriously and that our goal for the coming session will be to put our State back on the right track,” Smith said. “This is the moment, now is the time.”

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