New York State's government simply doesn't work. As the Brennan Center's pathbreaking report put it, the state legislature is "dysfunctional." Released in July of 2004, the report, The New York State Legislative Process: An Evaluation and Blueprint for Reform, concluded that New York’s legislative bodies discourage rank-and-file lawmakers from participating fully in the legislative process and, in turn, deprive citizens of full representation in Albany. In New York State, representative democracy is often alive in name more than in reality.After the report’s release, all of New York’s major daily newspapers, from upstate and downstate, used their editorial pages to call the public's attention to the report's findings. More than 90 organizations from across the political spectrum endorsed our package of reforms. A statewide campaign to reform the legislative process in Albany resulted in changes to the rules of the Assembly and Senate in 2005. We will continue to advocate for additional changes to be made in 2007. On this Web page, you can access our full report, review our recommendations, read the editorials, and join the campaign.
Ethics and Lobbying Reform
Calling for an “overhaul” of New York State’s ethics laws in February 2006, the Brennan Center joined with a coalition of civic groups urging Governor Pataki and New York’s legislative leaders to embrace a package of eight lobbying and ethics reforms. The groups released Strengthening Ethics in New York, an analysis of New York’s laws regulating ethics and lobbying, with a set of reforms proposed for New York. A letter to the Governor and the leaders of both the Senate and Assembly urged action on the proposal to close loopholes, expand the reach of existing rules without adding unnecessary paperwork, and strengthen ethics enforcement. The coalition also released a20proposed bill that would implement the recommended reforms. A New York Times editorial commended the recommendations and the “impressive 70-page reform bill.”