One of our big complaints about the way the Legislature works is that leadership in the Assembly and Senate can prevent extremely popular bills from ever coming to the floor for debate and a vote. This is problematic for a number of reasons: it is not particularly democratic; it lets rank-and-file legislators off the hook -- allowing them to claim to support popular bills that may be expensive without having to make any sacrifice for them; and it prevents New Yorkers from being able to hold their legislators accountable for failing to get legislation passed.
In our 2004 report we referenced Timothy's Law as an example of a bill that everyone seemed to support, but somehow never got to the Senate floor for a vote. Timothy's Law was named after a 12 year old boy who committed suicied. His death might have been prevented by psychological treatment that was not covered by his insurance and was, therefore, denied to him. The legislation would require New York's health insurers to cover treatment for mental illness and drug abuse.
In 2003, a majority of Senators sponsored Timothy's Law, but it never made it out of the Senate's Rules Committee. Today's Capitol Confidential notes that three years later, the law still hasn't passed the Senate (it has passed the Assembly). Advocates for the bill confronted Majority Leader Bruno in Joseph L. Bruno Stadium in Troy on Tuesday during the first home game of the Valley Cats.
Supporters of greater wetlands protection in New York (see post below) take note: time may not be on your side, if Senate leadership isn't -- no matter how many other New Yorkers and Senators want your bill passed.
Categories: Legislative Rules