Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Bring Wetlands Legislation to a Vote in the Senate

On September 5th, we noted that the leadership in the NYS Senate, namely Majority Leader Bruno, had finally loosened its iron grip on a piece of popular legislation called Timothy’s Law. After several sessions of inaction by the Senate, the leaders had reached a compromise, and the bill is set to come to the floor and pass by a substantial margin.

Unfortunately, the Senate is still sitting on legislation that would almost certainly pass if the leadership would actually schedule a vote. In May 2005, our report Lost in the Shadows: The Fight for a Senate Vote on Wetlands Protection Legislation detailed how a bill with major support from both the public and at least 49 of the 62 senators in the legislature failed to receive a vote in the 2004 and 2005 Senate sessions. WSTM, a local NBC affiliate in Syracuse, notes that the need for the legislation has become more acute in the aftermath of severe flooding in upstate New York last June; studies suggest that continued destruction of wetlands could exacerbate flooding problems.

As we advocated in our 2004 report, one of the most critical reforms to the dysfunctional legislative process in New York is the establishment of a mechanism for rank-and-file members to force a floor vote. In short, neither Senate nor Assembly leaders should have the power to thwart overwhelmingly popular legislation like wetlands protection.

Categories: General, Legislative Rules

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