It has long been clear that the New York State legislature badly needs reform. Today the Assembly Republicans proposed changes to the Assembly's operating rules. Some of these proposals would significantly increase the transparency and accountability of the legislature, as well as strengthen the role of rank and file members of both parties.
In particular, the Brennan Center applauds the proposals to (1) allow prime sponsors of bills passed in the Assembly to call for conference committees and (2) provide equal funding for the operating costs and staff of member's individual offices, regardless of the member's party affiliation or seniority.
In October 2006 the Brennan Center issued Unfinished Business: New York State Legislative Reform, which noted that although the Assembly made some important positive changes to its operating rules since 2004, the Legislative process in both the Senate and Assembly remains broken. The Brennan Center called for:
(1) A strengthened committee process;
(2) Ending the stranglehold that leadership has over getting bills to the floor;
(3) Institutionalizing of Conference Committees; and
(4) Fairness in allocation of resources and staff.
The Brennan Center supports proposals that would create a more deliberative, transparent and dynamic legislative chamber. If enacted, several of today's proposals would represent important steps in that direction.