Monday, March 05, 2007

Assembly Rules Fight Begins

The theme of the day at ReformNY appears to be legislative rules. We have just learned that the Assembly Republicans are introducing a series of legislative rules changes on the floor this afternoon. We have not seen the latest version of their proposals, but the fact that they have brought them indicates to us that their attempts at working with the Assembly Democrats to reform the rules have failed. Given what we know about the Assembly, this also means it is certain that all of the Republicans' proposals will fail.

Majority Leader Canestrari has apparently promised (on the floor) that the majority will announce its own proposals for rules reform shortly. We look forward to seeing them. In the meantime, if the Assembly is serious about rules reform, here's what needs to get done:

Strenghten the standing committees, so rank and file members can force a hearing or vote over the objections of the committee chair;

end leadership's stranglehold over what bills get to the floor;

institutionalize conference committees; and

limit leadership control over resources and staff (which includes mandating greater equity in distribution of those resources).

We're not holding our breath, but we'll keep watching and keep you posted.

Update: Capitol Confidential has the Minority Leader's press release that outlines the proposed changes. It looks like a similar list to what was unveiled a couple of weeks ago. The Brennan Center expressed support for a number of these changes -- including a reallocation of resources and institutionalizing conference committees. The devil is in the details, of course, and we have not seen the final language of any of these proposals.

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