Thursday, July 12, 2007

Curb Leaders' Power to Kill Legislation

Streetsblog reminded us this morning of a fundamental problem with the rules of the state Legislature. They quote Chad Marlow of the Public Advocacy Group:
In almost every other legislature in the country, when a bill is proposed, only the original sponsor of the legislation has the ability to pull that bill and prevent it from coming to a vote. In Albany, the original sponsor can pull his or her bill but so can the Assembly Speaker and the Senate Majority leader. So, regardless of how many of a legislator's colleagues support the bill, if the leader doesn't support the legislator, it will never come to a vote. This gives the Silver and Bruno "veto plus" powers. When the governor vetos a bill there's an opportunity for the legislature to override the veto. But when the Leader pulls your bill, that's it. It's done. That's why Albany legislators are, essentially, forced to fall in line with Silver and Bruno. If they don't, they may never get to pass another piece of legislation.
Isn't it time for real legislative rules reform? New Yorkers deserve a Legislature where their representatives, regardless of their popularity with party leaders, are able to sponsor legislation, have it seriously considered in committee, and if enough committee members approve, have the legislation automatically given a vote on the floor of the chamber.

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