Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Back to the Future

Yesterday's post about Speaker Silver's "secret vote" on whether to allow video and audio coverage of court proceedings in state courts got us to thinking about an decade-old proposal by Assemblywoman Sandy Galef.

As the Brennan Center has documented, more bills are introduced in the New York State Legislature than in almost any other state, but the Legislature actually votes on just a small fraction of them (in fact, a smaller fraction than in any other state).

At least, it only publicly votes on a small fraction of them. This has some benefits for legislators: they can get credit for introducing bills without getting the blame for passing or defeating them. But it doesn't serve the public particularly well.

Back in 1996, Assemblywoman Galef offered a remedy for this problem in the guise of a proposal to amend the State Constitution (A.9799). The Amendment would allow New Yorkers to do what residents of other states, such as Massachuesetts, can do -- petition the Legislature and force it to "finally act [on certain bills]... with a positive or negative vote."

Is it time to revive this proposal? Just asking . . . .

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