Of course, the legislature still isn't finished with the serious work it must get done THIS year.
But for advocates and Senators, it may be time to start thinking a little bit about next year, and here's why: the impact of the Senate's new rules could make a huge difference in the operations of the Senate and what gets considered.
There are several new ways to get hearings on bills, to force members to publicly take positions, and to force bills to the floor for debate and a vote. As my colleague Laura Seago has written, proponents of the gay marriage bill might want to use the new rules if they can't get leadership's cooperation. But there are a host of other groups that may want to use the new rules to get their issues on the floor of the senate -- tenants rights groups, property tax reform groups and environmental groups, to name a few.
We've posted a "road map" of the new rules and how they can be used here. It was drafted with Maria Cilenti , Director of Legislative Affairs of the New York City Bar. We hope that advocates (and Senators) will use it. The new rules will only make the legislature more transparent and accountable if rank-and-file members take advantage of them.