Assemblyman says Majority Rules Reform features a “Sudden Death” provision for reform bills; fails to disperse power among rank and file members to stop corruption in Legislature
Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R,C,I-Glenville) today said the Assembly Majority’s new rules reforms that are expected to be voted on today really just tinkers around the margins with promises of a new website but do little in the way of promoting genuine reform to empower rank and file members.
“When you open the curtains and don’t raise the shades, all you have is lots of window dressing but you still haven’t let the sun shine in,” said Tedisco. “We have a shiny new website that doesn’t shed any light into how discretionary funds are spent or who controls those funds nor does it illuminate a new path to changing the power dynamics in the chamber that has led to the abuse of power. Investigative reporter Bob Woodward has said that the worst thing we have to fear as Americans is secret government because in darkness, democracy dies. Secret government continues to thrive in the New York State Assembly Chamber.”
Tedisco said that the Majority’s rules changes include a “Sudden Death” measure whereby members could bring five of their bills up in Committee in the first year of the legislative term. However, given the reality that the Speaker still controls which bills come to the Floor for a debate and vote, all this provision does is quicken the kill calendar for many bills sponsored by Majority and Minority members.
“What we have is the Majority tinkering around the margins and trying to pass it off as a big deal when what is really needed is a revolutionary step forward given the recent history and atmosphere in the legislature with the convictions of dozens of lawmakers including the last Assembly Speaker and Senate Majority Leader,” said Tedisco.
Tedisco noted that the Majority’s plan does not include any of the most important ingredients for reforming Albany and diminishing the power of legislative leaders to game the system and rule with an iron fist. These include: pension forfeiture for convicted felon elected officials who betray their oath of office, term limits for leaders, truth in spending to bring sunlight to state spending in the shadows to end quid pro-quos, equal staffing and resources for members, and giving rank and file members the ability to bring legislation to the Floor for an up or down vote if there are 76 sponsors for a bill – regardless of party affiliation.
“Where is 75 Democrats and 1 Republican or an overwhelming 130 out of 150 members as sponsors of a bill NOT a majority (as was the case with ‘Jenna’s Law’)? The answer is in the ‘World of the New York State Assembly’ where the unbridled power of the leaders remains unchallenged and untouched by the so-called reforms to be passed today,” said Tedisco.