The latest push for reform in Albany dates back to 2004 when the Brennan Center released a report deeming New York’s legislature the most dysfunctional in the nation. Since then, there have been countless calls for change – from ethics reform, to redistricting reform, to campaign finance reform. Friday, Democratic State Senator Liz Krueger weighed in, calling for the elimination of stipends known as lulus, bonuses state lawmakers get for chairing committees and leadership posts.
Guy J. Velella, a former state senator from the Bronx who died last week, was bidden farewell at a funeral service on Monday. His legacy, however, lives on. Among other things, Mr. Velella will be remembered for having turned a career of public service into one of public shame by taking bribes and going to jail for his corruption.
He will also be remembered as someone who pocketed public money even after pleading guilty in 2004. Every year, his conscience unburdened, Mr. Velella collected a state pension of more than $75,000. “The law says I’ve earned it,” he told The Daily News a few months ago. “I’m entitled to it. I take it.”
(Albany, NY)- Today Senator Serrano (D-Manhattan/Bronx) expressed his disappointment at the defeat of an Amendment, of which he is the sponsor, that would provide equal allocations to each member of the New York State Senate. These allocations include staff, printed materials, postage, and travel costs.
The amendment has been previously presented by the Republican Conference, and was based on the Minority Report to the Temporary Committee on Rules Reform, which was authored by three Republican Senators. Today the Democratic Conference presented three amendments to Senate Rules, further building on their commitment to enacting significant rules reform within the New York State Senate.
Today, New York State Senator Adriano Espaillat (D – 31st District) issued a request to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, asking him to offer an official opinion on the Senate Republicans’ attempt to strip the lieutenant governor of a his role as the tie-breaking vote in the Senate.
Sen. Espaillat cited the state constitution (Article IV, Section 6), which clearly delineates the lieutenant governor’s role. Sen. Espaillat’s action comes in response to the Senate Republicans’ attempt last week to ram through a bill that Sen. Espaillat believes is unconstitutional.
Over the past few years, the Senate Democrats became the unwilling poster child for Albany dysfunction – a reputation cemented during the June 2009 coup that shut down state government for an entire month.
When Republicans ousted the Democrats from power last fall, there was an expectation that things in the chamber might return to whatever passes for normal in Albany. After all, the GOP had a lot of experience being in the majority – more than four decades, to be exact – and arguably should at least be able to keep things under control.
ALBANY - Apart from party affiliation, there may be no more decisive factor in determining how the legislature works than its rules.
Those rules have been softened in the last couple of years, removing some of the absolute power formerly wielded by the Senate Majority Leader, but there is much more Democrats would like to see put into effect.
"Better rules in the legislature will make us more able to solve the problems that we have in the state," said Senator Daniel Squadron (D - Brooklyn/Manhattan). "Getting better rules immediately means that we can immediately start facing the terrible challenges that the state faces."
(Albany, NY) Building on their commitment to immediately adopt Mayor Koch’s reform pledge for independent redistricting, ethics and budget reform, Senator Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) Senate Democrats called on all 62 members to join them in immediately passing a sweeping rules reform resolution that would protect historic reforms passed in the Senate in 2009, and take additional proposals from both Republicans and Democrats to create a more fair, deliberative, and accountable Senate.