Senate Democrats Push For Reform
By Bill Lambdin
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."
Democrats today put forward a total of 22 reform points. Among them, equal staff, resources and member item allocations for everyone. In the past the party in power greatly out-grabbed the minority although that had been getting more equal in recent years.
The rule changes would also make it easier to get legislation on the floor for a vote and reconcile differences when the Senate and Assembly passed different versions.
"We are proud of the progress we made," said Senator Liz Krueger (D - Manhattan). "We want to make sure we don't go backwards and so we're urging everyone to pay very, very careful attention to what we do here in the next couple of weeks around rules reform."
Republican senators had advocated some of the reforms the Democrats are now embracing when control of the Senator was reversed in 2009 and 2010.
Republicans have been considering rules changes but have not announced or taken action so far this legislative session.