Senate Passes "Questions Hour" Bill Requiring Monthly Public Forums Between The Governor And The Legislature

 

The State Senate has passed legislation (S7938/Krueger; A11207/Kellner) which will increase dialogue and debate between the Executive and Legislative branches of government, while also opening the door to the public on the strategic direction, financial status, and general governance of the State by establishing a “Governor’s Questions Hour” in the British tradition of “Prime Minister’s Questions.”
 
For at least one hour each month, the Governor will stand before each house of the Legislature for a televised discussion on important topics, including disagreements and negotiations over the direction of State Government. As required by the bill, the Governor will stand before the Assembly and the Senate on alternating months during the legislative session, responding to inquiries from Republicans and Democrats alike. Majority and Minority conferences are ensured fairness in terms of time allotment based on membership; the bill specifies that the percentage of time allotted for questions from members of the majority and minority parties will be based on the percentage of representation of each party.
 
Through this system no topic will be left off the table. By pushing political debates out into the open, it will create a remedy to backroom dealings and bickering which have tarnished New York’s legislative process and sidelined rank-and-file members.
 
Senator Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan), lead sponsor of this legislation said, “New Yorkers are sick of being left in the dark while a select group of people hide behind closed doors to have important discussions and debates. The British have been holding open and regular Questions to the Prime Minister since 1961 and I am always amazed by how much is revealed about their government during this back and forth exchange.  The citizens of New York have made it clear that change is needed in Albany and we owe it to them to open-up this dialogue and allow direct insight into how the government is run and what is discussed between the Legislature and the Governor.”
 
Senate Majority Conference Leader John L. Sampson said, “Everyone benefits from an openly deliberative body. As elected officials, we have an obligation to make sound decisions on behalf of all New Yorkers – this legislation empowers every legislator to engage in a public dialogue about the issues which matter most. I congratulate Senator Krueger not only on passing this bill, but her unrelenting dedication to transforming how Albany operates.”
 
This bill passed 49-12. To learn more visit http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S7938.