Senator Adams Calls On Majority-controlled Senate To Reform Its Rules To Make Legislature More Open And Democratic

Eric Adams

January 17, 2007

Albany, NY – Newly-elected State Senator Eric Adams (D-Brooklyn) today urged the Majority-controlled Senate to deliver on their promise of reform by fundamentally changing the current rules of the Senate. His proposals include significantly increasing participation of rank-and-file members, raising ethical standards by recording each vote, providing equal resources to each member, and making it easier for senators to get their legislation voted on.

"The days of an all-powerful leader who controls every aspect of a member’s legislative agenda and suppresses minority participation and dissent must come to an end," said Senator Adams. "Last November, voters spoke loud and clear about their disgust with ‘business as usual’ in Albany, and it’s up to the Republican leadership to heed our call and open up the process. The time for fundamental governmental reform is now."

"Each of the 62 members in this body should be treated equally," said Senator Adams. "That means equal resources for each and every member. Currently, the Leader gets to determine staff for each member at his own whim, withhold critical legislation from being voted on, and punish any senator who disagrees with his leadership. This is blatantly unfair, and an insult to our constituents who elected us to be their voice in Albany. Indeed, it is a repudiation of the democratic process itself."

Senator Adams said his proposals include: recording every vote a senator takes on resolutions and motions to petition; providing each lawmaker with the same number of staff and resources similar to the United States Congress; providing full disclosure of member items including the sponsor’s name, the recipient and amount of funding; prohibiting member items to private for-profit organizations; banning gifts to members except nominal gifts; and changing the rules to make it easier for all members to get a bill on the floor for a vote by the full Senate.

Senator Adams said that the Senate Democrats’ proposals have the full support of the Brennan Center for Justice, the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, the New York Public Interest Research Group and Citizens’ Union, who together released a letter calling on all senators to vote for these reforms.

"I was elected by my constituents in large part to help transform the legislative process, and to put in place lasting reforms that benefit all New Yorkers," said Senator Adams. "We have an historic opportunity to really change the culture, the attitude and the way business is conducted here in Albany. We must bring more transparency and accountability to the Senate."

"I intend to continue pressing for these meaningful legislative reforms despite the roadblocks put in place by Senate Republicans. The people of New York deserve nothing less," Senator Adams concluded.