On Monday, January 12th, I joined my colleagues in the Senate in passing legislation to fundamentally change the way the Senate operates and conducts business. In our first order of business as the Majority, the Senate passed a series of rules changes that will foster discussion and productivity, and increase accountability and transparency for the public.
The key changes in the legislation include changes to increase openness and accountability by:
* Restoring the ability of Senators to use “Motions to Discharge” to attempt to force a bill out of committee.
*Permitting full debate on Motions to Discharge.
*Restoring the practice of recording votes on discharge motions and non-sponsor amendments by eliminating the canvass of agreement.
*Allowing for open bill sponsorship for any member that chooses to support a piece of legislation. In the past, minority party members could be excluded from signing onto majority sponsored bills.
*Implementing the practice of dual reference of bills in cases where legislation is affected by more than one committee. This will improve the committee process and allow committee members greater control over legislation coming to the floor.
*Increasing the use of technology, in particular the internet and other new media to increase public awareness of and access to public policy debates, the decision-making process and legislative records of the Senate.?
In addition to the reforms instituted as part of the legislation, Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith announced the formation of a Temporary Senate Committee on Rules and Administration Reform that fully usher in a new era in Albany. The bi-partisan committee will report back to the full Senate within 90 days with recommendations for further reforms.
Voters called for change in the most recent elections, and today's rules reforms are a sign of things to come. The new Majority is committed to reshaping the way that business is done in Albany, and we will continue exploring every operation and procedure of the Senate to see where reforms and improvements can be made. New Yorkers deserve a better-functioning and more transparent government, and today's actions are an important step in that direction.
To view my complete comments on the Senate floor, please see the video clip below.