Senate Back In Action
July 9th, 2009

Republicans have been reassured that the Democrats intend to pass major rules reforms by next week and session has begun again. The real issue here seems to be member items and allotment of resources.

A number of bills were passed before Sen. Malcolm Smith paused to note that the clock had passed midnight and then read a statement prepared by both Democratic and Republican leaders about their commitment to rules reform.

Sen. Dean Skelos spoke after Smith and said he took Smith at his word that major rules reforms would be voted on when the Senate returns next week. Senators then voted to continue working into Friday.

Here is Smith’s full statement:
We as leaders of our respective conferences have agreed on a framework for historic rules reforms that will help us move forward to improve the operation of the state Senate.

The reforms encompass many of the recommendations of the Senate Temporary Committee on Rules Reform, as reported on April 21st as well as reforms advanced on June 8th which we believe will create a more open, bipartisan and member-driven body.

These reforms are long overdue. They give each individual Senator the means to effectively represent their constituents and assure each Senator will be treated fairly and with respect so they can do their jobs to the best of their ability.

The rules will empower the membership and enable all 62 members a greater opportunity to get their bills moved out of committees and onto the floor for a vote.

There will be greater public notification of bills on committee agendas and greater notice on active lists for bills scheduled for a floor vote. Committee votes will be posted on the Internet and there will be new CSPAN style government programming to give citizens a greater window into the legislative process.

We have agreed that the Senate administration will be fair and nonpartisan, including access to services such as printing, mailings and provide for equitable allocation for staff.

We hope to conference these reforms and act on them as soon as next week. By enacting these reforms we hope to make the Senate a more effective body to better serve the people of this state.

By on July 9, 2009, 11:11 pm
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