Reforming Senate Rules
February 27th, 2009
Critics of New York’s state government have not shied away from calling the legislature dysfunctional. To change that opinion, members of the State Senate are now taking advice from their critics on how to make the government more effective.
It’s not as if any of the good government advocates pointed their fingers directly at the state senators of the Temporary Committee on Rules Reform. But at the third of four public hearings on rules changes last night, advocates lamented the operation of the State Senate as a whole and offered recommendations on how to better serve the public by reforming their rules.
Eric Lane, senior fellow at the Brennan Center, suggested the senate more equitably allocate funds among senators and their committees. Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith has said each senator will receive a base budget of at least $350,000, more than what some Democrats received when they were in the minority and less than what some Republicans received as the former majority. Enough money for each senator means a better chance of addressing constituent needs and potential legislation.
Republican committee member Joseph Griffo said he supports equal resources. To “invigorate” the senate and better serve the public, he had a recommendation of his own on senate leadership rules: “I’d put term limits on him,” he said, referring to Majority Leader Malcolm Smith. Leaders, Griffo said, have too much power over members and changing leaders more frequently could improve the legislative process.
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