Senate Passes Major Rules Reform
July 16th, 2009

It was a long and ugly labor but the Senate just gave birth to a rules reform package at a little after 3 a.m.

Basically the new rules will make it easier for rank-and file-members to move bills to a vote and more equally distribute member items and resources. Committee heads and conference leaders will now also have term limits.

Liz Benjamin has more details on exactly what the reforms entail.

Sen. Malcolm Smith compared the reform package to a new born child, saying that he expected the bill to “grow up.” Smith was joined by Minority Leader Sen. Dean Skelos and Sen. John Bonacic in stating that they expect the rules package to grow and mature with time. “This is indeed a work in process,” said Sen. Eric Schneiderman.

Senators from both sides said the bill contains elements that good government groups have demanded for ages. They also hope the bill might do something to repair their damaged reputations.

Skelos insisted the move towards the reforms began during the June 8 coup. He praised Sens. Hiram Monserrate and Pedro Espada.

Sen. Eric Adams rebuked “revisionist history” and pointed out Democratic Sens. Liz Krueger, Schneiderman and Republicans including Bonacic for their long fight to reform the Senate rules.

“I think it will make things harder but I think we will become better senators because of it,” said Krueger. “Now i think the challenge for all of us is to uphold the agreement we made tonight and the rules we put in place.” she added.

The rules state that the majority will now receive two thirds of all member items but that formula won’t start this year. This year Democratic members will get more than $76 million worth of pork, while Republicans get a little over $8 million.

Democrats have been complaining that they haven’t had a chance to bring home the bacon for their districts the way Republicans were able to during their time in the majority. Now they have that chance.

Session ended at 3:38 a.m. Democrats will hold a conference at 11 a.m., Republicans will hold theirs at 11:30 a.m. Session will begin at noon. Let’s hope today’s noon is nothing like yesterday’s 1 p.m. Session didn’t start yesterday until 8 p.m., despite the fact that it was scheduled for 1 p.m.

There is talk that mayoral control will come to a vote. Sources say that negotiations between representatives of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Democrats were going well last night.

By on July 16, 2009, 2:48 am
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