September 28, 2004
Seventeen Assembly Democrats urge changes to Assembly procedures
Seventeen rank-and-file Democrats in the state Assembly have proposed a series of reform measures they say would improve the way their house conducts its business.
The two main proponents of the package are Scott Stringer (D-Manhattan) and Sam Hoyt (D-Buffalo).
Assemblyman Stringer said he has introduced a binding resolution to change Assembly rules governing how it considers and votes on legislation. A binding resolution can be passed and implemented in the Assembly without Senate action, “thus avoiding the chamber-to-chamber finger-pointing that is often used to defend legislative inaction,” Stringer’s release said.
The resolution would:
- Give each Assembly committee the power to hire and fire
its own staff. Currently, the Assembly speaker keeps that
- Require all floor votes to be slow roll call votes, with
members’ votes counted only when members are present
in the chamber and personally indicate whether they wish
to vote “aye” or “nay.” Few votes
are currently subject to such a requirement and “empty
chair voting” is a commonplace.
- Require a public hearing upon the petition of one-quarter
of a committee’s members, unless the petition is rejected
by a majority vote of the committee’s members.
- Require a two-thirds vote of the Assembly to accept a
“message of necessity,” a parliamentary tool
that is used to force votes without giving legislators time
to read last-minute budgets and legislation.
- Make motions to discharge a viable tool to release bills
from committee gridlock.
- Make attendance at committee meetings mandatory.