Temporary Committee Lineup Bodes Well for Reform in Albany

Last week, the New York State Senate passed modest rules changes and formed the bipartisan Temporary Committee....

January 20, 2009

Last week, the New York State Senate passed modest rules changes and formed the bipartisan Temporary Committee on Rules and Administration Reform with the promise of recommending broader rules reform later in the session.

The changes passed last Monday—including making it easier to discharge bills out of committee, allowing members of either party to sponsor legislation, and increasing transparency—are all steps in the right direction, but the big news is the appointment of reform-minded legislators to the Temporary Committee that will make further recommendations for changing the rules of the Senate.

As our colleague Andrew Stengel wrote on the Brennan Center's ReformNY blog last week, the announcement of the co-chairs gave us initial hope for the committee:

The bi-partisan co-chairs of the
Committee (one each from the majority and minority) are a first good sign:
Senators David Valesky and John Bonacic. Senator
Valeksy ran as a reformer in 2004 after the Brennan Center's original Rules
Report
and Senator
Bonacic is known to have an independent streak
.

The Senate leadership did not disappoint in appointing the
rest of the committee's members. Here's the complete lineup:

  • Co-Chair: Sen. David J.
    Valesky (D-Oneida)
  • Co-Chair: Sen. John Bonacic
    (R-Mt. Hope)
  • Sen. Liz Krueger
    (D-Manhattan)
  • Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx)
  • Sen. Jose M. Serrano
    (D-Bronx/Manhattan)
  • Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins
    (D-Yonkers)
  • Sen. Daniel Squadron
    (D-Brooklyn/Manhattan)
  • Sen. George Winner (R-Elmira)
  • Sen. Joseph Griffo (R-Rome)

Senators
Krueger and Squadron in particular are outspoken proponents of comprehensive rules reform and have expressed support for the Brennan Center's reform
agenda
.

This
bodes well for broader reform in the coming year, and we'll be watching the
Temporary Committee closely to see if our hopes bear out. The committee is set
to report their findings by mid-April.