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Citizens Convene for Reform NYS Lobby Day

May 3, 2005

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Contact Information:
Dick Dadey, 917 709–2896
Rachel Leon, 917 847–3625
Barbara Bartoletti, 518 469–8905
Blair Horner, 518 441–3607
Jeremy Creelan, 917 693–9620
Natalia Kennedy, 718 930–7624

Citizens Convene for Reform NYS Lobby Day
Civics Kick Off Count Down to Reform Effort; 25 Working Days Until End Of Session

New York, NY—Citizens and advocacy organizations from across the State gathered in Albany today for the Reform NYS lobby day to educate lawmakers on reform measures that would make New York State government more accountable, more ethical, more effective, and more transparent for its citizens. The day included addresses by State Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Assembly Minority Leader Charles H. Nesbitt, and Senate Minority Leader David Paterson, a Sweep Albany Clean media event outside the State Capitol, and lobby visits with legislators.

The groups introduced and advocated for ten important reform measures:

Redistricting. Support the creation of an independent redistricting commission.

Campaign Finance. The Senate should go to conference committee with the Assembly to produce final legislation to reform New York States abysmal campaign finance laws.

Public Authorities. Both houses should act on public authorities reform and go to a conference committee, if necessary.

Elections. Currently the legislature is debating implementation of HAVA. We are concerned that the final agreement will create obstacles to registration and voting. The Senate and Assembly should reach final agreement through a conference committee that protects New Yorks voters.

Freedom of Information. The Freedom of Information Law should be strengthened by requiring FOIL-able documents to be available on the Internet and closing unjustified loopholes.

Ethics. The Governor and Legislature should agree to restrict gifts from lobbyists, create an independent ethics commission, and plug loopholes in the law.

Budget. Now that the budget has been completed on time, it is important to take steps to ensure greater transparency and accountability in budgeting. A central component of reform must be creation of an Independent Budget Office (IBO).

Legislative reform. While both houses took steps to reform their internal rules, much more needs to be done to strengthen the power of rank-and-file members and committees, and to facilitate the passage of legislation. In addition, New York State should create a New York State C-SPAN in order to give the public easy access to legislative proceedings.

Lobbying. The Senate should agree with the Assembly to enact meaningful reforms. Both houses have proposed legislation that are similar and could be acted upon quickly.

Constitutional Convention. The selection process for constitutional convention delegates should be reformed to ensure that the voters would be fully represented at such a convention.

Sponsoring organizations include: Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Citizens Budget Commission, Citizens Union of the City of New York, Common Cause/NY, League of Women Voters of New York State, New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) and Womens City Club of New York City.