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The New York State Legislative Process: An Evaluation and Blueprint for Reform

  • Jeremy M. Creelan
  • Laura M. Moulton
Published: July 21, 2004

New York State’s legis­lat­ive process is broken. This exec­ut­ive summary of this report docu­ments five key weak­nesses and compares New York’s process with those in other state legis­latures and in the U.S. Congress. Together, the prob­lems iden­ti­fied here deprive New York­ers of the govern­ment they deserve. Indeed, New York’s legis­lat­ive process limits legis­lat­ors’ consid­er­a­tion of legis­la­tion – whether coun­ted in hear­ings, debate, amend­ments, read­ings, confer­ence commit­tees, or even simply legis­lat­ors’ pres­ence when they vote – far more than any other legis­lature.

Neither the U.S. Congress nor any other state legis­lature so system­at­ic­ally limits the roles played by rank-and-file legis­lat­ors and members of the public in the legis­lat­ive process. Fortu­nately, many of the short­com­ings of the current system can be remedied without new legis­la­tion or consti­tu­tional amend­ments. Mere changes in the rules of the Senate and Assembly would make a signi­fic­ant differ­ence. For this reason, these reforms need not become the victim of the very legis­lat­ive dysfunc­tion they seek to repair.