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.