During the long reign of disgraced former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, the New York State Assembly developed a well-deserved reputation for secrecy, favoritism, and corruption. A new report offers hope that the Assembly may finally be moving in a new direction.
On March 17, 2016, the Assembly’s Workgroup on Legislative Process, Operations, and Public Participation issued a set of recommendations on potential reforms and rules changes that would enhance transparency and accountability in the Assembly. Many of the proposed reforms would be helpful, including placing more legislative information online; creating an online form for voters to use in commenting directly to their Assemblymembers about proposed legislation; making the Legislative Retrieval System’s content available on a free, public website; making committee votes, motion votes, and amendment votes available online; placing webcasts of committee meetings on the Assembly website; and making wireless internet access more readily available in the Capitol and the Legislative Office Building; improving bill memoranda; and giving rank-and-file Members of the Assembly the right to have up to five bills considered and voted upon in legislative committees each year.
While New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms does not always see eye-to-eye with the liberal Assembly Majority, and while certain recommendations made by the Workgroup needs further review and consideration, we applaud the Workgroup’s efforts. We also respectfully urge the Assembly to implement the many common-sense reforms set forth in the Workgroup’s recommendations.