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Friday, January 9, 2009

Proud to be a Democrat--once again

For decades the Republican majority in the NYS Senate pushed Democrats around pretty badly. Of course, they regularly complained but nothing happened. Liz Benjamin reported that the Dems now in charge intend to be a lot more lenient.

Sen. Liz Krueger, who, back in her minority member days, joined an Assembly Republican in suing then-Gov. George Pataki and legislative leaders in (an evenutally unsuccessful) attempt to make the Legislature more equitable, today issued a press release praising the new Democratic majority for proposing "historic rules reforms."

"These rules reforms represent a historic shift in the way the State Senate will function under Democratic leadership," Krueger said. "For decades New Yorkers have been clamoring for an end to business as usual in Albany and I am proud that after years of my arguing for these changes, we are finally on the path to a fairer and more transparent government that truly serves the people's interests."

The changes that will be adopted by the Senate next week include:

- Ending the use of "canvass of agreement" where individual votes of members are not recorded for motions to discharge bills from committee and amendments to bills.

- Allowing debate for motions to discharge and allowing them to be brought 20 days, not 60 days, after a request for their release from committee has been made.

- Allowing open sponsorship of bills, which means any senator - minority or majority - can co-sponsor legislation without the prime sponsor's permission.

- Requiring any bill that imposes criminal or civil penalties to pass through the Codes Committee.

Krueger called these changes a "first step" and said she expects the Senate will build on them as the year progresses.

These rules will expire at the end of 2009. A new committee on Rules and Administration, with four majority members, two minority members and a chair to be appointed by Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, will be created to review the Senate's rules and procedures, hold public hearings and report its findings within