81 percent of the Empire Page readers who voted on last week’s poll question support all, most or some of the reforms proposed by NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice in their recent report (“Still Broken: New York State Legislative Reform 2008 Update“). Forty-three percent favor all of the suggested reforms, 19 percent support most and 19 percent agree with some of the reforms. Fewer than one in five respondents reject all of the reforms.
What did the Brennan Center report?
In its follow up to the 2004 and 2006 reports, the Brennan Center’s researchers state that “the vast majority of problems identified in our two previous reports remain endemic in both chambers”.
The major problems identified by the Brennan Center were:
- Leadership maintains a “stranglehold” on the legislative process.
- The committee system is not used as it was intended; committees rarely meet and when they do they rarely allow for an open discussion of proposed legislation.
- Bills are reported to the floor of the Senate without required information concerning fiscal impact.
- A large percentage of bills are introduced that have zero chance of ever coming to a vote.
The recommended reforms are to:
- Enable standing committees to function as intended giving rank-and-file members the ability to force hearings and votes,
- Enable rank-and-file members to bring bills to the floor for a vote,
- End the practice of jamming through legislation without proper time for members to review, debate and amended,
- End the practice of starving the minority party for resources to do their jobs, and
- Make the entire legislative process more transparent.
The Empire Page invites anyone with opinions on specific aspects of the Brennan Center analysis and proposals to subject their ideas either as comments to this column or as guest editorials contributions.