Senate Democratic Floor Leader Thomas K. Duane Urges GOP-Controlled Senate to Reform its Rules to Make Legislature More Open and Democratic

Click here to read the Brennan for Justice's coverage of the Senate Rules fight

ALBANY, January 16, 2007

State Senator Thomas K. Duane (D-WFP- Manhattan) today urged the Republican-controlled Senate to deliver on their promise of reform by changing the Senate rules to increase participation of rank-and-file members; and to raise ethical standards by recording each vote, providing equal resources to each Senator and making it easier for Senators to get their legislation voted on.

gThe days of a powerful centralized leader who controls every aspect of a memberfs legislative agenda and suppresses minority participation and dissent are over,h said Senator Duane. gLast November voters drew a line in the sand demanding New York reform its corrupt and undemocratic ways. Now itfs up to the Republican leadership to heed that call and open up the process.h

gWhat I have always argued is that each of the 62 Senators in this body roughly serves the same number of New Yorkers and should be treated equally,h said Senator Duane. gThe fact that the Senate Majority Leader gets to parse out staff inequitably, withhold legislation from being voted on, and punish any member who disagrees with his leadership is not only an insult to each member and the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who voted for that member, but is a repudiation of the democratic process itself.h

Senator Duane said his proposals include: recording every vote a Senator takes on resolutions and motions to petition; providing each lawmaker with the same number of staff and resources similar to the United States Congress; providing full disclosure of member items including the sponsorfs name, the recipient and amount of funding; prohibiting member items to private for-profit organizations; banning gifts to members except nominal gifts; and changing the rules to make it easier for all members to get a bill on the floor for a vote by the full Senate. Senator Duane said that the Senate Democratsf proposals have the full support of the Brennan Center for Justice, the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, the New York Public Interest Research Group and Citizensf Union, who together released a letter calling on all Senators to vote for these reforms.

gWhile I applaud the budget reforms that Governor Spitzer today proposed and will continue to partner will him to open up the budget process, I urge Senate Republicans to adopt these proposed rules changes to bring more transparency and accountability to the Senate,h said Senator Duane.

gWe have tried to negotiate in good faith with the Republican Majority. We have gone on record stating that we will institute each and every one of these recommendations when we become the majority party in the Senate. We have the backing of every major good government group in the state. Whatfs more, we have a mandate from voters who elected Governor Spitzer and our Democratic conference on a reform platform. And still Senate Republicans have dug in themselves in a hole and refused to listen,h said Senator Duane.

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