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Location: Connecticut, United States

I'm a Conservative Troglodyte who puts more emphasis on common sense rather than political parties.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2004

A True Bi-Partisan Act...

One of the most Conservative legislators and one of the most Liberal legislators in the New York State Legislature fired a warning shot across the bows of the established leadership within the two Chambers today.

Upset with the system giving some lawmakers two to three times the budget and staff of others, the inability to bring Bills to the floor unless blessed by the "permanent political fixtures," and a recent report by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University's School of Law showing New York's legislative process excludes rank-and-file lawmakers and the public from the process, putting too much power in the hands of legislative leaders; Republican Thomas J. Kirwan of Newburg and Democrat Liz Krueger of Manhattan threatened to file suit over the issues.

Essentially, they've given the 'powers that be' until January 18th to take their warning seriously. If they are ignored, the Writ of Summons will be filed bringing even more embarrassment to the "most dysfunctional Legislature" in America. Considering that New York State has a string of 20 consecutive years without approving a budget on time, perhaps this is a valid effort.

The courtesy copy of the suit focuses on the following:

Press & Sun-Bulletin

 Give rank-and-file members more power to bring a bill to the floor for a vote -- currently, house leaders control the flow of legislation. Minority legislators (Republicans in the Assembly, Democrats in the Senate) in practice can get only parochial bills passed, such as extending a local sales tax.

 End a governor's ability to allow immediate votes by waiving the three-day waiting period between when a bill is printed and when it is voted on. Especially with the state budget, the recent practice has been for the governor to waive the waiting period, though most lawmakers haven't had time to read through the bills.

 Force lawmakers to be present to cast votes. Currently, lawmakers can swipe an ID card when they arrive at the chamber and be recorded as voting "yes" on every measure regardless of whether they are actually there.

Circumventing seniority in this fashion is worth a glance. While term limits will, likely, never materialize, the equal representation lawsuit threat just may provide more authority to newly elected lawmakers. Should this be taken seriously in NY...the next question would be whether someone has the ambition to do the same in Washington DC. Don't be surprised if some innovative partisan hack sees this as a path to challenge the Republican majority in both Houses of Congress.

The challenge to the State houses over 'seniority blocking' and actual application of 'majority blocking' are really apples and oranges. Just, don't be surprised if the DNC doesn't see it that way.

More information right here…

New York legislators sue for fair treatment
(Power, resources for minority party at issue)
Press & Sun-Bulletin
Albany Bureau

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