Stengel: This Could Be the Year for Senate Reform

andrewstengel Stengel: This Could Be the Year for Senate ReformALBANY—Will 2009 be the year of reform?

A coalition of good-government advocates are making the case for "yes," and today released an update to a 2004 report by N.Y.U.'s Brennan Center which details New York's legislative dysfunction. The new report lists concrete recommendations like evening out funding given to legislators–regardless of party–and empowering the chairs of legislative committees to hire their own staff and move bills to the floor. There is also a new recommendation for more substantive notes on the fiscal impacts of bills.

"While there isn't much to cheer about looking back in either chamber, there is the promise of substantial reform from the likely new incoming Senate majority," said Andrew Stengel, the director of national election advocacy at the Brennan Center. "We hope at least one chamber will reform the rules needed to remake the legislature."

State Senator Malcolm Smith, who currently leads the Democratic conference and is working to become the chamber's majority leader, has spoken of the need to reform the Senate rules, and cited differing visions of reform (after the fact) as the reason a previous leadership deal fell apart.

"Do I like that it's a political pawn? No. But it behooves everybody to have reform," Stengel said.