Actual Senate Reform Is at Hand

ALBANY—A supermajority of state senators would be able to force any bill to a floor vote under one of the recommendations of a rules report being unveiled later this morning.

The report of the State Senate Temporary Committee on Rules Reform and Administration, a copy of which I reviewed quickly, calls for several changes to state government's committee process—some of which were outlined by The Albany Project and the Daily News this morning—including a "petition to take off the table."

There are two provisions which would make it easier for bill's sponsor to prevent legislation from staying bottled up in a legislative committee. First, any sponsor can make a petition for consideration after a bill has been introduced for 30 days, removing the power of a committee chair to bring a motion to discharge legislation.

The sponsor of any bill—same-sex marriage, for example—could move to have it voted out of committee and directly to a floor vote if a supermajority signs the petition.

Additionally, committees will be consolidated and senators will be limited in how many they can serve on. No "proxy" voting would be allowed, the report recommends.

Other recommendations include the development of a New York version of CSPAN and regional budget hearings.

The report's recommendations must be adopted by the chamber before they become law. The report was developed by a bipartisan committee, so its chances of passage are good.