Reform, and Controversy

ALBANY—Senator Eric Schneiderman said the rules reforms adopted last night are "without peer," but they won't change anything in the Capitol immediately.

Possibly the most interesting rule is the petition for consideration, under which a bill languishing in committee could be moved to the active list (and, as such, to a floor vote) if 38 of the chamber's 62 members sign a petition asking as much.

But there are two preconditions: first, the bill would have to be introduced to a committee for at least 45 days, and the petition must take place before the first Monday in June.

Essentially this means leaders cannot sit on any piece of legislation that has a comfortable majority of bipartisan support.

"Our intention is for it to open up the process," Schneiderman said. "I think this forces lobbyists to deal with individual senators instead of just dealing with the leaders to kill or move legislation."


But due to the June cutoff, none of these changes to move legislation will take effect until next year. This means they won't be able to aid proponents of things like a reauthorization of mayoral school control or same-sex marriage. Republican leader Dean Skelos earlier talked about the "spirit of reform" to stop Democrats from "holding hostage" school governance legislation.
Senators from both parties–except Kevin Parker, a Brooklyn Democrat who voted against the measure–have been praising the new rules, but reform groups are more hesitant. The Brennan Center's counsel Lawrence Norden said the measures are "significant progress" but that more needs to be done. A joint statement by the Citizens Union, NYPIRG, Common Cause and the League of Women Voters took a similar position. They said the petition for consideration should have a lower threshold–32 members–and were also upset that "the rules codify an inequitable distribution of resources between the two conferences." Reform, and Controversy