His proposal is the centerpiece of a larger package designed to strengthen the Legislature’s role as a deliberative body by bolstering its oversight and transparency.
(MINEOLA, N.Y.) - Minority Leader Kevan M. Abrahams (D - Freeport) and members of the Minority Caucus are supporting a series of reforms that would strengthen the legislative process by ensuring all legislative items are publicly debated and receive an up-or-down vote.
Filed on Monday, Jan. 6, the proposed changes to the Legislature’s Rules and Procedures include a mandate directing the Legislature’s Presiding Officer to assign all items to committees no later than 14 days after they are filed. A public hearing would then be held during the Legislature’s next regularly scheduled meeting of its committees. Upon completion of the hearing, a vote would be held for each item.
These rule changes would remove the Presiding Officer’s ability to bury legislation by failing to place items on committee and legislative calendars.
“It should not be possible to defeat a piece of legislation through deliberate inaction,” Minority Leader Abrahams said. “By ensuring every proposal is debated publicly and receives an up-or-down vote, we will strengthen the Legislature’s functioning as a truly deliberative body, better serve residents by engaging in the most pressing issues facing our County, and empower taxpayers to hold us accountable for our votes and our actions.”
Additional rule changes proposed by the Minority would further strengthen Legislative oversight by:
-Prohibiting the last-minute addition of items to committee agendas without the consent of 13 legislators;
-Empowering the Minority Leader or a simple majority of the full Legislature to convene public hearings; and
-Requiring all contracts to be approved by the Rules, Finance and other germane committees. Currently, most contracts are only required to be approved by the Legislature’s Rules committee.
To further improve transparency and increase public participation in local government, the Minority rule changes would also mandate:
-The creation of an online Legislative tracking database
-Scheduling at least four 7 p.m. meetings of the full County Legislature per year; and
-Holding at least one 7 p.m. budget hearing.