Bay Ridge

Assembly’s GOP members vow to continue reform fight

Democrats vote down term limits, other changes

March 18, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis (at podium) speaks about the proposed government reforms at a recent news conference in Albany. Photo courtesy Malliotakis’s office
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Republicans in the New York State Assembly, who are outnumbered by Democrats 105-44, are also outgunned when it comes to trying to make major changes in how the legislative chamber operates.

The Democratic majority recently voted down legislation the Republicans were promoting to reform the State Legislature. The GOP bill contained 17 proposals, including term limits for assembly speaker and other top lawmakers.

“The majority voted all the reforms down, which was disappointing to the reformers,” Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis (R-C-Bay Ridge-Staten Island) told the Brooklyn Eagle in an email.

But Republicans said they’re not giving up the fight to change the way Albany does business in the post-Silver era. Assemblymember Sheldon Silver, who had served as assembly speaker for decades, resigned from his leadership post after he was indicted on federal corruption charges. He remains an assembly member.

Malliotakis said the current speaker, Assemblymember Carl Heastie (D-Bronx), appears more open to reform, despite the recent vote against the GOP bill.

“But the good news is since then, Speaker Heastie has indicated we will revisit after budget is adopted,” she told the Eagle.

Malliotakis was one of several Republicans who joined with Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R-C-Canandaigua) to push legislation aimed at shaking up Albany in the wake of the Silver scandal.

“While sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants, it’s also true that openness, accountability and transparency are the best ways to restore faith in state government,” Kolb stated at a recent press conference in Albany. “The Assembly Minority Conference has always advocated for bringing greater transparency to the state legislature. For far too long, however, there’s been a lack of transparency and an abuse of power by elected officials.”

At that same press conference, Malliotakis said that Silver’s resignation from the speakership “has removed the biggest obstacle we have had in reforming this institution.”

The changes proposed by the GOP “will bring real, meaningful reforms to the way the assembly is run and will enable all members of the legislature to better serve the 18 million residents we represent.”

The proposals outlined by Kolb and the GOP include:  term limits of eight years for assembly speaker and legislative leaders; term limits of eight years for committee chairmen; televising standing committee meetings, recording all meetings and making them available on assembly website; and allowing each assembly member to have at least one substantive piece of legislation move from committee and brought to the assembly for a vote.

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