By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A Bay Ridge lawmaker wants to slow down the wheels of government, at least when it comes to important pieces of legislation.
Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-C-Bay Ridge-Staten Island) is throwing her support behind an effort to get rid of a loophole in state law that allows a governor to push through legislation in a hurry, bypassing a rule requiring the state legislature to consider a bill for at least three days before voting on it.
Because of the loophole, the governor can issue a “message of necessity” to the legislature to force lawmakers to take up a bill in a hurry. Under the state’s constitution, there is supposed to be at least three days of debate and discussion on a bill before a vote is taken. But the constitution also allows for bills to be voted on in an emergency.
The “message of necessity” provision has been used frequently in the past few years, Malliotakis said.
“It happens all the time,” Malliotakis told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. The state legislature voted on the new gun control bill, as well as bills on the state’s pension system, DNA data banks, and teacher evaluations all under the “measure of necessity” provision.
“Now, I voted for all of those pieces of legislation, but I still think they needed debate and discussion,” she said.
Malliotakis is supporting a bill that would prevent the “measure of necessity” provision from being used unless it is a state emergency.
The new bill, called the New York State Government Transparency Act, would also stop the clock in Albany, preventing bills from being debated and voted on between the hours of midnight and 8 a.m.
One bill, for example, was given to legislators at 9 p.m. one night “and we were voting on it the next morning,” Malliotakis said. “There have been debates on important pieces of legislation that have taken place at 3 o’clock in the morning. We shouldn’t be doing it this way. This is important legislation. We’re not just renaming bridges here,” she said.
Items like pension reform “will affect New Yorkers for years to come,” Malliotakis said.
Rushing through bills can also lead to mistakes, Malliotakis contended. “The NY SAFE Act has a mistake. Law enforcement is not the exempt from the new law. Now we have to go back and to amend the legislation,” she said.
Malliotakis joined several of her assembly colleagues at a recent press conference to push for passage of the New York State Government Transparency Act.
Assemblyman Joe Borelli (R-C-Staten Island) said the legislature needs to be more deliberate when considering important legislation. “The governor is certainly not the first executive to take advantage of the ‘message of necessity’ rule,” Borelli said. “The rule exists for good reason, but there have been instances when a more thorough debate on bills would have been beneficial. I think the public deserves ample time to review legislation, just like legislators need, and I hope the governor will consider this,” he said.
Capitol Tonight reported that Cuomo’s office contended that the governor used the “measure of necessity” rule to get his gun control bill passed because he believed it was a public safety emergency.