State Legislature Passed Third Fewest Bills Since 1915

12:58 PM, Jun 28, 2013   |    comments
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By Joseph Spector
Albany Bureau Chief

ALBANY The state Legislature passed 649 bills during the six-month session that ended last week -- the third fewest since 1915, a review Friday found.

WEB EXTRAView the report here:  (http://bit.ly/152TFql)

The bi-partisan control of the state Senate and an increased reliance on the state budget to deal with policy changes has fueled a drop in bills passed over the century, a report from the New York Public Interest Group found. In 2012, the Legislature passed the fewest bills since 1915: 571.

The decline in the passage of bills isn't necessarily a bad thing, some Albany critics have said. The Legislature has been knocked over the years for increasing spending and taxes, as well as regulations.

"It seems that a smaller quantity of two-house bills is a new reality in New York," the report said. "They seem to be rooted in both structural changes in the legislative process and in changes in the productivity and total output of legislation (for better or worse)."

The report also looked at which lawmakers voted most with their legislative leaders, and which of them had the most bills introduced and passed.

Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, Putnam County, was viewed as the most "independent senator" because his voting record differed the most from the three Senate leaders, the report said.

Ball, a second-term senator and former assemblyman, voted with Senate leadership about 84 percent of the time - the lowest among the 63 senators.

"I think most people in Albany know my tendency to break ranks and shake things up," Ball said in a statement. "I've chilled a little since my days in the Assembly and am proud to be part of a great majority with stellar members, but I still break ranks when I feel it's important."

Sen. David Carlucci, D-Clarkstown, Rockland County, passed the second most bills in the Assembly and Senate, a total of 31 during the six-month session. Carlucci is part of the four-member Independent Democratic Conference, which shares power with the 31-member Senate Republican conference.

Sen. Martin Golden, R-Brooklyn, passed the most bills, a total of 41. Sen. John Bonacic, R-Mount Hope, Orange County, passed the third most: 30.

Assemblyman Bill Nojay, R-Pittsford, Monroe County, had the most "no" votes in the Assembly, a total of 329 "no" votes. Assemblyman Christopher Friend, R-Big Flats, Chemung County, voted "no" 324 times, the second most.

Nojay said he's proud of the distinction. Democrats hold 107 of the 150 seats in the Assembly.

"New York state spends too much money on too many things that are of no benefit to taxpayers," said Nojay, who is in his first term.
Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor, R-Fishkill, Dutchess County, said fewer bills being passed in the Legislature is a good thing.

He voted "no" the fourth most of any Assembly member. He would have had more: He missed the final Tuesday of session when hundreds of bills are passed because of a family illness, he said.

"We're trying to fend off bad bills," he said.

Sen. Simcha Felder, a Democrat from Brooklyn who sits with the Republicans, said only one word on the Senate floor through June 18, the most recent transcripts available showed, the report said.
Felder said, "Here," on the first day of session, Jan. 9.

Sen. Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan, who heads the Finance Committee for the Democratic minority, spoke the most: more than 40,000 words. Sen. Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton, the GOP's floor leader, spoke the most among Senate Republicans: 26,406 words.

As the GOP's deputy leader, Libous also had another distinction, the report found. His remarks sparked laughter the most in the Senate through June 18, a total of 38 times.

Overall, the chamber broke down in laughter 170 times between the beginning of session and June 18.

Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, D-Yonkers, introduced 259 bills, the third most in the Legislature, yet only 17 of them passed both houses. Sen. Kevin Parker, D-Brooklyn, introduced the most bills: 406, yet just five passed both houses, the report said.

Assemblyman William Boyland, D-Brooklyn, who is facing a variety of corruption charges, missed the most votes: 809.

Boyland was among 17 legislators, mainly Assembly members, who had no bills passed during the session. Others included indicted New York City Sens. Malcolm Smith and John Sampson.

Assemblyman Bill Reilich, R-Greece, Monroe County, also had no bills passed, the report said.

Thirteen legislators introduced fewer than 10 bills, including many freshman lawmakers. Assembly members Didi Barrett, D-Poughkeepsie, and Friend each introduced six bills. Friend had two pass both houses; Barrett had one.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has faced criticism for introducing a message of necessity on some critical pieces of legislation, a move that allows the Legislature to bypass a three-day waiting period to vote on a bill.

Cuomo used a message to pass a controversial gun-control law in January.

The report found Cuomo has used the tactic far fewer than his predecessors. Only two other bills - technical corrections to exiting legislation - passed during the session with a message of necessity.

Since Cuomo took office in 2011, the Legislature has passed an average of 12.3 bills per year have passed either house with a message. That's compared to an average of 41 a year during the Spitzer and Paterson administrations from 2007 through 2010 and 89 per year during the 12-year Pataki administration from 1995 through 2006.

Both houses passed much of their legislation during the last week of the session.

The Democratic-led Assembly passed nearly half of its bills in last week of regular session, which ended June 21. The Senate passed one third of its bills during the final week.

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