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THE ASSEMBLY STATE OF NEW YORK ALBANY

COMMITTEES Banks Cities Consumer Affairs and Protection Environmental Conservation Steering

MICAH Z. KELLNER 65th Assembly District

April 26, 2010 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Paul Curtis Office - 212.860.4906

Kellner Introduces Rules Reform to Bring Assembly Activities Out Into the Light
Proposed rules change will put a spotlight on lobbyists and legislative process A rules change proposed by Assembly Member Micah Z. Kellner (D, WFP) will shine a light on the shadows in the State Assembly’s legislative process, requiring the Assembly to show all its work on the internet—including the memos lobbyists use to attempt to influence lawmakers. The new rules would require lobbyists’ memoranda in favor or against legislation to be put on the Assembly’s public website—along with a host of other information not currently made available, including recordings and transcripts of committee meetings. “Too much of the Assembly’s public business is conducted behind closed doors,” Assembly Member Kellner said. “People have a right to know who is lobbying on what and exactly what they’re saying. We need to open up the process to public scrutiny. In the internet age, freedom of information is meaningless unless people have ready access to that information—and that means putting it online.” The resolution requires that the Assembly make available on its public website all notices, agendas, and calendars for meetings, hearings, and other public events, as well as recordings of committee meetings and records of committee votes, and all formal requests by members to force a committee vote on bills. It will also require that all memoranda distributed by registered lobbyists to Assembly Members in support of or opposition to a bill be placed on the website, linked to the text of the bill itself. Materials must be put online within 24 hours of their creation or receipt. Assembly Member Kellner said, “Making laws is often compared to making sausages – it is said that it’s better not to see how it happens. But the lawmaking process is critically important to New Yorkers’ everyday lives, and the public has every right to see what is happening and to participate. My resolution will make this kind of transparency standard practice for the Assembly.”

▫ 834 Legislative Office Building, Albany, NY 12248  (518) 455-5676, FAX (518) 455-5282 ▫ 315 East 65 Street, New York, NY 10065  (212) 860-4906, FAX (917) 432-2983
E-mail: KellnerM@assembly.state.ny.us

"New York's legislative proceedings need to be more open to the public it serves," said Blair Horner, Legislative Director for the New York Public Interest Research Group. "NYPIRG applauds Assembly Member Kellner's efforts to push for greater openness and hopes that it will stimulate a robust debate over the Assembly's rules." Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY, stated, "Greater transparency in both houses will help the Legislature regain the public's trust. When people can not see how public business is conducted, they suspect the worst. The conduct of the people's business shouldn't be hidden from the people. Common Cause/NY commends Assembly Member Kellner for introducing this forward thinking piece of legislation, which seeks to take good ideas and communications tools from business and use them to modernize the Legislature's procedures.” "Citizens Union strongly supports Assembly Member Micah Kellner's rules resolution to utilize technology and the internet to provide the public with greater knowledge of the legislative process and bills pending before the Assembly," said Dick Dadey, Executive Director of Citizens Union. "By giving the public access to timely information about legislation, they are better able to weigh in with their representatives while the process is unfolding, rather than after important decisions have been made. We urge the Assembly to promptly pass this resolution." ***

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