ALBANY, NY – Bill Samuels, one of the founders of, Effective NY, a non-partisan organization dedicated to helping New Yorkers create a more effective State Constitution, applauded reports that Governor Cuomo has told Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos that he will not further invoke the Message of Necessity clause in the State Constitution during the legislature’s closing session.
The invoking of Message of Necessity allows the by-passing of the three day Constitutional requirement that “no bill shall be passed unless it shall be printed and upon the desks of the members at least three days prior to passage…” (Article III, Section 14).
“I am pleased to hear that Governor Cuomo has said he won’t state that a non-emergency is an emergency in order to facilitate the legislature’s non-compliance with the intent of the State Constitution. After four so-called ‘emergencies’ in one day last March 15th, it is time we let the legislators, the journalists and the voters have for at least 3 days the opportunity to debate and comments on the bills before they are passed,” Samuels said.
Last December, after issuing a Message of Necessity to pass a major rewriting of the state tax code, Governor Cuomo told the Associated Press, “Three days of debate, everyone has an opinion, it’s entirely transparent, we never reach resolution. I get 100 percent for transparency and I get zero for results.”
Samuels pointed out that, “Given the decades of misuse of the Message of Necessity by every Governor, it is unlikely that Cuomo’s action will become a binding precedent on future Governors or even on this one. I call on Cuomo to state that he will not revert to this cynical procedure and that he will support a Constitutional Amendment to ban its practice.”
In fact the historical practice has become so routine that it has even been upheld by the Court of Appeals (2005) with Chief Judge Kaye dissenting saying that the court’s decision:
“honors neither the words, nor the surprising long and substantial history of this constitutional provision.”
Samuels added that at the Constitutional Convention of 1915 it was recommended that the Message of Necessity be totally eliminated because of continuous abuse by the state’s Governors. This abuse hasn’t improved despite a 1938 Amendment that sought to limit its misuse.
Even without the Message of Necessity, the Legislature would still be empowered to act by the State Constitution in cases of real emergency as clearly laid out in Article III Section 25:
“Notwithstanding any other provision of this constitution, the legislature … in periods of emergency … disasters (natural or otherwise) … shall have the power to adopt such other measures as may be necessary … Nothing in this article shall be construed to limit in any way the power of the state to deal with emergencies arising from any cause.” (Added by vote of the people November 5, 1963.)
Forty-Six states have similar two to five day waiting periods, and many allow the legislature to shorten the period with a two-thirds or more vote which is a better method, according to Samuels.
For an in-depth examination of the Message of Necessity clause and Governor Cuomo’s recent invocations go to: