Demands End of Practice of Pulling Bills Off the Senate Floor Before Roll Call Is Complete
Albany, NY– New Roosevelt Initiative Chairman Bill Samuels today called for an end to the practice of laying bills aside before a roll call is complete or even after a roll call is finished, citing yesterday’s Senate vote on requiring the Microstamping of guns. Samuels argued that such votes should be on the record and permanently available to the voters so they can know where their legislators stand on critical issues.
“The State Senate has made important strides in improving transparency and opening up the legislative process but yesterday’s vote demonstrates that there is still more progress to be made,” explained Samuels. “On an issue as important as this, once a roll call is complete it should not be permissible for a bill to be laid aside. Instead, the roll call should be tallied and recorded so that all Senators are on the record as being supportive, opposed or absent.”
The bill in question, Senate Bill 6005A, (http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S6005A), would have required gun manufacturers to design semi-automatic handguns so that they would put uniquely identifiable “microstamps” on all bullets fired from that gun, allowing law enforcement to identify the gun if it were used in a crime.
The legislation was reported out of the Codes committee earlier this month and brought to the floor of the Senate yesterday, but when the bill did not receive enough votes to pass, it was laid aside and the roll call effectively canceled.
“On this bill, advocates and voters on both sides feel very strongly about this issue and should be able to vote for a Senator who shares their views, but they can’t do that unless the vote is recorded” continued Samuels. “When the Same-Sex marriage vote came up last year, while I was disappointed in the outcome, I appreciated the fact that I could watch the debate and know where legislators stood on the issue. That information should be available to all voters on all issues that are passed or defeated.”
Samuels singled out for criticism Republican Senator Marty Golden, who left the chamber to avoid being recorded as supporting or opposing the bill.
“If you’re not willing to tell the voters where you stand on important issues, you don’t deserve to be in the legislature” Samuels stated. “Senator Golden may think he’s being cute by ducking a vote and going AWOL, but there’s nothing cute or honorable about an elected official hiding from his or her constituents.”
“In the future, I urge the Senate’s Democratic Leadership to allow bills like this to come to the floor, be debated and have a full roll call recorded whether a bill is going to be passed or defeated,” Samuels concluded. “It is fundamental to a functioning representative democracy that elected officials are answerable to the voters for what they do in office.”
For transparency’s sake, here is the video of the senators who voted on the bill http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Z786omzM1k#t=128m25s. The roll call on the Microstamping bill begins at 2 hours, 8 minutes and 25 second into the State Senate session.
|For Immediate Release:
June 16, 2010
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