Shortcomings emerge in legislature study

A recent study showed that the New York State Legislature introduced more bills this year than any other state, with fewer than 9 percent becoming law.

According to an article in Rochester's Democrat & Chronicle, the New York Public Interest Research Group discovered the 212 lawmakers introduced 18,239 bills, but only 1,634 were passed by both houses.

Legislators from both sides of the aisle seem to be aware of the issue of many introduced bills as a problem.

Republican Assemblyman Joseph Errigo of Conesus, Livingston County told the Democrat & Chronicle, "The issue isn't about the number if ideas, or bills on the table." Errigo, who introduced 42 bills last year, didn't see one of them up for a vote.

"We're all elected," Errigo said. "We all want to represent our constituents in the best possible way, but, you know, it just doesn't happen."

Students have mixed feelings about the with the large number of bills in NYS Legislature.

"Legislators shouldn't have a million bills on their desks because if they do then they can't focus on the important ones," said sophomore Elizabeth Holdsworth. "If they have too many, then some might get lost."

"I don't see why a lot of bills is a problem," said sophomore Clarence Ling. "The more bills they have, the more ideas they have. Ideas are always a good thing."

The amount of legislation introduced creates a jam where so many bills are presented that legislators have difficulty keeping up with them.

According to the Democrat & Chronicle, one assemblywoman, Democrat Sandra Galef, who represents Ossining, Westchester County, tried for years to limit the amount of bills introduced per lawmaker to 100.

"You have to focus, if you can, on certain pieces of legislation," she said. "Its to hard with our staff to keep up with all of this legislation. And it also costs money when producing bills."

In the article, Republican Sen. Dale Volker of Depew, Erie County said "This is a democracy … if you state limiting them [the bills], you hurt democracy." Volker introduced more bills that passed both houses, 43 of 279, than any other legislator.

The NYPIRG study indicated that no significant agreements were reached this year in the areas of property taxes, the cost of home heating, and ethics reforms.

The amount of bills being introduced in the legislature, however, leads to a high percentage of vetoed bills. The New York State Legislature Web site lists over 170 vetoed or tabled bills on issues such as permits for fireworks and access to mental health care for children.

One danger of consolidating the number of bills, the Democrat & Chronicle stated, is that the bills themselves may become "complicated, multi-subject pieces of legislation."