Relates to the legislative bill drafting commission.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the legislative law, in relation to the legislative bill drafting commission
PURPOSE: To ensure the highest standards of consistency, integrity and accountability at the Legislative Bill Drafting Commission (LBDC) by:
(1) Providing for a Commissioner of Accountability; (2) Requiring quarterly reporting on various metrics at the LBDC; and (3) Ensuring that all communications between requesting parties and LBDC personnel are treated as confidential and privileged communications.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: The following changes to Sections 24 and 25 of the Legislative Law are proposed:
(1) Adding a Commissioner of Accountability.
(2) Requiring that all three Commissioners be appointed on a consensus basis subject to an agreement reached by the Temporary President of the Senate, Minority Leader of the Senate, Speaker of the Assembly and Minority Leader of the Assembly.
(3) Specifying the duties of the Commissioner of Accountability, which will include quarterly reporting on metrics including the number of bill and resolution drafts and the average response time broken down into the following categories: type, subject matter, status and party membership.
(4) Ensuring that all communications between the individual(s) requesting work product-either a bill or resolution of any type-and the individual(s) drafting the requested product be treated as confidential and privileged communications.
EXISTING LAW: Provides for two Commissioners (Administration & Operations), none of which is specifically charged with strict "Accountability" duties; provides that the Commissioners be selected jointly by the Temporary President of the Senate and the Speaker of the Assembly; No reporting is mandated by current law; The essential protection of confidential and privileged communications is not currently recognized in law.
JUSTIFICATION: The LBDC has been drafting bills and resolutions for the New York State Legislature for over 120 years; it is noted for professionalism and is nonpartisan in nature. According to the LBDC, "all communications with and bill drafts prepared for Members of the Legislature and their staffs are subject to attorney-client confidentiality." However, this attorney-client confidentially does not extend to the drafting of resolutions in the majority of cases because resolution writers are almost exclusively non-lawyers. Thousands of resolutions are drafted each year, many of which are of a substantive and sensitive nature which contain policy and political overtones. Given this fact, combined with the fact that the Senate Rules currently provide for a level of discretion and review that is centralized and non-democratic as it relates to bringing a resolution through the Finance Committee and onto the Floor, protecting
confidentiality the moment an idea is birthed is a safeguard that all 212 members of the legislature deserve and one that is consistent with the history and functions of the LBDC. Creating a Commissioner of Accountability to oversee this internal policy shift, and manage the reporting and enforcement thereon is a complementary component of this proposal that will only add to the well deserved reputation of the LBDC as the home of efficient, skilled and hard working professionals.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New bill.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: There would be some costs associated with the appointment of the Commissioner of Accountability, should that individual elect to collect a salary. It is assumed that the reporting requirements could be accomplished within existing resources.
LOCAL FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None noted.
EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 6453 IN SENATE January 24, 2014 ___________Introduced by Sen. PERKINS -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Investigations and Govern- ment Operations AN ACT to amend the legislative law, in relation to the legislative bill drafting commission THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Section 24 of the legislative law, as added by chapter 5 of the laws of 1981, is amended to read as follows: S 24. Legislative bill drafting commission. 1. A legislative bill drafting commission is hereby created to consist of
[two]THREE commis- sioners, one of whom shall be the commissioner for administration, ONE OF WHOM SHALL BE THE COMMISSIONER FOR ACCOUNTABILITY and the other of whom shall be the commissioner for operations. Each such commissioner shall be appointed [jointly]ON A CONSENSUS BASIS by the temporary pres- ident of the senate [and], THE MINORITY LEADER OF THE SENATE, the speak- er of the assembly, AND THE MINORITY LEADER OF THE ASSEMBLY. Such appointments shall be evidenced by the [joint]CONSENSUS certificate of the appointing officers filed in the office of the secretary of state. Each such commissioner shall hold office until his OR HER successor is appointed in the same manner as hereinabove provided. The commissioners shall receive such compensation as may be provided within the amount of the appropriation made by law for the maintenance and operation of the commission. The commissioners and employees of the commission shall be considered as employees of the legislature for all purposes. 2. THE DUTIES OF THE COMMISSIONER FOR ACCOUNTABILITY MUST INCLUDE, WITHOUT LIMITATION: PREPARING A QUARTERLY REPORT ON VARIOUS METRICS, SUCH AS, THE NUMBER OF BILL AND RESOLUTION DRAFTS REQUESTED DISASSOCI- ATED BY TYPE, SUBJECT MATTER, STATUS AND THE PARTY MEMBERSHIP OF THE REQUESTOR AND THE AVERAGE RESPONSE TIME FROM THE DATE OF REQUEST TO THE DATE OF INITIAL PRODUCTION DISASSOCIATED BY TYPE, SUBJECT MATTER, STATUS AND THE PARTY MEMBERSHIP OF THE REQUESTOR AND ENSURING THAT THE PROVISIONS OF SUBDIVISION FIVE OF SECTION TWENTY-FIVE OF THIS ARTICLE REGARDING CONFIDENTIAL AND PRIVILEGED COMMUNICATIONS ARE FOLLOWED.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD13375-04-4 S. 6453 2
S 2. Section 25 of the legislative law is amended by adding a new subdivision 5 to read as follows: 5. IN THE COURSE OF DRAFTING ALL BILLS AND ALL RESOLUTIONS, ALL COMMU- NICATIONS BETWEEN THE REQUESTOR AND THE INDIVIDUAL OR INDIVIDUALS DRAFT- ING THE PRODUCT SHALL BE TREATED AS CONFIDENTIAL AND PRIVILEGED COMMUNI- CATIONS. S 3. This act shall take effect immediately.