Pardon the pun, but what exactly was the state secret that Governor Kathy Hochul and legislative leaders were trying to hide from state residents in the run-up to last week’s special legislative session?
Hochul is a true professional when it comes to talking about transparency. When it comes to actually being transparent, well, it’s a lot less refined.
Bills must generally be introduced three days before they can be voted on, with exceptions requiring a message of necessity from the governor to allow a vote. On the eve of last week’s special session, not a single piece of legislation had been tabled for consideration by the public or lawmakers. Even Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown and Minority Whip, had not seen the bill before leaving for Albany to debate the bills. Members of the public concerned both for and against the legislation have not had the opportunity to read the bills and raise their concerns with their legislators or voice their support. And what was the necessity that prompted Hochul and the Democrats to once again abandon the typical legislative procedure?
No matter what Hochul or legislative leaders say, time was not of the essence here. Hochul and Democrats in the Legislature read the political tea leaves regarding Roe v. Wade and have introduced dozens of abortion-related bills with many ties to pass before the end of the June 3 legislative session. Still, they’re expected to believe they were caught sleeping over the Supreme Court’s decision in NYSPRA v. Bruen while even The New York Times noted that Judge Clarence Thomas’ questions during oral arguments in the Bruen case suggested that the state’s concealed carry law could be deemed unconstitutional. The Times wrote about the issue twice in five days in November, but hadn’t Hochul and company prepared this groundbreaking set of laws before the decision was announced?
It’s hardly believable. At the very least, the sitting could have been scheduled after the bill was completed and introduced so that the public and their elected representatives on both sides of the aisle had an opportunity to consider it.
Regardless of his stance on the Second Amendment or state cover-up laws, we should all be able to agree that this process stinks. This level of secrecy should be reserved for nuclear launch codes and, perhaps, twists and turns in Hollywood productions. But when it comes to legislation that affects the constitutional rights of the people, the state owes it to its residents to involve the people’s elected representatives in the process before the day a vote is scheduled. And, when you think about it, Democrats didn’t just exclude Republican lawmakers from those discussions, they excluded the hundreds of millions of state residents who elected those Republican lawmakers.
In other words, they are not content to exclude Goodell, Assemblyman Joe Giglio, Senator George Borrello and the rest of the legislative minority from these talks. They are excluding many county residents from these talks.
In this regard, last week’s extraordinary legislative session was anything but. It was just ordinary, unremarkable New York politics. And it stunk.