State Senate Shapes Up ... a Little

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The Senate during the stalemate. Photo: AP

Between 3 and 4 a.m. last night Thursday morning, the State Senate voted to pass a new set of rules that were agreed upon between the warring political parties during the stalemate of the previous month. The changes include, notably, the ability of any senator to introduce a bill for a vote if the majority of senators back him or her. Until yesterday, bills were controlled by the leadership of the majority party and — as in the case of mayoral control of schools — a few well-placed people could keep bills destined to pass off the floor. It is now also easier to move bills out of committee (another common holdup), and all floor and committee proceedings will be published online. Majority and minority leaders will have eight-year term limits, and earmarked funds will be shared more equitably. It all sounds pretty good, but the Times called many of the changes "of dubious staying power." All it takes, after all, is one bleary-eyed vote in the wee hours of the morning to reverse all of these roles.

Senate Revises Its Rules to Give More Power to the Minority [NYT]