The misuse of the Message of Necessity is at the heart of the dysfunction in Albany. It enables the governor and the two legislative leaders to force a vote on a bill without having to wait at least three days for it to be read, debated and discussed by the public, the media, or even the state representatives themselves, who aren’t allowed to even submit an amendment.
What was designed for to be rarely used in case of emergency has now become a regular tool for the governor and the two leaders to dictate legislation. This is the basis for the “Three men in a room” power structure that so cripples and corrupts the state.
In addition, the three-day requirement to discuss a bill before the vote needs to be expanded to at least five days or more. Nebraska, for example, requires five days of discussion before a vote can be held. The longer period gives more time for a real democratic process to occur for legislation.
• “Three days of debate, everyone has an opinion, it’s entirely transparent, we never reach resolution,” Cuomo said. “I get 100 percent for transparency. I get zero for results.” Governor AAndrew Cuomo, Long Island Press, December 12, 2011.
• Governor Andrew Cuomo has used the Message of Necessity three times just to pass a budget.
The 1894 Constitution introduced a new concept for transparency that required a 3 day waiting requirement on legislation before final passage in order to secure public comment and prevent last-minute amendments or hasty and careless legislation. In order to provide for rapid legislation in the face of a public emergency an exception was included for those instances where the Governor certified the necessity of immediate passage.
• Only 1 state grants the governor the power to call for an immediate vote: NY.
• 18 states require a 2/3 vote or more by the legislature to waive the waiting time for a vote on a bill: AK, AR, AZ, CA, FL, ID, IN, KS, MN, MO, MS, NJ, NV, OH, OR, TX, UT, WV
“How Often Are Messages of Necessity Used?” by Nick Reisman, NY State of Politics, January 17, 2013.
“Ignoring Criticism, Cuomo To Issue Budget Message of Necessity,” by Ashley Hupfl, City & State, March March 28, 2015.
“What is a ‘Necessity’ is Albany Question,” by Mike Vilensky, The Wall Street Journal, April 1, 2014.