Democrat Phil Steck is a member of the state Assembly. He also is a lawyer, working at a law office two blocks from the Capitol. He says his job as an attorney doesn't affect his work as someone who writes and votes on laws.  

"We don't take cases that conflict with our other clients, I don't take cases that conflict with my role in the Assembly," Steck said.

An appointed commission last year approved pay raises for lawmakers for the first time in 20 years, boosting their pay from $79,500 to $110,000. But the commission also capped how much lawmakers can earn at private-sector jobs at 15 percent of their public salary. The outside income cap was struck down in court challenges.  

"The problems that have arisen in the Legislature have almost nothing to do with outside income. Taking a bribe has nothing to do with outside income," Steck said.

Good-government groups disagree. New York's state lawmakers have jobs that range from pharmacist to undertaker. But many of them are lawyers. The historic concern has been lawmakers would be unduly influenced by their other jobs. Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy meanwhile took issue with the process.  

"We deserve better from our government. We deserve legislators and a governor with the political courage to actually use the normal legislative process to get the job in this state," Langworthy said. 

Voting directly for a pay raise would have been politically tricky. Instead, lawmakers created a commission to consider it. A similar commission was formed to decide the specifics of public campaign financing.  

"Do this through the normal legislative process if this is what their will is to do. Not through these sneaky, underhanded commissions like the pay raise," Langworthy said.

And lawmakers have said they are unlikely to take up their own outside income ban as a standalone bill.