New York lawmakers voted on more proposals this year that were still warm from the printer, an analysis by a good-government organization shows.
The use of a so-called "message of necessity" was at its highest this year in Albany in more than a decade, with Gov. Kathy Hochul using the maneuver to waive a required three-day "aging" process for bills.
The process is meant to speed along the legislative process, which can be laborious at times in the halls of the state Capitol. But the use of messages of necessity has also been criticized for depriving legislators and the public a chance to know what's happening.
Hochul so far this year issued 19 messages of necessity, according to statistics compiled by the New York Public Interest Research Group.
That's the most for a governor since 2011, when then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued 29. Cuomo had been a defender of messages of necessity, arguing the state government should not be a "debating society."
Messages of necessity are almost always a situation. Hochul issued them this year to speed along the passage of the state budget, a now-stalled authorization of the Seneca Gaming Compact as well as labor agreements (waiving the three-day aging process came as the budget was already more than a month past the April 1 start of the fiscal year, widely seen as the deadline for the spending plan to be put in place).
Republicans this year sought to short circuit the practice of issuing messages of necessity during the budget negotiations. A proposed constitutional amendment by Republican lawmakers would limit the use of messages of necessity for the 10 budget bills lawmakers must consider each year.
"This critically important 'aging' provision of the State Constitution helps to ensure that the public, the press, and all interested parties have the opportunity to actually review the budget bills prior to them being enacted into law," said Sen. Andrew Lanza.
Still, the number of messages of necessity issued in recent years pales in comparison to the 1990s and 2000s, when Republican Gov. George Pataki battled with a divided Legislature over the budget. Pataki in some years would issue more than 100 messages of necessity. In 1996, he issued 144 messages alone.