The Daily Gazette
The Locally Owned Voice Of The Capital Region

Few bills, but good bills

Quality over quantity.

That’s the reasoning of state legislators who say the legislative session that ended Saturday morning can’t be judged on the number of bills that passed the state Senate and Assembly — the third fewest of any regular session in more than a decade.

Despite passing 649 bills, below the recent average for bills passed, there hasn’t been a corresponding drop in the number of bills introduced: More than 14,000 were written and printed by the end of the regular session.

“[The numbers are] interesting to review, but I think it is meaningless,” said state Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, who was the primary sponsor of 96 bills and had 23 pass the entire state Legislature. “In some cases, we should be thankful that some of these bills aren’t passed.”

He argued that an on-time state budget, efforts to help businesses — such as the creation of tax-free zones and upstate casinos — and the passage of local bills this year demonstrated the success of the session.

“We’re zeroing in on certain issues and dealing with them,” he said.

A flurry of activity in the final days of the legislative session — with more than 200 bills completing their journeys through both houses — kept the session's total from being one of the lowest in years. It ended up passing last year's total of 571 bills that made their ways to the desk of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

An annual average of 1,363 bills passed the state Legislature in the 1960s, compared to about 655 from 2010 to 2012, according to data compiled by New York Public Interest Research Group's Bill Mahoney. In every decade since the 1960s, the average annual number of bills passed has decreased.

Below is analysis Mahoney put together last year of the rate of bills passing the state Legislature.

But even while the number of bills passing both houses is decreasing, the number being introduced shows no signs of shrinkage. About 9.3 percent of the proposals introduced passed the entire Legislature.

A full story on the number of bills passed will be in the Sunday issue of the Daily Gazette.

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NYPIRG 2012 Session Analysis

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