New York SAFE Act
TITLE: In Opposition to the Manner of Passage of the New York SAFE Act and the Use of Messages of Necessity
WHEREAS, The New York State Constitution requires a three-day waiting period between the introduction of any legislation and the vote on it but a special clause allows the Governor, in the event of an emergency, to issue a “message of necessity” suspending the three-day waiting period; and
WHEREAS, the Senate and Assembly, utilizing a message of necessity from the Governor, passed the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act without debate or an opportunity for the public comment; and
WHEREAS, despite the message of necessity, of 56 sections in the bill, 51 won’t be effective for 60 days, several not for a year, and just two were immediate; and
WHEREAS, the message of necessity has become an increasingly used method for Governors and the legislature to disregard the requirements of the law requiring time to debate legislation; and
WHEREAS, while Governor Cuomo used the message of necessity 34 times during his tenure as governor in 2011 and 2012, compared to 57 times in 2010 alone, he has still used such messages to foreclose debate on controversial issues such as Marriage Equality bill in 2011; and
WHEREAS, a 2004 report by the Brennan Center for Justice found that 27 percent of all major legislation passed issued from a message of necessity and from 1997 through 2001, 95.5% of the major legislation in the Assembly and 95.1% in the Senate were passed without any debate; and
WHEREAS, a message of necessity from the Governor does not require the legislature to immediately vote on a bill, it simply allows them to bypass the three day waiting period; and
WHEREAS, representative democracy demands that both citizens and their legislators have a full and fair opportunity to inform themselves about the purpose and content of proposed legislation in order to fully research and debate the issue presented; and
WHEREAS, Whatever the viewpoint on the merits of a particular issue, all citizens should agree that a full and fair debate of issues can only lead to better legislation; and
WHEREAS, the state of Connecticut, in which the Newtown shooting occurred, has chosen the path of reasoned research and debate by conducting public hearings before taking action; and
WHEREAS, groups such as the NY State Sheriff’s Association and New York State Association of County Clerks have pointed out numerous difficulties and issues with the NY SAFE Act that would have been avoided had the public and relevant organizations been allowed to comment and assist in the drafting of this legislation; and
WHEREAS, local governments also have an emergency message option, but that is tempered by the need for a two third majority to pass legislation introduced pursuant to an emergency message; and
WHEREAS, this legislation also results in additional unfunded mandates upon local governments in a time of extreme financial pressure; and now therefore be it
RESOLVED, that the Town of Cambridge condemns the use of a message of necessity to pass the New York SAFE Act; and be it further
RESOLVED, that the Town of Cambridge further call upon the Governor and legislative leaders to drastically reduce the use of the message of necessity to those truly emergent occasions for which it was intended; and be it further
RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution be sent to State Senator Elizabeth Little.
Supervisor Watkins requested a motion to adopt this resolution.
Councilman Ford motioned,
Seconded by Councilman McMurray,
That the Town of Cambridge, Town Board support the New York SAFE Act Resolution.
Vote: Ayes – 4 Noes – 0