Griffo bill that would limit leadership terms of Senate and Assembly members passes in Senate
Thursday, May 1, 2014 - 2:31 pm

The state Senate passed a bill Tuesday to place term limits on Senate and Assembly leadership positions.

The bill, S.3556, sponsored by 47th District Sen. Joe Griffo, would limit the tenure of the temporary president, speaker and minority leaders to 12 years. Griffo, a Republican from Rome, represents the St. Lawrence County towns of Massena, Brasher, Norfolk, Stockholm, Potsdam, Pierrepont, Russell, Clifton, Fine, and Pitcairn in St. Lawrence County, plus Lewis and Oneida counties.

The bill, which passed by a wide margin, would also limit the tenure of any committee chairman to eight years, with the exception of the Rules Committee.

“This is the first step in building a better system of government,” said Griffo. “I appreciate and respect the individuals who serve as leaders. But we know that the longer that a person is in power, the less open and transparent our governing becomes. The indefinite term of leadership gives that position great power and influence, which causes some legislators to act unethically in an attempt to ‘climb the ladder’ or make their power as great as a leader. Imposing term limits will diminish the position and empower many to bring to fresh ideas and fresh approaches to governing.”

The Senate, in fact, has incorporated the provisions in the bill into the rules for its chamber. The companion bill, A.7026, now awaits action in the Assembly. It is sponsored by Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, D-Ossining.

In his announcement, Griffo listed other bills he has introduced since taking office in the Legislature in 2007:

• S2214: Provides for initiative and referendum and recall, which would foster greater participatory democracy by allowing voters to place proposed laws on the ballot for New Yorkers to adopt or reject; place an already existing law on the ballot for New Yorkers to reject or accept; and place the question of whether to remove and replace a public official on the ballot.

• S2231: Removes the constitutional provision that the lieutenant-governor shall act as governor when the governor is absent from the state

• S3008: Provides for a special election, at the discretion of the governor, to fill vacancies in the office of comptroller and attorney general – empowering the voters to choose the guardian of the state’s pension fund and the state’s chief legal officer, not the Legislature

S4602: Provides that the Senate shall be composed of 62 senators, each representing 1 county.

Griffo has previously introduced – and he says he will soon reintroduce – a bill that would establish 12-year term limits for state elected officials.