The state Senate has approved a bill sponsored by Sen. Joe Griffo, R-Rome, that would limit the tenure of party leaders in the Assembly and Senate.
Griffo, who represents St. Lawrence County towns Massena, Brasher, Potsdam, Pierrepont, Norfolk, Stockholm, Russell, Clifton, Fine and Pitcairn, says such a change is the type of systemic change needed in Albany.
“I appreciate and respect the individuals who serve as leaders,” Griffo said. “However, I deeply believe that the system is broken beyond the ability of individuals to make it work. Imposing term limits on leadership positions jump-starts change to build a better system, and in the end state government must be built with a structure that gets the job done, not one that allows for the development of powerful individuals.”
The Senate’s internal rules include term limits for Senate leadership positions, but Griffo wants the limits formalized into law and enacted by the Assembly in order to cover both houses.
“One of the very first pieces of legislation I sponsored when I came to Albany in 2007 - and one that did pass that term - was a bill that would impose term limits on the most powerful offices in Albany, because I felt then and still believe that a structure that does not allow change cannot provide the climate of openness and transparency that I believe are vital elements in the functioning of government,” Griffo said.
The bill, #3556, passed the Senate by a vote of 57 to 4. The Assembly version of the bill is A.07026.
“The Senate rule that I helped create sets a limit for four terms, or eight years. In the legislation I have sponsored, we have set a limit of six terms, that’s 12 years. That’s a long time to hold such a major office, and I think what we have seen is that when the same people are in power for a long time, the process does not function in the same open way it should when there is change,” Griffo said.
The Senate bill can be viewed at open.nysenate.gov/legislation/api/1.0/html/bill/S3556-2013. The Assembly version is available at assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?default_fld=&bn=A07026&term=2013&Summary=Y&Text=Y.