ALBANY, NY (NEWS 10) – Lawmakers say education, minimum wage, and the heroin epidemic are issues they plan to address during the 2016 legislative session.
At the top of the list, however, is ethics reform, many saying they want to regain the public’s trust.
“This place is a disgusting cesspool that needs to be drained,” Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin told News 10.
Today’s first session of 2016 for lawmakers marked a new era, former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver are out of power, both convicted on federal corruption charges late last year.
Current Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and new Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan addressed members in Wednesday.
The main topic on everyone’s mind though seemed to be ethics reform.
“We need term limits,” McLaughlin said. “We need the pension forfeiture bill. If you’re convicted of a felony as an elected official you need to lose your pension.”
Assemblyman John McDonald wants more disclosure on all outside business lawmakers partake in.
“Have a process where there is a tribunal of some sort,” Assemblyman McDonald said. Whether it’s the comptroller’s office, the AG’s office, and maybe courts administration actively looking at those outside relationships as they’re going on.”
Another change many members of both houses agree on is breaking up the infamous closed door meetings between the Governor, Senate Majority Leader and Assembly Speaker.
“Three men in the room,” Senator George Amedore said. “We saw what happened in the past and we know that this is part of a reform that should happen.”
“I think we’ll increase the number of people in the room and hopefully there will always be at least one woman in the room and they’ll be representatives of various points of view in the room,” Senator Neil Breslin said.
This year’s agenda is expected include debates on
- A 15 dollar minimum wage,
- Education funding
- Expanding Uber around Upstate New York.