Speaker Carl Heastie and Majority Leader Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes today announced that the Assembly will pass a resolution providing for special temporary procedures during a declared state of emergency (E.854, Peoples-Stokes). The change will preserve the integrity of the legislative process, while keeping members, staff and others safe during the current COVID-19 outbreak and future declared states of emergency. The Assembly will return to session at 1 p.m. on Monday, March 30 to vote on the rules change.
"During these extraordinary circumstances, it is critical that the People's House is able to continue to do the people's work," Speaker Heastie said. "These changes will preserve the integrity of New York's legislative process in a way that will also protect our members, our staff, the hardworking staff of the capitol and the families we all go home to. This is a historic step that will help save lives and support New Yorkers."
"It is paramount that we work together to protect the health and safety of our communities, and that includes our assemblymembers, staff and families," Majority Leader Peoples-Stokes said. "This resolution gives us the ability to adapt to a new reality during this pandemic and potential future emergencies, while protecting both the Assembly's democratic process and the health and wellbeing of New Yorkers."
The resolution would temporarily change the current rules of the Assembly to allow for expedited voting and to establish the future possibility of voting remotely during declared states of emergency. The change will immediately allow for fast roll calls to be recorded during this time of emergency. Members in attendance in Albany who wish to vote in the negative would record their votes directly in the chamber. This allows the Assembly to adapt to extraordinary times and circumstances while ensuring all of its members have the ability to participate, debate and vote in a safe manner.
The resolution would also provide a framework for the future possibility of members to participate in a session remotely through teleconferencing or videoconferencing. As the People's House, the Assembly is committed to ensuring that its process is transparent to those it represents. The legislative process will continue to be open to all New Yorkers.