Message of Necessity for Immediate Vote
An Emergency! Message of Necessity for Immediate Vote
Waiting 72 Hours to Vote versus Voting Immediately

Minority Leader Brian Kolb on recent gun legislation: 'No reason' for message of necessity

January 14th, 2013- Bill Samuels Cuomo's done it again!!

Azi Paybarah, The Capital, January 17, 2013

"Governor Andrew Cuomo denied he rushed his gun control legislation through the New York State legislature to in order to garner headlines and beat President Obama's unveiling of similar legislation on the federal level." Azi Paybarah, The Capital, January 17, 2013

"I started talking about this before there was any suggestion that there was any report coming out by the vice president," Cuomo said in a radio interview. "I'm not going to give the public notice, 'I'm going to do an assault weapons ban in three days. Quick, run out and buy an assault weapon before the ban went into place,' which is exactly what happened." The Capital, January 17, 2013

“We’re told basically to shut up and vote, and that’s what this is all about,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “Just don’t question it, just vote. That’s basically the message here. If that’s not dictatorial, I don’t know what is. Thomas Kaplan, New York Times, February 5, 2013

The lawmakers’ proposal to curb expedited voting would limit the governor’s ability to waive the constitutionally required three-day waiting period before lawmakers could vote on legislation. It would also restrict the Legislature’s consideration of bills between midnight and 8 a.m. Thomas Kaplan, New York Times, February 5, 2013

"Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants;" Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis, "What Publicity Can Do," Harper's Weekly, December 20, 1913.

“Three days of debate, everyone has an opinion, it’s entirely transparent, we never reach resolution,” Cuomo said. “I get 100 percent for transparency. I get zero for results.”  Governor Andrew Cuomo, Long Island Press, December 12, 2011

"On March 15, 2012, after midnight and before the start of business, the Governor found 'four emergencies' warranting the use of the message of necessity that were not real emergencies," said Bill Samuels, Chair of New Roosevelt. "It is time to totally ban the message of necessity in order to ensure transparency in Albany."

June 15, 2012- Bill Samuels applauds Governor Cuomo's decision to forego furrther use of the Message of Necessity this legislative session.(See News Below)

"Given the decades of misuse of the Message of Necessity by every Governor, it is unlikely that Cuomo's current positive step will become a binding precedent on future Governors or even on this one."

"I Call on Cuomo to state that he will not revert to this cynical procedure and that he will support a Constitutional Amendmenent to ban its practice." 

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New York policy makers often find ways around inconvenient constitutional requirements such as the  requirement that a bill “ripen” on legislators’ desks for three days before any vote, except in emergencies, has little force (Article III, section 14), as governors find “emergencies” whenever politically useful.

The 1894 Constitution introduced a new concept for transparency that required a 3 day waiting requirement on legislation before final passage in order to secure public comment and prevent last-minute amendments or hasty and careless legislation.  In order to provide for rapid legislation in the face of a public emergency an exception was included for those instances where the Governor certified the necessity of immediate passage.  

However based on the ongoing abuse of the message of necessity the Constitutional Convention of 1915 proposed an outright ban though it was unfortunately defeated by the electorate.  

The Constitutional Convention of 1938, which was adopted, required the inclusion of "facts [that] necessitate an immediate vote" though this amendment has failed to stem the abuses it sought to address.

Unfortunately upon judicial review in 1972-3 and again in 2005-6, challenges to the abuse of the message of necessity have failed with the judiciary's declaration that not only is the message of unassailable but that it is not subject to judicial review.  

See Interesting Judicial History and Quotes from Chief Judge Judith Kaye Here.

On January 14th, 2013, Governor Andrew Cuomo used a Message of Necessity to force legislators to vote on his gun legislation.

The NY SAFE Act amended the following laws:

  1. correction law
  2. criminal procedure law
  3. domestic relations law
  4. education law
  5. executive law
  6. family court act
  7. general business law
  8. judiciary law
  9. Kendra's Law
  10. mental hygiene law
  11. penal law
  12. surrogate's court procedure act

On March 14, 2012 during a marathon legislative session that stretched into the early morning hours of march 15, 2012 Governor Andrew Cuomo declared four "emergencies" using his power to circumvent the three day transparency requirement with the "message of necessity".  Below are copies of the four messages of necessity:

Independent Redistricting Legislation

Tier VI Pensions

 DNA Database Teacher Evaluations




§14. No bill shall be passed or become a law unless it shall have been printed and upon the desks of the members ... at least three calendar legislative days prior to its final passage, unless the governor ... shall have certified ... the facts which in his or her opinion necessitate an immediate vote thereon,* in which case it must nevertheless be upon the desks of the members in final form, not necessarily printed, before its final passage ...

*Amended 1938.

Long Island Press
Michael Gormley
Monday, December 12, 2011
 “Three days of debate, everyone has an opinion, it’s entirely transparent, we never reach resolution,” Cuomo said. “I get 100 percent for transparency. I get zero for results.” 
Link to Original Source - Link to Cached Version
Daily News
Bill Hammond
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
 What also gets lost is any respect for democratic procedure. Cuomo is apparently angling for lawmakers to take up and pass his tax reform — which, to be clear, he has yet to put in writing or share with the public — as early as this...
Link to Original Source - Link to Cached Version
Capital Confidential
Casey Seiler
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
The four-page decision includes some tough language for the way things get done at the Capitol, including what the judge labels as “disingenuous” justifications from Gov. Andrew Cuomo for issuing a message of necessity that rushed the...
Link to Original Source - Link to Cached Version
Capital Tonight
Nick Reisman
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier today sent a message of necessity to the Democratic-led Assembly, allowing them to bypass the normal three-day aging process and pass the bill today.
Link to Original Source - Link to Cached Version
New York Observer
Azi Paybarah
Friday, April 1, 2011
A “message of necessity” from the governor’s office allows legislators to temporarily do away with the three-day aging requirement. As the name of the memo suggests, there’s a “necessity” for sometime voting on things...
Link to Original Source - Link to Cached Version
Gotham Gazette
Gerald Benjamin
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Politicians weigh means against ends every day. It’s part of the job description. In a masterful film, Steven Speilberg showed us how Lincoln balanced means and ends as he sought the abolition of slavery. The message: bend the rules, but don’...
This clip highlights that the means by which Governor Cuomo is making a dysfunctional government function rather than reforming it.  It is critical of the means by which the Governor has achieved these ends, specifically the continuance of closed door governance, which lacks transparency, and the constitutional issue of the inappropriate use of the message of necessity.
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Post Star
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
 Gov. Andrew Cuomo got your attention this week. We’re pretty certain of that.We’re hoping the hotly debated, highly volatile issue of gun rights, which has worked so many of our readers into a blind rage, will also make you mad as hell...
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New York Times
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
 The broad gun control bill approved Tuesday by the New York Legislature substantially strengthens the state’s gun control laws and, if vigorously enforced, could make New York one of the toughest places in the country to buy, sell...
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New York Observer
Editorial Board
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
 Andrew Cuomo has been governor of New York for less than two years, and he already has achieved successes that some two-termers never managed. He has taken important steps toward a much-needed overhaul of the state’s pension and benefit...
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Democrat and Chronicle
Editorial Board
Sunday, May 20, 2012
 One of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature first-year successes, enactment of same-sex marriage legislation, is now being challenged in court. If it is reversed, it will be owing largely to the governor’s signature first-term shortcoming: His...
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