"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."
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.
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:
- correction law
- criminal procedure law
- domestic relations law
- education law
- executive law
- family court act
- general business law
- judiciary law
- Kendra's Law
- mental hygiene law
- penal law
- 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:
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45 states, like New York, clearly require 2-5 days before a bill can be voted on: AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY
18 states require a 2/3 vote or more by the legislature to waive the waiting time for a vote on a bill: AK, AR, AZ, CA, FL, ID, IN, KS, MN, MO, MS, NJ, NV, OH, OR, TX, UT, WV
9 states can overrule the required waiting time claiming an emergency: AZ, ID, IN, KS, MN, NJ, NV, OR, WV