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Politics

Senate Passes Gianaris’ Legislation Making It Easier for People to Have Voices Heard

ALBANY – New York State Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris announced on March 17 that the state Senate passed his legislation (S.155), requiring state agencies to make the rulemaking process more accessible. The Senate takes up this legislation as part of “Sunshine Week,” an annual effort to advocate for greater transparency in government.

“The COVID-19 pandemic taught us the crucial importance of transparency in government,” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris. “We should live up to our progressive ideals and make our government truly accessible to the people it serves.”  

Senator Gianaris’ legislation creates a 3-year pilot program of seven major state agencies – Education, Environmental Conservation, Health, Financial Services, Labor and Family Assistance – requiring these agencies to hold public hearings anytime they are petitioned by 125 residents. Several other states, including California, Arizona, Idaho, New Hampshire, Illinois, and Utah, have similar requirements for agencies to hold hearings. Additionally, Senator Gianaris’ bill requires these agencies to use innovative techniques to encourage more public participation.

The legislation is sponsored in the Assembly by Assembly Member Zohran Mamdani.

Assembly Member Mamdani said: “Allowing public hearings to be on evenings and weekends allows for more participation by working-class New Yorkers. Designating time for the public to question agency personnel creates more opportunities for transparency. Creating a program through which members of the public can demand a hearing reminds rule-makers that they are ultimately accountable to the people. These are all steps towards a that empowers each and every New Yorker to be a part of political processes that too often operate in the shadows. I am proud to sponsor this legislation, and continue fighting for that system.”

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