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Albany ethics bill to increase transparency remains unseen

ALBANY - The new ethics bill to require more public disclosure of state lawmakers’ outside income won’t be disclosed to the public until just hours before it is voted into law.

Good-government groups, which have already questioned how effective the new ethics will be, criticized the lack of transparency on Tuesday.

“It is unacceptable in a functioning democracy that an ethics bill about the disclosure of legislators' outside income hasn't even been disclosed to the public,” stated the joint announcement by Common Cause of New York, Citizens Union, the Brennan Center, the New York Public Interest Research Group, and Reinvent Albany.

The bill is the result of a deal on the ethics measure reached Monday, but still wasn’t available Tuesday morning hours before the bill would need to be voted on to be included in an on-time budget.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and legislative leaders have issued brief news releases and held brief news conferences on this and other major elements of the $150 billion budget deal, but bills that detail the agreements have been slow in reaching the public, government watchdogs and news media.

The deal struck Monday will have to be approved by midnight Tuesday to be included in an on-time time budget. Cuomo and the Legislature already missed the Saturday night deadline to approve the budget on time within the parameters of the state constitution. The constitution requires three days’ public disclosure before any bill is approved.

Cuomo will now have to issue “messages of necessity” in order to continue the bragging rights at campaign time of passing an on-time budget.


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