In the first year of our session, the Council ushered in a sweeping reform package that has made this legislative body more transparent in how it operates and more fair and inclusive for all members, and in turn, the constituents they serve.
“A strong Council Speaker makes sure all Members have the tools and resources they need to fully represent their constituents”
Gene Russianoff, NYPIRG
For the first time ever, we established a fair and objective formula for the distribution of Member Item funding. Member Items are now equally allocated across districts, with an increase determined by the number of people living in poverty in each district. As a result, higher-needs neighborhoods now receive expanded resources to support local community groups.
Access to information and accountability are pillars of good government. This is why we added discretionary funding awards and capital projects to the City’s Open Data Plan, implemented legislative open data provisions, and produced a public technology plan to increase engagement and access. We also mandated that organizations that receive grants provide a short report on the use of these funds.
Another centerpiece of these historic reforms is a series of changes that allow for fair consideration of proposed legislation. These changes include the creation of a dedicated unit charged with preparing legislation requested by Members, on an equal and transparent basis, and a “supermajority bill sponsorship” rule, providing that bills with 34 co-sponsors must have Council committees decide whether to hold a hearing on the bill. We also increased public access to information by requiring that every bill submitted for introduction include a plain language summary of its provisions.
We empowered chairs and committees to lead and work more effectively. We reduced the burden of meeting requirements to allow Members to focus more on oversight; made it clear that chairs retain the right to select topics and schedule hearings; and limited the removal of chairs, which may only be done through a two-thirds uncoupled vote by the full Council.