Saturday, May 31, 2008

Activism Can Make Albany Work

Perhaps more appropriately, activism taken by New Yorkers has the potential to make Albany work for the citizens before the select Committee Chairs in the Assembly and the State Senate. For the most part, popular bills are pressed by either constituent or legislator, only to be quashed by the leadership of the respective party in control (Dems in the Assembly, Repubs in the Senate). Legislators rarely have the ability to exercise power or else they can be subject to punishment from their party leaders. Well, sometimes that can be thwarted.

From The Daily Politics:

The almost unthinkable happened in Albany this week when Assembly Health Chairman Richard Gottfried lost a pair of votes in his own committee.

The rare event unfolded Wednesday, when two autism research bills came up at a committee meeting. Gottfried, a Manhattan Democrat, moved to put them on "hold" rather than approve them for further consideration. Normally, Gottfried's wish would be his committee's command.

But heavy-duty lobbying by autism activists and the bill sponsors -- Bronx Democrat Peter Rivera and Long Island Republican James Conte -- carried the day. Seven of the 19 Democrats joined all seven Republicans in support of the bills, for a final vote of 14-12 on each.

This was a huge victory for those that lobby for autism research. No, they weren't "lobbyists," they are regular citizens who are most likely affected by autism in the home or for someone that they know. People who stand up and deliver enough pressure in the right way can get things done.

Of course that was just one committee and the bill has many more hurdles to jump. The chances for its implementation is still slim considering the way things work in Albany. However, before we can have the ability to jump every single obstacle on the track, we have start with the first hurdle.