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Letter: What Does ‘Without Recommendation’ Really Mean?

In the world of Albany politics, that produces record spending, unfunded mandates, and massive tax and fee increases year after year, a state senator or assembly member can dance on the head of a legislative pin to enable themselves to talk out of both sides of their mouths as they run away from their constitutional duties and responsibilities.

For instance, a state legislator sitting on a committee can vote “yes” or “no” or “without recommendation” in moving a bill forward from a committee to the floor of the Senate or Assembly. As we all know, the word “yes” means yes and the word “no” means no. These kinds of words with absolute meaning do not play well in Albany. Therefore, Albany insiders have created a third way of voting called “without recommendation.”

A state senator or assemblymember can move a bill out of committee to the floor of the state legislature by voting “without recommendation.” Voting “without recommendation” can mean a state senator or assembly member does not support a bill as it currently stands, and does not recommend a bill get done because of reservations and concerns about a bill’s provisions. In the real world, reasonable people would “recommend” a state legislator vote no on a bill they believe to have serious problems. But the real world does not apply in Albany.

A state legislator could have “problems” with a bill, and still vote “no” on floor amendments that would correct some of the problems because the legislator believes the structure of a bill is flawed. To let a bill come out of committee, without recommendation or opinion, leaves one to believe that a state legislator does not grasp the consequences of his or her non-opinion of a bill. Last week, several state legislators let a bill out of committee, “without recommendation” or opinion, that has “structural problems” that include running roughshod over Municipal Home Rule Law and Article IX of the New York State Constitution.

Edward W. Powers, New Hyde Park