Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to Introduce Power-Sharing Reforms

By Colby Hamilton on April 29, 2014 10:51am 

 City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will introduce legislation on April 29, 2014 to significantly diminish the speaker's power over member items, committee chairs and other aspects of the City Council.
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will introduce legislation on April 29, 2014 to significantly diminish the speaker's power over member items, committee chairs and other aspects of the City Council.
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DNAinfo/Colby Hamilton

CIVIC CENTER — A host of City Council rules reforms first reported by DNAinfo New York last year are set to be officially introduced as legislation by Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito Tuesday, her office confirmed.

The rules will significantly reduce the power of the speaker’s office, most notably when it comes to doling out member item funds to individual council members.

Rather than using the money to reward friends and punish enemies — something Mark-Viverito’s predecessor, Christine Quinn, was accused of — member items would be distributed equally among the members, the speaker’s office confirmed.

Each member would also be eligible for a funding bonus based on in-district poverty levels, which could result in as much as a 25 percent increase in funding, according to the speaker’s office.

The proposed member item change is part of a push for rules reform that began in September of last year by a group of City Council members, including Brooklyn Councilman Brad Lander, who is now chairman of the rules committee.

In October, a majority of the prospective returning members lent their support to the proposals, including Mark-Viverito.

"I’m very proud that the Council, under the speaker's leadership, is moving forward to deliver the rules reform we promised," Lander said, calling the proposed legislation "a broad and comprehensive package of reforms."

In addition to the member item reforms, the legislation also proposes giving greater autonomy to committee chairs, reducing the speaker’s office’s role in writing legislation and allowing bills with the support of 34 members to get a hearing before the Council.

Mark-Viverito is expected to introduce the legislation Tuesday. A hearing is expected May 7.

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