Stavisky said November's election results prove that the people of New York are demanding an end to corruption and "undemocratic ways" in the state Senate and the time has come to act on the promises made by those elected to office."The days of a powerful centralized leader who controls every aspect of a member's legislative agenda and suppresses minority participation and dissent are over," Stavisky said. "Now it's up to the Republican leadership to heed the call and open up the process." Stavisky slammed Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Saratoga Springs), arguing that he has a stranglehold on the GOP-controlled Senate and is holding back the democratic process as a result. "The fact that the Senate majority leader gets to parse out staff willy-nilly, withhold legislation from being voted on and punish any member who disagrees with his leadership is not only an insult to each member and the thousands of New Yorkers who voted for that member, but is a repudiation of the democratic process as well."Bruno did not return calls for comment. Stavisky made several proposals during her speech, including regulating staff size for all state senators, much like staff restrictions in place in Congress. She also pushed for prohibiting member item gifts to for-profit organizations, recording every vote a senator takes on resolutions and motions to petition and changing rules to make it easier for senators to get a bill on the floor for a vote. Stavisky also accused the Senate Republican majority of being closed-minded about implementing changes to current government practices, saying the state GOP had "dug themselves in a hole and refused to listen." "While I applaud the budget reforms that Gov. [Eliot] Spitzer recently proposed and will continue to partner with him to open up the budget process, I urge Senate Republicans to adopt these proposed rule changes to bring more transparency and accountability to the Senate," she said. Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at news@times
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