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Morinello: Capitol halls are silent on ethics reforms

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Wed, Jan 18th 2017 05:55 pm

The silence is so noticeable you can hear a pin drop.

That's how Assemblyman Angelo J. Morinello, R-C-I-Ref.-Niagara Falls, is describing the lack of will or urgency to combat Albany corruption, and enact realistic and meaningful ethics reform during the opening weeks of session. Morinello noted, over the past several weeks, many state leaders have outlined proposals to spend billions in taxpayer dollars on headline-grabbing propositions without a responsible spending plan to back it up.

Morinello expressed disappointment that proposals from state leaders lacked teeth to combat the pervasive corruption that plagues the state capitol, instead choosing to focus on proposals like free college tuition for illegal citizens and incentivizing movie theaters to serve alcohol.

"It's troubling to see how many Albany politicians have such short-term memories. I arrived in Albany with high hopes to join an effort in responding to the most critical issue of ethics reform, but it's disheartening to report that so few legislators really take combating corruption seriously," Morinello said. "(New York State Sen. Robert) Ortt and I have been working relentlessly on proposals and policies that would protect the taxpayer from abuse by public officials. While others may have set their sights on other priorities, Sen. Ortt and I have a serious understanding for the need for realistic ethics reform."

Morinello noted items that should be on the table for consideration include term limits for all elected officials, limiting the amount of special-interest money in the political process by lowering the contribution rate, striping pensions from officials convicted of felonies pertaining to their position in office, and ending the bid-rigging process that has been the subject of multiple investigations by federal prosecutors over the past year.

Last October, nine members of the governor's economic team were arrested in violation of New York's ethics laws.

Morinello has already drafted legislation he said would be comprehensive and realistic, and fill the void left by state leaders in their "watered-down" proposals.

"We've spent the first two weeks of session passing bills that make political statements, but have no bearing on how we're going to make New York more affordable, less taxed and not as corrupt. We have to reverse that trend in the coming weeks because anything less would be disrespectful to New Yorkers," he said.

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