CALL TO ACTION.
Legislative Members VIEW
Please call your Ulster County Legislator today and ask that they reject Resolution No. 91 “Amending The Rules Of Order To Prohibit Memorializing Resolutions” on April 18th. “It is important to me that you do not support a ban on the memorializing resolution process. A ban is undemocratic and infringes on my first amendment right to petition.”
Plan to attend the next Ulster County regular legislative meeting on Tuesday, April 18th at 7:00 pm at the Ulster County Office Building located at 244 Fair Street, 6th Floor in Kingston, NY. Arrive at 6:30 pm to sign-up to speak and to get a seat. Citizens are encouraged to create a two (2) minute testimony that is respectful and succinct.
In March of 2017, Resolution No. 91, a proposed ban on memorializing resolutions, had its first reading (see video below). In order to change a local law, that’s step one in the process. On April 18th, the resolution will be read a final time before it goes to vote.
Here are the facts. (**)
Is a letter from the legislature as effective as a memorializing resolution?
No. Memorializing resolutions must be submitted to the Clerk of the Legislature by the sponsor(s), along with all other business of the session, by a specific deadline. The appropriate standing committee is chosen based on the issue. It is placed on the committee agenda and discussed at the regularly scheduled meeting, which is open to the public. The members of the committee have the opportunity to discuss the MR in committee before voting to send it to the “floor” of the legislature for a vote in the upcoming session. A letter is not an act of the legislature that invites group discussion in committee, requires a vote by that committee to be sent to the floor, and is then a part of the public process where the public sees the memorializing resolution and can attend the session to weigh in.
Why do proponents of the ban on Memorializing Resolutions claim that they take up too much time during regular legislative sessions?
In 2016, the rules were changed prohibiting discussion on Memorializing Resolutions during the legislative session. However, procedure allows for members to call for a “long roll” (i.e., a one-by-one vote) so that they may speak on the issue. KingstonCitizens.org believes that engaging in debate in a way that represents and involves the public is the legislature’s business. They are protecting our “right to petition” by creating an opportunity for our voices to be heard and for our petitions to have a real forum. A ban on memorializing resolutions discredits public participation, civic dialogue, due process and the First Amendment.
Why are memorializing resolutions important?
Memorializing resolutions are statements of principles that do not become a local law or policy. They are “non-binding”. It is, effectively, a petition by one legislative body to other legislative bodies and lawmakers to provide a mechanism that allow citizens and the legislature to take a stand on important issues.
Why do the ban’s sponsors claim that Memorializing Resolutions have been used as a political tool?
The sponsors have said that memorializing resolutions were used recently by the Democratic Caucus to polarize the legislative body over issues we have no control over. Memorializing resolutions are a governing tool. Governing tools are non-partisan.
Two controversial memorializing resolutions were recently sponsored by Republicans and passed by the majority of the Ulster County Legislature. One, in fact, just occurred in March of this year. It was Resolution No. 92 “Requesting The New York State Legislature Introduce Legislation Expanding The Hate Crimes Law, New York Penal Law §485.05” (March 22, 2017). The other was Resolution No. 253 “Opposing The Process Of Enactment And Certain Provisions Contained Within The New York SAFE Act” (June 16th, 2015).
VIEW “Commentary: Ban on Memorializing Resolutions in Ulster County Legislature is Undemocratic” by Jennifer Schwartz Berky (Kingston Times, March 22, 2017)
VIDEO: Ulster County Laws and Rules Committee Discuss Prohibiting Memorializing Resolutions Legislative Session
VIDEO: Ulster County Legislature 3/22/17: First Reading of Proposed Ban on Memorializing Resolutions