They’re two bills birthed from latest NYPD controversy. One would establish an inspector general to oversee the department, and another would allow citizens to sue the police over claims of racial profiling. The two parts of the overarching Community Safety Act have divided the city’s most powerful, setting up a policy showdown for the upcoming mayoral race. And today, the bills will begin their gestural journey through the City Council as Speaker Christine Quinn gears up for an unprecedented legislative maneuver on her floor.
At some point this afternoon, Councilmen Brad Lander and Jumaane Williams–the co-sponsors of the bills–will attempt the “motion to discharge” process. It’s usually done to guarantee swift passage of a bill through a bypass of committee approval. In this case, the bills have been stalled by the Public Safety committee; the committee chair, former Speaker Peter Vallone Jr., has refused to schedule a vote on the pending legislations due to personal opposition to the bills.
Here’s how it works:
After the council convenes tomorrow for a full meeting, Lander and Williams will formally introduce the final versions of the bills to the floor. Then they’ll file a motion to discharge tomorrow. Next meeting, the Council will vote on the motion, or whether or not it’s OK that the bills are bypassing Vallone’s committee. Should they approve, a half of the Community Safety Act will come to a full vote at the meeting after that. If the answer’s no, then the bills find themselves back in the committee stages.
As Speaker, Quinn has to sign off on the bills that will be introduced to the floor. Per usual, this has meant that bills only she supports have seen the light of day, giving her a significant amount of authority over what comes out of the legislature. But this time, things are a bit different: Quinn is against the racial profiling bill but supports the IG bill; two bills which, according to supporters, must come out together.
With that being said, Lander and Williams’s motion to discharge will be the first ever under Quinn’s watch. It’s been used as a threat several times but, for two bills that could drastically change New York City law enforcement, time is of the essence.
The Voice will keep you updated on the vote’s procedure.
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