ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Lawmakers in New York would have to swipe an electronic card to prove their attendance in Albany in order to claim travel and accommodation reimbursements under an ethics reform proposal crafted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.
The measure announced Wednesday would also require lawmakers to disclose all outside income over $1,000 and make lawyers serving in the Legislature identify clients who pay more than $5,000, with exceptions for sensitive cases involving things like child custody disputes.
Finally, the proposal would prohibit lawmakers from using campaign money for personal expenses like house payments or country club memberships.
Opposition from Senate Republicans could sink the plan, however. They were expected to discuss it later Wednesday.
Cuomo says the proposal is an “unprecedented” effort to rein in Albany corruption.
“This new level of disclosure and transparency will go a long way towards restoring the public trust,” the governor said in a news release. “The more trust, the more credibility.”
The debate over restrictions on outside income has intensified since the arrest of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in January on corruption charges.
Federal prosecutors charged him with taking nearly $4 million in kickbacks from law firms that benefited indirectly from grants he authorized to a medical clinic and real estate legislation. He is keeping his Assembly seat and has vowed to be exonerated.
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has called for raising legislators’ $79,500 pay for what’s considered part-time work to somewhere between the $112,500 New York City Council members are paid and the $174,000 annual salaries for members of Congress.
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats have proposed putting a tight limit on legislative moonlighting to reduce corruption. Under the legislation, lawmakers could make about $12,000, or 15 percent of their base salary, in outside income. The limit is similar to one imposed on Congress.
Cuomo came under fire last year after he disbanded the Moreland Commission investigating government corruption.
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