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Pace Law Review

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The coup that shut down the New York State Senate for over a month last summer brought the State Legislature's dysfunction to the forefront of public consciousness. As the public waited for the approval of several critical budget bills and action on a long list of substantive legislation, two members of the newly elected Democratic majority deserted to the Republican side and then switched back again to caucus with the Democrats, destabilizing the already listing New York ship of state and spreading disgust among their colleagues and the public at large. These events were, unfortunately, not anomalous. The process by which laws are made in Albany has been in shambles for decades. Newspapers throughout the state have long reported on and editorialized against this dysfunction. Over the last six years, this view has been empirically undergirded by the work of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, which has, since 2004, issued three major reports covering a decade of legislative voting records, debate transcripts, and documents that form the basis for legislative history.