Tedisco-Steck bill would require annual State of the State address to be held at the Capitol

Gazette file photo
Sen. James Tedisco


Senator Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville, and Assemblyman Phil Steck, D-Colonie, on Wednesday introduced new legislation to ensure that future State of the State addresses by New York’s Chief Executive are first given in the Assembly Chamber at the New York State Capitol.

This legislation (S.1639) is in response to the governor’s decision this year to bypass the tradition of delivering an annual holistic State of the State message to the Legislature, public and media at the Capitol.

The bill, which is an amendment to the state’s Constitution, requires that the governor’s “message shall be delivered orally in the Assembly Chamber, during the first week of legislative session, with a quorum of the Assembly and a quorum of the Senate present.”

For the past six years, the governor has given his address at the Empire State Convention Center in Albany which is attached to the state Capitol. Prior to that, the governor delivered his annual message of policy priorities in the Assembly Chamber.

“New Yorkers don’t need a ‘Hunger Games’ style State of the State. Let’s hope no president of the United States decides to deliver the State of the Union Address in our four different continental time zones,” Tedisco said. “We are one New York and we should have one State of the State delivered in the Assembly Chamber as had occurred for close to 90 years.

“I don’t oppose the governor visiting several different regions of the state. However, this amendment aims to ensure that the people’s representatives in the Legislative branch of our state government are the primary conduit for the Chief Executive’s recommendations to New Yorkers so we can work together for positive solutions to help our citizens,” Tedisco said.

The governor delivered regional State of the State addresses in Buffalo, New York City, Long Island, Westchester County, Syracuse and Albany this week to unveil his legislative priorities. Each speech included a regional focus.

But many lawmakers saw the move as an affront.

“The purpose of the State of the State is not to propagandize and then blame the Legislature for what is not accomplished. It is to outline for the Legislature in a serious manner those policies which the Governor believes we can realistically accomplish, working together,” Steck said. “It should set the agenda for a productive legislative session. Converting the State of the State into a dog and pony show, and now taking that show on the road, is unnecessary, inefficient, and a waste of taxpayer dollars.”

The bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. There is no print number for the Assembly version of the bill as of press time.