Gothamist The New York City Council Has A New Crop Of Lawmakers: Here’s How Those Laws Get Made by David Cruz
The attorneys at the council’s legislative division wield significant power in deciding whether to advance a bill, basing it on a number of factors, including if a bill can stand legal scrutiny. This stage can take months or even years, given the extent of legal research that’s required, said former Councilmember Ben Kallos, who represented Manhattan.
“Most legislation dies in drafting,” Kallos said.
But should the team determine it is feasible for a proposed bill to be enacted, then they get to work on wording the bill, using language that can take months to hash out.
“It goes through a lot of reviews,” Kallos said. “The more complicated the issue, the longer it takes.”
Hearings usually can run for five minutes or 12 hours, the standard cap. From there, Kallos said, the speaker’s office, bill sponsor, committee chair, and committee decide whether to proceed. If so, they alert the mayor, and the council’s attorney begins to further flesh out the bill with help from the city Law Department.
“Sometimes these changes are very minor, and sometimes we’re talking about a completely new bill,” Kallos said.
A bill requires 26 members, or a simple majority, for it to pass. However, a speaker can choose not to put something to a vote unless they expect the bill will pass with a supermajority, composed of 34 or more in the council. Such votes are secured to send a message to the mayor that a bill is veto-proof, Kallos said, as a supermajority will override a mayor’s veto.