Ulster County Legislature votes to ban memorializing resolutions

(Photo by Julie O’Connor)

Voting along party lines, with one Democrat joining majority Republicans, the Ulster County Legislature has banned itself from considering memorializing resolutions, official statements of stances on matters not under its jurisdiction.

The vote was 13-9 Tuesday night, with Democrat John Parete of Olive voting in favor of the ban.

Twenty-one people spoke against the ban, with only two in favor during one of the longest sessions in recent years. About 40 persons spoke at last month’s regular session, almost all opposed to the ban.

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Proponents argued that topics typically addressed in memorializing resolutions to higher authorities were not the business of the county legislature and that the legislature’s time would be better spent on county affairs. Research by legislative staff indicated that more than 190 such resolutions were adopted by the legislature over the past 11 years, less than two a month on average.

Opponents called it censorship and that memorializing resolutions encouraged public debate on important issues. “This is a sad day for this legislature,” declared Minority Leader Hector Rodriguez of New Paltz.

Legislature chairman Ken Ronk of Wallkill said the public has many ways to express itself to the legislature. He did not rule out revisiting the issue, however.

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