carlheastieFrom the Morning Memo:

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie rose to power earlier this year, in part by promising he would change the secretive top-down practices of his predecessor, former Speaker Sheldon Silver, providing more involvement to rank-and-file members and overhauling the way the chamber does business.

Members seem pleased this far with Heastie’s approach, saying he went out of his way to listen to their concerns and communicate them to the governor and the Senate during the budget and end-of-session negotiations.

Heastie also signed off on reforms to the notoriously loophole-ridden per diem system, which had been criminally abused by several now-former lawmakers. Receipts and proof of travel to Albany are now required in order for lawmakers to be reimbursed for their expenses.

The speaker established a 12-member working group back in April to review the chamber’s rules and recommend changes that would make the process more transparent.

The group, chaired by Assemblymen Brian Kavanagh and Gary Pretlow, drew some initial criticism for failing to include any members of the GOP minority, but other than that, it was well received.

Since then, however, there has been radio silence from the group, which has not gone unnoticed by members of the good government community, who say lawmakers are taking the wrong approach with this effort by operating in secrecy and failing to reach out to the public for advice.

Heastie yesterday defended the working group, telling reporters that its members are throwing around “ideas” and need more time to meet (it’s summer, after all, before making their proposals public.

“The idea was for them to meet and have conversations and come back to us with recommendations in the next session,” the speaker said. “So I’ve left that to the 12 members of the committee…they have time.”

With additional reporting by Dan Clark