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|Website = [ Official Legislature Page]
|Website = [ Official Legislature Page]
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|Senate president = [[Dean Skelos]] (R)
|Senate president = [[Dean Skelos]] (R)/[[Jeffrey Klein]] (ID)
|House speaker = [[Sheldon Silver]] (D)
|House speaker = [[Sheldon Silver]] (D)
|Majority leader = [[Dean Skelos]] (R) ([[New York State Senate|Senate]]),<br>[[Ronald Canestrari]] (D) ([[New York State Assembly|Assembly]])
|Majority leader = [[Dean Skelos]] (R)/[[Jeffrey Klein]] (ID) ([[New York State Senate|Senate]]),<br>[[Ronald Canestrari]] (D) ([[New York State Assembly|Assembly]])
|Minority leader = [[John Sampson]] (D) ([[New York State Senate|Senate]]),<br>[[Brian Kolb]] (R) ([[New York State Assembly|Assembly]])
|Minority leader = [[John Sampson]] (D) ([[New York State Senate|Senate]]),<br>[[Brian Kolb]] (R) ([[New York State Assembly|Assembly]])
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Revision as of 11:17, 19 May 2013

New York State Legislature

Seal of New York.png
General Information
Type:   State legislature
Term limits:   None
2015 session start:   January 9, 2013
Website:   Official Legislature Page
Senate President:   Dean Skelos (R)/Jeffrey Klein (ID)
House Speaker:  Sheldon Silver (D)
Majority Leader:   Dean Skelos (R)/Jeffrey Klein (ID) (Senate),
Ronald Canestrari (D) (Assembly)
Minority leader:   John Sampson (D) (Senate),
Brian Kolb (R) (Assembly)
Members:  62 (Senate), 150 (Assembly)
Length of term:   2 years (Senate), 2 years (House)
Authority:   Art III, Sec. 3, New York Constitution
Salary:   $79,500/year + per diem
Last Election:  November 6, 2012
62 seats (Senate)
150 seats (House)
Next election:  November 4, 2014
Redistricting:  New York Legislature has control
The New York Legislature is the state legislature of New York. It is a bicameral legislature, consisting of the lower New York State Assembly and the upper New York State Senate. The Legislature is not perceived well by the public [1]. Past corruption was sometimes referred to in colorful terms like the "Black Horse Cavalry."

The legislature is seated at the New York State Capitol in Albany.


Article III of the New York Constitution outlines the legislative power for New York's government. Article III does not limit when the Legislature can convene in regular session. However, Section 18 of Article III does contain provisions related to special sessions of the Legislature. Section 18 states that a special session can be called by a petition of request from two-thirds of both legislative houses.


See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature will be in session from January 9 through December 31 (estimated).

Major issues

Gun control tops the list to be addressed by legislators in 2013. Other major issues include raising the minimum wage, securing federal dollars for victims of Superstorm Sandy, education, job creation, legalizing casinos off of Native American lands, and restrictions to the New York City Police Department's stop-and-frisk procedures.[2]

Gun control:
Following the December 14, 2012 school shooting in Newton, Connecticut, Gov. Cuomo sought to make gun control a major issue in 2013. To that end, one of the first things the Legislature did in its 2013 session was to pass a tougher assault weapons ban that includes restrictions on ammunition and the sale of guns, as well as provisions to keep guns from the mentally ill who make threats. New York was the first state to pass new laws after the tragedy.[3]


See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2012, the Legislature was in session from January 4 through June 22.

Major issues

Redistricting was a divisive issue in 2011 and had to be dealt with in 2012. Other issues included addressing a $3.5 billion budget gap and a proposal to ban hydrofracking.[4]


In 2011, the Legislature will be in session from January 5 through a date to be determined by the Legislature. [5]


In 2010, the Legislature convened its regular session on January 6. The Legislature remained in regular session throughout the year. Additionally, the Legislature was in an ongoing special session, which convened in 2009, dealing with issues of deficit reduction.[6]


See also: Redistricting in New York

The New York Legislature is responsible for redistricting. While there is a six person commission on redistricting, known as the Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR), it only acts in an advisory role. The final deal must meet with approval from the Department of Justice.[7]

2010 census

New York received its 2010 census data on March 23, 2011. The state's growth rate was at 2.19%, well below the national rate of 9.7%.[8] Redistricting became a major issue in the state prior to the November 2010 elections. Going into the elections, the organization NY Uprising asked all candidates to sign a pledge to support nonpartisan redistricting during the following legislative session. A majority of those who won in both chambers signed the pledge.[9] Additionally, Governor Andrew Cuomo consistently reiterated his pledge to veto any new maps that were not drawn through a non-partisan process.[10] Meanwhile, Republicans added more friction to the process in September 2011 when they were said to be considering adding a 63rd seat to the Senate. Democrats balked, saying it didn't make sense to add a seat in the chamber when slow population growth caused the state to lose seats in Congress.[11]

The two sides battled over the issue of redistricting during the entire 2011 session. Following a number of delays, LATFOR released proposed Senate and Assembly maps on January 26, 2012. The Senate plan included the additional 63rd seat. Gov. Cuomo continued to threaten to veto the maps, but began to tone down his rhetoric.[12] On March 11, LATFOR filed a bill of their final plans, which closely resembled the maps they released two months earlier. Along with this, leaders offered a constitutional amendment that would set up a new bipartisan commission on redistricting following the next census in 2020.[13] Following a walkout of Senate Democrats, the bill passed. Later that week the constitutional amendment passed. However, in order to become law, it must be passed by the next separately elected legislature and also approved by voters in a referendum.[14] With that approved, Cuomo stated, "It’s over once and for all" [15] and signed the maps into law.[16]

Legislative Houses

Legislative elections are held in November of every even-numbered year. Both Assembly members and Senators serve two-year terms without term limits.

In order to be a member of either house, one must be a citizen of the United States, a resident of the state of New York for at least five years, and a resident of the district for at least one year prior to election.

The lower Assembly consists of 150 members, each chosen from a single-member district. The Senate includes a varying number of members. The New York Constitution provides that the default membership be fifty members. However, it provides that if any county would by virtue of its population be entitled to more than three Senators, then the first three Senators would count towards the limit of fifty, while the remainder would be in addition to the fifty. Currently, there are twelve additional Senators (who are in terms of legislative power equal to any other Senators), making the total membership sixty-two. This accounts for the large percentage of the state population taken up by New York City and its suburbs (usually estimated at about 60%, depending on which counties are included as suburbs). Senate districts are currently between two and three times more populous than Assembly districts.


Each member represents an average of 312,550 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[17] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 306,072.[18]

Party As of March 2015
     Democratic Party 31
     Republican Party 32
Total 63


Each member represents an average of 129,187 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[19] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 126,510.[20]

Party As of March 2015
     Democratic Party 105
     Republican Party 44
     Vacancy 1
Total 150



See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2012, members of the New York Legislature are paid $79,500/year and per diem of $61/half day and $171/full day. Per diem varies and is tied to the federal rate. [21]

The $79,500/year that New York legislators are paid as of 2011 is the same as they were paid during legislative sessions in 2007.[22][23]


Some legislators in New York are able to begin collecting a state pension while still serving in office and also receiving their normal salary. Under state law, if a lawmaker took office prior to 1995, they are eligible to begin collecting an annual pension once they turn 65. Those who took office after 1994 are not able to collect a pension while still in office. As of 2011, Rep. Herman Farrell (D) was the highest-paid state legislator, collecting his $113,500 salary as well as a pension of $81,619.[24]

When sworn in

See also: When state legislators assume office after a general election

New York legislators assume office January 1st.


The Assembly is headed by the Speaker, while the Senate is headed by the President, a post held ex officio by the State Lieutenant Governor. The Lieutenant Governor, as President of the Senate, has only a casting vote. More often, the Senate is presided over by the Temporary President, who is also the Majority Leader, or by a senator of the Majority Leader's choosing.

The Assembly Speaker and Senate Majority Leader control the assignment of committees and leadership positions, along with control of the agenda in their chambers. The two are considered powerful statewide leaders and along with the Governor of New York control most of the agenda of state business in New York.

Party control

The New York State Legislature is currently split by party. The Republicans currently hold a narrow 32-30 seat majority in the Senate and the Democrats hold a 95-51 seat (four vacancies) majority in the Assembly. Among the top reasons for this split include the more conservative upstate region holding more clout in the State Senate, as well as Long Island, where voters are increasingly trending towards the Democrats on the state and local levels (Long Island was once overwhelmingly Republican) but continue to re-elect their incumbent Republican state senators (some of whom have served for many years, such as 30+ year veteran Caesar Trunzo, and most of whom have raised considerable amounts of money to deter challengers). Republicans currently hold eight of the nine state senate seats for Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

In recent years, Republicans in the State Senate have lost ground, particularly in Westchester County and New York City, though they still hold a few senate seats representing parts of Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island (which leans Republican at most levels of government). Economic troubles and population loss in Upstate New York is also a factor, as Democratic-leaning areas of that region have become more important in recent elections. In the past, Democrats would occasionally switch parties when they run for Senate so they could sit with the majority. Recent Democratic gains have led to fewer defections from the party.

The Assembly has been dominated by Democrats for about 30 years and Republicans have recently lost ground in this chamber as well. Between 2002 and 2005, the Republican conference dropped from 53 seats to 45. Republicans even lost some districts that historically have been reliably Republican, especially on Long Island. One crucial reason for the Democrats' dominance is that they control 63 of the 64 districts that are assigned to New York City (an extension of the party's dominance at most other levels in the city).

The Legislature is empowered to make law, subject to the governor's power to veto a bill. However, the veto may be overridden by the Legislature if there is a two-thirds majority in favor of overriding in each House.

Constitutional amendments

According to Article XIX of the New York Constitution, the state legislature has the power to propose amendments to the constitution as follows:

  • Any proposed amendments must be referred to the New York Attorney General, who is required to provide a written opinion as to how the proposed amendment fits in with other provisions of the constitution.
  • If both chambers of the legislature (the New York State Senate and the New York State Assembly) agree with the proposed amendment by a simple majority vote, the proposed amendment is then referred to "the next regular legislative session convening after the succeeding general election of members of the assembly."
  • If that next session of the legislature agrees with the amendment by a simple majority vote of both chambers, "it shall be the duty of the legislature to submit each proposed amendment or amendments to the people for approval in such manner and at such times as the legislature shall prescribe".
  • If a general statewide vote approves the amendment by a simple majority vote, it becomes a part of the constitution on the "day of January next after such approval."[25]

External links


  2. Spokesman Review, "NY legislative leaders buckle down on gun controls," January 9, 2013
  3. Seattle PI, "NY seals 1st state gun laws since Newtown massacre," January 15, 2013
  4. Poughkeepsie Journal, "Divisive issues to test Cuomo's popularity in 2nd year," January 9, 2012
  5. 2011 Legislative Sessions Calendar, NCSL
  6. 2010 session dates for New York Legislature
  7. New York Observer, "Backgrounder: How Redistricting Will Reshape New York's Battle Lines," December 27, 2010
  8. The Epoch Times, "New York Loses House Seats After 2010 Census," December 22, 2010
  9. Auburn Pub, "Koch expects legislators to deliver on pledge," January 2, 2011
  10. New York 1 "Advocates air concerns over NY's redistricting process," December 14, 2010
  11. New York Daily News, "State Senate Republicans mull adding extra seat to 62-member body," September 19, 2011
  12. New York Daily News, "Gov. Andrew Cuomo vows to veto Republicans' redistricting plan," January 26, 2012
  13., "New York releases its final redistricting maps for state Senate and Assembly districts," March 12, 2012
  14. Reuters, "New York lawmakers approve redistricting amendment," March 15, 2012
  15. Capital New York, "Cuomo says redistricting is fixed, and on transparency: 'You can't live your life in a goldfish bowl'," March 15, 2012
  16. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named cong_approved
  17. Population in 2010 of the American states
  18. Population in 2000 of the American states
  19. Population in 2010 of the American states
  20. Population in 2000 of the American states
  21. National Conference of State Legislatures, "2011 Legislator Compensation Data"
  22. National Conference of State Legislatures, "2010 Legislator Compensation Data"
  23. Empire Center, "Legislative Salaries Per State as of 2007"
  24. USA Today, "State lawmakers pump up pensions in ways you can't," September 23, 2011
  25. Article XIX of the New York Constitution