New York Legislature

New York Legislature

Infobox Legislature
name = New York Legislature
coa_pic = Seal of New York.svg
coa-pic =
session_room = Washington in Albany.jpg
house_type = Bicameral
houses = Senate
leader1_type = President of the Senate
leader1 = Dean Skelos
party1 = (R)
election1 = June 25, 2008
leader2_type = Speaker of the Assembly
leader2 = Sheldon Silver
party2 = (D)
election2 = February 11, 1994
members = 212
p_groups = Democratic Party
Independence Party of New York
Republican Party
Working Families Party
election3 = November 4, 2006
meeting_place = New York State Capitol
website =

The New York Legislature is the state legislature of the U.S. state of New York. It is a bicameral legislature, consisting of the lower house New York State Assembly and the upper house New York Senate. The legislature is seated at the New York State Capitol in Albany.

Legislative Houses

Legislative elections are held in November of every even-numbered year. Both Assembly members and Senators serve two-year terms.

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, in accordance with the New York Constitution, varies in its number of members, but currently has 62. Senate districts are currently between two and three times more populous than Assembly districts.


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" (tie-breaking) 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 Senate is controlled by the Republican Party, who have a 31-29 majority, but the Assembly is controlled by a Democratic supermajority of 106-42 seats. 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 toward 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.

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 are 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 ran 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 64 of the 65 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. Furthermore, it has the power to propose New York Constitution amendments by a majority vote, and then another majority vote following an election. If so proposed, the amendment becomes valid if agreed to by the voters at a referendum.


As of a 2007 poll by Quinnipiac University, voters disapprove of the job the State Legislature is doing. [ [] ] The legislature's history of corruption includes the so-called Black Horse Cavalry.

The first African-American elected to the legislature was Edward A. Johnson, a Republican, in 1917. [ [ Dictionary of NC Biography] ]

The first women elected to the legislature were Republican Ida Sammis and Democrat Mary Lilly, both in 1919. [ [ Early Women Elected to the NYS Legislature] ]

Legislative Leadership

*Speaker of the Assembly: Sheldon Silver
*Majority Leader of the Assembly: Ronald Canestrari
*Minority Leader of the Assembly: James Tedisco

*Lieutenant Governor and President of the Senate: Dean Skelos
*Temporary President and Majority Leader: Dean Skelos
*Minority Leader: Malcolm Smith

ee also

* New York State Legislature Elections, 2008


External links

* [ Official site of the New York Senate]
* [ Official site of the New York Assembly]
* [ Compiling the Legislative History of a New York State Law]

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