- New York State Senate
New York State Senate New York State Legislature Type Type Upper house Term limits None New session started January 5, 2011 Leadership President of the Senate Robert J. Duffy, (D)
since January 1, 2011
Temporary President Dean Skelos, (R)
since January 1, 2011
Minority Leader John Sampson, (D)
since January 1, 2011
Structure Members 62 Political groups Republican Party (32)
Democratic Party (26)
Independent Conference (4)
Length of term 2 years Authority Article III, New York Constitution Salary $79,500/year + per diem Elections Last election November 2, 2010
Next election November 6, 2012
Redistricting Legislative Control Meeting place State Senate Chamber
New York State Capitol
Albany, New York
Website New York State Senate
The New York State Senate is one of two houses in the New York State Legislature and has members each elected to two-year terms. There are no limits on the number of terms one may serve. The New York Constitution provides for a varying number of members in the Senate; the current membership is 62, elected from single-member constituencies equal in population.
- 1 Officers
- 2 2008 elections and power struggle
- 3 Current Composition
- 4 Committee leadership
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
The Senate is headed by its President, a post held ex officio by the Lieutenant Governor. The Senate President has a casting vote in the event of a tie, but otherwise may not vote. More often, the Senate is presided over by the Temporary President, a post which is normally also held by the Majority Leader. After the 2008 elections, the Senate had a Democratic majority for the first time since 1965. They lost that majority on November 2, 2010, when Republican Jack Martins defeated Democratic Senator Craig Johnson. Following the defections of Jeffrey Klein, David Valesky and Diane Savino from the Democratic caucus, the trio will join freshman David Carlucci in a newly formed Independent Conference separate from the Democratic and Republican conferences.
The Senate has one additional member outside those who are elected by the people: the Secretary of the New York State Senate is a post that is chosen by a majority vote of the senators, and does not have voting power (he/she is allowed, though officially discouraged, from discussing and negotiating legislative matters). The Secretary of the Senate is responsible for overseeing the handling of bills and the oversight of the sergeants-at-arms and the stenographer, both of which are answerable to the secretary. The position is currently held by Frank Patience, who was elected to a two-year position in January 2011.
Position Name Party District President of the Senate/Lieutenant Governor Robert J. Duffy Dem Temporary President Dean Skelos Rep 9 Majority Leader/Republican Conference leader Dean Skelos Rep 9 Minority Leader/Democratic Conference leader John L. Sampson Dem 19 Independent Democratic Conference leader Jeffrey Klein ID 34
Full Majority leadership
- Temporary President: Sen. Dean Skelos
- Majority Leader: Sen. Dean Skelos
- Deputy Majority Leader: Sen. Thomas Libous
- Vice President Pro Tempore: Sen. George Maziarz
- Senior Assistant Majority Leader: Sen. Owen Johnson
- Majority Program Development Committee Chairman: Sen. Hugh Farley
- Majority Conference Chairman: Sen. Kenneth LaValle
- Majority Conference Vice Chairman: Sen. Stephen Saland
- Assistant Majority Leader on Conference Operations: Sen. James Seward
- Majority Leader for House Operations: Sen. Kemp Hannon
- Majority Whip: Sen. William Larkin
- Deputy Majority Whip: Sen. Charles Fuschillo
- Assistant Majority Whip: Sen. Martin Golden
- Majority Steering Committee Chairman: Sen. James Alesi
- Deputy Majority Leader for State/Federal Relations: Sen. John Bonacic
- Deputy Majority Leader for Intergovernmental Affairs: Sen. Betty Little
- Deputy Majority Leader for Policy: Sen. Joseph Robach
- Liaison to the Executive Chamber: Sen.J. Catharine Young
Full Minority leadership
- Minority Leader: Sen. John Sampson
- Deputy Minority Leader: Sen. Neil Breslin
- Deputy Minority Leader for Intergovernmental Affairs: Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer
- Deputy Minority Leader for Policy: Vacant
- Deputy Minority Leader for State/Federal Relations: Sen. Shirley Huntley
- Senior Assistant Minority Leader: Sen. Martin Malave Dilan
- Assistant Minority Leader for Conference Operations:
- Democratic Conference Chairwoman: Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson
- Democratic Program Development Committee Chairman: Sen. Tom Duane
- Minority Whip: Sen. Jose Peralta
- Democratic Conference Vice Chairwoman: Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky
- Democratic Conference Secretary: Sen. José Serrano
- Democratic Steering Committee Chairwoman: Vacant
- Assistant Minority Whip: Sen. Velmanette Montgomery
2008 elections and power struggle
Democrats won 32 of 62 seats in New York's upper chamber in the 2008 General Election on November 4, capturing the majority for the first time in more than four decades. Previously, the Republicans had held the chamber for all but one year from 1939 to 2008, even as New York turned almost solidly Democratic at all levels.
However, a power struggle emerged before the new term began. Four Democratic senators—Rubén Díaz (Bronx), Carl Kruger (Brooklyn), Pedro Espada (Bronx), and then-Senator Hiram Monserrate (Queens)—immediately refused to caucus with their party. The self-named "Gang of Four" refused to back Malcolm Smith as the chamber's majority leader and sought concessions. Monserrate soon reached an agreement with Smith that reportedly included the chairmanship of the Consumer Affairs Committee. The remaining "Gang of Three" reached an initial compromise in early December that collapsed within a week, but was ultimately resolved with Smith becoming majority leader until early June 2009, when two Democrats joined with Republicans to elect a new leadership for the New York State Senate, reaching a power-sharing deal under which Republicans became, again, technically the majority party.
Republican reclamation and ensuing dispute
Though there were 32 Democrats and 30 Republicans in the Senate, on June 8, 2009, then-Senator Hiram Monserrate (D-Queens) and Pedro Espada, Jr. (D-Bronx)—who were part of what was described by the Associated Press as a "parliamentary coup"—allegedly voted with the 30 Republican members to install Senator Dean Skelos (R-Nassau) as the new majority leader of the Senate, to replace Senator Malcolm Smith (D-Queens).
The move came after Republican whip Tom Libous introduced a surprise resolution to vacate the chair and replace Smith as temporary president and majority leader. In an effort to stop the vote, Democratic whip Jeff Klein unilaterally moved to recess, and Smith had the lights and Internet cut off. However, they were unable to stop the session. All 30 Republicans plus two Democrats, Monserrate and Espada, voted in favor of the resolution. In accordance with a prearranged deal, Espada was elected temporary president and acting lieutenant governor while Skelos was elected majority leader. Both Monserrate and Espada were members of the original "Gang of Four" (the other two being Ruben Diaz and Carl Kruger), a group of Democratic senators that threatened to defect to the Republican caucus to prevent Smith from taking control of the chamber in January 2009. Monserrate had backed out of the Gang at the time, being the first of the four to back Smith.
The apparent Republican seizure of power was tenuous in any event. Smith claimed the vote was illegal because of Klein's motion to adjourn; parliamentary procedure stipulates that a vote to adjourn takes precedence over all other business. However, Smith, Klein, and most of the Democrats walked out before an actual vote to adjourn could be taken. Smith has also claimed that it is illegal to oust the majority leader in the middle of a two-year term, and as such, leaders can only be replaced at the beginning of a term, except in the case of death or resignation. Smith still asserted he was majority leader and would challenge the vote in court. He locked the doors of the state senate chambers in an effort to prevent any further legislative action. The Espada-Skelos coalition majority, which also courted as many as ten more Democrats, announced plans to hold sessions in the "Well" of the legislative office building until chamber doors are reopened. By the time of the scheduled session on June 10 at 3:00 p.m., at the request of Governor David Paterson, the keys to the senate chamber were turned over to the coalition; Smith has claimed that the coalition stole the key. The scheduled session was eventually postponed.
Both Monserrate and Espada faced accusations of unethical or criminal conduct. Monserrate was indicted for felony assault in March and would automatically lose his seat if convicted. New York, like most states, has a provision in its state constitution which bars convicted felons from holding office. Espada was the target of a state investigation into whether he funded his campaign with money siphoned from a nonprofit health care agency he controls. The Bronx's district attorney is also investigating charges that Espada actually lives in Mamaroneck rather than the north Bronx district he represents.
As a result of the coup, Senate Democrats voted for John Sampson to replace Malcolm Smith as Democratic Leader. This led Hiram Monserrate to declare that he would once again caucus with the Democrats, which led to a 31-31 split.
On July 9, 2009, a source stated that Espada would be rejoining the Senate Democratic Conference after reaching a deal to have Malcolm Smith be pro tem until a "transition period" during which Senator Sampson would ascend to the Senate's Temporary Presidency. The term expired with Smith still as Temporary President. Democrats orchestrated the removal of both Espada and Monserrate from their ranks; Monserrate was expelled from his seat, while Espada was defeated in a primary election that had the state party back his primary opponent, Gustavo Rivera. (The political motivations behind Monserrate's ouster were made evident when the Senate Democrats announced no intentions to remove Kevin Parker, who was also convicted on misdemeanor charges, from his seat.)
The Senate was dominated by the Republican party for much of the 20th Century. After World War II, Democrats only controlled the house twice. In 1965, the Democrats gained the majority only to lose in special elections that year. They again came to power following the 2008 elections. Despite an attempted power coup by the entire Republican caucus and two dissident Democrats, the Democrats maintained their majority throughout most of the 2009-2010 session. Following state elections in 2010, Republicans were able to gain the two seats necessary to again reclaim the majority.
The Senate's apportionment traditionally favors the Upstate, where the Republicans dominated politics for most of the time before the 1990s. Even when the Democrats won the majority in 2008, they only held five seats in the Upstate and two on Long Island. Presently, the Democrats hold all but two seats in New York City, but only four north of the city and none of the nine Long Island seats. Two of the four upstate Democrats are in the Democratic Conference; the other two caucus with the Independent Democrats.
Affiliation Party(Shading indicates majority caucus) Total Democratic Independent
Republican Vacant End of previous legislature 32 28 60 2[n 1] Begin 2011 session 26 4[n 2] 32 62 0 Latest voting share 41.9% 6.5% 51.6%
- ^ Seats previously held by Republicans Thomas Morahan (died) and Vincent Leibell (resigned).
- ^ Four Democrats split off to form their own caucus.
Members of the Senate
Independent Democrats indicated with (ID); all others Republican.
- Administrative Regulations Review Commission: David Carlucci (ID)
- Aging: David Valesky (ID)
- Agriculture: Patty Ritchie
- Alcoholism and Substance Abuse: Jeffrey Klein (ID)
- Banking: Joseph Griffo
- Children and Families: Diane Savino (ID)
- Cities: Andrew Lanza
- Civil Service and Pensions: Bill Larkin
- Codes: Stephen Saland
- Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business: Jim Alesi
- Commission on Rural Resources: Catharine Young
- Consumer Protection: Lee Zeldin
- Corporations, Authorities and Commissions: Michael Ranzenhofer
- Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections: Michael Nozzolio
- Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation: Betty Little
- Education: John Flanagan
- Elections: Tom O'Mara
- Energy: George Maziarz
- Environmental Conservation: Mark Grisanti
- Ethics: Andrew Lanza
- Finance: John DeFrancisco
- Health: Kemp Hannon
- Higher Education: Kenneth LaValle
- Housing, Construction and Community Development: Catharine Young
- Insurance: James Seward
- Investigations and Governmental Operations: Carl Marcellino
- Judiciary: John Bonacic
- Labor: Joseph Robach
- Local Government: Jack Martins
- Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities: Roy McDonald
- Racing, Gaming and Wagering: John Bonacic
- Rules: Dean Skelos
- Social Services: Patrick Gallivan
- Transportation: Charles Fuschillo
- Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs: Greg Ball
Committee Vice Chairs
- Vice Chairman of the Finance Committee: Hugh Farley
Committee ranking members
- All members of the Democratic Conference.
- Aging: Ruben Diaz
- Agriculture: Timothy M. Kennedy
- Banking: Malcolm Smith
- Children and Families: Velmanette Montgomery
- Cities: Tony Avella
- Civil Service and Pensions: Liz Krueger
- Codes: Michael Gianaris
- Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business: Timothy M. Kennedy
- Consumer Protection: Eric Adams
- Corporations, Authorities and Commissions: Bill Perkins
- Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections: Gustavo Rivera
- Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation: Jose Serrano
- Education: Suzi Oppenheimer
- Elections: Joseph Addabbo
- Energy: Kevin Parker
- Environmental Conservation: Tony Avella
- Ethics: Shirley Huntley
- Finance: Carl Kruger
- Health: Tom Duane
- Higher Education: Toby Ann Stavisky
- Housing, Construction and Community Development: Adriano Espaillat
- Insurance: Neil Breslin
- Investigations and Governmental Operations: Daniel Squadron
- Judiciary: Ruth Hassell-Thompson
- Labor: Jose Peralta
- Local Government: Andrea Stewart-Cousins
- Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities: Shirley Huntley
- Racing, Gaming and Wagering: Eric Adams
- Rules: John Sampson
- Social Services: Liz Krueger
- Transportation: Martin Dilan
- Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs: Joseph Addabbo
- Majority Leader of the New York State Senate
- List of New York State Senators
- List of members of the New York State Assembly
- New York State Capitol
- New York state elections, 2008
- 2009 New York State Senate leadership crisis
- ^ "Branches of Government in New York State". New York State Senate, A Guide to New York State's Government. New York State Senate. 1988. http://www.senate.state.ny.us/sws/aboutsenate/branches_gov.html. Retrieved 2009-04-23.
- ^ The New Amigos
- ^ Patience Is The New Aponte
- ^ Capitol Confidential » Breakaway Senate Dems form caucus (video added)
- ^ 2008 Election Results, New York State Board of Elections.
- ^ 2008-09 (Post-Election) Partisan Composition of State Legislatures National Conference of State Legislatures
- ^ New York Times. "Democrats Take State Senate." nytimes.com. Nov 5, 2008.
- ^ Peters, Jeremy W.Democrats Likely to Keep Control of State Senate, The New York Times, November 6, 2008.
- ^ Benjamin, Elizabeth. Monserrate Makes A Democratic Deal The Daily Politics. The Daily News November 8, 2008
- ^ Lanza, Michael. Smith Balks After ‘Gang of Three’ Talks The Queens Tribune December 11, 2008.
- ^ Democrats Reach Pact to Lead the Senate
- ^ Democrats Take Control of New York State Senate
- ^ "GOP, 2 Dems flip power balance in NY Senate", The Washington Post, June 8, 2009
- ^ Odato, James. "Two Democrats join Republicans to topple Smith as Senate leader", Albany Times Union, June 8, 2009
- ^ 
- ^ a b Peters, Jeremy, and Danny Hakim.Republicans Seize Control of State Senate. The New York Times, 2009-06-09
- ^ a b c Bauman, Valerie. Senate stalls: Coalition says it's still strong. Associated Press. Retrieved 2009-06-11
- ^ Benjamin, Elizabeth. Coalition government, Day One. New York Daily News "Daily Politics" blog. 2009-06-09.
- ^ Staten Island Live report on end of New York State Senate paralysis
- ^ Salonstall, David. Sen. Pedro Espada hounded by questions on ethics and residency. New York Daily News, 2009-06-10
- ^ Lovett, Kenneth (2009-06-15) State Senate standoff means even bigger mess with Sen. Hiram Monserrate's change of heart. New York Daily News Retrieved 2009-06-15
- ^ Deadlock-Ending Deal Near? Espada To Return To The Democrats. New York Daily News Retrieved 2009-07-09
- ^ Vielkind, Jimmy (2010-12-07). Sampson sees no Monserrate, Parker parallels. Capitol Confidential. Retrieved 2010-12-20.
- ^ Capitol Confidential » Senate Majority committees set
- ^ Sampson Consolidates Power Through Committees
- ^ GOP Gives IDC Committee Chairs, Changes Chamber Rules
Members of the New York State Senate President of the Senate: Robert J. Duffy (D) • Majority Leader: Dean Skelos (R) • Minority Leader: John Sampson (D) Republican (32) • Democratic (26) • Independent Democratic (4) • New York State Legislature • New York State Assembly • New York State Senate
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