The Legislature is the lawmaking branch of state government. It is a bicameral, or two-house, body composed of the Senate and the Assembly. The Constitution authorizes a Senate of varying number, currently 62 members, and an Assembly of 150 members, who are elected from districts throughout the State for two-year terms. Each member of the Legislature must be a United States citizen, a resident of the State for five years and, in most cases, of the Senate or Assembly district for one year preceding the election.
The Lieutenant Governor is the Senate’s President. In this largely ceremonial capacity,the Lieutenant Governor presides over the Senate during the legislative session and has a rarely used casting vote to break ties in measures before the house.
After each election, the Senate elects from among its members a Temporary President who serves a two-year term. Traditionally, the Temporary President is the ranking Senator of the majority political party in the house — the Majority Leader. It is the duty of the Temporary President to direct and guide the business of the Senate, appoint Senate committees, name Senate employees and perform or delegate to another Senator the duties of the President during the Lieutenant Governor’s absence from the Senate Chamber. Since January 2019, Andrea Stewart-Cousins has been serving as the Senate Majority Leader
The Assembly is presided over by the Speaker, who is elected from and by the Assembly membership for a two-year term. In addition to his/her duties as presiding officer, the Speaker possesses general powers similar to those of the Temporary President of the Senate. Carl E. Heastie has been serving as the Speaker of the New York State Assembly since February of 2015.
The Temporary President and then the Speaker are next in line to the Lieutenant Governor in succession to the governorship.
The powers that the Constitution reserves for the Legislature are varied and extensive. The most important is that which permits the Senate and Assembly to propose laws, within the limits of the Federal Constitution and certain Federal statutes and treaties. These laws first take the form of bills, which may be introduced in either house. A bill passed by one house must be passed in the same form by the other before it can be sent to the Governor for his signature or veto.
The lawmaking powers of the Legislature include: the appropriation of funds for the operation of state government and its agencies and for aid to local governments; the definition of acts or omissions that constitute crimes and the setting of penalties; the promotion of the public welfare, including that of the State’s indigent, mentally ill and unemployed; and the correction, clarification, amendment or repeal of laws that are outdated or confusing.
The Senate and Assembly have several additional powers that are reserved solely for them in the Constitution. An important weapon in legislative battle is the override of a Governor’s veto. The Legislature can approve a law despite a veto by the Governor with the support of two-thirds of the membership in each house. However, the most common lawmaking procedure is the result of compromise among the Senate, the Assembly and the Governor.
The Senate alone has the power to confirm the Governor’s appointment on non-elected state officials and court judges. The Constitution provides that such appointments are subject to the advice and consent of the Senate, which approves or disapproves them, after hearings on the candidate’s qualifications.
The Legislature, through its varied functions, serves as a check upon the executive authority of the Governor and helps ensure that the best interests of the State’s citizens are legislatively represented.
The New York State Senate is the upper house of the New York State Legislature. Its 63 members represent New York State, 6 of whom represents residents of New York County/Manhattan. The legislature’s primary purpose is to draft and approve changes to the laws of New York. Find your senator using this search tool.
Districts in Manhattan:
The New York State Assembly is the lower house of the New York State Legislature, the New York State Senate being the upper house. There are 150 seats in the Assembly, 12 of which are representing New York County/Manhattan. Assembly members serve two-year terms without term limits.