Why are the Senate and Assembly so lethargic this Legislative Session?
hero_image_alt_text===New York Legislature.
In New York, our State Legislature is in session from January until the end of July. With an average of three work days per week, and a two week long break in April, this does not leave a lot of time for the Senate and Assembly to pass legislation. Often times, the most amount of work gets accomplished during the last few weeks of June. However, this year, due to political turmoil in the Senate, we are seeing gridlock that has lead to a very unproductive end of session.
The catalyst occurred back in April, when the Republican's majority hold over the Senate chamber weakened after a special election gave the Democrats two additional seats. We then saw the the reunification of the Independent Democratic Conference (a breakaway group of Democrats who caucused with the Republicans) with the mainline Democrats. This brought the number of seats held by the Republicans to 32, while the Democrats had 31. This Republican majority was also made possible by Senator Simcha Felder, a democrat who votes with the Republicans.
The inability to pass as much legislation as in previous years really came about after Republican Senator Tom Croci's return to the Navy. This left the Senate split down the middle, 31-31. What we were left with were days where the Senate session was prematurely called to an end, few bills have been passed, and there exists a general lack of bi-partisan efforts.
There are many reasons why this is troubling, but perhaps the main issue is that this inaction hurts New Yorkers. We rely on the Legislature to pass lifesaving measures like Tobacco 21, as well as legislation that helps people eat healthier and live healthier lifestyles. With the Legislature at a standstill, none of these common sense measures will come to fruition. There are only three days left of this Legislative session, here's hoping the Senate and the Assembly make the most of it.