© New York State Senate
New York Democrats scored a big victory this past November! After decades of near-complete Republican control of the State Senate, Democrats now hold the largest share of seats in the state’s upper house.
State Senate, alongside the New York State Assembly, forms the legislative branch of the New York state government. It works alongside the governor to create laws and establish a state budget, include passing bills on public policy matters, setting levels for state spending, raising and lowering taxes, and voting to uphold or override gubernatorial vetoes.
Republicans have controlled the New York state Senate for decades but no longer.
It is true, the democrats already have an overwhelming majority of seats in the State Assembly, and they also occupy all four statewide offices. So, now that they control the Senate, Democrats are predicting fresh momentum for many proposals that had been blocked by the Republicans who previously led the Senate.
The historic power shift, that happened after this years Midterms, will allow democratic lawmakers to finally move forward with policies that have gotten through the democratic Assembly but stalled in the formerly GOP controlled Senate.
But what does this really mean for New Yorkers?
MNN asked two State Senators, Liz Krueger and Brian Benjamin, what it means for democrats to have back control of the senate.
State Senator Liz Krueger had this to say:
“Having a Democratic majority in the State Senate means we have a chance to finally address the needs of so many New Yorkers who have been overlooked for too long. Many desperately needed measures that have been bottled up for years will now have a chance to be debated and passed. We won’t be able to clear that backlog overnight, but I am looking forward to a deliberate pace of progress on issues ranging from reproductive rights to voting and ethics reforms to housing affordability to criminal justice reform to the climate crisis."
-State Senator Liz Krueger
What backlog is State Senator Krueger referring to? Proposals that would legalize recreational marijuana, set up tougher rent laws, pass the reproductive health care act, strengthen gun control laws and reform the state’s antiquated voting laws are all expected to finally get past the Senate, which had been previously blocked them all.
State Senator from District 30 in Harlem, Brian Benjamin, is excited about the future.
"Shortly after I was elected, I brought Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins to Harlem, and at a rally in front of the statue of Harriet Tubman I joined elected official from all across our state in calling for a united Democratic Majority in the State Senate with Andrea as our first black female majority leader. Thanks to the tireless work of activists, volunteers, and voters we are now less than a month away from that reality—New York is about to have the legislature it deserves! I can’t wait to finally be able to act on so many of the priorities that Republican control of the Senate prevented us from acting on. Protecting reproductive health, expanding and protecting affordable housing, modernizing our election laws, reforming our criminal justice system, better access to quality healthcare, public education funding, equal protections for the LGBTQ community and so much more will finally possible."
-State Senator Brian Benjamin
Many of those proposals, from tighter rent laws to election reforms to funding for the ailing subway system, could have major implications for New York City in particular.
Watch more on Agenda 2019 to find out what a democratic state senate could means for New Yorkers feeling the affordable housing crunch.
Watch Represent NYC to find out more the issues around a few of the proposals that could become law in 2019: