A Mini Course on State and Local Governments - American Foundation for the Blind
Legislative BranchThe Legislature is the lawmaking branch of state government. is organized to best meet the varied legal needs of all the State's citizens. On February 3, the New York State Assembly continued making history by. For more legislative research options, go to Who Is My Assemblymember?. Each state is headed by a governor and other state-level elected officials such as a lieutenant States like California and New York have large full-time legislative bodies with You may meet in the supermarket or at your place of worship.
In order to be a member of either house, one must be a citizen of the United Statesa 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 Assembly consists of members; they are each chosen from a single-member district. The Senate, in accordance with the New York Constitutionvaries in its number of members, but currently has As of the New York State Legislature has employees, more than any other state legislature except for the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The Lieutenant Governor, as President of the Senate, has only a tie-breaking " casting vote ". More often, the Senate is presided over by the Temporary President 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.
Other officers[ edit ] The Legislative Bill Drafting Commission LBDC aids in drafting legislation; advises as to the constitutionality, consistency or effect of proposed legislation; conducts research; and publishes and maintains the documents of the Legislature, such as the Laws of New York.
Simcha Felder, a Brooklyn Democrat, caucused with them.
The Legislative Process and YOU
There were two Senate vacancies. In the Assembly, the Democratic majority--consisting of Democrats and one Independence Party member who caucused with the Democrats--held seats, while Republicans held 37 seats. There were nine vacancies. State Government at www. You will find links to each of the member states at the Council of State Governments site at http: Congress and your state legislature.
New York State Legislature - Ballotpedia
They also differ among themselves. These differences can affect your approach and success at influencing either body. While most states have a bicameral two chamber legislature--an upper chamber usually a state Senate and a lower chamber usually a state House, Assembly or House of Delegates in Virginia --Nebraska has a nonpartisan, unicameral one chamber legislature.
States like California and New York have large full-time legislative bodies with numerous committees and large staff, not unlike the U. However, most state legislatures are considerably smaller, both in numbers of elected members and staff.
Some states have part-time legislatures which meet annually or biannually sometimes for only a few weeks. State legislators may be more directly accessible to constituents.
Your state Assemblyperson may be your next door neighbor or local hardware store proprietor. You may meet in the supermarket or at your place of worship. For these reasons, there is a greater likelihood that you will be able to relate to your state legislator on a more personal level than your House or Senate member in Washington.
Remember, though, that if they do not have staff, they will be very busy. Some Interesting Facts and Figures about State Governments Nebraska has a unicameral legislature--a senate--composed of 49 members with 14 standing committees.
The legislative sessions are short, only about three and one-half months each year. Their 98th Legislature, which convened in Januaryadjourned on April 15, New York, however, has a large bicameral legislature--a State Assembly composed of members and a Senate composed of 62 members. The State Assembly has 56 committees, subcommittees, commissions and task forces; the Senate, 33 committees.
Members of both the Assembly and the Senate have district offices to handle constituent issues. Some states have no official salary but pay their legislators on a per diem basis. You will find a chart at www. According to the national Conference of State Legislatures, twelve states including New York meet all year. California lawmakers meet till November 30 one year and September 12 the second. In New Hampshire, the legislature meets no more than 45 session days.
Utah meets only 45 calendar days.
California legislators are more remote from individual voters; each district includes aboutvoters-almost as many as in U. New York legislative districts contain aboutvoters. Connecticut House members are closer to the people, with about 22, voters per district.
Each year the California Legislature will propose, analyze, and debate over 6, bills in a single two-year session. It is heralded by Virginians as the "oldest continuous law-making body in the New World. New Mexico has a "citizen" legislature of people: Senators serve for 4 years and Representatives serve 2-year terms.
The Legislature convenes every year, for 60 calendar days in the odd-numbered years and 30 calendar days in the even-numbered years.
The Vermont Legislature meets each Tuesday through Friday during the legislative session, which runs from early January through late April. The adjournment date varies from year to year, but in general the Legislature tries to complete its work in sixteen or seventeen weeks. The lower house is the House of Representatives with members. The upper house is the Senate with 24 members.
A Mini Course on State and Local Governments
You will find links to each of the states' legislatures and individual state legislators at the National Conference of State Legislatures site at www. Information on State Governments Your state may publish a state government manual, information about members, legislative calendars, or hearing schedules.
In this day of electronic information dissemination, states have web pages that contain information about government structure, legislation, services, and personnel. An Internet search on the term "[name of your state] legislative information" should retrieve links to legislative information. For information on state governments visit the following web sites.
C-Span, the cable-TV channel that covers Congress and the federal government also offers a State Politics web page with links to state legislature home pages and to live webcasts of state legislative sessions at www. Library of Congress www. The National Conference of State Legislatures NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the nation's 50 states, its commonwealths and territories.What Is The State Congress?
You'll find their web site at http: Local governments are created by and regulated by the states which grant the powers of municipal governments in charters.
Local governments include city, town, and county governments; other common forms of local government are townships, boroughs, and villages.
While local governments can legislate local issues, they can pass no law that contradicts state law. Local governments have a wide range of elected officials from county executives and big city mayors with staff and "cabinets" to small town first selectmen. They range from part-time unpaid local officials to the officials of Washington, D. Local governments levy local taxes to fund their activities; provide its citizens with services such as a local police force and fire department and the commissions that regulate them; provide sanitation services; provide libraries and public schools and school boards; regulate traffic; maintain local streets; regulate zoning.
Because local governments are at the grassroots level, your local legislator may be your best friend, your grocer, or your next door neighbor. They are usually more responsive to your inquiries or your request for assistance in solving local problems with trash collection, potholes, or zoning issues.
You'll find their web site at www. The National League of Cities is the oldest and largest national organization representing municipal governments throughout the United States. Its mission is to strengthen and promote cities as centers of opportunity, leadership, and governance. Search the Internet for town, borough, village, and other small local governments. Type in the name of the locale-even the tiny town of East Lyme, Connecticut population just a little more than 18, www.
Start Your Adventure as an Advocate on the Local Level Many cities have local official or unofficial organizations that work at the neighborhood level. They advise the District government on issues such as zoning, streets, recreation, education, social services, sanitation, planning, safety, and health. Individuals can voice their concerns over neighborhood problems at public forums held before each meeting. This can be a great way to start your adventure as an advocate.
It can also be a steppingstone to a political career. Check with your local government to find out if there are similar organizations in your city or town. Do you have a school-related issue?
If you haven't done so already, raise the issue at your school's parent-teacher meeting. You may find allies there. Check with your local government--meetings of the Board of Education may be open to the public and may also offer an opportunity for the public to voice concerns.
If an open forum is not available, write letters to the chairman and members. Follow up on your communication. Learn about members of the Board. You may be able to find information about them on the web. Type in the name of your local city and "board education. Is your issue related to city services? Meetings of a city's legislative body often offer public forums where citizens can voice their concerns or their dissatisfaction with city services.
If a public forum is not available, write to your local legislator. Again, the web is a good place to find information about your local legislator. Links to the legislative body can be found on your city's home page.