New York State Senate

New York State Senate
New York State Senate
New York State Legislature
Coat of arms or logo
Type Upper house
Term limits None
New session started January 5, 2011
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
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
Last election November 2, 2010
(62 seats)
Next election November 6, 2012
(62 seats)
Redistricting Legislative Control
Meeting place
State Senate Chamber
New York State Capitol
Albany, New York
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.[1] 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.



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.[2]

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.[3]

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[4] 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.[5][6] 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.[7] The self-named "Gang of Four" refused to back Malcolm Smith as the chamber's majority leader and sought concessions.[8] Monserrate soon reached an agreement with Smith that reportedly included the chairmanship of the Consumer Affairs Committee.[9] The remaining "Gang of Three" reached an initial compromise in early December that collapsed within a week,[10] but was ultimately resolved[11] with Smith becoming majority leader[12] 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).[13][14]

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.[15] 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.[16] The Espada-Skelos coalition majority, which also courted as many as ten more Democrats,[17] announced plans to hold sessions in the "Well" of the legislative office building until chamber doors are reopened.[18] 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;[19] Smith has claimed that the coalition stole the key.[17] The scheduled session was eventually postponed.[17]

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.[16] 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.[20]

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.[21]

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.[22] 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.[23])

Current Composition

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)
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%


  1. ^ Seats previously held by Republicans Thomas Morahan (died) and Vincent Leibell (resigned).
  2. ^ Four Democrats split off to form their own caucus.

Members of the Senate

District Senator Party First elected Residence
1 Kenneth LaValle Republican 1976 Port Jefferson
2 John J. Flanagan Republican 2002 East Northport
3 Lee Zeldin Republican 2010 Shirley
4 Owen H. Johnson Republican 1972 West Babylon
5 Carl Marcellino Republican 1995 Syosset
6 Kemp Hannon Republican 1989 Garden City
7 Jack Martins Republican 2010 Mineola
8 Charles Fuschillo Republican 1998 Merrick
9 Dean Skelos Republican 1984 Rockville Centre
10 Shirley Huntley Democratic 2006 Jamaica (NYC - Queens)
11 Tony Avella Democratic 2010 Whitestone (NYC - Queens)
12 Michael N. Gianaris Democratic 2010 Astoria (NYC - Queens)
13 Jose Peralta Democratic 2010 Jackson Heights (NYC - Queens)
14 Malcolm Smith Democratic 2000 St. Albans (NYC - Queens)
15 Joseph Addabbo, Jr. Democratic 2008 Ozone Park (NYC - Queens)
16 Toby Ann Stavisky Democratic 1999 Flushing (NYC - Queens)
17 Martin Malave Dilan Democratic 2002 Bushwick, Williamsburg (NYC - Brooklyn)
18 Velmanette Montgomery Democratic 1984 Red Hook, Bed-Stuy (NYC - Brooklyn)
19 John Sampson Democratic 1996 Crown Heights (NYC - Brooklyn)
20 Eric Adams Democratic 2006 Park Slope, Flatbush (NYC - Brooklyn)
21 Kevin Parker Democratic 2002 East Flatbush, Boro Park (NYC - Brooklyn)
22 Martin Golden Republican 2002 Bay Ridge (NYC - Brooklyn)
23 Diane Savino Independent Democrat 2004 Staten Island (NYC)
24 Andrew Lanza Republican 2006 Great Kills (NYC - Staten Island)
25 Dan Squadron Democratic 2008 Carroll Gardens (NYC - Brooklyn) and Lower Manhattan (NYC - Manhattan)
26 Liz Krueger Democratic 2002 Eastside (NYC - Manhattan)
27 Carl Kruger Democratic 1994 Brighton Beach (NYC - Brooklyn)
28 José M. Serrano Democratic 2004 Spanish Harlem (NYC - Manhattan)
29 Thomas Duane Democratic 1998 Westside (NYC - Manhattan)
30 Bill Perkins Democratic 2006 Harlem (NYC - Manhattan)
31 Adriano Espaillat Democratic 2010 Washington Heights and Bronx|Riverdale (NYC - Manhattan and Bronx)
32 Rubén Díaz Democratic 2002 Soundview (NYC - Bronx)
33 Gustavo Rivera Democratic 2010 Kingsbridge Heights (NYC - Bronx)
34 Jeffrey Klein Independent Democrat 2004 Morris Park (NYC - Bronx)
35 Andrea Stewart-Cousins Democratic 2006 Yonkers
36 Ruth Hassell-Thompson Democratic 2000 Williamsbridge
37 Suzi Oppenheimer Democratic 1984 Mamaroneck
38 David Carlucci Independent Democrat 2010 New City
39 Bill Larkin Republican 1990 New Windsor
40 Greg Ball Republican 2010 Patterson
41 Stephen Saland Republican 1990 Poughkeepsie
42 John Bonacic Republican 1998 Mount Hope
43 Roy McDonald Republican 2008 Stillwater
44 Hugh Farley Republican 1976 Schenectady
45 Betty Little Republican 2002 Queensbury
46 Neil Breslin Democratic 1996 Albany
47 Joseph Griffo Republican 2006 Rome
48 Patty Ritchie Republican 2010 Ogdensburg
49 David Valesky Independent Democrat 2004 Oneida
50 John DeFrancisco Republican 1992 Syracuse
51 James Seward Republican 1986 Milford
52 Thomas W. Libous Republican 1988 Binghamton
53 Tom O'Mara Republican 2010 Horseheads
54 Michael Nozzolio Republican 1992 Fayette
55 James Alesi Republican 1996 East Rochester
56 Joseph Robach Republican 2002 Greece
57 Catharine Young Republican 2005 Olean
58 Timothy M. Kennedy Democratic 2010 South Buffalo
59 Patrick Gallivan Republican 2010 Elma
60 Mark Grisanti Republican 2010 North Buffalo
61 Michael Ranzenhofer Republican 2008 Clarence
62 George D. Maziarz Republican 1995 Newfane

Committee leadership

As of the January 2011 session:[24][25][26]

Committee Chairs

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

See also


  1. ^ "Branches of Government in New York State". New York State Senate, A Guide to New York State's Government. New York State Senate. 1988. Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  2. ^ The New Amigos
  3. ^ Patience Is The New Aponte
  4. ^ Capitol Confidential » Breakaway Senate Dems form caucus (video added)
  5. ^ 2008 Election Results, New York State Board of Elections.
  6. ^ 2008-09 (Post-Election) Partisan Composition of State Legislatures National Conference of State Legislatures
  7. ^ New York Times. "Democrats Take State Senate." Nov 5, 2008.
  8. ^ Peters, Jeremy W.Democrats Likely to Keep Control of State Senate, The New York Times, November 6, 2008.
  9. ^ Benjamin, Elizabeth. Monserrate Makes A Democratic Deal The Daily Politics. The Daily News November 8, 2008
  10. ^ Lanza, Michael. Smith Balks After ‘Gang of Three’ Talks The Queens Tribune December 11, 2008.
  11. ^ Democrats Reach Pact to Lead the Senate
  12. ^ Democrats Take Control of New York State Senate
  13. ^ "GOP, 2 Dems flip power balance in NY Senate", The Washington Post, June 8, 2009
  14. ^ Odato, James. "Two Democrats join Republicans to topple Smith as Senate leader", Albany Times Union, June 8, 2009
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ a b Peters, Jeremy, and Danny Hakim.Republicans Seize Control of State Senate. The New York Times, 2009-06-09
  17. ^ a b c Bauman, Valerie. Senate stalls: Coalition says it's still strong. Associated Press. Retrieved 2009-06-11
  18. ^ Benjamin, Elizabeth. Coalition government, Day One. New York Daily News "Daily Politics" blog. 2009-06-09.
  19. ^ Staten Island Live report on end of New York State Senate paralysis
  20. ^ Salonstall, David. Sen. Pedro Espada hounded by questions on ethics and residency. New York Daily News, 2009-06-10
  21. ^ 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
  22. ^ Deadlock-Ending Deal Near? Espada To Return To The Democrats. New York Daily News Retrieved 2009-07-09
  23. ^ Vielkind, Jimmy (2010-12-07). Sampson sees no Monserrate, Parker parallels. Capitol Confidential. Retrieved 2010-12-20.
  24. ^ Capitol Confidential » Senate Majority committees set
  25. ^ Sampson Consolidates Power Through Committees
  26. ^ GOP Gives IDC Committee Chairs, Changes Chamber Rules

External links

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