New York State Senate

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New York State Senate
New York State Legislature
Coat of arms or logo
Term limits
New session started
January 8, 2015
Kathy C. Hochul (D)
Since January 1, 2015
John J. Flanagan (R)
Since May 11, 2015
Jeffrey Klein (IDC)
Since January 10, 2015
Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D)
Since December 19, 2012
Seats 63
New York State Senate Diagram.svg
Political groups


Length of term
2 years
Authority Article III, New York Constitution
Salary $79,500/year + per diem
Last election
November 4, 2014
Next election
November 8, 2016
Redistricting Legislative Control
Meeting place
State Senate Chamber
New York State Capitol
Albany, New York

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 63,[2] elected from single-member constituencies equal in population.

Recent State Senate history

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.[3][4] 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 Hiram Monserrate (Queens)—immediately refused to caucus with their party.[5] The self-named "Gang of Four" refused to back Malcolm Smith as the chamber's majority leader and sought concessions.[6] Monserrate soon reached an agreement with Smith that reportedly included the chairmanship of the Consumer Affairs Committee.[7] The remaining "Gang of Three" reached an initial compromise in early December that collapsed within a week,[8] but was ultimately resolved[9] with Smith becoming majority leader[10] 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).[11][12]

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.[13] 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.[14] The Espada-Skelos coalition majority, which also courted as many as ten more Democrats,[15] announced plans to hold sessions in the "Well" of the legislative office building until chamber doors are reopened.[16] 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;[17] Smith has claimed that the coalition stole the key.[15] The scheduled session was eventually postponed.[15]

Both Monserrate and Espada faced accusations of unethical or criminal conduct. Monserrate was indicted for felony assault in March and would have automatically lost his seat if convicted. New York, like most states, has a provision in its state constitution which bars convicted felons from holding office.[14] (Monseratte would be acquitted of the felonies, but was convicted on misdemeanors.) 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.[18]

As a result of the coup, Senate Democrats voted for John Sampson (D-Brooklyn) 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.[19]

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.[20] The term expired with Smith still as Temporary President. Democrats orchestrated the removal of both Espada and Monserrate from their ranks; the Senate voted to expel Monserrate, while Espada was defeated in a primary election that had the state party back his primary opponent, Gustavo Rivera.

2012 elections and beyond

Following the 2010 census, New York redistricted the Senate, expanding it from 62 to 63 seats effective in January 2013. When all election night results were tabulated on November 6, 2012, it appeared that Democrats would hold 33 seats for a three-seat majority—just their third Senate majority since World War II. However, Senator Simcha Felder, elected as a Democrat, is instead Conferencing with the Republicans.[21] Also, on December 4, 2012, the Republican Party announced a power-sharing deal with the four-member Independent Democratic Conference, which had previously defected from the Democratic leadership. Under the agreement, Senators Skelos and Klein would alternate daily as temporary president of the Senate. Also as part of the change, former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith joined the Independent Democrats,[22] only to be expelled from the conference in April 2013 due to a scandal in which Smith attempted to bribe the Republican Party chairs in New York City for a Wilson Pakula to run in the upcoming New York City mayoral election.[23] Previous Senate Minority Leader John L. Sampson was expelled from his conference on May 6, 2013, following his arrest.

District 46 was embroiled in a recount when the new Senate was sworn in and the then-leading candidate George Amedore (GOP) became a New York state senator. After the recount was completed, he lost by 18 votes, making him the shortest-serving senator in modern New York history and the loser of the state's second-closest Senate race, to Democratic opponent Cecilia Tkaczyk.[24][25] Amedore would eventually win a rematch with Tkaczyk in 2014 and be elected to a full term.

In 2014, the Independent Democratic Conference announced that they would end their political alliance with the Republicans and create a new one with the Senate Democratic Conference, citing a need "to fight for the core Democratic policies that are left undone."[26]

On November 5, 2014, Rubén Díaz, Sr. announced his intention to leave the Democratic Caucus and ally himself with, but not formally join, the Republicans.[27]

Partisan composition

The Senate was dominated by the Republican party for much of the 20th century. After World War II, Democrats only controlled the upper 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 favored Upstate due to the state constitution's original method of giving each county, even sparsely populated ones, at least one senator (a practice that mirrored the United States Senate's approach to give each state the same number of senators).[28] This changed in 1962 when the US Supreme Court mandated that all state legislatures follow "one man, one vote" in Baker v. Carr (further solidified in Reynolds v. Sims). Since then, in redistricting, the Senate has traditionally overrepresented upstate in exchange for the Assembly overrepresenting downstate (each legislative district is allowed up to 5% deviation from the average district population; the state legislature systemically uses this leeway to create less populous Senate districts upstate and more populous ones downstate, and vice versa in the Assembly).

When the Democrats won the majority in 2008, they only held five seats Upstate and two on Long Island. Presently, enrolled Democrats hold all but two seats in New York City, but only four north of Westchester County and none of the nine Long Island seats. Three of the four Upstate Democrats are in the Democratic Conference; the other caucuses with the Independent Democrats.

Affiliation Party
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
Democratic Ind. Dem.
Republican Vacant
Begin 2011 session 26 4 32 62 0
Begin 2013 session 28 1
  1. REDIRECT Template:Party shading/Know-Nothing|4
30 63 0
End 2014 session 25 2
  1. REDIRECT Template:Party shading/Know-Nothing|5
Begin 2015 session[29] 24 1 1 rowspan=5
  1. REDIRECT Template:Party shading/Know-Nothing|5
32 63 0
July 22, 2015[30] 31 62 1
July 24, 2015[31] 24 61 2
November 3, 2015[32] 25 32 63 0
December 11, 2015[33] 31 62 1
Latest voting share 40.3% 59.7%


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 joined freshman David Carlucci in a newly formed Independent Conference; this conference serves as "crossbenchers" separate from the Democratic and Republican conferences.[34]

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.[35]

Position Name Party District
President of the Senate/Lieutenant Governor Kathy C. Hochul Dem
Temporary President John J. Flanagan Rep 2
Republican Conference leader John J. Flanagan Rep 2
Democratic Conference leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins Dem 35
Independent Democratic Conference leader Jeffrey Klein[36] IDC 34

Majority leadership

  • Temporary President: Sen. John Flanagan
  • Senate Majority Leader: Sen. John Flanagan
  • Deputy Senate Majority Leader: Sen. John DeFranciscio

Republican Conference Leadership

  • John A. DeFrancisco, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee
  • George D. Maziarz, Vice President of the Republican Conference
  • Hugh T. Farley, Chairman, Republican Conference Program Development Committee
  • Kenneth P. LaValle, Chairman, Senate Republican Conference
  • James L. Seward, Assistant Republican Conference Leader on Conference Operations
  • Kemp Hannon, Assistant Republican Conference Leader for House Operations
  • William J. Larkin Jr., Republican Conference Whip
  • Michael F. Nozzolio, Vice Chairman, Senate Republican Conference
  • Martin J. Golden, Chairman, Republican Conference Steering Committee
  • Joseph E. Robach, Deputy Republican Conference Whip of the Senate
  • Elizabeth O'C. Little, Assistant Senate Republican Conference Whip
  • John J. Bonacic, Deputy Majority Leader for State/Federal Relations
  • Carl L. Marcellino, Deputy Republican Conference Leader for Government Oversight and Accountability
  • Catharine M. Young, Deputy Republican Conference Leader for Intergovernmental Affairs
  • John J. Flanagan, Deputy Republican Conference Leader for Policy
  • Andrew J. Lanza, Liaison to the Executive Branch
  • Joseph A. Griffo, Deputy Republican Conference Leader for Senate/Assembly Relations
  • Patrick M. Gallivan, Deputy Republican Conference Leader for Economic Development

Independent Democratic Conference

  • Jeffrey D. Klein, Independent Democratic Conference Leader & Majority Coalition Leader
  • David J. Valesky, Deputy Independent Democratic Conference Leader for Legislative Operations
  • David Carlucci, Independent Democratic Conference Whip
  • Diane J. Savino, Independent Democratic Conference Liaison to the Executive Branch
  • Tony Avella, Assistant Conference Leader for Policy and Administration

Full Minority leadership

  • Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Democratic Leader
  • Michael Gianaris, Deputy Democratic Leader
  • José M. Serrano, Chair of Democratic Conference
  • Martin Malave Dilan, Assistant Democratic Leader for Policy and Administration
  • Toby Ann Stavisky, Assistant Democratic Leader for Conference Operations
  • Neil D. Breslin, Assistant Democratic Leader for Floor Operations
  • Kevin S. Parker, Assistant Democratic Leader for Intergovernmental Affairs
  • Ruth Hassell-Thompson, Vice Chair of Democratic Conference
  • Velmanette Montgomery, Secretary of the Senate Democratic Conference
  • Jose Peralta, Democratic Whip
  • Bill Perkins, Deputy Democratic Whip
  • Timothy M. Kennedy, Assistant Democratic Whip
  • Daniel Squadron, Deputy Democratic Floor Leader
  • Gustavo Rivera, Chair of Democratic Program Development

Members of the New York State Senate

District Senator Party Caucus First elected Counties Represented
1 LaValle, Kenneth P.Kenneth P. LaValle Republican 1976 Suffolk
2 Flanagan, John J.John J. Flanagan Republican 2002 Suffolk
3 Croci, ThomasThomas Croci Republican 2014 Suffolk
4 Boyle, Philip M.Philip M. Boyle Republican 2012 Suffolk
5 Marcellino, Carl L.Carl L. Marcellino Republican 1995† Nassau, Suffolk
6 Hannon, KempKemp Hannon Republican 1989† Nassau
7 Martins, Jack M.Jack M. Martins Republican 2010 Nassau
8 Venditto, MichaelMichael Venditto Republican 2014 Nassau, Suffolk
9 Vacant Nassau
10 Sanders, Jr., JamesJames Sanders, Jr. Democratic 2012 Queens
11 Avella, TonyTony Avella Democratic IDC 2010 Queens
12 Gianaris, Michael N.Michael N. Gianaris Democratic 2010 Queens
13 Peralta, JoseJose Peralta Democratic 2010† Queens
14 Comrie, LeroyLeroy Comrie Democratic 2014 Queens
15 Addabbo, Jr., JosephJoseph Addabbo, Jr. Democratic 2008 Queens
16 Stavisky, Toby AnnToby Ann Stavisky Democratic 1999† Queens
17 Felder, SimchaSimcha Felder Democratic Republican 2012 Kings (Brooklyn)
18 Dilan, Martin MalaveMartin Malave Dilan Democratic 2002 Kings
19 Persaud, RoxanneRoxanne Persaud Democratic 2015 Kings
20 Hamilton, JesseJesse Hamilton Democratic 2014 Kings
21 Parker, Kevin S.Kevin S. Parker Democratic 2002 Kings
22 Golden, Martin J.Martin J. Golden Republican 2002 Kings
23 Savino, DianeDiane Savino Democratic IDC 2004 Kings, Richmond (Staten Island)
24 Lanza, Andrew J.Andrew J. Lanza Republican 2006 Richmond
25 Montgomery, VelmanetteVelmanette Montgomery Democratic 1984 Kings
26 Squadron, DanielDaniel Squadron Democratic 2008 Kings, New York (Manhattan)
27 Hoylman, BradBrad Hoylman Democratic 2012 New York
28 Krueger, LizLiz Krueger Democratic 2002† New York
29 Serrano, Jose M.Jose M. Serrano Democratic 2004 New York, Bronx
30 Perkins, BillBill Perkins Democratic 2006 New York
31 Espaillat, AdrianoAdriano Espaillat Democratic 2010 New York
32 Díaz, Sr., RubénRubén Díaz, Sr. Democratic 2002 Bronx
33 Rivera, GustavoGustavo Rivera Democratic 2010 Bronx
34 Klein, Jeffrey D.Jeffrey D. Klein Democratic IDC 2004 Bronx, Westchester
35 Stewart-Cousins, AndreaAndrea Stewart-Cousins Democratic 2006 Westchester
36 Hassell-Thompson, RuthRuth Hassell-Thompson Democratic 2000 Bronx, Westchester
37 Latimer, George S.George S. Latimer Democratic 2012 Westchester
38 Carlucci, DavidDavid Carlucci Democratic IDC 2010 Rockland, Westchester
39 Larkin, Jr., William J.William J. Larkin, Jr. Republican 1990 Orange, Rockland, Ulster
40 Murphy, Terrence P.Terrence P. Murphy Republican 2014 Dutchess, Putnam, Westchester
41 Serino, Susan J.Susan J. Serino Republican 2014 Dutchess, Putnam
42 Bonacic, John J.John J. Bonacic Republican 1998 Delaware, Orange, Sullivan, Ulster
43 Marchione, Kathleen A.Kathleen A. Marchione Republican 2012 Columbia, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Washington
44 Breslin, NeilNeil Breslin Democratic 1996 Albany, Rensselaer
45 Little, BettyBetty Little Republican 2002 Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Saint Lawrence, Warren, Washington
46 Amedore, Jr., George A.George A. Amedore, Jr. Republican 2014 Albany, Greene, Montgomery, Schenectady, Ulster
47 Griffo, JosephJoseph Griffo Republican 2006 Lewis, Oneida, St. Lawrence
48 Ritchie, PattyPatty Ritchie Republican 2010 Jefferson, Oswego, St. Lawrence
49 Farley, HughHugh Farley Republican 1976 Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Saratoga, Schenectady
50 DeFrancisco, JohnJohn DeFrancisco Republican 1992 Cayuga, Onondaga
51 Seward, JamesJames Seward Republican 1986 Cayuga, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Herkimer, Otsego, Schoharie, Tompkins, Ulster
52 Akshar, FredFred Akshar Republican 2015 Broome, Chenango, Delaware, Tioga
53 Valesky, DavidDavid Valesky Democratic IDC 2004 Madison, Oneida, Onondaga
54 Nozzolio, MichaelMichael Nozzolio Republican 1992 Cayuga, Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, Tompkins, Wayne
55 Funke, RichardRichard Funke Republican 2014 Monroe, Ontario
56 Robach, JosephJoseph Robach Republican 2002 Monroe
57 Young, CatharineCatharine Young Republican 2005† Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Livingston
58 O'Mara, TomTom O'Mara Republican 2010 Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Tompkins, Yates
59 Gallivan, PatrickPatrick Gallivan Republican 2010 Erie, Livingston, Monroe, Wyoming
60 Panepinto, MarcMarc Panepinto Democratic 2014 Erie
61 Ranzenhofer, Michael H.Michael H. Ranzenhofer Republican 2008 Erie, Genesee, Monroe
62 Ortt, Robert G.Robert G. Ortt Republican 2014 Monroe, Niagara, Orleans
63 Kennedy, Timothy M.Timothy M. Kennedy Democratic 2010 Erie

†Elected in a special election

Committee leadership

As of January 2015 (committee leaders are Republican unless otherwise noted):

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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. McKinley, Jesse (24 February 2014). "What Is a Majority Vote in the State Senate? The Answer Goes Beyond Simple Math". The New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 2008 Election Results, New York State Board of Elections.
  4. 2008-09 (Post-Election) Partisan Composition of State Legislatures National Conference of State Legislatures
  5. New York Times. "Democrats Take State Senate." Nov 5, 2008.
  6. Peters, Jeremy W.Democrats Likely to Keep Control of State Senate, The New York Times, November 6, 2008.
  7. Benjamin, Elizabeth. Monserrate Makes A Democratic Deal The Daily Politics. The Daily News November 8, 2008
  8. Lanza, Michael. Smith Balks After ‘Gang of Three’ Talks The Queens Tribune December 11, 2008.
  9. Democrats Reach Pact to Lead the Senate
  10. Democrats Take Control of New York State Senate
  11. "GOP, 2 Dems flip power balance in NY Senate", The Washington Post, June 8, 2009
  12. Odato, James. "Two Democrats join Republicans to topple Smith as Senate leader", Albany Times Union, June 8, 2009
  13. [1]
  14. 14.0 14.1 Peters, Jeremy, and Danny Hakim.Republicans Seize Control of State Senate. The New York Times, 2009-06-09
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Bauman, Valerie. Senate stalls: Coalition says it's still strong. Associated Press. Retrieved 2009-06-11
  16. Benjamin, Elizabeth. Coalition government, Day One. New York Daily News "Daily Politics" blog. 2009-06-09.
  17. Staten Island Live report on end of New York State Senate paralysis
  18. Salonstall, David. Sen. Pedro Espada hounded by questions on ethics and residency. New York Daily News, 2009-06-10
  19. 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
  20. Deadlock-Ending Deal Near? Espada To Return To The Democrats. New York Daily News Retrieved 2009-07-09
  21. [2]
  22. Kaplan, Thomas Coalition Is to Control State Senate as Dissident Democrats Join With the G.O.P., The New York Times, December 4, 2012.
  23. Lovett, Kenneth (April 15, 2013). NYS Senate Independent Democratic Conference To Busted Malcolm Smith: Stay Away. New York Daily News. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  24. United Press International (UPI), " Dem. squeaks into N.Y. Senate by 18 votes," January 18, 2013, Retrieved January 18, 2013
  25. Vielkind, Jimmy "It's Tkaczyk by just 18 votes," Times Union, January 18, 2013, Retrieved January 19, 2013
  26. Bain, Glenn. "Senate's Independent Democratic Conference announces end to alliance with Republicans - UPDATED". New York Daily News. Retrieved 11 February 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. Gormley, Michael (November 5, 2014). Democrat Diaz will give Senate GOP’s slim majority another vote. Newsday. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
  29. Hamilton, Matthew; Karlin, Rick (January 8, 2015). "Session begins, lacking drama". Times Union. Retrieved 2015-01-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. Republican Thomas W. Libous (District 52) automatically removed from office following a felony conviction. Jury finds Libous guilty of lying to FBI
  31. Democrat John L. Sampson (District 19) automatically removed from office following a felony conviction. New York State Sen. John Sampson found guilty of obstructing justice, lying to FBI; faces 20 years in prison
  32. Democrat Roxanne Persaud (District 19) and Republican Fred Akshar (District 52) elected in special elections. [3] [4]
  33. Republican Dean Skelos (District 9) automatically removed from office after a felony conviction. [5]
  34. The New Amigos
  35. Patience Is The New Aponte
  36. Capitol Confidential » Breakaway Senate Dems form caucus (video added)

External links