On January 1, 2019 I was honored to take office as a member of the New York State Assembly. I now have the honor and privilege of representing the people of the South Shore’s 62nd Assembly District in the Capitol.
As I travel each week up the New York State Thruway towards Exit 23, I continually reflect on this new experience as a state legislator. I have made the trip up the thruway several times over the last decade as an education advocate and member of Community Education Council 31. Making this drive up to State Street, looking at the Capitol, and now being a part of New York State history is truly humbling.
Each day I walk the streets of Albany to my office in the Legislative Office building, embracing the rich history. From Eagle Street I look beyond the statue of Civil War Union General Philip Sheridan atop his horse and gaze at the towering front steps of the Capitol.
To the right of the Capitol across Washington Avenue stands the New York State Education Department building — a massive white building with columns that stretch from South Swan Street to Hawk Street. Not far off to the right, down Eagle Street at Pine St., is the Court of Appeals, the highest court in New York State. A white building with six pillars, representing justice.
As I enter the Capitol I stand in awe, admiring the military museum honoring the rich history and those who have served. As I make my way to the Assembly Chamber on the third floor I stare at the astounding architecture of the building. As I step on the “Million Dollar” staircase, I am overcome with nostalgia. It is inspiring to know that I now serve in the same chamber that Theodore Roosevelt served in as a member of Assembly.
Recently, I had the pleasure of joining our Mid-Island Little League heroes as they met the governor. I must admit I was like a tourist, consumed by the experience. We gathered in the “Red Room,” named for the red drapes and rug that originally adorned the room.
The Red Room originally served as the governor’s office until 1885. The room has been used for ceremonial functions ever since. There is even still a secret door that Franklin Delano Roosevelt had installed, which allowed him to travel privately in his wheel chair out of the public eye.
A humbling experience, indeed.
The Legislative Work
The main function of the New York State Senate and Assembly is to introduce and pass legislation. The legislation begins with a bill. The bill will describe the creation, change or amendment to an existing or newly proposed law. Each chamber, the Senate and Assembly, must have an exact copy of each bill introduced. The bills will then be referred to the Chamber Committees that have oversight regarding the specific section and part of the law being addressed.
The Committees will meet and discuss the bills. If it passes the committees in both Chambers it will move to a floor vote in both the Senate and Assembly. If the bill passes both Chambers it will then go to the Governor. The Governor will have the option of signing the bill into law or vetoing it. If The Governor signs, it will become law after a certain timeframe detailed in the bill. If the Governor vetoes the bill it is sent back to both the Senate and Assembly, who can override the Governor’s Veto if 2/3 of the members in each chamber vote to override. If they successfully override the veto the bill will become law.
This year’s session in Albany began in January with a change in the political landscape. For the first time in over a decade the Senate, Assembly and Governor’s Office are controlled by the same political party. This shift has resulted in a rapid legislative agenda. As we enter March, we will focus on passing legislation that will put in place the state budget to comply with the April 1st deadline. The Albany legislative session will run through last week in June.
By Michael Reilly, NYS Assemblyman, former District 31 Community Education Council President and former NYPD Lieutenant.