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NY Senate Democrats win historic supermajority

After nearly three weeks since the general election, with the last remaining absentee ballots being counted, several races were called tipping Senate Democrats to take a supermajority. Here's a look back at our analysis on what this means for the NYS legislature and the governor's veto power.

The New York State Legislature is a mere two seats away from establishing a Democratic “supermajority” or two-thirds margin in both chambers. This could significantly change the political dynamic in Albany and affect lobbying strategies, and an override of a governor’s veto would now become more possible when lobbying on a bill.

City & State examines further here.

As we all know, it takes a simple majority in both the Senate and Assembly to pass a bill and send it to the governor for final action. The governor then has 10 days either to sign the bill into law, or veto it. However, under the New York State Constitution, a two-thirds “supermajority” vote, in both houses of the legislature, can pass the bill into law in spite of the veto. The Assembly already has a supermajority of Democrats (106 out of 150 seats) and will likely maintain that margin going into the fall elections.

With seven incumbent Republican senators retiring (four of them hailing from competitive legislative districts) it seems a real possibility that Democrats can increase to a Senate supermajority--42 out of 63 seats in the fall. If that happens, with both houses of the legislature under two-thirds Democratic control, the balance of power in Albany could shift from the governor to the legislative branch, as the legislature would no longer need the governor’s approval to pass bills into law. At a minimum, it will certainly decrease the power of the Republican minority conference.

Still, questions remain: will Republicans rally in November preventing a supermajority in the Senate? Will the governor still be able to exert his influence over certain factions within the legislature to effectively block the possibility of veto overrides? Will both the Senate and Assembly work cooperatively to become a unified legislative powerhouse, or will ideological divisions within those chambers, particularly in the Senate, prevent that from happening? And ultimately what are the consequences of such overwhelming, one-party rule with respect to politics and good public policy? Will a necessary political balance of power have been lost in New York?

Willett Public Affairs is carefully monitoring these unprecedented political developments in New York, and is advising its growing client base on how best strategically to adopt them into 2021 public policy objectives. Let us help you do the same for your association or organization.

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