N.Y.: Legislative terms you should know for New York’s upcoming legislative session

January 4, 2022

This year, Gov. Kathy Hochul is negotiating the budget for the first time. Additionally, it’s an election year for all legislators in the New York state Legislature, the governor, the lieutenant governor, the attorney general and the state comptroller; and it’s a midterm election year for U.S. Congress.

With so much happening in 2022, PIANY aims to ensure that you understand political terms that you may encounter.

Below are some key political terms often used in political articles about legislation and regulations, from the media and from PIA.

Keep this list handy and share it with your colleagues, family and friends to help them understand them, too. For terms specific to New York’s upcoming election, look at Agents Advocacy Coalition’s article Election terms you should know for New York’s upcoming elections on PIA Northeast News & Media.

Administrative Regulations Review Commission: a committee in the state Senate and state Assembly that watches for executive rulemaking. It reviews proposed rules from executive agencies and issues comments if necessary. The committee’s review can lead to legislation that overrides, corrects or alters the rules that the executive is attempting to make.

Amendment: any change made to a bill after it is introduced. If a bill is changed, the bill number is altered to add an A if it is the first amendment, B if it is the second and so forth.

Approval message: a message from the governor when he or she signs a bill, usually explaining why he or she signed it

Assembly: the lower chamber of the state Legislature, similar to the U.S. House of Representatives

Assembly calendar: the list of state Assembly bills that have passed through their respective and applicable committees

Assembly speaker: the leader of the majority party in the state Assembly

Assembly Ways and Means Committee: the financial committee—commonly called WAM—in the state Assembly. All budget bills go through this committee along with any bills that have a state fiscal attached to them.

Bill history: the section of a bill that explains the history of the bill in past sessions, including whether it passed a committee, the state Assembly or the state Senate

Bill number: the identification number that is assigned to a bill when it is introduced in either the state Assembly or state Senate. Bill numbers are assigned in the order in which bills are introduced.

Central staff: legislative employees who work for the majority or minority conference in both houses of the state Legislature. Often, they are subject-matter specialists assigned to specific issues or committees.

Chapter amendment: a three-way agreement between the governor, the state Assembly, and the state Senate to make changes to a bill

Chamber: another word often used instead of the state Assembly—the lower chamber—or state Senate—the upper chamber.

Chamber calendar, or legislative calendar or the calendar: the list of bills that are aging through their first, second or third readings, or are ready to be voted on by the full chamber

Chamber of origin: the legislative chamber that passes a bill first

Committee agenda: the list of bills a committee in either chamber will address at a meeting

Committee of origin: the committee(s) that has control over a bill because of the issues it addresses. For example, any insurance-related bill will go through the Insurance Committee, but if it also has a labor component, it could go to the Labor Committee.

Controversial calendar: the calendar in the state Assembly or state Senate that has controversial bills to be debated openly on the chamber floor. The minority party selects these bills to be placed on this calendar.

Co-prime or co-prime sponsor: a member of the state Assembly or the state Senate who is an equal sponsor as the original sponsor of a bill

Co-sponsor: A legislator who signs on to support a bill that already has been introduced by the sponsor

Drafting process, drafted or drafting: the first stage of the introduction of  a bill when legislative staff drafts it. It includes identifying which sections of law are impacted and marking up the text to show how the bill will add or delete sections of law.

Enacting clause: usually, the final section of a bill that outlines how a bill will go into effect if it becomes law. Sometimes, rulemaking is required by a regulatory agency in the executive branch, or there is a delay before the law goes into effect.

First, second or third reading: the three different sections of the chamber calendar through which a bill must go—or age—in the state Assembly or the state Senate in order for it to be voted on by the full chamber

Legislative days: days in which the state Legislature is in session. These days are the only time a bill on the chamber calendar can move through the first, second or third readings, or be voted on by the whole chamber.

Legislative Retrieval System: the system—sometimes referred to as LRS—through which bills are tracked.

Majority leader: the member in the state Senate or state Assembly who is elected to lead the majority conference in that chamber

Minority leader: the member in the state Senate or state Assembly who is elected to lead the minority conference in that chamber

Pocket veto: when the governor does not sign or officially veto a bill. This can occur only when the state Legislature has adjourned and the governor cannot return a vetoed bill to its chamber; or when the state Legislature sends bills to the governor with fewer than 11 days (excluding Sundays) until the end of the calendar year.

Promulgate: To announce or publish a rule or law officially and publicly; when executive agencies create regulations that help put laws passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor into effect

Request for consideration or a 99: a request made by the sponsor of a bill that forces the committee of jurisdiction to address the bill at a committee meeting. It’s used as a last resort if the chair of the applicable committee will not put the bill on a committee agenda.

Rules Committee: committees in both chambers that set the chamber calendar, can send bills directly to their third reading and regulates the rules of the chamber

Rulemaking: an executive agency’s process after a bill is passed, if regulations must be communicated in order for the bill to go into effect

Same-as bill: a bill in the state Assembly that is identical to a bill in the state Senate and vice versa

Second floor: short-hand for the governor’s office and/or inner circle that work on the second floor of the state Capitol

Senate: the upper chamber of the state Legislature; similar to the U.S. Senate

Senate calendar: the list of bills that have passed through their respective and applicable committees

Senate Finance Committee: the chamber’s financial committee; all budget bills go through this committee along with any other bill that has a state fiscal attached to it

Signing message: an explanation that accompanies some bills signed by the governor that addresses why he or she signed it. This can include how the governor reached the decision to sign the bill into law, why he or she thinks the state needs the law or any changes that should be made through chapter amendments.

Speaker Pro Tempore: the member of the state Assembly who is selected from the majority conference to run the Assembly sessions. Often, this person is different from the elected speaker and serves in their place.

Sponsor’s memo: a note accompanying a bill in which the sponsor explains why the bill is needed, how the bill was developed and why and specific issues the bill would address

State fiscal: something that is attached to a bill when it will cost the state money if it becomes law. If a bill has this, it must go through the Assembly Ways and Means Committee or the Senate Finance Committee.

Substituting a bill: occurs when a chamber passes a bill and there is a same-as bill in the other chamber. Both chambers must pass the same bill, even if the same-as bill is identical. For instance, if the state Assembly passes a bill, it would be sent to the state Senate. The Senate would then substitute the same-as bill with the Assembly bill.

Uncontroversial calendar: a calendar in a chamber that consists of bills that the members of the chamber will be able to pass without debate, often unanimously

Veto: when the governor opposes a bill and does not sign it into law

Veto message: an explanation that accompanies many bills that explains why the governor vetoed them. It can include specific recommendations to the state Legislature on how to amend the bill so that he or she will sign it—if it is sent to him or her again.

Veto override: when the state Senate and the state Assembly vote to overrule the governor’s veto. To override a veto, two thirds of each chamber must vote to override.

Katherine “Kat” Slye-Hernandez, Ph.D.
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Katherine “Kat” Slye-Hernandez received her Ph.D. in political science from the State University of Albany, Albany, N.Y., in May 2020. She also has her Master of Arts from SUNY Albany and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and History from Elmira College, Elmira, N.Y.

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