Governor Kathy Hochul
Senate Temporary President
& Majority Leader
New York State Legislative Committees
Chair Michelle Hinchey (D)
Senate En Con
Chair Pete Harckham (D)
Chair Donna Lupardo (D)
Assembly En Con
Chair Deborah Glick (D)
How a Bill Becomes a Law
Signed by the Governor
From Committee to the Floor
• Standing Committees meet on a regular basis to report bills to
either the next committee, or to the floor for a vote.
• Committee Chairs work with leaders to create committee agendas,
where committee members vote on each measure on the week’s
• If a bill passes the committee, the full chamber will debate
on the floor and then vote to pass or not pass the bill.
• A bill may be amended by the sponsor at any time
during the committee or floor process.
Passing Into Law
• The same version of the bill must
pass both houses.
• If the Assembly and Senate pass
different versions, it cannot be
delivered to the Governor unless
one house amends their bill to
conform to the other.
• The Governor has 10 business
days to sign or veto a bill once it
has reached his desk.
By the Numbers
Of 14,000 bills
introduced each year…
2,000 are acted upon…
and of those-
800 become law.
• Without strong laws, animals aren’t protected.
• Laws legitimize society’s animal welfare concerns.
• Laws are needed when education is not enough.
• Animals can’t lobby—we must be their voice.
Identify Your Goals
Legislation Funding Recognition
Know Your Representatives
• New York State Assembly: http://assembly.state.ny.us/
• New York State Senate: http://www.nysenate.gov/
Lobbing State Law Makers
• Call their office
• Write a letter or e-mail
• Attend public hearings, testify about animal issues
• Have in-person meetings with the legislator or legislative staff
When meeting with members of the NYS Legislature or any elected
official, keep in mind:
• Be polite and respectful
• Be specific and concise
• Stay on Topic
• Provide fact sheets and data
• Appeal to broader impact of the issue
You Help Ensure…
Animals Have a Voice and Seat at the Table!
How many of you have visited the state capitol? Attended an event, taken a tour, visited the museum?
We are fortunate that our state government operates right here in our backyard.
As an advocate for any cause, it is a good idea to become familiar with the workings of government. For our purposes, I just want to focus on two major branches of our government.
The Executive/Governor, and the State Legislature.
NYS has a bicameral legislature which means the legislators are divided into two separate assemblies, chambers or houses. The Assembly consists of 150 members; the Senate varies in its number of members, but currently has 63
Our current leaders include, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senate Temporary President and Majority Leader Dean Skelos, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.
It is also important to know the Senate and Assembly are also broken down into Committees on important topic areas such as: Health, Education, Economic Development, Crime and Corrections etc. For animal related issues, you should be most familiar with the Assembly and Senate Agriculture Committees and the Environmental Conservation Committees. As you can see I have listed the Committee Chairs for you on the screen above: Senate Ag Chair: Patty Ritchie, Senate EnCon Chair Thomas O’Mara, Assembly Ag Committee Chair Bill Magee, Assembly EnCon Committee Chair Steve Englebright.
In addition to knowing the structure of government, it is equally as important to know the politics of government. The party in power controls leadership, including committee chairs, and therefore determines what bills and issues will be acted upon during a legislative session.
Therefore, it just makes sense that when choosing who you are going to speak to or ‘lobby’ about a particular bill or issue, that you would target members who have the ability to actually impact the outcome.
Currently, the position of governor is held by a Democratic, and the Democrats hold the majority of seats in the NYS Assembly. In the Senate, the Republicans hold the majority of seats.
This chart shows you the very basic steps a bill goes through to become law. It starts with an idea which is then drafted as a bill and introduced by a sponsor in each house. A bill is then referred to the appropriate standing committee. A bill must first pass through the committee before it will be reported to the floor for a full vote of the assembly or the senate. BOTH houses must pass the SAME version of a bill before it is sent to the Governor for action. The Governor has 10 business days to act.
Committees are critical to the process. A bill must first make it to a committee agenda before it can be acted upon by the full legislative body of either house. The Chair sets the agenda for his or her committee, therefore their position on a bill can be of vital importance to whether or not a particular proposal is placed on a committee agenda. And I said previously, if the bill does pass through the appropriate committee, it can then be referred on to another committee for action, or it can be reported directly to the floor for a vote by the whole body.
Just to reiterate, the SAME version of a bill must pass BOTH houses before it can be sent to the Governor for action. The Governor then has 10 days from the time it reaches his desk to act. That is NOT 10 days for it passing the Legislature. There can be a gap of as long as a few months before it reaches the Governor’s desk for signature—particularly at the end of session.
Of 14,000 bills introduced each year, 2,000 are acted upon and of those, 800 become law.
Now I say this NOT to be discouraging, I say this to be realistic and thoughtful when you are considering presenting an idea to a member of the legislature. As you can see, it is not necessary that difficult to get a proposal introduced, however, there is a lot of competition when it comes to what actually passes into law.
Therefore, knowing what you facing, it is best to be thoughtful, be prepared and be persistent!
MOST IMPORTANTLY: Animals can’t lobby—we must be their voice.
It may surprise you have few bills actually become law for the thousands of bills that are introduced, however, a proposal can face many obstacles along the same. Some of those include: the political climate, opposing lobbies and interests, limited resources and competing interests.
And these are some of the people you might find yourself up against. Some may not surprise you, however, they may not all be obvious to you. Hunters Farmers-NYS Farm Bureau Corporations-large pharmaceutical, big ag, Walmart Veterinarians— New York State Veterinarian Medical Society, American Veterinary Medical Association------HSVMA (Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association): hsvma.org
The benefit to joining with a larger group: strength in numbers, credibility, maximize skills, sharing of ideas and energy, reach a greater number of people, generate more attention.
Look support outside of animal groups, and the obvious choices. Law Enforcement Farm Lobby Municipalities Business Community
It is a good idea to get to know your own state representatives. Just keep in mind that your own representative might not be the best choice to SPONSOR your proposed bill. It doesn't mean however that you shouldn’t also meet with your own representative regarding your issue. As their constituent, you should make them aware of your views on particular issues and ask them to support or not support specific bills when appropriate.
There are a variety of ways that you can communicate with lawmakers, and it might depend on your goal how you decide to reach out to them. If you are interested in having a new bill introduced, you should consider scheduling a meeting with an appropriate legislator to discuss the issue. If you would like to relay your support or disapproval for a bill that is coming up for a vote at the committee level or before the full legislative body, you could call their office, or email their office and let them know your position and ask them to please vote in favor or against the particular bill. Legislative Committees, and sometimes individual lawmakers will hold public hearings of forums to provide stakeholders an opportunity to be heard on a particular issue. This can be a very good opportunity to express your views in a public setting. NYSHA actually has participated in a few hearings over the past few years and we have found it be an effective way to generate attention on a particular bill or issue.
If you do decide to schedule an in-person meeting, there are a few things I would keep in mind. First of all, you should not feel intimated. Most elected officials are very approachable and are interested in talking to you—particularly if you are their constituent or you are representing a group or issue with a broad constituency. If you contact their office and they ask you schedule a time to speak with a member of their staff, do NOT take offense. This is very common, and in some instances you may find a meeting with the staff person to be even more effective. Sometimes they are able to give you more time than the member themselves, and often the staff person will be the one directly working on your bill or proposal, so they can be very helpful in the process.
Whoever you meet with, just remember to be polite and respectful. Even if you haven’t always agreed with the person’s position or votes on certain issues in the past, you will get much further by being respectful and gracious. And be prepared. DON’T ASSUME THEY ALREADY KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT. Know your issue, provide facts and data as appropriate. The more clear and concise you can be, the better your chances are for having the member understand and take a real interest in your issue. When possible, try to link your issue to a greater interest, cause or benefit: health, safety, financial impact, etc.
Just by being in this class, you have already demonstrated a passion for animals and animal issues. I hope that you will find avenue to now turn that passion into action. There are many ways that you can be involved in this area. Whether you decide to work on issues you care about on your own, or you decide to join a group, you can make a difference.
If you become involved in advocacy work, please also remember, be persistent and be creative. Many bills do NOT pass the first year that they are introduced, sometimes it takes multiple years of introduction and generating support and interest in a particular issue. DON’T GIVE UP!! Sometimes it takes compromise and language revision to get a bill passed. Sometimes it takes a new sponsor to take a new look at your idea, or take a new approach in getting it through the process.
Thank you again for inviting me to be here to speak with you today. It was a pleasure to meet you. I wish you all the best of luck in all your endeavors on behalf of animals!
If you have questions or would like more information, please feel free to contact me!!