What happens in the federal government is important, but don’t forget that state and local policies also affect your everyday life. State and local laws can fill the gap in community needs and protections that federal laws don’t fully cover.
Federal laws are rules that apply in every state, such as:
- Social Security and Supplemental Security Income
State laws apply to people who live or work in New York State, such as:
- Funding for public universities
- Public transit
- Minimum wage
Local laws for counties, cities, towns and villages impact your day-to-day quality of life, such as:
- Police departments
- Funding for libraries and parks
What do Congressional Representatives do?
Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate represent the interests of their states and districts as a whole. New Yorkers rely on their Congress members to make their voices heard on matters that deal with federal policy. Members of Congress are elected directly by popular vote—your vote!
There are 100 members of the Senate, each elected to serve a six-year term. Each state has two senators.
There are 435 members of the House elected to serve a two-year term. The number of House members in each state varies based on the state’s population.
Learn How a Bill Becomes a Law
What do State Elected Officials do?
Governor: The Governor serves the highest executive office in the state. They have the power to appoint and remove judges to the Court of Appeals, and commissioners of most departments, boards and commissions. The Governor also enforces state laws, can call the legislature into a special session and can sign or veto bills passed by both houses of the state legislature.
Lieutenant Governor: The Lieutenant Governor is elected on the same ticket with the Governor. They preside over the Senate, serve as the Governor’s right hand, and can make decisions in the Governor’s absence.
State Attorney General: The Attorney General is the state’s representative in all legal actions and proceedings. They’re “the people’s lawyer,” who enforces and protects the legal rights of all citizens of the state.
New York State Senate and Assembly: There are 63 seats in the New York State Senate. State Senators are elected by voters in their state senate districts. They introduce and vote on legislation which, if passed in the same form by both houses of the legislature and signed by the Governor, becomes state law. Senators also approve the state budget, advise and consent on the Governor’s nominees to the Court of Appeals and may pass amendments to the state constitution.
There are 150 seats in the New York State Assembly. Members of the Assembly are elected by voters in their state assembly districts. They have the same responsibilities as the Senate, except they don’t advise on and consent to the Governor’s nominees to the Court of Appeals. A 2/3 vote of both the Senate and Assembly can override bills that have been vetoed by the Governor.
How to Find Your Representatives
Research goes a long way to help you make an informed decision on the candidates that best represent the issues you care about. There are a number of websites that make it easy for you to find your elected officials.
Here are a few: