My Visit to the State Senate
The Capitol Building
New York State's Capitol building is a very important place. It is where New York State's leaders meet and do most of their work. The Capitol building took almost 30 years to build. Many different people helped to build the Capitol and it was finished in the year 1899.
The Senate Chamber is on the third floor of the Capitol. The Assembly Chamber and the Governor's Chamber are also in the Capitol.
What is the Senate?
Part of what makes New York State such an interesting place are its government leaders. These leaders have been elected to speak and act for (represent) people in New York State.
The Senate is a group of 62 men and women. They represent people in different areas of New York State. Some Senators represent larger areas than others. Each Senator represents an equal number of people. There are 150 members of the Assembly. Each represents a much smaller group of people.
Together the Senate and Assembly are known as the Legislature.
Visiting the Senate Chamber and Gallery
You may stop in the Senate Gallery (upstairs) or Senate Chamber (downstairs) to see where Senators talk about and vote on bills. Each Senator has his or her own desk and chair in the Chamber.
The Chamber now looks the way it did when it was first built, over 100 years ago. Changes had been made over the years. This took away from the original beauty of the Chamber.
When it came time to clean and repair the Chamber, the Senators decided to return it to the way it looked before.
What Does a Senator Do?
Senators write their ideas down in an official form called a bill. But writing the bill is only the start of the job.
Each Senator's bill must go through a few steps before it can become a law. A law is a rule everyone in our State has to obey.
Sometimes there are questions about a Senator's bill. The Senator will give reasons why the bill was written. He or she will tell who will be helped by the bill.
More than half of all Senators have to vote "yes" on a bill for it to pass. If there are fewer than 32 "yes" votes in the Senate, a bill cannot be passed.
The Assembly also votes on bills. The Senate and the Assembly can each give enough "yes" votes to the same bill. If they do, the bill is sent to the Governor.
The Governor is elected by all the people in our State. He heads another part of our government. Most of the time, he has the final decision on a bill.
The Governor can agree with the Legislature that a bill is good. Then he signs it and it becomes law. The Governor sometimes does not agree with a bill. He then can veto it so it cannot become a law.
Your Senator does more than write and vote on bills. Your Senator is here to help you and your parents with any problems you may have with the government.
Your Senator wants to hear your ideas. If they would be good for New York State, they could be made into a bill.
You or your parents don't have to come to Albany to tell your Senator your ideas or problems. You can just write to him or her. We all have to work together to make our government work.