New and returning lawmakers made their way to Albany on Wednesday for the first scheduled day of the state legislative session. Among those returning was Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who was re-elected in her leadership position.
She told Capital Tonight that the Democratic supermajority in her chamber has an “expansive vision” that will deliver on affordability, housing and investments in education and the environment.
Despite losing a seat, the Democrats were able to retain their supermajority in the state Senate. This is the first time that a party has sent a supermajority to the Senate in back-to-back sessions.
Stewart-Cousins attributes that success to the conference’s ability to “meeting people where they are” on issues like the economy, criminal justice and housing.
One of the major tasks that the state Senate will have to accomplish is confirming a chief judge nominee to the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals.
Gov. Kathy Hochul has nominated Appellate Division Presiding Judge Hector LaSalle to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of former Chief Judge Janet DiFiore. The nomination of LaSalle, who could become the first Latino chief judge in New York history, has been met with opposition from enough Democratic senators to call his confirmation into question.
If enough Democrats block the nomination, LaSalle would need to rely on Republican support to get confirmed.
Stewart-Cousins said she “shares the concerns” that members of her conference have shared in public about LaSalle, but insisted “there is a (confirmation) process and he’ll go through it.”