Homework Hotline: New York State Government: Legislative Branch
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Homework Hotline: New York State Government: Legislative Branch

(Narration) The Legislature is the lawmaking
branch of our state government. It is a bicameral branch of government which means it has two
houses: the Senate and the Assembly. Members of both the Senate and Assembly are known
as legislators and they have the same basic duty, to represent the people of New York
and pass laws. New York is a large, diverse state with millions of people and places,
all of which have different things to offer and different needs to fulfill. This makes
representing everyone a big job that could never be done by just one person. The people
that the legislators represent are called their constituents. Each senator represents
around 300,000 constituents and each assemblymen represents around 130,000. Either way, that’s
a lot of people. Each legislator represents a different part of the state which is called
a district. Districts can be different sizes because they are based on how many people
live in the area. In New York City, a district may only be a few city blocks. That’s because
it’s so populated and people often live in high rise apartment buildings that have
a lot of homes and are really close to together. But in the northern part of the state, a district
can be much, much larger and that’s because there are many fewer people in the area and
the homes are much more spread out. So the main job of the state Legislature is to pass
laws which are known as legislation. That’s why they are called legislators. If someone
has an idea for a new law, they present that idea to their legislator. If he agrees that
its a good idea, he has it written into a bill. Once the bill is created, it is brought
to either the Senate or the Assembly by the legislator to start the process of turning
it into a law. Let’s say that this bill is first brought to the senate floor. First
the Senators discuss the bill to figure out if it’s good for the people they represent.
Then they vote on whether they want it to become a law. If the bill is passed, it must
then go to the Assembly for a vote. The last step is it has to be given to the governor
for his approval. If he says yes, then it becomes a law. If he says no, then it does
not become a law unless the legislature chooses to vote on the bill again. If they do and
two thirds of the members of each house vote in favor of the bill, it will become a law,
even though the governor said no. This is part of the checks and balances system that
makes sure that no single branch of our state government becomes too powerful. Whether the
Senate or the Assembly votes yes or no on any piece of legislation, it is their duty
to make that decision based on what’s best for people of New York that they represent.

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