About Michael Gianaris

Deputy Majority Leader

Democrat, Working Families Democrat, Working Families

District 12

Committees

Senator Michael Gianaris serves as Deputy Majority Leader and proudly represents western Queens. Guided by the principle that the playing field between everyday New Yorkers and powerful interests is grossly skewed in favor of the wealthy, Senator Gianaris is a progressive champion for tenants’ rights, better subways, election reforms, a fairer criminal justice system, LGBTQ+ equality, and ending unfair economic development policies. As a member of the leadership of the largest Democratic Senate Majority in over a century, Senator Gianaris is proud to partner with progressive advocates and grassroots leaders to deliver results after years of lost opportunity.

A child of immigrants, Senator Gianaris was born and raised in Astoria, Queens, where he continues to reside. He is the product of New York City public schools and graduated from Fordham University and Harvard Law School before embarking upon on a career in public service. As a first-generation American, Senator Gianaris knows the struggle of immigrant families and leads the fight against harmful federal policies that tear apart families and unfairly discriminate against immigrant communities. He supports and works with community groups, such as Immigrant Families Together, to reunite families separated at the border and wrote legislation barring discrimination based on immigration status.  He secured funding for community groups providing legal services to immigrants in need  and was one of the first state legislators in the United States to call for abolishing ICE – the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency – when it began separating parents from children at the border.

In a city with millions of renters, Senator Gianaris always stands with tenants. Knowing the corrosive impact of real estate money in politics, Senator Gianaris does not accept campaign donations from real estate developers. In 2019, Senator Gianaris passed the most comprehensive tenant protections in New York State history. The new rent reforms, which Senator Gianaris helped author, ended the vacancy bonus, repealed vacancy decontrol, ended increases on preferential rents, and limited landlords abilities to pass capital improvement costs along to tenants. Senator Gianaris also secured funding for tenant legal services for the Ridgewood Tenants Union.

With a strong belief that we must live up to our highest ideals of “justice for all,” Senator Gianaris is working hard to transform our criminal justice system. In an effort to end the criminalization of poverty, Senator Gianaris wrote the Bail Elimination Act to end bail in New York and in 2019 passed the most comprehensive bail reform legislation in the United States. He also wrote legislation to create an Innocence Commission to review wrongful convictions and protect juvenile offenders Miranda rights. 

Senator Gianaris is a chief critic of the MTA, fighting for transit riders while pushing for improved service and increased accessibility. He understands New York cannot function without reliable mass transit, which is why he helped secure record funding for mass transit and an independent audit of the MTA.

New York has the second-lowest voter turnout in the United States. When more New Yorkers vote, their government is more accountable. Senator Gianaris wrote legislation to register more New Yorkers to vote and sponsored reforms to enact early voting and vote by mail.

Senator Gianais has consistently advocated for education in his community and secured record funding for public schools in the 2019 budget, including tens of thousands of dollars for individual programs at local schools.

Our state has many unfunded needs and too many misplaced priorities. Senator Gianaris continues to do battle against wasteful corporate welfare to ensure actual priorities like truly affordable housing, better mass transit and improved schools are fully funded.

Representing the largest public housing development in the United States, Senator Gianaris has fought tirelessly to improve NYCHA on behalf of its residents. Senator Gianaris secured more than $100 million in funds for NYCHA, in addition to funding for job training and violence reduction programming through Urban Upbound and the Jacob Riis Community Center.

New York’s future is bright and Senator Gianaris knows a progressive agenda cannot be accomplished alone. He is proud to work alongside activists and advocates to deliver results for our state, working together to remake New York for the better.