Regular Session - January 09, 2019

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 1               NEW YORK STATE SENATE








 9                  ALBANY, NEW YORK

10                  January 9, 2019

11                     1:10 p.m.



14                  REGULAR SESSION













 1               P R O C E E D I N G S

 2                THE PRESIDENT:   The Senate will 

 3   come to order.  

 4                I ask everyone present to please 

 5   rise and join me in reciting the Pledge of 

 6   Allegiance.

 7                (Whereupon, the assemblage recited 

 8   the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.) 

 9                THE PRESIDENT:   Thank you.

10                Our invocation today will be given 

11   by the Reverend Erwin Trollinger, pastor of 

12   Calvary Baptist Church in White Plains, 

13   New York.

14                REVEREND TROLLINGER:   May we bow 

15   our heads.

16                Gracious Father, we thank You for 

17   this time and this event that You have called us 

18   into.  We've come to this moment in humble 

19   reverence.  We acknowledge Your will, Your plan 

20   and Your potential that you have placed in every 

21   elected and appointed official in this place.

22                Today, Father, fifty years ago You 

23   orchestrated the swearing-in of the first 

24   African-American woman into the United States 

25   House of Representatives.  And we are here now 


 1   in this chamber to witness your orchestration of 

 2   the first African-American woman to become the 

 3   Majority Leader of the New York State Senate.  

 4   For this we say thank You, for allowing us to 

 5   witness this moment, this time and this moment 

 6   of history that You have shown up and shown out.

 7                Bless now this woman, this mother, 

 8   this Senator, and now this Majority Leader.  

 9   Grant her the wisdom that she will ask You for, 

10   grant her the knowledge that she will seek You 

11   for, grant her the understanding that she will 

12   pray for.

13                I pray also, Father, for every 

14   elected official in this Senate, that You may 

15   guide them to help New York State to be a good 

16   place.

17                I also pray for our Governor and 

18   his cabinet.  

19                And lastly, Father, I pray that You 

20   will allow our Majority Leader, our Governor, 

21   and our State Assembly that they will be that 

22   three-strand cord that cannot be easily broken.  

23                I ask you, Father, to grant this 

24   prayer based upon the Africans that were 

25   captured, based upon the survivors of the 


 1   Middle Passage, based upon the humanity that was 

 2   enslaved, based upon the sharecroppers, based 

 3   upon the women's suffrage movement, based upon 

 4   those who engage in civil rights, based upon the 

 5   immigrants of all generations that are here with 

 6   us now, based upon our senior citizens and our 

 7   children.  

 8                Grant this prayer in the words that 

 9   I have spoken with the motto of "Excelsior":  

10   Upward, reaching onward and higher goals.  

11                In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

12                THE PRESIDENT:   Thank you, 

13   Reverend.

14                The chair now hands down a message 

15   from the State Board of Elections, being the 

16   duly official certification of the members of 

17   the Senate, and directs the same be filed.  So 

18   handed down and so ordered.

19                I'd also like to ask if there are 

20   any Senators present who have not taken their 

21   oaths of office, to please rise at this time.

22                (No response.)

23                THE PRESIDENT:   Seeing none, the 

24   Secretary will call the roll to ascertain that a 

25   quorum exists.


 1                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Addabbo.

 2                SENATOR ADDABBO:   Here.

 3                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Akshar.

 4                SENATOR AKSHAR:   Present.

 5                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Amedore.

 6                SENATOR AMEDORE:   Present.

 7                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Antonacci.

 8                SENATOR ANTONACCI:   Present.

 9                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Bailey.

10                SENATOR BAILEY:   Present.

11                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Benjamin.

12                SENATOR BENJAMIN:   Present.  

13                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Biaggi.

14                SENATOR BIAGGI:   Present.

15                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Boyle.

16                SENATOR BOYLE:   Here.

17                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Breslin.

18                SENATOR BRESLIN:   Present.

19                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Brooks.

20                SENATOR BROOKS:   Present.

21                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Carlucci.

22                SENATOR CARLUCCI:   Present.

23                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Comrie.

24                SENATOR COMRIE:   Present.

25                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Felder.


 1                SENATOR FELDER:   Here.

 2                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Flanagan, 

 3   excused.

 4                Senator Funke.

 5                SENATOR FUNKE:   Here.

 6                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Gallivan.

 7                SENATOR GALLIVAN:   Here.

 8                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Gaughran.

 9                SENATOR GAUGHRAN:   Present.

10                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Gianaris.

11                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Here.

12                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Griffo.

13                SENATOR GRIFFO:   Here.

14                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Gounardes.

15                SENATOR GOUNARDES:   Present.

16                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Harckham.

17                SENATOR HARCKHAM:   Here.

18                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Helming.

19                SENATOR HELMING:   Here.

20                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Hoylman.

21                SENATOR HOYLMAN:   Here.

22                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Jackson.

23                SENATOR JACKSON:   Here.

24                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Jacobs, 

25   excused.


 1                Senator Jordan.

 2                SENATOR JORDAN:   Present.

 3                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Kaminsky.

 4                SENATOR KAMINSKY:   Here.

 5                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Kaplan.

 6                SENATOR KAPLAN:   Here.

 7                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Kavanagh, 

 8   excused.  

 9                Senator Kennedy.

10                SENATOR KENNEDY:   Here.

11                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Krueger.

12                SENATOR KRUEGER:   Here.

13                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Lanza.

14                SENATOR LANZA:   Here.

15                THE SECRETARY:   Senator LaValle.

16                SENATOR LaVALLE:   Here.

17                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Little.

18                SENATOR LITTLE:   Present.

19                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Liu.

20                SENATOR LIU:   Here.

21                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Martinez.

22                SENATOR MARTINEZ:   Here.

23                THE PRESIDENT:   A quorum is 

24   present.  

25                In keeping with the tradition of 


 1   this chamber, it's my honor, as the President of 

 2   the New York State Senate, to welcome you to this 

 3   2019 session.  

 4                And I'd first of all like to 

 5   acknowledge the presence of the distinguished 

 6   guests we have here.  We have our New York State 

 7   Comptroller Tom DiNapoli in our midst.  

 8                Thank you for joining us, 

 9   Comptroller.  

10                (Applause.)

11                THE PRESIDENT:   And on this very 

12   special occasion we have the senior women of the 

13   Cuomo administration, as well as the first-ever 

14   female Secretary to the Governor, Melissa DeRosa.  

15                Thank you for joining us here today.

16                (Applause.)

17                THE PRESIDENT:   Each January for 

18   the past number of years, I've stood from this 

19   unique perch and looked out and seen a chamber 

20   filled with individuals with a passion for public 

21   service.  And I also pay tribute to those who sat 

22   in these seats in the past.  And while they may 

23   no longer answer the roll call, they should be 

24   proud of the difference that they made for their 

25   constituents as they held the honorable title 


 1   "New York State Senator."

 2                To those who are returning, I hope 

 3   you never lose that sense of awe that every one 

 4   of us felt upon entering these majestic chambers.  

 5                And so to our returning veteran 

 6   Senators -- and indeed, it's amazing to see how 

 7   people have risen in seniority -- welcome back.  

 8   As I visit all 62 counties every year, it's 

 9   incredible to witness the pride that each one of 

10   you have in the districts you're proud to 

11   represent, and the people you represent.

12                We gather here fully embracing the 

13   weighty responsibilities entrusted to us by the 

14   electorate.  And whether you were drawn to public 

15   service because there was a wrong you wanted to 

16   right or an injustice you wanted to correct or a 

17   challenge that your community was facing or you 

18   simply had the desire to leave the world a better 

19   place, to all of you, on behalf of Governor Cuomo 

20   and myself, I say thank you for your service and 

21   look forward to serving with you in a 

22   collaborative fashion.

23                But to the new class of 17 Senators, 

24   I look out and I see something I've been waiting 

25   for far too long, and that's a lot of women.  A 


 1   lot.

 2                (Cheers; sustained applause.)

 3                THE PRESIDENT:   Twenty, in fact -- 

 4   up from 13 since we last gathered -- nearly one 

 5   out of three.

 6                And this body is also more 

 7   ethnically, racially, religiously and culturally 

 8   diverse than at any time in the 242-year history 

 9   of the State of New York.

10                (Applause.)

11                THE PRESIDENT:   And that in itself 

12   gives each of us such a tremendous sense of 

13   pride.  

14                But I know each of us is fully aware 

15   that it's more important than just making 

16   history, it's that we make a difference.  And 

17   that's why you travel here, leaving spouses and 

18   families, and moms and dads saying goodbye to 

19   children who aren't quite sure why mom and dad 

20   are missing some important milestone, and in some 

21   cases leaving newborns.  I know there's a lot of 

22   newborn babies among us.  Senator Benjamin, 

23   Senator Thomas, and the appropriately excused 

24   Senator Jacobs, who I think has a one-day-old 

25   baby.


 1                So you're missing family milestones, 

 2   important parts of lives.  So to your families, 

 3   to all the families gathered here today, I thank 

 4   you and recognize the sacrifice that you also 

 5   make to allow your loved one to come here and to 

 6   pose ideas and debate them and to pass 

 7   legislation, legislation that shows the rest of 

 8   the nation that indeed our great State of 

 9   New York can lead in enhancing the lives of 

10   others and promoting progressive values.

11                And while I know no one ran for 

12   office to break down barriers, on this day we 

13   welcome the very first Indian American, the first 

14   Iranian American, the first Taiwanese American 

15   and the first Muslim to these chambers.  I think 

16   those breakthroughs deserve a round of applause 

17   as well.

18                (Enthusiastic applause.)

19                THE PRESIDENT:   And in a matter of 

20   minutes, listen closely:  We're going to hear the 

21   shattering of this ceiling, the last great 

22   frontier, as we break down that ceiling and this 

23   body elects the most capable, the most 

24   battle-tested, and the most qualified person to 

25   be its leader.  Who, by the way, happens to be a 


 1   woman and a woman of color.  Senator Andrea 

 2   Stewart-Cousins, we're here to honor you as well. 

 3                (Cheers; extended standing ovation.)

 4                THE PRESIDENT:   Leader Cousins, I 

 5   know that you inspire me personally, and all the 

 6   women in this room.  But more than that, you've 

 7   proven to every little girl in this state, brown, 

 8   black or white, that there are no more barriers 

 9   to hold them back because they can now look to 

10   our state leadership for inspiration, that the 

11   leader of the Senate is a woman, that two out of 

12   four of the statewide elected officials, the 

13   Attorney General and the Lieutenant Governor, are 

14   women.

15                (Applause.) 

16                THE PRESIDENT:   And down the hall, 

17   the majority leader of the New York State 

18   Assembly is a woman.  

19                So a new day has dawned in our 

20   Capitol, and each and every one of you will 

21   remember that you were here when history was 

22   made.  

23                And may we never forget why we 

24   gathered on this frigid January day in the 

25   Capitol of the greatest state in the nation, and 


 1   know that when we break on hopefully a warm, 

 2   sunny day in June and we gavel out the 

 3   242nd session, that the people of New York will 

 4   know that each and every one of you honored your 

 5   sacred oath of office that you took here today, 

 6   serving the people of New York to the very best 

 7   of your abilities.  

 8                Congratulations. 

 9                (Applause.)

10                THE PRESIDENT:   I'd also like to 

11   recognize and applaud the presence of our great 

12   Assembly Speaker.  Carl Heastie is here as well.

13                (Applause.)

14                THE PRESIDENT:   Senator Gianaris, 

15   the floor is yours.

16                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Good afternoon 

17   and thank you, Madam President.  

18                I believe there is a resolution at 

19   the desk, Resolution Number 1, and I ask that it 

20   be read and move for its immediate adoption.

21                THE PRESIDENT:   The Secretary will 

22   read.

23                THE SECRETARY:   Senate Resolution 

24   by Senator Gianaris, providing for the election 

25   of Andrea Stewart-Cousins as Temporary President 


 1   of the Senate for the years 2019-2020.

 2                THE PRESIDENT:   Senator Gianaris, 

 3   you may speak on the resolution.

 4                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Thank you, Madam 

 5   President.

 6                And thank you to everyone who has 

 7   chosen to be with us on this historic day, and 

 8   congratulations to all my colleagues who are with 

 9   us in the chamber again.

10                In almost two and a half centuries, 

11   the chambers housing New York's State Legislature 

12   have seen a lot.  They have seen coups, they have 

13   seen ejected members, they have seen dueling 

14   sessions on this very floor.  They have seen 

15   coleaders, they have seen coalition leaders.  

16   They have seen indicted leaders.  Yet in 

17   241 years, the one thing neither house of our 

18   state government has ever seen is a female 

19   leader -- until today.

20                (Applause.)

21                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Our historical 

22   embarrassment ends today with the election of 

23   Andrea Stewart-Cousins as our Majority Leader.  

24   And what a great leader she will be.  

25                When we act properly, this body 


 1   should select as leader the Senator among us who 

 2   represents the best of us, and Andrea 

 3   Stewart-Cousins is that person.  Not just because 

 4   she possesses two X chromosomes, but because she 

 5   is uniquely suited to lead at this moment in 

 6   history, a moment when our nation is in crisis 

 7   and the best hope for America is found in our 

 8   state governments.  

 9                Andrea Stewart-Cousins understands 

10   what responsible leadership requires of us 

11   because her judgment and sober perspective are 

12   second to none.  Indeed, I have never known 

13   anyone better at knowing when to temper emotions 

14   and when to fuel them, at knowing when to react 

15   angrily to injustice and when to forgive errors 

16   in judgment, at knowing when to put carrots on 

17   the plate and when to break out the stick.  

18                Hers is a measured judgment born of 

19   a lifetime of experience destined for this day.  

20   Raised in New York City public housing, but also 

21   decades as a resident of one of our great 

22   suburbs.  Someone who has felt discrimination up 

23   close and personal, and who authored 

24   Westchester's first human rights laws.  Now 

25   representing a district that is simultaneously 


 1   home to the poorest and the wealthiest of our 

 2   state and everything in between.

 3                This experience provides her the 

 4   knowledge of what all New Yorkers require:  A 

 5   government that is more responsive and 

 6   accountable to the needs of its residents; 

 7   increased access to healthcare; better education 

 8   for our children; more affordability for our 

 9   tenants and our homeowners alike; and, above all 

10   else, the integrity to restore the public's faith 

11   in our state government.

12                Years of public service clearly 

13   establish Andrea Stewart-Cousins' high ethical 

14   barometer and steady moral compass, traits that 

15   are more important today than they've ever been.  

16   I promise you this.  Our selection of Andrea 

17   Stewart-Cousins as Majority Leader will be one 

18   that we can be proud of and will never regret.  

19                My colleagues, after 241 long years, 

20   it is time to turn the page in this chamber and 

21   begin a new chapter.  It is time for the 

22   proverbial "three men in the room" to say goodbye 

23   to everything they thought they knew about how 

24   government should be run.  

25                (Laughter; applause.)


 1                SENATOR GIANARIS:   The winds of 

 2   change are sweeping a fabulous scarf into your 

 3   room, and things will never be the same.  

 4                (Laughter.)

 5                SENATOR GIANARIS:   It is finally 

 6   time for a woman's touch in the highest position 

 7   in this body.  My colleagues, it is time for 

 8   Andrea Stewart-Cousins to serve as 

 9   Majority Leader.  

10                Thank you.

11                (Cheers; applause.)

12                THE PRESIDENT:   The question is on 

13   the resolution offered by Senator Gianaris.  All 

14   those in favor signify by saying aye.

15                (Response of "Aye.")

16                THE PRESIDENT:   Opposed?

17                (Response of "Nay.")

18                THE PRESIDENT:   The ayes have it.  

19   The resolution is adopted.

20                (Cheers; sustained standing 

21   ovation.)

22                THE PRESIDENT:   At this time 

23   Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins will come forward 

24   and be sworn in as Temporary President of the 

25   Senate by Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, and joined 


 1   by her family.  

 2                CHIEF JUDGE DiFIORE:   Senator, 

 3   please place your left hand on the Bible and 

 4   raise your right hand and repeat after me:  "I do 

 5   solemnly swear" -- 

 6                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   I do 

 7   solemnly swear --

 8                CHIEF JUDGE DiFIORE:   -- "to 

 9   support and uphold the Constitution of the 

10   United States" --  

11                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   -- to 

12   support and uphold the Constitution of the 

13   United States --

14                CHIEF JUDGE DiFIORE:   -- "to 

15   support and uphold the Constitution of the State 

16   of New York" --

17                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   -- to 

18   support and uphold the Constitution of the State 

19   of New York --

20                CHIEF JUDGE DiFIORE:   -- "and to 

21   faithfully discharge my duties as 

22   Temporary President and Majority Leader of the 

23   New York State Senate" --

24                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   -- and to 

25   faithfully execute my duties as 


 1   Temporary President and Majority Leader of the 

 2   New York State Senate --

 3                CHIEF JUDGE DiFIORE:   -- "to the 

 4   best of my ability" -- 

 5                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   -- to the 

 6   best of my ability -- 

 7                CHIEF JUDGE DiFIORE:   -- "so help 

 8   me God."

 9                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   -- so 

10   help me God.

11                (Tumultuous cheering; extended 

12   standing ovation.)

13                THE PRESIDENT:   Congratulations -- 

14   and I've been waiting to say these words -- 

15   Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.  

16   Congratulations.  

17                (Cheers; applause.) 

18                THE PRESIDENT:   Senator Gianaris.

19                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Madam President, 

20   can you please recognize Leader Stewart-Cousins 

21   for opening session remarks.

22                THE PRESIDENT:   Indeed, I'm happy 

23   to.  

24                Majority Leader Andrea 

25   Stewart-Cousins, please come forward and deliver 


 1   your opening remarks.

 2                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   Thank 

 3   you.  Thank you.  

 4                (Applause; laughter.)

 5                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   

 6   (Ascending to dais.)  Thank you.  Thank you, 

 7   thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.  

 8                Thank you.  This is incredible.  

 9                And first and foremost, I want to 

10   thank God.  Because frankly I consider myself 

11   being here amazing grace.  Amazing grace.

12                (Applause.) 

13                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   And I am 

14   eternally humbled and grateful for the 

15   opportunity.  

16                I want to thank the Lieutenant 

17   Governor, my friend Kathy Hochul.  It has just 

18   been such a pleasure to work with you over the 

19   years, and I know we will continue to work to do 

20   great things for New York.  Thank you.  

21                I also, as I was thanking our 

22   Reverend Trollinger, thank you for that beautiful 

23   prayer.  Reverend Trollinger is somebody who is a 

24   spiritual mentor for everyone in Westchester.  

25   Thank you so much for being here.


 1                (Cheers, applause.)

 2                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   I want to 

 3   thank my deputy, Senator Gianaris, for your kind 

 4   words and certainly for all the work you've done 

 5   on behalf of our conference.  Thank you.  

 6                (Applause.)

 7                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   And 

 8   Senator Griffo, I know this year is going to be a 

 9   good one for all of us, and I look forward to 

10   working with you to make sure that New Yorkers 

11   are served in the very best way.  Thank you.  

12                (Applause.)

13                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   I'm also, 

14   obviously, looking forward to a great partnership 

15   with the Governor, Governor Cuomo.  We've had a 

16   wild ride --

17                (Laughter.)

18                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   -- but 

19   I'm sure we will work together on our shared 

20   agenda for New York.

21                (Applause.)

22                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   And of 

23   course I know my comptroller friend -- we always, 

24   you know, point out our Comptroller because, as I 

25   say, he's the best comptroller in the whole 


 1   country.  And he also signs the checks.

 2                (Laughter.)

 3                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   But Tom, 

 4   thank you so much for all that you've done.  And 

 5   again, I'm looking forward to working closely 

 6   with you.

 7                (Applause.)

 8                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   And of 

 9   course my partner.  (To Speaker Heastie.)  I know 

10   you finished up your session so that you could be 

11   here.

12                SPEAKER HEASTIE:  (Inaudible.)

13                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   Well, I'm 

14   really, really so happy that, again, we will have 

15   the kind of partnership we have.  I'm looking so 

16   forward to it.  Thank you so much for your 

17   leadership.

18                (Applause.)

19                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   So I'm in 

20   awe.  I stand here in awe of everything that has 

21   happened.  

22                First of all, my conference:  

23   39 members strong.  Wow.  Wow.

24                (Cheers; applause.)

25                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   We have 


 1   15 new members.  Wow.

 2                (Cheers; applause.)

 3                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   We have 

 4   14 women in our conference.  Wow.

 5                (Cheers; applause.)

 6                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   And in 

 7   this chamber, 20 women.  Wow.

 8                (Cheers; applause.)

 9                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   You know, 

10   when you think about it, not that long ago women 

11   weren't even allowed to walk on the floor of 

12   these chambers.  

13                So just because this is a visual we 

14   have not seen, can all the women please stand?  

15   Please stand.  Please stand.

16                (Cheers; applause.)

17                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   It's been 

18   amazing.  Amazing.  

19                So anyway, as I said, I have 15 new 

20   members.  And because I get a chance to introduce 

21   all of my new members, I want you to just bear 

22   with me.  Because these people are going to 

23   change New York, so you need to know who they 

24   are.  

25                So let me start with Alessandra 


 1   Biaggi.  

 2                (Cheering; applause.) 

 3                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   She's 

 4   already earned a reputation as a fierce advocate 

 5   for women's rights, fighting against sexual 

 6   harassment.  I look forward to her serving as the 

 7   Senate's Ethics Committee chair and working to 

 8   clean up Albany and rebuild the voters' trust.  

 9                Next I want you to meet Jim 

10   Gaughran.  Jim?  

11                (Cheers; applause.)

12                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   Jim has 

13   decades of experience in the public sector in 

14   public service and will be vital as the chair of 

15   the Committee on Local Government.  

16                Next I want you to meet Andrew 

17   Gounardes.  

18                (Applause.)

19                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   Andrew's 

20   got a life, too, of public service, and his 

21   commitment to providing a stronger voice for the 

22   residents of Brooklyn is outstanding.  

23                Thank you, Andrew.  

24                (Applause.)

25                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   And I 


 1   want to you to meet Pete Harckham.  

 2                (Applause.)

 3                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   Pete 

 4   Harckham's experience in public office is going 

 5   to be of great value, and we look forward to 

 6   working with him, I especially as a fellow 

 7   Westchester County representative.  

 8                So thank you, Pete.  

 9                (Applause.)

10                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   I'm 

11   honored to welcome the first -- and we talked 

12   about, the Lieutenant Governor talked about a lot 

13   of firsts, and we've got a lot of firsts.  And so 

14   I'm welcoming the first Muslim State Senator, 

15   Robert Jackson.

16                (Applause.)

17                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   Robert is 

18   a powerful advocate for education fairness.  

19                And Robert, we're lucky to have you 

20   in the Senate.  

21                Join me in welcoming Senator Anna 

22   Kaplan.

23                (Applause.)

24                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   Another 

25   first:  The first Iranian American elected to the 


 1   State Senate.  Anna will continue her service to 

 2   Nassau County families and will work tirelessly 

 3   to help grow Long Island and the New York 

 4   economy.  

 5                (Applause.)

 6                THE PRESIDENT:   Let us welcome -- 

 7   we're not done yet with our firsts.  Let us 

 8   welcome Senator John Liu, the first Chinese 

 9   American.

10                (Applause.)

11                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   John Liu 

12   has a depth of knowledge and experience that will 

13   benefit all of his constituents and all 

14   New Yorkers.  

15                Next, another first:  Senator Monica 

16   Martinez.  

17                (Applause.)

18                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   The first 

19   Salvadoran Senator.  Dedicated her life to public 

20   service, education, and a wonderful addition to 

21   this body.  And I know she'll fight hard for 

22   Long Island families.  

23                Looking forward to working with 

24   Senator Rachel May.  Rachel.  Rachel is chairing 

25   the Committee on Aging, and she will work 


 1   diligently to serve our seniors and represent 

 2   upstate families and communities.  

 3                Thank you, Rachel.  

 4                (Applause.)

 5                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   Pleased 

 6   to introduce you to Jen Metzger.  Jen Metzger 

 7   from the Hudson Valley, she's chair of the Senate 

 8   Agricultural Committee, and she'll help our 

 9   farmers and agribusinesses grow and prosper while 

10   also protecting the environment and natural 

11   resources.  

12                (Applause.)

13                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   Another 

14   first, Zellnor Myrie. 

15                (Applause.)

16                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   First 

17   Costa Rican Senator.  He understands affordable 

18   housing, a crisis that's facing many New Yorkers.  

19   And as the Election Committee chair, he'll move 

20   our state forward to empower voters and cut red 

21   tape.  Zellnor Myrie.  

22                (Applause.)

23                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   Next, I 

24   want you to meet Jessica Ramos.

25                (Applause.)


 1                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   Jessica 

 2   has strong roots in her community, and I know 

 3   that her leadership, especially as Labor chair, 

 4   will be crucial for our progress and success.  

 5   Jessica Ramos.

 6                (Applause.)

 7                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   I want 

 8   you to meet Senator Julia Salazar.

 9                (Applause.)

10                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   Julia's 

11   activism in civil rights and immigration will be 

12   important as we address many crucial issues 

13   facing New Yorkers.  She'll be a fierce advocate 

14   for her district and for all of us.  

15                (Applause.)

16                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   Now, both 

17   Senator Ramos and Senator Salazar are firsts as 

18   well:  The first Colombian Senators in the 

19   State Senate.

20                (Applause.)

21                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   Senator 

22   James Skoufis.  

23                (Laughter; applause.)

24                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   Senator 

25   Skoufis is willing and eager -- and really 


 1   willing and eager -- 

 2                (Laughter.)

 3                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   -- to 

 4   stand up and fight powerful interests and corrupt 

 5   politics in Albany.  He's already proven to be a 

 6   great representative in the Hudson Valley when he 

 7   was in the Assembly, and we're looking forward to 

 8   him delivering real results for his community.  

 9                Thank you, Senator Skoufis.

10                (Applause.)

11                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   And last 

12   but not least, another history-maker, the first 

13   Indian American Senator, Senator Kevin Thomas.

14                (Applause.)

15                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   Senator 

16   Thomas has made history joining his colleagues in 

17   a diverse Senate Democratic majority.  His 

18   experience fighting for the less fortunate and 

19   ensuring fairness and opportunities will make him 

20   a truly exceptional Senator for Long Island and 

21   all of New York State.  

22                (Applause.)

23                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   So there 

24   you have all the new members.  

25                And, you know, we're all sort of 


 1   lavishing praise on all our new members, but I 

 2   want to thank, obviously, the members who have 

 3   been through a lot.  And thank you all for being 

 4   strong and steadfast and committed and for really 

 5   being the critical glue that made this moment 

 6   possible.  Thank you all so very much.  What an 

 7   honor to serve as your leader.

 8                (Applause.)

 9                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   And I 

10   know that Senator Griffo will get a a chance to 

11   more appropriately introduce the new members, but 

12   I do want to welcome Daphne Jordan --

13                (Applause.)

14                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   -- and -- 

15   Daphne, stand up -- and Bob Antonacci.  Hi, Bob.  

16                (Applause.)

17                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   Welcome.  

18                Okay.  So now I'll just talk a 

19   little bit about this day.  And, you know, as I 

20   reflect on what this day means, I think of 

21   opportunities and barriers.  I think of all the 

22   giants whose names we know -- Sojourner, Harriet, 

23   Susan, Eleanor, just to name a few, Shirley -- 

24   and the sacrifices that they made to make this 

25   moment possible.  


 1                And I also think about the giants in 

 2   my life.  You've heard, many of you before, about 

 3   my parents, Beryl and Bob.  My father was a World 

 4   War II hero who served in a segregated army.  He 

 5   won medals for his country and for his valor and 

 6   then came back home and was denied many things, 

 7   even the GI bill, because of the color of his 

 8   skin.  

 9                I think of my mother, a woman who, 

10   because of her gender and her race, was not given 

11   a fair shot.  She always wanted to be a lawyer, 

12   but that opportunity, for so many reasons, was 

13   denied her.  She typed a hundred words a minute 

14   but was denied even an opportunity to work in a 

15   corporation or private business.  So she entered 

16   the workforce through civil service and made her 

17   mark in New York City government.  

18                I think of my brother, Bobby, a 

19   Vietnam War veteran who's accomplished so many 

20   things in his life, always supporting, the 

21   bedrock of the family.  

22                I think of my late husband, Tom, and 

23   all of his sacrifices that he made so that I 

24   could pursue opportunities and dreams.  I wish he 

25   were here with me today to see all that I've 


 1   accomplished.  

 2                But I have our children, Kevin and 

 3   Steven and Candice, and their beautiful families, 

 4   my grandchildren.  And we all know that our 

 5   families sacrifice so much for us to do this.  So 

 6   I thank you for having been patient and loving, 

 7   and I am so very grateful that you are here with 

 8   me in this special moment.  And I love you, love 

 9   you very much.  Thank you.  

10                (Applause.)

11                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   Since our 

12   nation's founding, those chosen by the people to 

13   lead our government have faced the choice of 

14   traveling down two paths, the path of putting up 

15   barriers or the path of creating opportunities.  

16                We know all too well which path some 

17   of today's leaders have chosen.  We need only to 

18   look at Washington, where the administration has 

19   embraced the path of putting up barriers to the 

20   extreme.  It has literally shut down the federal 

21   government to build a wall.  

22                But not all barriers are that 

23   obvious.  Sometimes, even in seemingly 

24   progressive places like New York, barriers still 

25   exist.  We are going to break down some more 


 1   barriers.

 2                (Applause.)

 3                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   We are 

 4   going to tell the rest of the country that 

 5   New York is about opportunities.  Not barriers, 

 6   not walls, not division.  Opportunity.  

 7                How are we going to tell them?  

 8   We're going to tell them by making democracy 

 9   work.  We're going to implement early voting, 

10   combat voter suppression -- 

11                (Applause.)

12                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   -- make 

13   registering to vote easier, allow voting by mail.  

14   We're finally going to give New Yorkers an 

15   honest, functional, ethical government that they 

16   deserve.  

17                We'll restore the public trust by 

18   closing the LLC loophole, reforming our campaign 

19   finance system, making sure state contracts are 

20   fully vetted, and shining a light on how 

21   government works.  

22                We're going to continue to build our 

23   economy and create new jobs, we're going to stop 

24   the exodus from our state, and we're going to 

25   make sure all of New York -- upstate, downstate, 


 1   urban, suburban, rural -- grows economically.

 2                (Applause.)

 3                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   While our 

 4   national government vindictively uses the tax 

 5   laws to punish our state, we're going to lower 

 6   our tax burden for middle-class New Yorkers and 

 7   make the tax cap permanent.  

 8                (Applause.)

 9                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   We're 

10   going to reduce mandates on local governments.  

11   We're going to help our small businesses, 

12   including MWBEs, thrive.  We're going to make 

13   sure that New York laws recognize that women's 

14   rights are human rights.

15                (Applause.)

16                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   We will 

17   pass the Reproductive Health Act.  We will pass 

18   the Reproductive Health Act --

19                (Cheers; applause.)

20                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   -- and 

21   comprehensive contraceptive care.  

22                I stand here the first woman leader 

23   of a legislative house in state history.  And if 

24   we do this right, I cannot and will not be the 

25   last.  Cannot and will not.  But let me make my 


 1   voice clear.  We need to deal with the scourge of 

 2   sexual harassment in the workplace.

 3                (Applause.)

 4                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   We cannot 

 5   let this moment and movement pass.  We will hold 

 6   hearings, and we will hold all accountable.  

 7                In this chamber, we will stand up 

 8   for our LGBTQ community and pass real 

 9   protections, including GENDA.  

10                (Cheers; applause.)

11                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   We will 

12   stand up for our immigrant brothers and sisters 

13   and make sure their rights are respected and 

14   protected.  This is New York, after all.

15                (Applause.)

16                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   We'll 

17   make sure our children and every New Yorker has 

18   access to quality affordable healthcare.  We'll 

19   make sure all New York children have access to 

20   quality education that they deserve and that all 

21   our children have access to quality, affordable 

22   higher education.

23                (Applause.)

24                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   We are 

25   going to pass the DREAM Act.  


 1                (Cheers; applause.)

 2                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   And we 

 3   are going to name the bill for our former 

 4   colleague José Peralta, who championed this bill.

 5                (Standing ovation.)

 6                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   We're 

 7   going to stand up for victims of child sexual 

 8   abuse and finally pass the Child Victims Act.

 9                (Applause.)

10                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   We're 

11   going to protect tenants and ensure that we 

12   provide affordable housing throughout New York.

13                (Applause.)

14                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   We're 

15   going to reform our criminal justice system.  

16   We're going to pass bail reforms, speedy trial, 

17   ensure our system treats everyone equally.  

18                We're going to lead the way in 

19   keeping our families safe from guns and gun 

20   violence.  We're going to keep guns out of the 

21   hands of dangerous individuals, fix our flawed 

22   background check process, pass safe storage 

23   legislation, and ban bump stocks.

24                (Applause.)

25                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   We will 


 1   have bold investments in our infrastructure, 

 2   which has been neglected for far too long.  That 

 3   means restoring MTA to an international transit 

 4   model, improving roads and bridges and tunnels 

 5   across our state.  

 6                And again, we believe in science and 

 7   understand the dangers of climate change.  We're 

 8   going to work together to protect our 

 9   environment.

10                (Applause.)

11                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   I could 

12   probably stay up here for hours.  Colleagues, 

13   this is just part of an ambitious agenda, and 

14   there's no -- and there's nothing to stop us and 

15   so much more we have to accomplish.  But we've 

16   been sent here to be ambitious, to make New York 

17   a beacon of hope and progress for the rest of our 

18   country.  

19                And as I said at the beginning, our 

20   leaders have always been at crossroads, and as 

21   Senators, as New Yorkers, as Americans we could 

22   choose the path of putting up barriers or we 

23   could choose the path of creating opportunity.  

24   By delivering this diverse, talented and historic 

25   group of Senators to Albany, the people of our 


 1   great state have made it crystal-clear which path 

 2   they expect us to take.  

 3                So I address my colleagues on both 

 4   sides of the aisle, from every corner of 

 5   New York.  I invite you and all of us to join to 

 6   create opportunity for every New Yorker, to level 

 7   the playing field for every child, and to make 

 8   this state as great as the people who live in it.  

 9                Thank you so very much.  Let's get 

10   to work.

11                (Extended standing ovation.)

12                THE PRESIDENT:   Thank you, Senator 

13   Stewart-Cousins.

14                Senator Gianaris.

15                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Thank you, 

16   Madam President.  

17                Can you please recognize 

18   Senator Griffo for opening remarks.

19                THE PRESIDENT:   Senator Griffo.

20                SENATOR GRIFFO:   Thank you, 

21   Madam President.  

22                And I want to welcome this great 

23   crowd in the chamber today who are here to 

24   witness this significant moment and to experience 

25   government firsthand.


 1                As you can hear, I am fighting a 

 2   cold, as some of my colleagues also are probably 

 3   experiencing.  So I know there's a lot of warmth 

 4   in the chamber.  And I can assure you, though, 

 5   even though my voice sounds a little different, 

 6   Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins told me 

 7   it's not the outset of puberty.

 8                (Laughter.)

 9                SENATOR GRIFFO:   So this is a new 

10   year, and it is a new beginning and a new 

11   opportunity for a new session.  We have all the 

12   bustle, the energy, the excitement that comes 

13   along with it.

14                And I want to thank every member of 

15   this body for their commitment and their 

16   willingness to serve.  I want to thank all of the 

17   families who are here today for being here to be 

18   a part of this and to experience this and to be 

19   here on such a special day to witness all of 

20   this.  This is what you call live TV, see, it's 

21   just -- let me congratulate the leader.

22                (Laughter; applause.)

23                SENATOR GRIFFO:   So again, I thank 

24   all the members who are here and, again, for 

25   their service to this great state.  


 1                I also want to welcome all of the 

 2   new members.  As Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins 

 3   has indicated, they all worked hard.  We 

 4   appreciate their dedication and willingness to 

 5   serve this great state.  

 6                I particularly want to recognize two 

 7   of our newest members here.  I will start with 

 8   Senator Daphne Jordan, who came from the ranks of 

 9   the staff, who understands what it means to work 

10   long days and extra days and with very little 

11   sleep.  She has been an exceptional public 

12   servant, and I know she will do an extraordinary 

13   job representing the Capital District.  

14                Welcome, Senator Jordan.

15                (Applause.)

16                SENATOR GRIFFO:   From Central 

17   New York, a uniquely qualified and very well 

18   respected individual who comes with such 

19   credentials that we are proud to have him as part 

20   of our conference:  Senator Bob Antonacci, former 

21   local government official, who enjoys an 

22   outstanding reputation in Central New York, and I 

23   know that will grow across the state.  

24                So Bob, welcome to you and your 

25   family today.


 1                (Applause.)

 2                SENATOR GRIFFO:   And while there 

 3   have been changes, our mission as public servants 

 4   remains the same, starting with and supporting 

 5   policies that will help hardworking families, 

 6   middle-class families to succeed and for 

 7   businesses to prosper and grow.

 8                 And as you know, we have chosen 

 9   Senator John Flanagan to be the leader of the 

10   Republican Conference.  He has recently 

11   acknowledged seeking help to overcome a battle 

12   with alcoholism.  We applaud his courage in 

13   facing down this difficult challenge, and we hope 

14   by going public in a most difficult manner that 

15   he will also inspire others to seek the help that 

16   they need.  

17                We remain united and supportive and 

18   look forward to his speedy and healthy return.  

19   And I know that's shared by everyone here.

20                (Applause.)

21                SENATOR GRIFFO:   We also join you 

22   in recognizing the historic nature of this day 

23   and this very moment.  Today marks the election 

24   of the first woman, the first African-American 

25   woman to lead this chamber.


 1                And I have known Senator 

 2   Stewart-Cousins for a while; we arrived at the 

 3   same time.  But after reading many of the 

 4   articles over the last several weeks, I think 

 5   it's a true chronicle of an extraordinary journey 

 6   with many challenges -- characterized, though, by 

 7   courage, by dignity, by class, hard work and 

 8   perseverance.  And that should be an inspiration 

 9   to and motivation to many others.

10                So today, Senator Stewart-Cousins, 

11   we salute you on this achievement and we look 

12   forward to working with you in the weeks and 

13   months ahead.  Congratulations.

14                (Applause.)

15                SENATOR GRIFFO:   There have been a 

16   myriad of conversations about what kind of agenda 

17   this Legislature and our Governor should support.  

18   We in the Senate Republican Conference will 

19   advance the most taxpayer-friendly agenda that 

20   this state has ever seen.  We must give our 

21   families the ability to stay and raise their 

22   families here in New York rather than being 

23   forced to leave our great state in search of 

24   lower taxes and greater opportunities.

25                More than a million people have left 


 1   our state since the last census.  We don't need a 

 2   committee to identify the reasons, and it's not 

 3   the weather.  It's high taxes.  It's 

 4   strangulating regulations.  It's crippling energy 

 5   costs.  And it's the lack of good-paying jobs.  

 6                Let's find real solutions.  Let's 

 7   work together to reverse this decline.  And you, 

 8   me, and all of us collectively working together 

 9   can make a difference.  There's plenty of time to 

10   achieve all that we want to do and more, of all 

11   the subject matter and issues that we have 

12   discussed and have been presented.  And while we 

13   recognize and realize that everything on the 

14   table is important to someone, let's start here 

15   and make economic revitalization of New York our 

16   top priority.  

17                Whether it's education funding or 

18   money for infrastructure, our hope is that this 

19   Senate will continue to treat each region of this 

20   state equitably.  We believe that the property 

21   tax should made permanent.  Many of you have 

22   recently pledged to join us in that effort, and 

23   we welcome that.  

24                Let's also continue our efforts in 

25   the fight against heroin, opiate addiction, gang 


 1   violence and Lyme disease.  Senate Republicans 

 2   have made great progress, with your help and 

 3   work, on those issues, and we encourage the 

 4   leadership and this chamber to continue to work 

 5   together to address them and to make a 

 6   difference.  

 7                And finally, this Legislature should 

 8   support commonsense reforms to restore 

 9   accountability, to make government work better, 

10   to make government more efficient than ever 

11   before.  More disclosure, more transparency, an 

12   open and honest budget process, which are 

13   critically important to each and every 

14   New Yorker, and it should be important to each 

15   and every one of us.  

16                We stand here before you today in 

17   this conference ready to work and ready to serve.  

18   Even though Senate Republicans may now make up a 

19   numerical minority, our voice has never been as 

20   important as it is today.  We have much to offer.  

21   We have much to contribute on behalf of the 

22   millions of New Yorkers that we now serve.  

23                Senator Gianaris, I look forward to 

24   working with you.  And I know that our 

25   Mediterranean ancestry will make that very 


 1   passionate -- 

 2                (Laughter.)

 3                SENATOR GRIFFO:   -- and we will 

 4   differ on policy, on politics, on philosophy and 

 5   procedurally.  

 6                (Laughter.)

 7                SENATOR GRIFFO:   But we will listen 

 8   to one another, and we will listen to what each 

 9   side is saying.  And we should always respect one 

10   another, particularly in this great house.  

11                Let's end with a fitting quote from 

12   a Roosevelt.  No, not the former four-term 

13   Democratic president that Governor Cuomo likes to 

14   quote and cite.  No surprise, I'm going to quote 

15   the other one, President Teddy Roosevelt.  

16                President Roosevelt once said:  "Far 

17   and away the best prize that life has to offer is 

18   the chance to work hard at work worth doing."  

19                The people's work is important, and 

20   it is so worth doing.  And all of us have made 

21   that commitment here today.  So that is the 

22   opportunity that lies before us.  Let's seize it 

23   and make it ours on this very day and through 

24   this entire session.  

25                Thank you all.  God bless you.  


 1                (Standing ovation.)

 2                THE PRESIDENT:   Thank you, Senator 

 3   Griffo.

 4                Senator Gianaris.

 5                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Thank you, 

 6   Madam President.  

 7                We have several procedural items to 

 8   take up.  First, there is a resolution at the 

 9   desk calling for the election of the Secretary of 

10   the Senate.  Will you call that up, please.

11                THE PRESIDENT:   The Secretary will 

12   read.

13                THE SECRETARY:   Senate Resolution 

14   by Senator Stewart-Cousins, that Alejandra 

15   Paulino of Albany, New York, be, and she hereby 

16   is, elected Secretary of the Senate for the years 

17   2019-2020.

18                THE PRESIDENT:   The question is on 

19   the resolution.  All those in favor signify by 

20   saying aye.

21                (Response of "Aye.")

22                THE PRESIDENT:   Opposed?  

23                (No response.)

24                THE PRESIDENT:   The ayes have it.  

25   The resolution is adopted.  


 1                (Cheers; applause.)

 2                THE PRESIDENT:   Ms. Paulino, we ask 

 3   that you come forward and receive your oath of 

 4   office while Senator Stewart-Cousins performs the 

 5   swearing-in.

 6                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   Raise 

 7   your right hand.  

 8                "I," state your name --

 9                MS. PAULINO:   I, Alejandra 

10   Paulino --

11                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   -- "do 

12   solemnly swear" --

13                MS. PAULINO:   -- do solemnly 

14   swear --

15                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   -- "to 

16   uphold the Constitution of the United States of 

17   America" --  

18                MS. PAULINO:   -- to uphold the 

19   Constitution of the United States of America --

20                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   -- "and 

21   the Constitution of the State of New York" --

22                MS. PAULINO:   -- and the 

23   Constitution of the State of New York --

24                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   -- "and 

25   to faithfully execute my duties as Secretary of 


 1   the Senate" --

 2                MS. PAULINO:   -- and to faithfully 

 3   execute my duties as Secretary of the Senate --

 4                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   -- "to 

 5   the best of my ability" --

 6                MS. PAULINO:   -- to the best of my 

 7   ability --

 8                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   -- "so 

 9   help me God."

10                MS. PAULINO:   -- so help me God.

11                (Cheers; standing ovation.)

12                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   I would 

13   like to recognize the members of the Assembly who 

14   are present.  Do you have something to report?

15                ASSEMBLYMEMBER WEINSTEIN:   I'm 

16   Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, chair of Ways and 

17   Means, along with our ranker, Assemblyman Will 

18   Barclay, and we're here to report that the 

19   Assembly has convened, we have organized, we have 

20   elected our great speaker, Carl Heastie.  

21                On this exciting, historic day, we 

22   are pleased to report we are ready to proceed 

23   with the people's business, and we look forward 

24   to a very exciting year with the New York State 

25   Senate.


 1                Thank you.

 2                (Applause.)

 3                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   Thank you, 

 4   Assemblymembers.  It is so noted in the record.

 5                Senator Gianaris.

 6                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Thank you, 

 7   Madam President.  

 8                There is a resolution at the desk 

 9   adopting the rules of the Senate.  Can we please 

10   take that up.

11                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   The 

12   Secretary will read.

13                THE SECRETARY:   Senate Resolution 

14   by Senator Stewart-Cousins, to adopt the Rules of 

15   the Senate for the years 2019-2020.

16                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   Senator 

17   Griffo, why do you rise?

18                SENATOR GRIFFO:   Madam President, I 

19   would ask that you call upon Senator Young for a 

20   question on the rules resolution before us.

21                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   Senator 

22   Young.

23                SENATOR YOUNG:   Thank you, 

24   Madam President.

25                First of all, I want to say to my 


 1   colleagues, welcome back.  And to our new 

 2   colleagues, welcome to the New York State Senate.  

 3   It is by far one of the most historic bodies in 

 4   the entire country, and I look forward to working 

 5   with you.  

 6                We are currently operating under 

 7   house rules.  Until these new rules are passed, 

 8   these are the rules of the house.  And so as the 

 9   newly appointed ranking member on the 

10   Ethics Committee, I would invite my new colleague 

11   Senator Biaggi to debate some of these new rules.

12                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   Senator 

13   Gianaris.  

14                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Madam President, 

15   as all the Senators who have previously served 

16   here know, it is the prerogative of the majority 

17   to decide who will answer questions about the 

18   rules, and as the floor leader I will take that 

19   upon myself.

20                SENATOR YOUNG:   Thank you, 

21   Senator Gianaris.  I just thought it would be 

22   appropriate, because you may remember two years 

23   ago the then-chair of the Ethics Committee 

24   debated the rules, and you were debating the 

25   rules.  But it was the chair of the majority 


 1   Ethics Committee.

 2                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   Senator 

 3   Young, I'd just ask that questions go through the 

 4   chair.

 5                SENATOR YOUNG:   Okay.  So thank 

 6   you, Madam President.

 7                When you look at these rules 

 8   changes, there are several issues that have not 

 9   changed.  But there are two new rules changes 

10   that we are particularly concerned about on 

11   behalf of the people of New York.  And we need to 

12   have checks and balances in government to prevent 

13   the tyranny of the majority.  That's what happens 

14   in Congress, that's what happens in the Assembly.

15                So I have some questions about -- 

16   number one, I'll start with Rule X.  And part of 

17   that amends the staffing allocations.  We as a 

18   body are responsible for making sure that we have 

19   robust debate on critical issues that are 

20   important to the people of this state.  Your 

21   conference, the new majority, has put forward a 

22   very, very progressive agenda with many 

23   controversial issues that are included in that 

24   agenda.

25                We need to make sure that we are 


 1   doing the right thing to have the debate so that 

 2   all of the issues can be aired, all of the 

 3   members know exactly what they're voting on, and 

 4   all of the voters and the citizens of this state 

 5   know what their government is doing.

 6                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   Senator 

 7   Young, are you asking --

 8                SENATOR YOUNG:   So the first 

 9   question is --

10                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   -- Senator 

11   Gianaris to yield to a question?  

12                SENATOR YOUNG:   The first question 

13   is --

14                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   Senator 

15   Young, excuse me, are you asking -- 

16                SENATOR YOUNG:   The first question 

17   is --

18                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   Senator 

19   Young --

20                SENATOR YOUNG:   -- the part about 

21   amending the staffing allocations.

22                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   Excuse 

23   me --

24                SENATOR GRIFFO:   Madam President.  

25   Madam President.


 1                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   Yes, 

 2   Senator Griffo, why do you rise?

 3                SENATOR GRIFFO:   I think Senator 

 4   Young had the floor.  She had been recognized, 

 5   she had asked to ask a question.  Senator 

 6   Gianaris decided to take the question as floor 

 7   leader, which is within his purview and 

 8   prerogative.  Senator Young is beginning to ask 

 9   the question.  So he did agree to respond.  So I 

10   would ask that you allow Senator Young to ask the 

11   question, please.

12                SENATOR YOUNG:   So the first 

13   question is --

14                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   Senator 

15   Young, just to clarify, you're asking Senator 

16   Gianaris to yield to a question.

17                SENATOR YOUNG:   Right, because he 

18   said he was the one handling the debate.  

19   Correct, Madam President.

20                So the first question, through you, 

21   Madam President, but to have Senator Gianaris 

22   respond, is that what you've done is actually, by 

23   the language in this resolution, reduce the 

24   potential for the number of staffing that the 

25   minority conference has.  And that, again, is 


 1   something that's undemocratic.  Because we are 

 2   just asking that you treat this conference the 

 3   same way that we treated you when you were in the 

 4   minority --

 5                (Laughter.)

 6                SENATOR YOUNG:   -- as far as -- as 

 7   far as the rules go.

 8                SENATOR GRIFFO:   Madam President, 

 9   order in the house, please.

10                SENATOR YOUNG:   So I want to know, 

11   Senator Gianaris, why --

12                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   Order in 

13   the house.

14                SENATOR YOUNG:   -- through you, 

15   Madam President, why that staffing allocation 

16   formula has been changed.

17                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Are you done?  

18                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   Senator 

19   Gianaris.

20                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Ready?  Okay.  

21                The language that -- to which the 

22   Senator is referring was only what practice the 

23   Republicans had used when they were in the 

24   majority, and it was clarified.  I know this is 

25   the practice, because there came a time when we 


 1   were losing members in our conference and the 

 2   leader was made to go to the majority leader and 

 3   ask for additional funding.  It was not given as 

 4   a right under the rules.

 5                This rule, as written by the 

 6   Republican majority -- and the language that we 

 7   took out was unclear, but used in a very -- in a 

 8   manner that was doing exactly what this new 

 9   language is doing.  It said "on a per-member 

10   basis."  It was explained to us by the majority 

11   at the time that that meant, if the composition 

12   of the conferences change, then the allocations 

13   change.  

14                So we have done nothing other than 

15   make it clear for all to see what's happening.

16                SENATOR YOUNG:   Through you, 

17   Madam President --

18                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   Senator 

19   Young.

20                SENATOR YOUNG:   -- I'd like to 

21   respond to Senator Gianaris.  Because in our 

22   rules we always had a 30 percent floor.

23                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Madam President, 

24   is Senator Young on the bill at this point?  

25                SENATOR YOUNG:   So -- no, but I 


 1   want to continue with the questioning.

 2                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   Senator 

 3   Young, are you asking -- asking a question of -- 

 4                SENATOR YOUNG:   Sure.  Through you, 

 5   Madam President, I want to continue with the 

 6   questioning.

 7                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   Senator 

 8   Gianaris, do you continue to yield?  

 9                SENATOR GIANARIS:   I do.

10                SENATOR YOUNG:   The other rule is 

11   Rule VIII that we have significant issues with.  

12   And particularly it has to do with the committee 

13   structure, number one.  Because again, the 

14   formula on the committees has been changed.  

15                And I am asking this question of 

16   you, why was that changed, on behalf of the 

17   people of this state.  Because as I said, we need 

18   to have robust debate, we need to have fairness 

19   in the system, the same way that the rules read 

20   when you were in the minority.  So why was that 

21   changed?  

22                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   Senator 

23   Gianaris.

24                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Yes, thank you, 

25   Madam President.


 1                The rule that the Senator is 

 2   referring to provides for the membership of 

 3   committees.  The New York Senate, for as long as 

 4   I'm aware, but certainly for over a decade, had 

 5   the largest member-per-committee-assignment ratio 

 6   in the entire country of any legislative body.  

 7   And not by a little bit, by a lot.

 8                There was a report several years ago 

 9   that recommended that that number be reduced 

10   because it will allow members to focus more 

11   expertise on the committee assignments they have.  

12   And by making the changes we're making, the 

13   average per-member committee assignments now goes 

14   from 7.1 per member to 5.78.  We think that is 

15   more in line with legislative bodies all around 

16   the country.  And in fact, even that number may 

17   be -- will be on the high end.  I'm not sure 

18   we've made it under being the -- having the worst 

19   ratio in that respect.

20                But the idea is to allow members to 

21   develop an expertise in subject areas that will 

22   operate these committees more efficiently.

23                SENATOR YOUNG:   Through you, 

24   Madam President.

25                So, Senator Gianaris, on some of the 


 1   committees it's my understanding there would be 

 2   just one member from the Republican conference.  

 3   And you said that it's utilizing people's 

 4   expertise.  I would say that our members have a 

 5   lot of expertise in all of these topic areas.  

 6                So why, again, would you treat us 

 7   unfairly and take away the representation that we 

 8   have and the responsibility that we have to the 

 9   constituents in our district and to the state to 

10   have more robust representation, proper 

11   representation on these committees?  

12                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Madam President, 

13   allow me to correct my colleague.  There are no 

14   committees on which the minority only has one 

15   appointee.  The minimum is two.  

16                The smallest committee memberships 

17   are seven members, and those committees break 

18   down five-to-two, majority to minority.

19                SENATOR YOUNG:   Thank you, 

20   Madam President.  

21                I would say, Senator Gianaris, 

22   you're taking away people's voices in the state, 

23   something that you said you would not do.

24                The other question I had has to do 

25   with the Ethics and Internal Governance 


 1   Committee.  And I --

 2                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   Excuse me, 

 3   Senator Young.  Are you continuing to ask 

 4   Senator Gianaris to yield?  

 5                SENATOR YOUNG:   Yes, if he will 

 6   yield.

 7                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   Senator 

 8   Gianaris, do you yield?

 9                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Yes.

10                SENATOR YOUNG:   Senator Gianaris, 

11   first of all, I want to applaud the new 

12   chairwoman of the committee, because she is 

13   focused on ethics.  And we all want ethics 

14   reform.  And in fact, we have done many ethics 

15   reforms in this house over the past several 

16   years, and I can go through the list in my 

17   remarks later on.

18                But there is a change to make the 

19   Ethics and Internal Governance Committee -- to 

20   make it go from a select committee to a standing 

21   committee.  And by doing that, you are actually 

22   changing the whole structure of the committee and 

23   you are actually taking the Internal Governance 

24   Committee from nine to seven members, out of 

25   balance, four Democrats, three Republicans.  


 1                And again, we need checks and 

 2   balances in government.  This is a time when 

 3   there's one-party rule in Albany.  And it's 

 4   critically important that we have the proper 

 5   systems in place.

 6                So why when you two years ago -- and 

 7   I can read you excerpts of your remarks two years 

 8   ago.  Why two years ago did you insist on having 

 9   equal representation between Democrats and 

10   Republicans and now, now with the new rules that 

11   you're putting forward, you are changing that 

12   balance and putting it out of balance?  And by 

13   putting it out of balance, if you're going to 

14   change up the committee so it's an investigatory 

15   committee, then that opens the door for 

16   weaponizing that committee.

17                So I'd like to know why it's not 

18   balanced like the Assembly does, why it's not 

19   balanced like what the Congress does.  Why is it 

20   out of balance, and why are you contradicting all 

21   of the points -- and I have the debate right 

22   here, extensive debate, all of your remarks.  And 

23   why have you changed your mind, now that you're 

24   in the majority, and you've got unequal 

25   representation?


 1                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Thank you.

 2                Let me start off by saying my 

 3   colleague is right about one thing.  We are 

 4   completely changing the way the Ethics Committee 

 5   works in this body, because it didn't work under 

 6   the previous majority.  In fact, it was infamous 

 7   for the fact that it hadn't met in the entire 

 8   time the Republicans had the majority in their 

 9   most recent tenure.  And when it did the one time 

10   last year, it did not go very well, because it 

11   didn't take up any actual business other than 

12   agreeing to produce a newsletter.

13                So yes, we are intending to remake 

14   the Ethics Committee and make it function so that 

15   the people can be well-served by a committee that 

16   cares about ethics, unlike what the previous 

17   majority had done.  

18                It is going to perform two 

19   functions.  It is going to perform a legislative 

20   function, which means it will have bills referred 

21   to it, which never happened -- not once, not 

22   ever -- under Republican control.  And for that 

23   to happen, in order for it to function like every 

24   other committee, it needs to have an uneven 

25   number of members so we don't have gridlock.  


 1                In fact, the ratio of membership is 

 2   to your benefit.  You just pointed out that a 

 3   seven-member committee in these rules has five 

 4   majority members and two minority.  We decided to 

 5   try and be fair and make this one four-to-three, 

 6   so there would be more of a say.

 7                As it relates to investigatory work 

 8   of this committee, it does require -- as was 

 9   required in the previous rules -- that at least 

10   one member from each conference has to agree for 

11   the committee to take action.  That is unchanged.  

12                And let me just lay one thing out 

13   very clearly for everybody.  This is a better 

14   deal than we were given.  Okay?  The previous 

15   Ethics Committee was not three-to-three-to-three, 

16   it was six coalition majority members to three 

17   minority members.  You're getting four-to-three.  

18   You should be happy and thanking me. 

19                (Laughter; applause from gallery.)  

20                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   Order in 

21   the chamber.

22                SENATOR YOUNG:   Through you, 

23   Madam President, just to remind Senator Gianaris 

24   of his previous words --

25                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   Excuse me, 


 1   Senator Young.  Are you continuing to ask 

 2   Senator Gianaris to yield?

 3                SENATOR YOUNG:   Yes.  Because I 

 4   want him to respond.  

 5                "The issue of ethics scrutiny in 

 6   particular should be above politics and applied 

 7   fairly and equally to all."  Page 25, lines 1 

 8   through 6.  

 9                "Senator Gianaris:  Ethics 

10   committees have always, for the very reason of 

11   taking them out of politics, had an equal 

12   representation from the majority and the minority 

13   in both houses."  Page 25, lines 15 through 19.  

14                And then you said:  "And again, when 

15   we're dealing with ethics, Madam President, it 

16   should be something that we can discuss in 

17   transcendency from our political parties, but 

18   also in a way that builds consensus on very 

19   important issues."

20                You kept referencing the Assembly 

21   rules, where they have equal representation 

22   between Democrats and Republicans, in your 

23   remarks.  

24                And so I -- I agree with you, we 

25   should do more on ethics.  I think it's a good 


 1   idea.  But why not have two committees?  Why not 

 2   have one focused on policy, as Senator Biaggi 

 3   wants to do, and have the other committee focus 

 4   on investigations and have equal representation 

 5   between the two parties?  Why can't we do that?  

 6   That would make more sense, rather than opening 

 7   the door to possible abuse of power.  

 8                And I think, you know, to the new 

 9   members and to the previous members, one of the 

10   greatest responsibilities -- it's profound -- 

11   that we have is to not abuse the power that we 

12   have as representatives in government.  And this 

13   opens the door, because this is different than 

14   how other ethics committees that investigate 

15   things operate.

16                And I agree with Senator Biaggi, I 

17   think we should do more on sexual harassment.  I 

18   commend you for that.  Because we led the way 

19   last year as the only house that passed a sexual 

20   harassment bill so that it wouldn't be done in 

21   the budget, so it wouldn't be done behind closed 

22   doors.  We wanted to get it out in the open.

23                But -- so Senator Gianaris, why 

24   can't we do both?  Why can't we have equality and 

25   fairness, as we gave you on the Ethics Committee, 


 1   and why can't we have another committee that is 

 2   set up to investigate any kind of issue that may 

 3   arise?

 4                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Since we're 

 5   making reference to previous comments that were 

 6   made on this floor, let me quote Senator Young 

 7   only about 10 minutes ago, that you would hope 

 8   that you would be treated the same way we were 

 9   treated.  And that's exactly what you're getting.  

10   You're actually getting better treatment.

11                SENATOR YOUNG:   Senator Gianaris --

12                SENATOR GIANARIS:   If it was fair 

13   for you, it's fair for us.

14                SENATOR YOUNG:   Senator Gia -- no, 

15   through you, Madam President, I just want 

16   to say --

17                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   Are you 

18   asking him to continue to yield, Senator Young?  

19                SENATOR YOUNG:   No, I think on the 

20   bill.

21                Senator Gianaris says that they're 

22   writing the rules the same way that they were 

23   written two years ago.  That is not true.  All 

24   you have to do is look at the rules and compare 

25   them.  And we do have investigatory bodies -- the 


 1   Legislative Ethics Committee, JCOPE.  They have 

 2   flaws, I agree with that.  And so establishing a 

 3   new Ethics Committee that does investigations is 

 4   something that makes sense for this house.

 5                But we still need the governance 

 6   too, and we need to have bills that actually deal 

 7   with ethics.  And we didn't have the two mixed up 

 8   previously.  

 9                I just want to remind our members 

10   and educate the new members about some of the 

11   reforms we've made to ethics over the many years.  

12   Just last year we proposed and passed -- and we 

13   did this together -- we proposed and passed 

14   comprehensive reforms to combat corruption and 

15   ensure greater transparency and accountability in 

16   state economic development programs.  We didn't 

17   accomplish that through this governance 

18   committee, through the Ethics Committee.  We 

19   could accomplish that through the rest of the 

20   committee process.

21                In 2017 we approved a constitutional 

22   amendment to strip pensions from corrupt 

23   officials.  We supported that.  We got that done.  

24   We approved Senate rules limiting terms of 

25   committee chairs and legislative leaders.  We did 


 1   that.  We passed a law requiring comprehensive 

 2   disclosure of outside income, financial 

 3   investments, and law clients.  These dramatically 

 4   expanded financial disclosure filings that are 

 5   now publicly available.  

 6                I can go through the entire list; it 

 7   would take too long.  But we have accomplished 

 8   ethics reform without mixing the purpose of the 

 9   Ethics Committee.

10                And we need that check and balance.  

11   We need to make sure that power is not out of 

12   balance.  That's something that, you know, I 

13   commend you, Senator Gianaris, you talked about 

14   integrity.  I commend you, Senator 

15   Stewart-Cousins, Leader Stewart-Cousins, for what 

16   you said.  You want to make democracy work.  If 

17   we want to make democracy work, we have to have a 

18   fair and balanced system and not have a system 

19   that has the potential for abuse, for political 

20   attacks, and for corruption.

21                And there's a saying that goes:  

22   Remember, power corrupts; absolute power corrupts 

23   absolutely.  And this is something that needs to 

24   be changed.  I would ask my colleagues on the 

25   other side to reconsider this.  


 1                I would ask you to establish two 

 2   committees, two committees, one to be focused on 

 3   legislation that deals with ethics reform -- I 

 4   wholeheartedly, we wholeheartedly embrace that 

 5   concept -- and have another on governance.  But 

 6   do not mix the two, because it's a recipe, I 

 7   believe, for violating the rights of the people 

 8   of this state to have everyone's voices heard.

 9                So thank you, Madam President.

10                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   Senator 

11   Seward.

12                SENATOR SEWARD:   Yes, 

13   Madam President.  Thank you.  I would ask if 

14   Senator Gianaris would take another question.

15                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   Senator 

16   Gianaris, do you yield?  

17                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Madam President, 

18   I've been waiting eight years to yield to 

19   questions.  This is great for me, so -- 

20                (Laughter.)

21                SENATOR GIANARIS:   -- absolutely.

22                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   The 

23   Senator yields.

24                SENATOR SEWARD:   Yes.  Through you, 

25   Madam President, I was listening very intently to 


 1   the discussion between Senator Young and 

 2   Senator Gianaris, and I just rise to ask for some 

 3   clarification in terms of Section 8, Rule IX, 

 4   having to do with staffing allocations.  

 5                The language, as I read it, implies 

 6   that the Minority allocation could in fact dip 

 7   below 30 percent of the overall allocation.  Is 

 8   that the intent of the Majority in these new 

 9   rules?

10                SENATOR GIANARIS:   And if I could 

11   ask for a clarification.  The suggestion is if 

12   the composition of the relative numbers of 

13   conference changes, is that what you're asking?

14                SENATOR SEWARD:   Yes.  What I'm 

15   asking is there's reference to that the central 

16   staff of the Minority shall not be less than 

17   30 percent.  But there's also language about a 

18   shift in terms of the numbers, in terms of the 

19   membership of each conference.

20                And my question is, are you 

21   intending to allocate central staff monies based 

22   on the numbers, or is 30 percent the target 

23   number?  

24                SENATOR GIANARIS:   It is the 

25   intention of this language to continue the 


 1   practice that was in place under the previous 

 2   majority.  

 3                It's my understanding that when the 

 4   conference representation changed, there was a 

 5   discussion between the leaders to maintain the 

 6   allotments where they were, that it was not the 

 7   position of the majority that by operation of 

 8   rule that that percentage should continue.  And 

 9   therefore I think that would be something that we 

10   would intend to continue as past practice.

11                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   Senator 

12   Seward.

13                SENATOR SEWARD:   Madam President, 

14   just as a follow-up.

15                So just to be clear, are we at the 

16   30 percent number or not?  

17                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Yes, you are.

18                SENATOR SEWARD:   And will we remain 

19   at the 30 percent number?  

20                SENATOR GIANARIS:   (Reading.)  The 

21   funding for the Minority conference shall not be 

22   less than 30 percent and shall increase or 

23   decrease to reflect any changes in the membership 

24   of either conference.

25                SENATOR SEWARD:   Madam President, 


 1   so we could dip below 30 percent?  

 2                SENATOR GIANARIS:   I don't have an 

 3   answer to that question.

 4                SENATOR SEWARD:   Okay.  Well, on 

 5   the bill, Madam President.

 6                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   Senator 

 7   Seward.

 8                SENATOR SEWARD:   I would just like 

 9   to reiterate some of the points that have been 

10   raised by Senator Young.

11                In order to make democracy work, and 

12   which is certainly something on both sides of the 

13   aisle we can agree on, I think we need to have 

14   robust debate, free flow of information here on 

15   the floor.  And that of course requires staffing, 

16   appropriate and proper staffing.

17                So we would very much say that we 

18   should be at the 30 percent as a minimum.  That's 

19   our position.  And I -- I'm not -- I don't feel 

20   we're getting a straight answer on that point, 

21   whether or not we're going to dip below 

22   30 percent.  We believe that should be the floor.  

23   And that will base my vote on these rule changes 

24   unless I get a firm commitment on the 30 percent.

25                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   Seeing no 


 1   one else who wishes --

 2                SENATOR TEDISCO:   Madam President.

 3                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   Senator 

 4   Tedisco.

 5                SENATOR TEDISCO:   On the rules 

 6   change.

 7                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   Senator 

 8   Tedisco, why do you rise?

 9                SENATOR TEDISCO:   On the rules 

10   change.  I'd like to speak.

11                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   You want 

12   to speak on the resolution?  

13                SENATOR TEDISCO:   Yes.

14                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   Senator, 

15   go ahead.

16                SENATOR TEDISCO:   Thank you.

17                As most of you probably know here, 

18   it's not too difficult of a shift for me to go 

19   from the majority on the other side of the 

20   building to the minority, because I spent 

21   17 terms, 34 years, in the minority, part of that 

22   as minority leader in the New York State 

23   Assembly.

24                My district in the New York State 

25   Assembly was 15 minutes from one end of it to the 


 1   other end of it.  Had some diversity in it.  My 

 2   new Senate district is 4,000 square miles.  It's 

 3   two and a half hours up to Old Forge, two and a 

 4   half hours back down.  It's diverse, it's rural, 

 5   it's suburban, it has a variety of concerns.  But 

 6   collectively I think they come together in two 

 7   areas that they continue to ask me to move 

 8   forward and to discuss with you and my colleagues 

 9   from both sides of the aisle, and it has been 

10   mentioned by our new Majority Leader.  

11                They want common sense in 

12   government, and they want to deal with the ethics 

13   issue because they know we can't go forward if 

14   we're not doing what's right in terms of taking 

15   an oath of office and living up to it.

16                In terms of common sense, and in 

17   terms of doing what's right ethically, this 

18   misses the point.  They're very concerned about 

19   the fact that the inauguration speech, and the 

20   things I've heard in the speeches here today, and 

21   what the majority has been talking about, if you 

22   listen very carefully about an upstate agenda, 

23   you'll hear some crickets chirping.  Nothing 

24   about jobs, nothing about small business 

25   opportunities, nothing about bringing up 


 1   cellphone usage or broadband to an area in my 

 2   district or upper levels of New York State.  

 3   Amazon is great, $3 billion to bring them in, but 

 4   small businesses need broadband also.  We don't 

 5   have that in large parts of our district.  

 6                When I served in the New York State 

 7   Assembly, if you want to talk about extremism -- 

 8   and this is I think the beginnings of the 

 9   continuation, doubling down on the extremism I've 

10   seen over the last 10 years from your side of the 

11   aisle.  Extremism is doing the opposite of what 

12   your colleagues are doing in the New York State 

13   Assembly.  We said hello to Mr. Heastie today, 

14   you honored him, you saluted him.  In the New 

15   York State Assembly, it's an equal number of both 

16   sides of the aisle on the Ethics Committee.

17                I can understand creating a 

18   committee to deal with legislation as it relates 

19   to ethics.  I think that's a fine idea.  But when 

20   you're talking about nonpartisanism and working 

21   together, the Senate's really going in a better 

22   direction for you than they have in the past.  

23   They have an equal number of Democrats and an 

24   equal number of Republicans in their 

25   Ethics Committee.  


 1                I suggest you follow their lead on 

 2   that, because the public is looking for 

 3   nonpartisanship.  They don't want you to protect 

 4   your members potentially if something goes wrong 

 5   with an ethics issue.  And I'm not saying you 

 6   will do that, but sometimes it's the appearance 

 7   that has the worst impact on what our 

 8   constituents think of those out here.

 9                And God only knows we have to gain, 

10   and it was mentioned, their support out here.  We 

11   have to show them we're going to do something 

12   about ethics.  Maybe we have to do that database 

13   of deals, let the Comptroller start looking at 

14   different things, get an outside budget 

15   committee.  

16                But in this case you're sending a 

17   very bad message.  You're sending a message that 

18   potentially if ethics go wrong on your side of 

19   the aisle -- not with that committee to deal with 

20   legislation, with that committee to specifically 

21   deal with members from your side and our side and 

22   make recommendations -- it's far different from 

23   what the Assembly has done and is doing, and that 

24   is an equal number so we don't see a partisanship 

25   in those decisions.  


 1                And I think you're going to find the 

 2   public, when they come to realize and the media 

 3   covers it and says, Well, the Assembly is 

 4   allowing both sides to have the same numbers, 

 5   make a discussion and make a nonpartisan decision 

 6   when those members come before them, but the 

 7   Senate has decided to change that, they want to 

 8   eliminate that and maybe have control of ethics 

 9   decisions -- it strikes of cronyism, and I don't 

10   think that's the direction you want to go.  It's 

11   extreme, and it's doubling down on extremism from 

12   what I've seen in the past.

13                Thank you, Madam President.

14                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   Seeing no 

15   other Senator that wishes to be heard, 

16   Senator Gianaris to close.

17                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Thank you, 

18   Madam President.

19                I want to just clarify a couple of 

20   things.  Because I have the good fortune of 

21   sitting next to the leader in this chamber, I can 

22   clarify further for Senator Seward his question.  

23                It is not expected that the 

24   allocation will ever dip below 30 percent.  But 

25   as was past practice, that is not something that 


 1   is by operation of rule.  That will be a 

 2   discussion between the leaders if that ever comes 

 3   to pass.

 4                As for the Ethics Committee and the 

 5   issues there, as hard as it is to believe, there 

 6   was some defense of the ethics record in this 

 7   body a few moments ago.  And if the Minority 

 8   wants to spend their time defending the record of 

 9   the Senate on ethics over the last 10 years, they 

10   should have at it.  I will be happy to give it as 

11   much time on the floor of the Senate as they 

12   would like to do that, because I think most 

13   objective observers realize that it was an 

14   embarrassment at the time.

15                Now let's talk about the composition 

16   of the committee.  There's two ways to look at 

17   this.  We had rules last year that the current 

18   minority wrote and approved.  And so if you 

19   want -- and under no way of looking at those 

20   rules was there an equal number of both 

21   conferences.  If you want to look at it coalition 

22   versus minority, it was six to three in favor of 

23   the coalition government.  If you want to look at 

24   it Democrat versus Republican, it was six to 

25   three, Democrat versus Republican.  If you want 


 1   to do that, I'll add two more members to the 

 2   rules for the Democrats and then we'll mimic the 

 3   rules exactly as you had them.  

 4                I don't think that's what you want.  

 5   So we tried to be fairer and create a makeup that 

 6   was four-to-three.  The protection we got in the 

 7   rules after negotiation was that any 

 8   investigative action would require the assent of 

 9   at least one committee member from each 

10   conference.  That remains.  So the committee 

11   cannot be weaponized unless one of your 

12   colleagues agrees to do it.  

13                That's the same protection we had 

14   last year, and we had to fight to get that 

15   protection.  This was in the rules as we drafted 

16   them.

17                So let's be clear.  This 

18   Ethics Committee is going to do something never 

19   before done in this body.  It's going to actually 

20   move legislation.  It's going to consider 

21   legislation.  It's going to take a hard look at 

22   what we need to do to improve the ethics of this 

23   body, which is something that I can tell you the 

24   people of this state have been asking for for a 

25   long, long time.  And it is going to be empowered 


 1   to actually look at malfeasance.  And it's going 

 2   to do so in a bipartisan manner, because it does 

 3   require a member from each conference to 

 4   participate in that.  

 5                That is a better deal than we got by 

 6   far, and no amount of misrepresenting the past is 

 7   going to change that.

 8                Thank you, Madam President.

 9                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   The 

10   question is on the resolution.  All those in 

11   favor signify by saying aye.

12                (Response of "Aye.")

13                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   Opposed?  

14                (Response of "Nay.")

15                SENATOR GRIFFO:   Show of hands 

16   requested.

17                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   All those 

18   in favor signify by raising your hands now.  

19                (A show of hands in the chamber.)

20                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   Announce 

21   the results.

22                THE SECRETARY:   Ayes, 39.

23                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   The 

24   resolution is adopted.

25                Senator Gianaris.


 1                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Madam President, 

 2   there's a resolution at the desk pertaining to 

 3   the appointment of the Sergeant-at-Arms.  Would 

 4   you please call that up?  

 5                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   The 

 6   Secretary will read.

 7                THE SECRETARY:   Senate Resolution 

 8   by Senator Stewart-Cousins, that Benjamin M. 

 9   Sturges III be, and he hereby is, elected 

10   Sergeant-at-Arms of the Senate for the years 

11   2019-2020.

12                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   The 

13   question is on the resolution.  All those in 

14   favor signify by saying aye.

15                (Response of "Aye.")

16                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   Opposed?  

17                (No response.)

18                ACTING PRESIDENT MAYER:   The 

19   resolution is adopted.

20                For the record, Benjamin Sturges III 

21   has been elected Sergeant-at-Arms for the years 

22   2019-2020.  It is my honor to present to you the 

23   Sergeant-at-Arms.

24                (Standing ovation.)

25                THE PRESIDENT:   Senator Gianaris.


 1                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Thank you, 

 2   Madam President.  There is another resolution at 

 3   the desk, to appoint Catherine Kirkland as the 

 4   Senate Stenographer.  Could you please take that 

 5   up.

 6                THE PRESIDENT:   The Secretary will 

 7   read.

 8                THE SECRETARY:   Senate Resolution 

 9   by Senator Stewart-Cousins, that Catherine 

10   Kirkland be, and she hereby is, elected the 

11   Official Stenographer of the Senate for the years 

12   2019-2020.

13                THE PRESIDENT:   The question is on 

14   the resolution.  All those in favor signify by 

15   saying aye.

16                (Response of "Aye.")

17                THE PRESIDENT:   Those opposed?

18                (No response.)

19                THE PRESIDENT:   The resolution is 

20   adopted.

21                For the record, Catherine Kirkland 

22   has been elected Official Stenographer of the 

23   Senate for the years 2019-2020.  

24                Congratulations.  It is my honor to 

25   present the Official Stenographer of the Senate.  


 1                (Standing ovation.)

 2                THE PRESIDENT:   Senator Gianaris.

 3                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Thank you, 

 4   Madam President.  

 5                There's yet another resolution at 

 6   the desk setting forth the hours of the Senate 

 7   for 2019-2020.  Can we please take that up.

 8                THE PRESIDENT:   The Secretary will 

 9   read.

10                THE SECRETARY:   Senate Resolution 

11   by Senator Stewart-Cousins, providing for the 

12   hours of meeting by the Senate for the years 

13   2019-2020.

14                THE PRESIDENT:   The question is on 

15   the resolution.  All those in favor signify by 

16   saying aye.

17                (Response of "Aye.")

18                THE PRESIDENT:   Opposed?  

19                (No response.)

20                THE PRESIDENT:   The resolution is 

21   adopted.

22                Senator Gianaris.

23                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Madam President, 

24   would you please take up the resolution 

25   appointing a committee of two to inform the 


 1   Governor.

 2                THE PRESIDENT:   The Secretary will 

 3   read.

 4                THE SECRETARY:   Senate Resolution 

 5   by Senator Stewart-Cousins, directing the 

 6   Temporary President to appoint a committee of two 

 7   to inform the Governor that the Senate is 

 8   organized and ready to proceed with business.

 9                THE PRESIDENT:   The question is on 

10   the resolution.  All those in favor signify by 

11   saying aye.

12                (Response of "Aye.")

13                THE PRESIDENT:   Opposed?  

14                (No response.)

15                THE PRESIDENT:   The resolution is 

16   adopted.

17                Senators Martinez and Antonacci are 

18   hereby appointed to inform the Governor that the 

19   Senate is ready to proceed.

20                Senator Gianaris.

21                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Thank you.

22                Madam President, there's a 

23   resolution concerning the committee of two to 

24   inform the Assembly.  Can you please take that 

25   up.


 1                THE PRESIDENT:   The Secretary will 

 2   read.

 3                THE SECRETARY:   Senate Resolution 

 4   by Senator Stewart-Cousins, directing the 

 5   Temporary President to appoint a committee of two 

 6   to wait upon the Assembly and inform that body 

 7   that the Senate is assembled and ready to proceed 

 8   with business.

 9                THE PRESIDENT:   The question is on 

10   the resolution.  All those in favor signify by 

11   saying aye.

12                (Response of "Aye.")

13                THE PRESIDENT:   Opposed?  

14                (No response.)

15                THE PRESIDENT:   The resolution is 

16   adopted.

17                Senators Skoufis and Jordan are 

18   hereby appointed to inform the Assembly that the 

19   Senate is ready to proceed.

20                Senator Gianaris.

21                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Madam President, 

22   at this time I believe there's a hand-up at the 

23   desk by Senator Stewart-Cousins naming Majority 

24   members to certain standing committees.  I ask 

25   that it please be filed in the Journal.


 1                THE PRESIDENT:   The hand-up is 

 2   received and shall be filed with the Journal.

 3                SENATOR GIANARIS:   In consultation 

 4   with Senator Flanagan, Senator Stewart-Cousins 

 5   also hands up the following Minority member 

 6   committee assignments and asks that they also be 

 7   filed in the Journal.

 8                THE PRESIDENT:   The hand-up is 

 9   received and shall be filed in the Journal.

10                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Madam President, 

11   is there any further business at the desk?

12                THE PRESIDENT:   There is no further 

13   business at the desk.

14                SENATOR GIANARIS:  There being no 

15   further business, I move we adjourn until Monday, 

16   January 14th, at 3:00 p.m., intervening days 

17   being legislative days.

18                THE PRESIDENT:   On motion, the 

19   Senate will stand adjourned until Monday, 

20   January 14th, at 3:00 p.m., intervening days 

21   being legislative days.  

22                The Senate is adjourned.

23                (Applause.)

24                (Whereupon, the Senate adjourned at 

25   2:48 p.m.)