The 2019 legislative session ushered in a number of “firsts.” Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins was officially sworn in as Temporary President and Majority Leader of the New York State Senate, becoming the first woman, and woman of color, in New York State history to lead the upper house. In the Assembly, Democratic Speaker Carl Heastie was re-elected to lead the 150 member chamber, marking the first time both houses will be led by African Americans.
During his opening address to the Assembly, Heastie noted that there is a record of 50 women in the Assembly this year and that three of the top four posts are held by women including the new Assembly Majority Leader Peoples-Stokes, the first woman to serve in that post.
With control of both houses of the legislature, Democrats look to pass several pieces of legislation long blocked by the formerly Republican-led Senate. In their opening remarks, both Assembly Speaker Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins listed campaign finance reform, criminal justice reform, and the DREAM act as priorities for the year ahead.