How Does
A Bill
A Law?
compliments of ...
Steven Cymbrowitz

A message from...

Steven Cymbrowitz

1800 Sheepshead Bay Road
Brooklyn, NY 11235
(718) 743-4078

Room 538 LOB
Albany, NY 12248
(518) 455-5214

Dear Neighbor,

As your representative in the State Assembly, my chief responsibility, and that of my colleagues, lies in drafting, analyzing and voting on proposals that affect all New Yorkers. Considering proposed new laws is one of the most important roles in my everyday responsibilities.

The New York State Legislature is unique in that it truly allows for full citizen participation in the lawmaking process. Thousands of laws are the result of ideas from people just like you. That is why it is important that all New Yorkers understand the process of how a bill becomes a law.

I hope you find this brochure helpful in understanding the process that begins with an idea and ends up a new law. If you have any questions about the legislative process, or any other issue, please call my office.

Welcome to the State Legislature!


Steven Cymbrowitz
Member of Assembly

Where do our laws come from?

Start with an idea...
You don’t have to be elected state assemblyman, senator, or even governor to come up with an idea for a new law in New York. Anybody ... you, me, or your friends ... can think up new ways to make New York a better place to live. All you have to do is use your imagination!

Tell your local lawmaker about your proposal...
Once you come up with your idea, call, e-mail or write your local state legislator. They’ll be happy to let you know if it is possible to make your idea into a law. Your proposed law’s journey starts as a "bill" which is introduced in the Legislature. Your bill can have many sponsors or it can have only one sponsor. No matter how many sponsors your bill may have, remember that all bills must pass both houses of the Legislature — the Assembly and the Senate. A bill will usually have a separate Assembly and Senate sponsor.

A journey through the legislative process...
Before it is passed by the Legislature, various committees (smaller groups of legislators) will examine and analyze your bill. Once it is approved by the committees, it is put on a calendar so it can be voted on by the full membership of the Assembly or the Senate. In most cases in both the Senate and the Assembly, a bill needs at least half the members to vote "yes" for it to pass. There are times, however, when a bill needs more than half the members to vote "yes" for it to pass. Your bill must pass both the Assembly and the Senate before the Governor can consider it.

An idea becomes law...
If your bill passes both the Assembly and the Senate, it is then delivered to the Governor for his or her signature. Once your bill is delivered to the Governor’s desk, it must be acted upon within 10 days. The Governor can sign the bill into law, or without taking any affirmative action allow the bill to become law without his signature, or he may veto (or reject) the bill. Should the Governor veto your bill, don’t give up! A veto can be overridden if at least two-thirds of the legislators in the Assembly and the Senate agree with your bill.

Quiz Time
  1. What are the three branches of New York’s government?
  2. How many members are in the New York State Legislature?
  3. How many bills are introduced in the State Legislature each year?
  4. On average, how many of the bills that are introduced are acted upon?
  5. How many bills can the Governor veto each year?
  6. How can a veto be overridden?
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