Common Sense: Senator Golden

State Senator Marty Golden (whom I serve as chief of staff) had a very productive 2015 legislative session in Albany. The session runs from January through June and averages about three working days a week in the Capitol with actual session taking place each day around a schedule of committee meetings.

Senator Golden chairs the Civil Service Committee and the Science and Technology Committee; is secretary of the Majority Conference; serves on the MTA’s Capital Review Board; is a member of the Finance, Banking, Insurance, Health, Investigations, Aging, Codes, and Homeland Security and Veterans Committees, and the sub-committee on New York City Education.  And then there are special committees that meet just for the budget process.

Some of the committees like finance can meet multiple times in a week. Others meet less often. Regardless, the Albany workdays are not like ordinary workdays inasmuch as they are very long, sometimes going into the night.

And the days are intense. There is never a moment in the office when a meeting is not happening and often there are two or three at the same time structured so the senator can for at least a short time meet with each group.

It’s a credit to the senator’s Executive Assistant Meg Brown, who has many years of experience working in this unusual environment. In fact, the success of the whole Albany legislative process is very much reflective of the hard work of the senator’s Legislative Director John Googas, his Counsel Robyn Cotrona, Science and Technology Committee Director Bob Herz and Senate Fellow Kelly Hendrickson.

At 2 p.m. on most days, the Senate majority meets in a closed conference to go over the day’s legislative business and to be briefed by senior staff. It is also the time for the Senate Republican leadership — which for many years has included Senator Golden — to discuss policy issues.

The Senate session follows in the Senate Chamber, usually around 3 p.m., and is far from a break, with Golden having the most bills passed by the State Senate (103) and the most bills passed by the legislature as a whole (38). Almost all of these 38 bills, upon review of the governor, will be signed into law by him.

Countless groups, government officials and lobbyists wait outside the Senate chamber to get a few words with the senator, sending in notes through the sergeant of arms requesting that he come out to speak with them.

Between the bill calendar, debates on his own bills and the constant requests for him to meet off the floor, we often marvel at just how crazy it can get. During this time, Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis often drops by to meet with one or all of the three Senators that overlap her Assembly seat: Golden, Andy Lanza or Diane Savino.

In the case of Marty Golden, the regular session day is usually followed by a staff meeting with him to go over the next day’s schedule, legislation and committee activities, as well as debate, which the senator often conducts.

There can literally be dozens of bills that require some conversation, albeit often very brief. The next day’s legislative floor calendar is not available until around 9 p.m.

These staff meeting rarely start before 6 p.m. and can go on for quite a while, ending in time for Marty and myself to attend a number of evening events usually held near the Capitol. We move fast and can usually drop by several events, finishing up by 8:30 or 9 p.m.

Personally, I am very happy when the legislative session is over. Between the 170-mile drive up early every Monday morning — often during miserable winter driving conditions — and the same on the day I return, getting me home often around 10 p.m., it can be a tiring time. But at least it seems like we are getting some important work done and earning our keep.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.