With Democrats in power, Brooklyn state senators to lead committees
When incoming state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins was deciding on committee chairmanships for the new legislative session, she must have had Brooklyn on her mind.
In a move that took many political pundits by surprise, Stewart-Cousins appointed state Sen. Diane Savino (D-Coney Island-Bensonhurst), once a leading member of the now-defunct Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), to chair the Senate Subcommittee on Internet and Technology. The IDC was a group of breakaway Democrats who sided with Republicans and denied Democrats control of the legislative chamber.
But while Stewart-Cousins appeared to let bygones be bygones with Savino, she was not as forgiving with state Sen. Simcha Felder. Felder, a Democrat who represents Borough Park, was not an IDC member but also sided with the GOP in previous legislative sessions. He was not given a committee chairmanship by Stewart-Cousins.
Savino said she is looking forward to her new role overseeing a subcommittee so relevant to the issues of modern life.
“With new innovative startups sprouting up every day that change the way we live, we in the legislature must ensure that our laws here in New York keep up with those changes,” she said in a statement, pointing to recent innovations in “ride sharing, social media and mobile banking, all of which come with the growing privacy concerns we face constantly” as well as to the growing gig economy.
Meanwhile, Stewart-Cousins tapped several of the borough’s other state senators to serve as chairpersons of key committees and subcommittees, giving them influence over which pieces of legislation will make it to a senate floor vote in the 2019 legislative session that begins in early January. She announced the committee leaders on Tuesday.
State Sen. Kevin Parker (D-East Flatbush, Flatbush-Midwood), has been named chairperson of the Energy and Telecommunications Committee.
Parker shared his reaction on Twitter. “This is a huge honor and I look forward to working with committee members on important issues #CleanEnergy and #GreenCollarJobs,” he wrote.
In the first real demonstration of her power, Stewart-Cousins found a way to reward newcomers.
Senator-elect Andrew Gounardes, who defeated Republican Marty Golden, a 16-year incumbent, in the Senate seat covering Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and other Southwest Brooklyn neighborhoods, will chair the Civil Service and Pensions Committee.
Senator-elect Zellnor Myrie (D-Crown Heights-Park Slope-Sunset Park), was rewarded for beating state Sen. Jesse Hamilton by being named chairperson of the Elections Committee.
Another member of the incoming freshman class, Senator-elect Julia Salazar (D-Bushwick), who ousted longtime incumbent state Sen. Martin Dilan, has been tapped to chair the Subcommittee on Women’s Health.
State Sen. Roxanne Persaud (D-Canarsie-East New York-Brownsville) will chair the Social Services Committee. State Sen. Velmanette Montgomery (D-Bedford Stuyvesant-Fort Greene-Boerum Hill) will head the Committee on Children and Families. State Sen. Brian Kavanagh (D-Brooklyn Heights) will be the new chairperson of the Housing Committee.