There are three branches of government in New York State, as in the Federal Government. They are the Executive, the Legislative and the Judicuary. As in Washington, major changes and sometimes minor changes that create new programs or revise or eliminate old ones require laws to be passed. For a law to be passed the legislative branch needs to pass it and the Executive needs to approve it [or at least not disapprove (i.e veto) it.] Although the Executive plays a major role in legistaltion I will deal with the legislative branch here because that is where most of the action, or inaction, takes place.
As in the federal government and all but one state in the Union, New York is bicameral. That means that there are two legislative bodies (sometimes called houses) that have to pass identical legislation for it to become a law. In the federal government they are called the House of Representatives (or simply The House) and the Senate. In New York they are called the Assembly and the Senate. Where everyone has Two U.S. Senators and one member of the House, everyone only has one New York State Senator and one member of the Assembly that represents them. Senate districts contain more people and thus the Senate is smaller than the Assembly.
The first thing that needs to happen for the legislature to pass a law is for a bill to be introduced in each house. Sometimes a bill is only introduced in one house, this is called a one house bill and has no chance of becoming a law (until, of course, it is introduced and passed in the other house as well.) In New York, The Senate is controlled by the Republican Party and the House is contolled by the Democratic Party. That means that the majority of members are from that party and that the leadership and all the committee chairs are from that party. Consequently, in order to have a resonable chance of getting a bill passed it should be introduced by a Democrat in the Assembly and a Republican in the Senate. Any legislator can introduce a bill, but a bill introduced by a more powerful legislator has a better chance of passage. Other legislators can sign onto a bill as a sponsor. Many bills have numerous sponsors.
After a bill is introduced, it is referred by the leadership of the respective house to a committee for a recommendation. Most recycling bills will be referred to the Environmental Conservation Committee of the respective house. The bill will never reach the floor of the respective house until it is reported out of commttee. Thousands of bills are introduced into each house each year and the vast majority of them die in committee. The chairman of a committee has the sole discression of putting a bill on a committee agenda for a particular committee meeting. Most bills never make it onto the committee's agenda. Once a bill comes up on a committee agenda the committee can then vote to report it or not. If a bill is reported, then it goes back to the leadership and may be referred to another committee or it may be sent to the Ways and Means Commmittee to be scheduled to be brought to the floor of the house. When a bill comes up on the floor it may be debated and ammended. If the bill is brought to a vote and gets a majority of the members of that house to vote for it, it passes.
If the bill passes both houses but with different language or in different versions it will be sent to a conference committee before sending it to the Governor. The leadership of both parties of both houses assign members to the conference committee. The committee tries to come up with language that both houses can agree to. If that happens the new bill commes directly before each house for a vote. If the bill receives a majority vote in both houses then the bill is off the the Governor's Office.
If the exact version of the bill is passed by both houses it goes to the governor for his signature. He can sign the bill, or let it pass without his signature. In either of these cases the bill becomes a law. His other choice is to veto the bill. If that happens, the bill has to go back to each house and be passed by 2/3 of the members of both houses rather than a simple majority.
As you can see this is a complicated process. It is designed to make passing legislation difficult. And I have described only the bare bones of the process. There are many exceptions, variations and complications to these procedures.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Jeff Edwards, Legislative Chair.