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The Council writes and passes local laws that affect the day-to-day lives of people living in, working in, or visiting New York City. Local laws can impact the lives of New Yorkers in many ways, both large and small. Some examples include:

  • Paid Sick Leave, which enabled New Yorkers who are part-time workers at companies with 5+ employees to take paid time off when they’re ill
  • IDNYC, which created a municipal photo identification program that allows New Yorkers who prove their residence to access city-based services and benefits

See legislation

The Council can also pass resolutions on state and federal issues that are relevant to New Yorkers. Resolutions allow the Council to express a collective voice of the City, and can play an important role in the development of law and public policy throughout New York State and across the nation.

One type of resolution is a State Legislation Resolution (SLR), where the Council makes an official request of the New York State Legislature (also known as a “Home Rule Message”) to pass a special law affecting New York City.

Council Members & Committees

Council Members are assigned to Committees that examine specific topic areas. These Committees consist of a minimum of five Council Members and are tasked to study the potential impact of local laws and public policies. They then make recommendations for the entire 51-member body to consider and vote upon at Stated Meetings. By studying specific issues, Council Committees ensure that differing community needs are acknowledged.

Learn more about Committees

Legislative Division

Each Council Committee also has a team of staff attorneys and analysts. This team supports the Committee by arranging public hearings and providing the legal and policy-based research needed to make decisions that benefit New York City.

The Legislative Process

Step 1: Bill introduction

Council Members work with the Legislation Division to craft a bill that is introduced at stated meetings, where it is assigned to the appropriate Committee.

Step 2: Public hearings

The Committee will hold a public hearing on a bill to obtain feedback from the public and other government entities who may be affected by the bill. This may result in amendments to the bill.

Step 3: Voting

The Committee votes on the bill. If the bill passes the Committee by majority vote, the bill is then sent to the full Council where it will be considered and voted on at a Stated Meeting. The bill must again pass by majority vote.

Step 4: Mayoral decision

After a bill is passed by the Council, it is presented to the Mayor, who has 30 days to either sign the bill into law, veto the bill or take no action. If the Mayor vetoes the bill, it is sent back to the Council. If this happens, the Council can override the Mayor’s veto with a 2/3 vote. If the Mayor doesn’t sign or veto the bill within 30 days, it becomes law.

Step 5: Bill becomes law

Once a bill is signed by the Mayor (or its veto has been overridden by Council), it’s then added to the New York City Charter or Administrative Code.

The Legislative Division often refers to its Bill Drafting Manual, one of the first local-level drafting manuals in the country to be written and made available to the public. We put together this manual primarily to assist the Council’s Legislative Division in drafting bills and resolutions. We are making it available to the public to further the Council’s interests in transparency and public education.