New York lawmakers begin 2019 session

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) The New York state Legislature has started its 2019 session with Andrea Stewart-Cousins making history by formally taking over as leader of the now-Democrat-controlled Senate and Carl Heastie again being elected speaker of the Assembly.

Stewart-Cousins, a Yonkers Democrat, is the first woman to lead a legislative chamber in New York. Heastie, a Bronx Democrat, was elected Wednesday for the third time to lead the Democrat-controlled Assembly.

The Legislature's formal start in Albany kicks off 61 session days spread over a six-month work period expected to be dominated by debates over marijuana legalization, congestion tolls in Manhattan and making it easier for New Yorkers to vote.

Senate Republicans controlled the 63-seat chamber for the past decade thanks to eight renegade Democrats who voted with the GOP conference. The November elections put Democrats back in power.

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