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Senate Republicans settle into life in the minority

A familiar appeal from Senate Democrats last week came with a jab that reflected the new reality of the state Senate.

“We urge our Republican colleagues to take up our bills,” said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, before quickly adding, “I’m just kidding.”

The punchline elicited guffaws and applause from the Senate Democrats, who had gathered in the Capitol for a news conference promoting a package of election reforms that the new majority was able to pass later that day. The measures had stalled for years under Republican leadership.

The Democratic members have been in high spirits for the start of the legislative session this month, as they find themselves in control of the house’s purse strings, cruising through a bold policy agenda and poised to exert significant influence over the budget process.

Across the aisle, Senate Republicans are settling into their role as the “loyal opposition” for at least the next two years, and possibly longer.

“Obviously our role has changed, because the landscape has changed,” said Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford. “We have not lost our voice. We may not be in the majority, but we have not lost our voice.”

Read more from the Times Union