Legislative leadership positions: A glossary

Matt Valentine

Legislative leadership positions: A glossary

There are a lot of them, but the posts do mean something.
March 18, 2019

One former Assembly deputy speaker reportedly would yell at anyone who didn’t address her by her full title. The state Senate’s assistant majority leader on house operations didn’t even know he had that job. Between them, the two houses have more whips than “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

And there are plenty of other positions for state legislators: majority leader, pro tempore, assistants, deputies, conference chair, and all sorts of other assignments for ambitious – but loyal – lawmakers. The state Senate has so few members – and so many leadership posts – that almost everyone gets an appointment, while members of the Assembly must work their way up to earn something more than the “honorable” prefix assigned to all lawmakers.

Senate Temporary President and Majority Leader


Assembly Speaker
The Senate majority leader and Assembly speaker lead the majority conferences in their respective houses, speaking for their members, negotiating directly with the governor and basking in the admiration of lesser legislators.


Senate Deputy Majority Leader


Assembly Majority Leader
The Senate majority leader and Assembly speaker are too busy to appear much on the floor. So their top deputies often manage activity in each chamber. Both houses have a majority leader, but like in the U.S. Congress, the one in the Senate actually leads the chamber while a speaker runs the lower house.


Senate Assistant Majority Leader on Conference Operations


Senate Senior Assistant Majority Leader


Assembly Deputy Speaker


Assembly Assistant Speaker


Assembly Deputy Majority Leader


Assembly Assistant Majority Leader
Every leader has several additional deputies to help manage the internal and external politics of their conferences. But is a “deputy” different than an “assistant”? “I don’t think those little hierarchies have any consequences,” said former Assemblyman Richard Brodsky.


Senate Vice President Pro Tempore


Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore


Assembly Assistant Speaker Pro Tempore
Pro tempore is Latin for “the time being” so think of these positions as the elected help who swing the gavels when more senior lawmakers do not want to.


Senate Majority Whip


Senate Majority Assistant Whip


Senate Majority Assistant Whip


Assembly Majority Whip


Assembly Assembly Deputy Majority Whip


Assembly Assistant Majority Whip
Left to their own devices, lawmakers could wander away from their seats or stray from the party line. Whips tend to the partisan flock and make sure that the herd stays together for key votes.


Senate Majority Conference Chair


Senate Majority Conference Vice-Chair


Assembly Majority Conference Chair


Assembly Majority Conference Vice-Chair
When a conference gets together to talk strategy, they need someone to make sure that everyone has a turn at holding the conch, the speaking stick or whatever else they might want to call it.


Senate Majority Conference Secretary


Assembly Majority Conference Secretary
If the conference leader sends out a message but an Assembly member or senator does not respond, conference secretaries do not want excuses – they need answers.


Senate Majority Steering Committee Chair


Assembly Majority Steering Committee Chair


Assembly Majority Steering Committee Vice Chair
If a conference is at odds over legislation, they refer the issue to the steering committee, where everyone can hash things out.


Senate Assistant Majority Leader on Conference Operations


Senate Assistant Majority Leader on House Operations


Assembly Majority House Operations Chair
The utility infielders of legislative leadership, the operations staff might help formulate policy or have a say in allocating staffing levels and determining which members are vulnerable in their reelection campaigns.


Senate Liaison to the Executive Branch


Senate Deputy Majority Leader for State-Federal Relations


Senate Deputy Majority Leader for Senate-Assembly Relations


Senate Assistant Majority Leader on Intergovernmental Affairs
The Senate has its own diplomatic corps to manage its ties to other parts of government. Usually this means just a trip down the hall or to the second floor of the state Capitol. But every now and again, someone gets a free trip to Washington, D.C.


Senate Majority Program Development Committee Chair


Assembly Majority Program Committee Chair
Based on submitted responses from each chamber – or lack thereof – the “program” leaders are there largely for appearance’s sake.
Zach Williams
is a staff reporter at City & State.