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Catching up with Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin

Newcomer to the legislature weighs in on his first months in office

Freshman Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin, R-Melrose, has something in common with freshmen in college: They were both slammed with reading this past January.

The newly minted legislator admitted that on his first day in the Assembly chamber, he was somewhat overwhelmed.

The first week or two I was there, I'm showing up on the floor and these bills are here, and I'm like how the heck are we supposed to vote on these things? he said.

But after four months in office (his first in any elected office), McLaughlin shows a great deal more confidence when he speaks about the goings on at the Capitol. He's gained a handle on how bills work their way to the floor, what his strengths are and the best way to be prepared.

"I learned pretty quickly to read and read and read," he said.

Though he's part of a large class of freshman legislators, McLaughlin was one of the few candidates in the Capital District to displace an incumbent in November, defeating Assemblyman Tim Gordon for control of the 108th Assembly District, which includes Bethlehem, Coeymans and parts of Columbia, Greene and Rensselaer counties.

Many have concluded from the election results that New Yorkers are ready for a change in their government. But has the legislature lived up to that task?

"As a class, I think, it's very refreshing to see how vocal we are. There's not a lot of freshmen members sitting on their hands. Everybody got up and debated the budget, every one of the freshman class got up and spoke," McLaughlin said.

And while he said he was fairly pleased with the budget this year (he voted against the Assembly version, saying it was inequitable to Upstate schools), McLaughlin was adamant that changes must be made to the state of New York, especially when it comes to controlling property taxes and making the state more business friendly.

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