Established in 1970, the Legislature replaced the Board of Supervisors as the legislative unit of the county, following the reorganization of the city wards and towns into five legislative districts. In 1972, Rensselaer County voters approved by referendum, a proposed county charter which restructured county government based on the separation of executive and legislative functions and redefined the powers and duties of the Legislature.

The Legislature is the policy making body of Rensselaer County. As outlined in the Rensselaer County Charter, the powers and duties of the Legislature include primary responsibility for the finances of the county. The Legislature adopts the annual county budget, levies taxes and makes fiscal appropriations. The Legislature is also empowered to establish and oversee county services and programs through the enactment of local laws and resolutions and the appointment of county officials.

The Rensselaer County Legislature is composed of 19 members who represent more than 161,000 county residents. Legislators are elected at a general election on odd numbered years for a four-year term, and represent six legislative districts.

Officers of the Legislature:
Vice Chairman
Vice Chairman/Finance
Majority Leader
Minority Leader