Flanagan takes over as leader of chamber

Sen. John Flanagan, of Northport, filled one of the most powerful political positions in the state after Dean Skelos stepped down from the position yesterday.

Sen. John Flanagan, of Northport, filled one of the most powerful political positions in the state after Dean Skelos stepped down from the position yesterday. (5/12/15)

NORTHPORT - There was new leadership in the state Senate Tuesday as Long Island's John Flanagan took over as leader of the chamber.

Flanagan, of Northport, filled one of the most powerful political positions in the state after Dean Skelos stepped down from the position Monday. Flanagan beat back a challenge from a Syracuse-area senator who was also vying for the post.

Despite the cloud of suspicion hanging over Albany lawmakers after recent high-profile arrests, Flanagan says he does not think ethics will be among the issues addressed in what promises to be a busy final month of the session.

In an exclusive one-on-one interview with News 12, Flanagan says the ethics bill passed last month should be given a chance to work.

"We haven't even had an opportunity to see the full effect of the new law," said Flanagan. "While it's a clear and important issue, before we just go along and say 'we have to change it again,' I think we have an obligation to see how it's going to work."

Among other things, the bill that passed requires lawmakers to disclose any sources of income they earn from jobs outside of their legislative jobs. Lawmakers could also lose their pensions if convicted of certain crimes. Critics say the bill doesn't nearly go far enough.
     
Government watchdog Blair Horner says the best way to end corruption is to limit or end outside income for lawmakers. State Sen. Kemp Hannon (R - Garden City) wonders if any ethics bill will deter corruption.

"Many of the things where people have gone to jail we already have laws against: don't steal, don't bribe. All the things that you learned in kindergarten that you shouldn't do, it's already in the penal law," said Hannon.

Other issues lawmakers will have to take up before the end of the legislative session on June 17 include the possible extension of the property tax cap and possible changes to Common Core.

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