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Two Senate Republicans Get Committee Chairs (Update)
January 6th, 2010

Senate Democrats won a quiet victory this morning by giving two Republicans committee chairs.

Sen. George Maziarz has been named head of the Energy Committee, formerly chaired by Democrat Sen. Darrel Aubertine.

Sen. Tom Morahan is now the head of the Mental Health Committee, replacing Democratic Sen. Shirley Huntley.

Huntley will now chair the Cities Committee, formerly chaired by Sen. Daniel Squadron. Squadron will now chair the Social Services Committee. Sen. Velmanette Montgomery, who was serving as the chair of the Social Services Committee and Children and Families will remain chair of Children and Families.

Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson had been working on giving Republicans committee chairs for weeks. The move is seen as strengthening the Democrats feeble majority. Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos had stood against the idea, saying he wanted a more sweeping bipartisan make over in the Senate based on rules changes, not just chairmanships.

(Update) Here is a release from the Senate Democrats:



(Albany, NY)- In an unprecedented display of bipartisanship, Senate Majority Conference Leader John L. Sampson, appointed two senators from the Minority Conference as the Chairs of major Senate committeesa first in Senate history. Senator George Maziarz (R-Newfane) will Chair the Committee on Energy and Telecommunications, and Senator Tom Morahan (R-New City) will Chair the Committee on Mental Health and Hygiene.

Senator Shirley L. Huntley, previously the Chair of the Committee on Mental Health and Hygiene, was appointed Deputy Majority Leader of Federal/State Relations and Chair of the Committee on Cities. Senator Velmanette Montgomery, who was previously chairing two committees for the Senate, will now serve as chair the Committee on Children and Families.

Senator Sampson has also appointed Senator Daniel Squadron as the chair of the Committee on Social Services, a major appointment for a first-term Senator; Senator Squadron previously served as vice-chair of that committee.

Never before has it been more important for us to put partisanship aside and renew our commitment to putting the people first, said Senate Majority Conference Leader John L. Sampson. These are thoughtful and principled senators who have worked with our members in the past to implement smart policies that benefit all New Yorkers. They are also dedicated and engaged members of this Chamber who can bridge the gap that crippled this body for too long. The steps we have taken today will make the Senate a more bipartisan, and effective institution for the people of New York.

Senator Maziarz said, I thank Senator Sampson for his faith and confidence in naming me the new Chairman of the Senate Energy Committee. Considering my district is home to the Niagara Power Project, energy issues are of the utmost importance to my constituents. There is a time for politics and there is a time for government. In the chambers of the Senate, I have always welcomed the opportunity to work across the aisle with my colleagues whenever possible if it benefited the people of Western New York. I will continue that philosophy as Chairman of the Energy Committee.

Senator Morahan said, My work in the area of mental health is one of the most rewarding and enriching experiences of my life and I greatly look forward to partnering with the advocates and others who share this passion as Chair of the Mental Health Committee. Senator Sampson is a friend and someone who understands that a good idea is not Republican or Democrat. Im pleased to work with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to restore integrity to this great Chamber and focus on sensible public policy for the upcoming legislative session.

As Ive said throughout my time in public service, a good idea is never a Republican or Democratic idea, its just a good idea. Bringing a chair from the other side of the aisle will introduce new ideas to the process and enable me to continue in an active role within the committee, said Senator Darrel J. Aubertine (D-Cape Vincent). There is no shortage of work that needs to be done on behalf of Upstate New York, which had been allowed to lag behind downstate interests for 40 years. In choosing to bring together a bipartisan coalition, we are strengthening the voice of Upstate New York. I will continue to push for the investments and the legislation that will help us grow our economy and make New York State stronger moving forward. Im excited about the opportunity to work with a new chair and address the issues, ideas and concerns that mean the most to all of us.

New Yorkers deserve real leadership regardless of party affiliation, and todays announcement is a step in the right direction, restoring the integrity back into the State Senate, said Senator Shirley L. Huntley (D-Jamaica). By appointing Senators Maziarz and Morahan, voters will receive two people dedicated to working in their best interests and putting aside the partisan bickering. I am pleased Conference Leader Sampson has raised the bar and set a tone in the best interest of the state. I look forward to working with my colleagues in their new leadership roles.

The most important thing the Senate can do as we begin a new legislative session, is pass sensible legislation that will protect our children and families, said Senator Velmanette Montgomery (D-Brooklyn). I have had the honor to serve in this body for more than twenty years, and never before have members of the minority party had independent control of committee legislative agendas. This is what we, as Senate Democrats stand for; we tackled reforms long ignored in our first year and are literally changing the way this body is run for the betterment of the people of our great state.

I am honored to be named Chair of the Senate Committee on Social Services. As I take on this new challenge, I look forward to continuing the vision that Senator Velmanette Montgomery and I have established for the Committee over the past year: offering support to those who need it most, in immediate crisis and through the long term, said Senator Daniel Squadron (D-Brooklyn/Manhattan). In this economy, New Yorkers are struggling more than ever. We must protect the safety net, and invest in jobs, families, and long-term skills, while making our state government more efficient, effective and accountable. These goals are particularly vital as we make do with increasingly limited resources.

By on January 6, 2010, 1:56 pm
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