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State Senate GOP names 4 breakaway Democrats to panels

Senate Republicans on Tuesday rewarded four breakaway Democrats with positions on legislative panels -- worth an extra $12,500 in annual stipends.

The Republicans also gave their No. 3 leadership post -- vice president pro tempore, which is worth an extra $34,000 a year on top of his base pay of $79,500 -- to State Sen. George D. Maziarz of Newfane.

"I am pleased to appoint Sen. Maziarz as vice president pro tempore of the New York State Senate, further illustrating our commitment to Western New York. Unlike the Senate Democrats, who only paid lip service to Western New York, the Senate Republicans are committed to helping businesses create jobs and revitalizing the local economy," said Senate Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos, R-Rockville Centre.

The Republicans awarded a post on a committee on children's and family issues -- which for two weeks had been held by freshman Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan of Erie County -- to Sen. Diane J. Savino, a Staten Island Democrat. Gallivan, who recently was given two committee chairmanships, will continue to lead the Social Services Committee.

The Republicans also rewarded a Oneida Democrat, David J. Valesky, with the chairmanship of the Committee on Aging and appointed freshman Democrat David S. Carlucci of Rockland County to a little-known panel that reviews state regulations.

The leader of the Democratic dissidents, Sen. Jeffrey D. Klein of the Bronx, was chosen to lead a new committee on alcoholism and substance abuse.

But Klein will have to wait, since creation of his panel requires a change in the Senate rules -- and Republicans failed to get new rules for running the chamber out of a GOP-led committee.

Democrats, who lost their majority in November's elections, objected to the GOP-crafted rules for more than two hours during a committee meeting. They said that a couple of the changes pose legal problems, including one to prohibit Lt. Gov. Robert J. Duffy, who is legally president of the Senate, from casting tie-breaking votes in Senate leadership elections.

The back-and-forth all ended anticlimactically when the Republicans pulled the measure from the agenda because they were one vote short; a GOP senator from Long Island, Kenneth P. LaValle, left Albany earlier in the day before his vote was needed to get the rules changes out of the Rules Committee.

The Senate is controlled, 32-30, by the Republicans.

e-mail: tprecious@buffnews.com

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