Power Post For NY Senator Who Switched Caucuses

Feb 27, 2014

(L to R) Senators Diane Savino, Tony Avella, Jeff Klein, and David Valesky share a laugh at their first IDC conference.
Credit Independent Democratic Conference / New York State Senate

The newest member of the state Senate's ruling coalition is getting leadership positions on the chamber's environmental and social services committees.

Sen. Tony Avella of Queens joined the group of breakaway Democrats who share control of the Senate with Republicans on Wednesday. He had been in the traditional Democratic caucus.

The Senate leadership said Thursday Avella will become chairman of the social services committee and vice chairman of the environmental conservation committee.

Avella opposes gas drilling using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a position that puts him at odds with Republicans who dominate the Senate's ruling coalition.

Legislative leadership positions come with stipends on top of lawmakers' $79,500 base salary. But Avella says he will continue his practice of not taking stipends.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.