New State Senate Leadership Focuses on Sandy Recovery

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The new co-leaders of the state Senate had a kind of unveiling party on Rockaway Beach on Monday when former Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Democratic Senator Jeff Klein launched a bipartisan Sandy recovery task force.

Touring damage that is still in evidence in Far Rockaway, Queens, on Monday, Skelos and Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein announced the creation of a bipartisan Task Force on Sandy Recovery.

"If Hurricane Sandy has taught us anything it's that we're at our best when we're working side by side together, for the common interest and welfare of all New Yorkers," Klein said.

Side by side. Bipartisan. Cooperation. These are the keywords for the coalition that will see Klein and Skelos sharing the powers of the chamber's leader. They've even gone so far as to alternate who will physically lead the chamber proceedings every two weeks.

Klein, who was credited with launching the task force, said he expects it will also look at the performance of state utility companies in the wake of the storm, which he hoped would hold "gas and utility companies responsible for a lack of preparation and clear failures to fulfill their obligations to paying customers."

The Task Force's job will be threefold: to identify the areas most in need, review storm planning policy for improvement and to develop legislature based on the findings of other task forces launched by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

This will be the first test of the coalition government of the state senate that was announced last week.