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Thursday, March 13, 2014
State Sen. George Maziarz
State Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, announced that today the Senate approved legislation to change how members of the New York State Board of Regents are selected.

The 17-member Board of Regents is responsible for supervising educational activities in the state, including the public education system and the SUNY system.

Currently, all members of the Board of Regents are elected by the members of the Senate and Assembly gathered in a joint legislative session. Tuesday, the joint body re-elected three incumbent members of the board, a measure which Maziarz opposed.

There are 150 members of the state Assembly and 63 members of the Senate, which Maziarz says stacks the deck in favor of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, essentially allowing the larger lower body — controlled by Democrats — the authority to pick whomever the choose, against the wishes of the smaller Senate, which is led by a Republican majority.

“A better process will produce a better outcome,” Maziarz said.  “As I said earlier this week, having Speaker Silver perennially control this process is wrong and it prevents rank and file legislators from holding the Regents accountable.”

Under S.2031-A, approved today, beginning next year the Regents would no longer be chosen by a vote of the Legislature in joint session. Instead, an new process would be phased in over the next five years whereby Regents would be appointed by the Governor and the caucuses in the respective legislative chambers. In the end, eight Regents would be appointed by the Governor, three by the Senate Majority Leader, three by the Assembly Speaker, one by the Senate Minority Leader, and one by the Assembly Minority Leader. One last seat would rotate between the Governor, Senator Majority Leader, and Assembly Speaker.

“Appointments are how we select members to serve on virtually every other government panel in the state,” Maziarz said. “Having a well-defined appointments process ensures that different views and different constituencies are fairly represented. That is not happening now on the Board of Regents because of how the process is completely controlled by the Assembly downstate leadership.”

The bill will be sent to the Assembly.

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