Senator John J. Flanagan represents the Second Senate District, which includes the entire Town of Smithtown and portions of both the Town of Brookhaven and the Town of Huntington. He was first elected to represent this portion of Suffolk County in 2002 and overwhelmingly reelected in 2004, 2006, 2008 2010 and 2012.
During his time in the Senate, Senator Flanagan has been a constant leader in the fight to reduce the tax burden Long Islanders face – an effort he began when he served during his sixteen years in the New York State Assembly prior to his service in the Senate. During his tenure in the lower house, he served as the ranking member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee where he fought to provide taxpayers with meaningful tax relief.
As a leader in the fight to provide much-needed tax relief to New York taxpayers and small business owners, Senator Flanagan has successfully fought for numerous changes to our tax policies in New York State including:
• Enacting a 2% cap on local property taxes;
• Cutting the personal income tax to its lowest level in 50 years for 4.4 million middle class New Yorkers; and
• Repealing the onerous MTA payroll tax for 80% of businesses that previously paid it.
An ardent critic of late state budgets, Senator Flanagan has consistently argued for budget reforms that will improve New York's financial health while preventing burdensome tax increases. He has also been an outspoken supporter of capping state spending to provide New Yorkers with tax relief and to provide economic stability to our state.
To help ease the tax burden of volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers throughout New York State, he authored legislation that grants these first responders an expanded real property tax exemption on their homes.
A staunch supporter of education, Senator Flanagan is currently the Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Education. He has been a constant voice for educational quality equality in New York State with a long history of fighting to ensure that all regions get their fair share of state aid to reduce class size and to protect property taxpayers. In the 2012-2013 Enacted Budget, Senator Flanagan was instrumental in ensuring an additional $250 million was distributed to districts with the highest needs.
Over the past year, Senator Flanagan has visited nearly a dozen of his colleagues’ districts to have open and frank dialogues on educational policy and state aid. During these visits, Senator Flanagan has gained an acute awareness of the educational issues that face all corners of New York—helping to eliminate an upstate vs. downstate mindset, with an overall one-state view to education.
To enhance safety in all schools he represents, Senator Flanagan has supported the Safe Schools Against Violence in Education Act (Project SAVE) and worked to permanently extend the Child Safety Zone law which gives otherwise ineligible children access to bus service.
And to expand students ability to succeed, he has also expanded funding for pre-kindergarten programs, made college more affordable by maintaining funding for New York State's tuition assistance program and also has been supportive of the college savings programs that allow for tax-free savings and increased deductions for future college tuition payments.
To protect the children of New York State, he also has joined with parents who are leading the fight to get drugs out of their communities. He was the lead in the successful effort to ban the possession and sale of “legal” drugs like salvia divinorum, synthetic marijuana and "bath salts". And he also worked to enact the Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing (“I-STOP”) Act and include “real time” prescription tracking to provide more information to doctors and pharmacists, in an effort to prevent deaths from abuse and overdoses of prescription drugs, particularly painkillers.
In 2012, Senator Flanagan led the effort to help in the fight against breast cancer by sponsoring legislation that will provide women with the information they need to protect their lives. Signed into law in July, the legislation will ensure that women are informed of the “breast density”, and will require every mammography report given to a patient with dense breast tissue that other screening options are available and may be beneficial in early detection.
As a state senator, he has also used his commitment to the disabled community, school organizations and women’s groups to deliver increased state funding and enactment of critical legislation in these areas.
His commitment to these issues was evident in his very first year in the Senate when he worked with local advocates to author landmark protections for stalking victims and their families. In the years that have followed, he has worked to increase public protection by successfully expanding public access to the New York State Sex Offender Registry, requiring lifetime registration for sexual predators and ending the statute of limitations for rapists.
A strong proponent of safety on Long Island waterways, he successfully worked to lower the legal blood alcohol level for boating while intoxicated to .08 and successfully fought to increase the penalties faced by those who operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
And to protect the public’s right to know, Senator Flanagan successfully fought to require the Department of Environmental Conservation to disclose more information concerning toxic spills to the general public on its web site.
Senator Flanagan has worked closely with members of the Kings Park community to successfully halt the sale of the environmentally fragile Kings Park Psychiatric Center in order to protect more than 370 acres of open space, secure $29 million in state funding for the cleanup of the site and transfer this beautiful parcel of open space into the New York State parks system for preservation and public enjoyment.
He has also been instrumental in helping the Long Island State Veterans Home at Stony Brook provide services and care to the veterans of Long Island. His support has been vital in enabling the facility to proceed with important capital and technological improvements that will enhance the care received by those who have served our country.
In addition to his role as the Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Senator Flanagan also serves on the Committees on Codes; Corporations, Authorities and Commissions; Finance; Higher Education; Insurance; Judiciary; Rules and Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs.
Senator Flanagan was raised in Huntington where he attended Harborfields High School. In 1983, he earned a B.A. in Economics from the College of William and Mary in Virginia and in 1990 he received a law degree from Touro Law School.
Senator Flanagan is proudly following the path of his father, the late John Flanagan, who served in the New York State Assembly from 1972 to 1986.
Senator Flanagan resides in East Northport with his wife, the former Lisa Perez of Maryland. Together, they have raised three children including a daughter who is recently graduated from college and two sons who are currently attending.