ALBANY - How rare is a "nay" vote in the New York State Senate? Very rare, according to a new report.

The report Wednesday from New York StateWatch, a legislative tracking service, analyzed all 63 senators' votes, tracking how often they voted in favor or against a bill this year and whether those votes followed party lines.

While the "nay" votes are rare, some of those votes, are non-existent.

Sen. Marc Panepinto, D-Buffalo, who announced earlier this year he wouldn't seek re-election amid an ethics inquiry, missed 503 votes.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, R-Suffolk County didn't vote against a single bill during the 2016 legislative session, which ran from January through June 18. That made him the only senator to vote yes on all 1,822 bills that came before the house this year, according to the StateWatch analysis.

In all, 10 senators -- nine Republicans and one member of the Independent Democratic Conference, which partners with the GOP -- voted "aye" on 99 percent or more of the bills put to a vote this year, including George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, Schenectady County (99.2 percent). Thirty-eight senators voted in favor of more than 95 percent.

Flanagan's voting record stands to reason when considering his power: As majority leader, he has sole authority to decide whether a bill is put to a vote.

And rarely are bills put to the floor when their passage is uncertain, a long-standing criticism of the state Legislature.
This year, no bills failed on the floor.

Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers, ranked near the middle of the pack of yes voters, casting her vote in favor of 97 percent of bills. That was the 34th highest rate in the Senate, according to the StateWatch report.

Sen. Bill Perkins, D-Manhattan, cast the most "nay" votes, siding against 18.9 percent of bills, according to StateWatch's analysis.

Of the four senators excused from the most votes, three -- Sens. Ruben Diaz, Michael Nozzolio and James Seward -- all missed time recovering from medical procedures. Diaz's back surgery caused him to miss the months of May and June, while Nozzolio had heart surgery and Seward is battling cancer.

Diaz missed 1,511 of the 1,822 votes, while Nozzolio missed 404 and Seward missed 345.

Panepinto missed more than 27-percent of all votes cast during the session that ended earlier this month.
Panepinto, like all New York State senators, makes a base salary of $79,500. If you break that down by vote, senators earned nearly $44 for every vote this year. Panepinto was not in Albany for almost $22,000 worth of votes.

The Senator denied our interview request Wednesday.

One of Panepinto's staff members told 2 On Your Side he was excused from those votes and gave us three reasons.

Panepinto missed three session days for a medical procedure.

The other two reasons had to do with the reason he gave for not seeking re-election. Panepinto's law partner, Frank Dolce, was battling cancer and passed away this month. Panepinto's office says he missed several days when Dolce was ill and after he passed.

Many of those days came in June when the Senate votes on dozens of bills each day, but Panepinto's office could not provide us with specific numbers.

The Executive Director for the government watchdog group Reinvent Albany says vote-wise this might not matter as much as you think.

"Sadly, missing the votes doesn't matter at all. But not being in Albany and not doing your job matters a lot. So what do I mean? So it turns out that 100-percent of votes in the Senate passed. So there were no contested bills that made it to the floor of the Senate," says John Kaehny.

Kaehny also says a first term Democrat like Panepinto wouldn't have a lot of power in the Republican-led Senate, but not having someone in Albany, regardless of party, fighting for WNY is a big deal.