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State Budget

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, R-Smithtown, speak with reporters after meeting with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to negotiate the state budget at the state Capitol on Thursday, March 30, 2017, in Albany, N.Y. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

State Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan announced Friday he will miss the start of the 2019 legislative session after completing a "thorough rehabilitation and recovery program" for alcoholism. 

It's the second time in 18 months Flanagan, a Long Island Republican, sought help for alcohol dependency. He revealed his struggle with alcoholism in August 2017. He acknowledged then that he received treatment for alcohol abuse. 

"Recently, I recognized the need to seek some additional help to overcome my battle with alcohol dependency," Flanagan said in a statement. "This was a difficult choice, but it is the right one for myself and for my family. I must now make my health and well-being my number one priority."

With Flanagan missing the start of the legislative session, state Sen. Joe Griffo, a Rome Republican who Flanagan appointed deputy minority leader, will oversee the GOP conference's operations. 

Flanagan, 57, was elected to the state Assembly in 1986 following the death of his father, John Flanagan Sr. He served in the Assembly until 2002, when he was elected to the state Senate. 

In 2015, Flanagan was elected by his GOP colleagues to serve as Senate majority leader. He held the post until the end of 2018. Democrats now hold a majority of seats in the Senate. 

In his statement, Flanagan didn't provide a timetable for his return. 

"No man or woman is perfect, but it does not mean we all shouldn't strive for continuous and daily improvement," he continued. "I will attempt to do that with every fiber in my body. I thank my friends and colleagues for their patience, for their love and for their understanding, and am very much looking forward to this upcoming legislative session. 

He added, "This brief period of time away is necessary for my overall well-being, but will in no way impact my ability to serve my conference or my constituents." 

As he did in 2017, Flanagan received support from his colleagues. State Sen. Bob Antonacci offered his best wishes to Flanagan. 

Antonacci, who succeeded retired state Sen. John DeFrancisco, supported Flanagan for minority leader. 

"Addiction has affected us all at one time or another and I am glad he is taking this step for his health and well being," Antonacci tweeted Friday. 

State Sen. Rachel May, a Syracuse Democrat, lauded Flanagan for his courage to seek help for alcohol dependency. 

"I commend @LeaderFlanagan for taking this step to put his health and well-being first, and I look forward to working with him as colleagues in the near future," May tweeted. "Our thoughts are with him and his family." 

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