government

Monday, May 8, 2017 at 10:00 am
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, news, government, health, announcements.

Press release:

The Senate recently passed a package of bipartisan bills aimed at encouraging more New Yorkers to become organ and tissue donors and protecting the rights of those who do. The bills enhance public awareness, remove bureaucratic obstacles and will increase the number of residents who sign up to help save lives through organ, tissue, bone marrow, and blood donation.

“Organ and tissue transplants save lives, but too few New Yorkers are enrolled in the Donate Life program,” said Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan (R-C-I, Elma). “New York can and must do better. This legislation will help raise awareness of the importance of organ and tissue donation, provide support for those who participate and make it easier for residents to get involved in this lifesaving effort.”

Currently, only 27 percent of potential New Yorkers are enrolled in the New York State Donate Life Registry – the lowest rate in the country. Additionally, nearly 10,000 people are waiting for organ transplants in New York – the third highest rate in the country.

The Senate continues to advocate for increasing resources and public awareness on the importance of organ and tissue donation through legislation and funding, officials say. This year’s enacted state budget included $1.3 million as part of the Senate’s ongoing commitment to help New Yorkers’ need of lifesaving transplants.

The two bills, cosponsored by Gallivan, provide a wide variety of protections and support for prospective organ donors. The measures would bolster the amount of lifesaving organ and tissue and donations and shield donors in New York by: 

    • Enacting the “Living Donor Protection Act of 2017” to prevent discrimination against living organ or tissue donors who have or are applying for life, accident, health, or long-term care insurance; designating transplantation preparation and recovery related to donation as “serious health conditions” covered by paid family leave; and directing the Commissioner of Health, in cooperation with the transplant council and other interested parties to develop and distribute information on live organ donation (S2496); and

    • Establishing a one-time personal income tax credit for up to $10,000 for expenses related to a taxpayer donating his or her organs for transplantation. The bill also repeals the personal income tax modification, reducing federal adjusted income, for such expanses (S2497).

To further increase public awareness of organ and tissue donation, especially among youth, a bill (S5283B) cosponsored by Gallivan would allow SUNY, CUNY, and library card applicants to register as an organ donor. The bill would expand Lauren’s Law, which changed DMV forms to require applicants to choose “yes” or “skip” the question about becoming a donor.

The Senate also passed legislation (S2162A) to help medical transport teams quickly operate within their necessary and sensitive periods. The bill would add human organ delivery vehicles to the list of authorized emergency vehicles in the state.

Additionally, the Senate passed a bill (S474B) that would give the option to applicants for the practice of a profession or occupation, state income tax filers, and applicants registering motor vehicles to register in the Donate Life Registry for organ, eye, and tissue donation.

The Senate also passed a measure (S1475) that would allow a taxpayer or the spouse of a taxpayer to deduct costs related to the taxpayer’s organ donation, and include childcare costs within such allowable costs.

The bills will be sent to the Assembly.

Additionally, another bill (S2495) cosponsored by Gallivan passed both houses this year. The legislation allows the state's Transplant Council to expand its scope. It aims to help New York organ donation efforts by making annual recommendations to the Commissioner of Health on organ donation, procurement organizations, and organ banks and storage.

Monday, May 8, 2017 at 9:58 am
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, news, government, health care, announcements.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) voted recently to repeal Obamacare and replace it with the American Health Care Act.

"This puts us even closer to ending the Obamacare nightmare that has plagued Americans for the last seven years," Collins said. "The legislation passed increases competition and gives people the power to make their own choices with their own health care. The American Health Care Act is a drastic improvement over the failing health care system Obamacare has left us with."

For Western New Yorkers, the bill also includes the largest property tax reduction ever to be enacted, officials say. The legislation includes an amendment Collins introduced that would bar federal reimbursements for New York State Medicaid funds raised from local governments.

"My commonsense proposal will fix the finances of counties across New York for decades to come and most importantly keep money in the pockets of hardworking Western New Yorkers. This puts a stop to this massive unfunded mandate coming out of Albany once and for all."

For residents in the 27th Congressional District, it would result in more than $470 million in property tax savings. The proposal would only apply to the $2.3 billion being raised from counties outside of New York City to pay for the state's Medicaid share. The state currently raises $7 billion from its local governments to fund its $27 billion Medicaid liability, which is the largest such mandate in the nation.

Beyond the property tax savings, the legislation improves access and affordability, and removes more than $800 billion in onerous taxes and fees that have been stifling the economy and eliminating job growth, Collins says.

In 2017, 33 percent of counties nationwide only have one insurer on their exchange, and many counties are being left without any insurance providers. He also noted that Obamacare has unsustainably raised insurance premiums by nearly 40 percent in the last three years. Recently, thousands of New Yorkers were kicked off their insurance plans because their provider, Health Republic, collapsed.

The American Health Care Act:

    • Eliminates the individual and employer mandate, which forced millions of workers, families, and job creators into government mandated plans that did not work for their needs.

    • Guarantees protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions by prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage on the basis of a pre-existing condition, banning insurers from rescinding coverage based on a pre-existing condition, and preventing insurers from raising premiums on individuals with pre-existing conditions who maintain continuous coverage. Additionally, New York state law fully protects individuals with pre-existing conditions.

    • Modernizes and strengthens Medicaid by implementing a "per capita allotment" which provides more flexibility for states and results in the largest entitlement reform in decades.

    • Provides Americans access to affordable care that works for their needs by delivering monthly tax credits of $2,000-$14,000 a year, which individuals and families can use to purchase private insurance of their choice.

The American Health Care Act now heads to the Senate where it will need to be approved before heading to President Trump's desk to be signed into law.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017 at 12:13 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, news, Sen. Gallivan, government, crime.

Press release:

The New York State Senate has approved eight bills aimed at tackling the heroin, opioid and synthetic drug crisis. The measures address the evolving challenges presented by fentanyl, synthetic and designer drugs, and help increase coordination among health care personnel to prevent future opioid overdoses and abuse.

“One of our priorities this legislative session is to tackle the state’s heroin crisis,” said Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan (R-C-I, Elma). “No community and no family is immune from the devastating impact caused by heroin and opioid abuse.

"These bills, combined with the $214 million secured in this year’s budget, will support law enforcement efforts to combat the spread of these drugs and enhance programs designed to keep New Yorkers healthy and safe.”

Six bills target the increased use of synthetic and designer drug combinations that escape criminality through loopholes in existing laws. Gallivan cosponsored the first five of the six bills, which include: 

    • Bill S933 adds new derivatives of fentanyl to the controlled substance schedule and increases criminal penalties for the sale of an opiate containing a fentanyl derivative. Fentanyl is a strong pain medication that is often combined with anesthesia to prevent surgery-related pain. However, it is increasingly being mixed with heroin and other drugs to produce a cheaper and more lethal product.

    • Bill S816 designates Alpha-PVP, also known as “Flakka” or “Gravel” as a controlled substance. Similar to bath salts and methamphetamine, use of this designer drug has been known to cause violent behavior, with side effects including nausea, vomiting, paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, suicidal thoughts, seizures, chest pains, and increased blood pressure and heart rate.

    • Bill S3518 classifies synthetic marijuana like "K2," "Spike 99," "Spice," "Yucatan Fire," "Genie," "Zohai" and many others, as Schedule I controlled substances. These legal herb-like products are laced with a synthetic cannabinoid to produce a high similar to existing controlled substances, but with more dangerous side effects. Not only does the bill provide for the imposition of criminal sanctions on synthetic pot, but also makes it a felony to sell such products to a minor or on school grounds.

    • Bill S2722 bans the analog substances of scheduled controlled substances. By expanding the state’s ability to ban analog substances, state drug and law enforcement agencies are given another tool to combat the quickly moving world of designer drugs that simply “tweak” an existing scheduled substance in order to avoid criminal prohibitions.

    • Bill S658 adds a new synthetic opiate, U-47700 and commonly referred to as "Pink" to the schedule I opiate list. This inexpensive drug has spread in popularity across the United States and is reportedly eight times more powerful than heroin.

    • Bill S300 would designate Xylazine as a controlled substance due to recent instances of this veterinary drug being used to lace heroin. It has emerged as a new threat in the state's battle against the heroin epidemic because the heroin-Xylazine combination is so potent that it can take multiple doses of naloxone to revive an overdose victim, and even this regime is not guaranteed to be effective. Dealers are using this dangerous drug to enhance their products, but risks include a dangerous depression of the central nervous system, causing individuals to drift in and out of consciousness, as well as negatively affecting heart function.

Two other measures passed by the Senate will help promote information sharing to prevent the abuse of prescription and other drugs, among other benefits of health care coordination. 

They include:

    • Bill S2639 requires hospital and emergency room physicians to notify a patient's prescriber when a patient is being treated for a controlled substance overdose. The measure enhances the effectiveness of the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) Registry when prescribing controlled substances by ensuring that vital medical information is shared among health care practitioners. The bill requires an emergency room or hospital practitioner treating a patient with an opioid overdose to consult the PMP registry and notify the patient's prescriber of the overdose. Without such notification of the overdose, it is very possible that the prescriber/practitioner would not know that the patient had suffered an overdose of the opioid.
    • Bill S2248 helps facilitate the exchange of health care information with hospitals, office-based surgery practices, and health care providers who accept walk-in patients not regularly seen by the provider. These practitioners would use and maintain an electronic health records system that connects to the local regional health information organization, aiding in the prevention of drug abuse by giving these clinics and urgent care centers the ability to see patient records and whether there is a history of drug use or prescriptions. Additionally, these clinics would add details of the visit to the patient’s records for any future medical treatment, thereby ensuring the patient receives appropriate care.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at 9:00 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, event, government, 4-H, Warsaw, Eagle, Castile.

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Two Wyoming County 4-H’ers each received a Certificate of Recognition from the county Board of Supervisors during the monthly meeting Tuesday in Warsaw. Danielle Herrick and Madelynn Olin were recognized for their presentations at the 4-H Public Presentation Days held at Warsaw High School in February. 

The Public Presentation program is designed to enhance 4-H’ers public speaking skills by researching a subject and organizing their ideas in a logical order. Additionally, the program helps the youth gain confidence and self-esteem while developing the ability to think and speak in front of a group of people about something that interests them, 4-H officials say.

Danielle, 14, is the daughter of Will and Louise Herrick, of Eagle. She is a seven-year member of the Barnstormers 4-H Club. Her formal presentation titled “Dairy Advocacy” highlighted how animal rights groups shine a negative light on the dairy industry, and how positive activism can “provide people with the facts about milk and the dairy industry.”

Madelynn, 11, has been a member of the Castile Country Kids 4-H Club for the past six years. She is the daughter of Justine and Jessica Olin, of Castile. Her illustrated talk was titled “Mary Jemison, White Woman of the Genesee.” Along with the drawings and written information about Jemison’s life depicted on poster board next to her, Madelynn told of the woman’s life and how she came to rest in Letchworth State Park.

Attica Town Supervisor Bryan Kehl presented the girls with the certificates.

In other board matters:

    • Chairman Doug Berwanger is authorized to sign a contract with Adecco Staffing Agency and provides for a temporary clerical worker for the Office for the Aging until the results of the Civil Service list are available, effective March 18 through June 30;

    • Proclamation declaring April Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month, and Alcohol Awareness Month in Wyoming County;

    • Chairman authorized to sign a contract with Hillside Children’s Center for: two additional parenting classes to be taught in the Wyoming County Jail for an additional funding amount of $2,016.62; additional funding for Children’s Health Home Services – $939; and a reduction of $76 for Family Support Services.

    • The GLOW area (Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming counties) has been designated as a Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Area (WIOA) under the WIOA Act of 2014. Additionally, Wyoming County Community Action is the system partner providing WIOA adult, dislocated worker, and youth program services in Wyoming County, effective July 1;

    • Proclamation stating May 7 through 13 is Travel and Tourism Week in the county; 

    • The Wyoming County Ag and Business Center’s Use of Facilities Policy and Fee Schedule has been approved; 

    • Roberta Curry has been appointed to the GLOW Solid Waste Planning Committee and Glow Regional Solid Wast Management Committee, through Dec. 31; 

    • NOMAD Enterprises Inc., 6270 Abbott Road, Silver Springs, won the contract for law maintenance services at various county buildings – not to exceed $8,160; and ThyssenKrupp Elevator, Walden Avenue, Buffalo, was awarded a contract for elevator maintenance services at the Courthouse-Government Center and Public Safety Building, Main Street, Warsaw – not to exceed $24,840; and

    • The Highway Department abolished one position – bridge construction mechanic, and created two – heavy equipment operator, and sign maintenance working supervisor; the Sheriff’s Department created two positions – administrative assistant (Sheriff), and part-time corrections officer; and the Health Department abolished the position of public health nurse, and created the position of community health nurse II.

Monday, April 10, 2017 at 2:57 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, government, news, state budget.

Press release:

Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan (R-C-I, Elma) says the 2017-18 budget approved by the Legislature keeps within the state’s self-imposed spending cap while incorporating many of the Senate’s top priorities, including: record investments in clean water protection and local schools; the most significant workers’ compensation reform in a decade; enhanced college affordability; and continued tax relief for residents and businesses.

The final budget also includes important initiatives for Western New York and the Upstate region, including legislation which will allow for ride sharing services such as Uber and Lyft. The budget also protects public safety by ensuring violent criminals who prey upon our communities are held accountable. 

“At long last, ride-sharing companies will be allowed to operate in Buffalo, Rochester and other Upstate communities,” Gallivan said. “Services such as Uber and Lyft will create jobs, provide reliable transportation options for residents and visitors, and help reduce the number of DWIs.”

Supporting law enforcement and keeping our communities safe and free from harm have always been among the Senate’s most critical priorities. Gallivan was instrumental in ensuring that the final agreement on criminal justice protects public safety.

“While understanding that 16- and 17-year-olds are different from adults, this agreement ensures people who commit violent crimes and jeopardize public safety are held accountable for their actions, and, at the same time, addresses how to reduce recidivism and victimization.

“The new budget controls the size and cost of government while at the same time helping hardworking, middle-class families and businesses by providing much needed tax relief. The spending plan supports economic development, invests in education, supports our vital agriculture industry and provides much needed funding for infrastructure.” 

Budget highlights include:

Funding for local schools
The enacted budget includes approximately $26 billion of school aid funding –  an approximate $1.1 billion increase (4.4 percent) over last year. New York State’s total commitment to supporting public education, when combined with the STAR school tax relief program, will be approximately $29 billion this year. 

Funding highlights include:

    • The Senate rejecting the Executive Budget's proposal to eliminate the Foundation Aid phase-in and securing an additional $272 million in Foundation Aid, bringing the year-to-year increase to $700 million and total funding to $17.2 billion. This will ensure that every school district will see an increase in funding of at least 2.74 percent; and

    • Providing $25 million in Smart School Technology funding and $5 million to support STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) in nonpublic schools.

Making college more affordable

The budget changes Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s original “free college tuition plan” in a number of smart and responsible ways consistent with what the Senate has advocated for in recent years to help make college more affordable and accessible for more middle class New Yorkers, including:

    • Provides more than $1.1 billion this year of Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) funding and helps more than 25,000 additional students better afford the cost of a college education;

    • Adding $19 million for a new Enhanced Tuition Award initiative specifically designed to help students at private colleges and universities;

    • Helping public college students participating in the new program by providing up to $5,500 per student, with SUNY and CUNY committing to waive remaining tuition costs if students follow the program’s requirements;

    • Creating key measures to promote student responsibility, including minimum grade point average standards, steps to enhance on-time graduation, and a requirement that participants live and work in New York after graduation; and

    • Delivering $3.1 million in tuition assistance for part-time community college students.

To continue supporting New York’s public universities, the budget also:

    • Includes new language guaranteeing state support of SUNY and CUNY in future years;

    • Launches the largest infrastructure program for SUNY and CUNY campuses in years; and

    • Ensures strong support for community colleges, including a $50 increase per full time equivalent (FTE).

After the Senate advocated for funding that was absent from the Executive Budget proposal, the final budget provides a $146 million multi-year boost in wages to compensate direct care and other clinical professionals. The funding helps appropriately adjust salaries at not-for-profits that employ workers who provide services for individuals with disabilities, as well as staff at not-for-profits under the purview of the Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services and the Office of Mental Health.

The new funding breaks down to $55.5 million in additional wage compensation for direct care staff in the 2017-18 fiscal year, followed by an additional $90 million starting next year that would include clinical staff as well.

Promoting economic development – reforming workers compensation

The Senate successfully led the fight for the most significant workers’ compensation reform in a decade. This top Senate budget priority includes sensible reforms that help businesses, local governments, and not-for-profits achieve meaningful savings, while also enhancing the protections in place for injured workers.

The measures will make it more affordable to do business in New York, with employers expected to see savings this year in the form of rebates and hundreds of millions of dollars more in ongoing annual savings on premium costs after reforms are implemented.

The final budget also rejects hundreds of millions of dollars in several onerous taxes and fee increases proposed by Cuomo, including new and increased DMV fees and new taxes on internet purchases. 

Strengthening the state’s infrastructure

The budget makes an investment of $2.5 billion to ensure all New Yorkers have access to clean, safe drinking water. The Senate is leading the charge to ensure the state provides the resources necessary to address extensive water quality issues and infrastructure needs across the state. 

The final budget includes:

    • $1 billion for a new Water Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2017 to fund municipal water infrastructure projects over the next five years;

    • Continued funding ($245 million) of the Water Quality Improvement Program grants;

    • $150 million for a new inter-municipal water infrastructure grant program to help fund projects that serve multiple municipalities and promote cost savings;

    • $100 million in new funding for municipal water quality projects that would not currently qualify for existing state grants;

    •  $75 million for a new state rebate program to incentivize the replacement of failing septic systems and cesspools;

    • $20 million for the replacement of lead pipes, with preferences given to communities with a high percentage of elevated childhood lead blood levels;

    • $100 million over five years for the state Superfund program to be used for clean water projects; and $30 million over five years for solid waste and drinking water mitigation and remediation projects;

    • $275 million in continued funding for Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds; and

    • $10 million for a new emergency infrastructure loan program to repair breaches of infrastructure that causes an imminent threat to the public health or the environment.

The budget continues the state’s commitment to the protection of natural resources with $300 million for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). The EPF helps protect water resources through the preservation of open spaces and upgrading sewage treatment plants, among many other environmental initiatives. To further support clean water projects, $20 million from the EPF will help support existing funding in the Water Quality Improvement Program.

Clean water protections

As proposed by the Senate’s Health and Environmental Conservation committees earlier this year, the final budget creates the Emerging Contaminant Monitoring Act. The Act require all public water systems to test for unregulated contaminants identified by the Department of Health that are known, or anticipated to be present in drinking water including PFOA, PFOS and 1,4-Dioxane. A new Drinking Water Quality Council is also established in the budget to review existing evidence, study contaminants of concern, and make recommendations to the Department of Health regarding drinking water safety, including state specific thresholds and public notice procedures.

Increased support for transportation infrastructure

The budget includes increases for transportation infrastructure. The budget maintains fairness in funding and a more equitable and regionally balanced transportation plan. An increase of nearly $1.7 billion over last year brings the total transportation funding to $29 billion, including $2 billion for the Thruway Authority. 

The budget includes:

    • An approximately $1.5 billion increase this year to accelerate road and bridge projects throughout the state;

    • $65 million increase for a total of $503 million this year and $2.4 billion over five years for the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Program (CHIPS), with the additional funding earmarked for Extreme Winter Recovery;

    • $50 million increase for the local BRIDGE NY program for a total of $150 million this year and $550 million over five years, including $70 million earmarked for culverts);

    • $20 million increase for a total of $104 million this year and $417 million over five years for non-MTA Downstate and Upstate transit systems capital; and

    • $10 million increase for a total of $27 million this year and $292 million over five years for aviation.

In addition, the budget includes: 

    • $4 million this year in operating aid for rural transit systems;

    • continued funding for the local PAVE NY program to help fix New York’s roads (total: $100 million this year; $500 million over five years); and

    • $352 million for rail freight over five years.

Continuing and expanding tax relief for New Yorkers

This year, more than $3.15 billion will be used to fund New York’s STAR and Enhanced STAR property tax programs, and changes were made to ensure the state’s STAR payments to taxpayers are made on time. To date, STAR and Enhanced STAR have delivered significant tax relief to millions of middle-class families and senior citizens statewide.

The Senate succeeded in blocking an Executive Budget proposal to cap the amount of savings property owners receive for STAR at this current year’s levels. As a result, the final budget saves local taxpayers an estimated $50 million this year and nearly $700 million over five years.

The 2017-18 State Budget fully funds another installment of property tax rebate checks, providing millions of homeowners with $453 million in direct tax relief through a check in the mail. When combined with the STAR and Enhanced STAR programs, these checks will bring total property tax relief in this year’s budget to $3.6 billion.

The budget includes $47 million in additional tax relief for working families’ child care expenses. The state’s Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit is expanded for taxpayers with incomes between $50,000 and $150,000 and the current cap on child care expenses would rise from $6,000 to a maximum of $9,000 (depending on the number of children) for families with up to five children.

Protecting the Middle Class Tax Cut

The Middle Class Income Tax Cut created by the Senate last year remained untouched in this budget. By 2025 when the tax cut is fully phased in, it will bring tax rates down to the lowest rate since 1948. It will provide an average savings – $700 per taxpayer per year – to individuals and tens of thousands of small businesses. The total annual savings will be $4.2 billion.

Planning for New York’s economic future                               

The enacted budget includes funding of more than $15 million for dozens of job training and workforce development initiatives. Gallivan also successfully advocated for apprenticeship programs to connect unemployed young adults with small and medium sized businesses struggling to fill middle-skill position.  

Highlights include:

    • Nearly $4 million for Workforce Development Institute (WDI) – a highly successful not-for-profit that works with businesses and the AFL-CIO to provide focused training of workers and for workforce transition support to help stop the outsourcing of jobs to other states.

    • $3 million for WDI’s Manufacturing Initiative;

    • $980,000 for the Chamber of Commerce On-the-Job Training Program; and

    • $600,000 for Building Trades Pre-Apprenticeship programs.

Growing New York’s agriculture from the ground up

Nearly $10 million was restored (for a total of $51 million) to fund initiatives not included in the executive budget for the states farmers. 

Dozens of programs -- investments in cutting-edge agricultural research, support for the next generation of family farmers, environmental stewardship, and protections for plant, animal, and public health – will be funded, with significant increases including:

    • $1.5 million (for a total of $1.9 million) for the Farm Viability Institute to help farmers become more profitable and to improve the long-term economic viability and sustainability of farms, the food system, and the communities which they serve;

    • $1 million (for a total of $9.3 million) for Agribusiness Child Development, to provide quality early childhood education and social services to farm workers and other eligible families;

    • $1 million (for a total of $5.4 million) for the Cornell Diagnostic Lab;

    • $516,000 (for a total of $1.2 million) for FarmNet, Farm Family Assistance; and

    • $300,000 (for a total of $842,000) to expand FFA.

Additionally, the Senate succeeded in including “Farm-to-Food-Bank” in the final budget after last year's legislation was vetoed. More fresh, New York-grown produce will be available to help feed the hungry by allowing farmers to claim a tax credit for produce and other farm product donations to food banks or other emergency food programs.

Protecting New Yorker’s health and safety

This year, the Senate’s Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction is continuing its work addressing the drug epidemic by securing $214 million in this year’s budget – a record-high level of funding. This will be used to strengthen prevention, treatment, recovery and education services across the state.  

The State Budget for 2017-18 reflects the Senate Republican Conference’s unwavering support for the heroic service men and women who have sacrificed so much on behalf of our nation. 

Veterans-related budget increases include:

    • $1 million in new funding for veteran-to-veteran support services run by Veterans Service Organizations;

    • $310,000 (total: $3.1 million) for the Joseph P. Dwyer Veteran Peer-to-Peer Program;

    • $250,000 increase (total: $500,000) for the Veterans Outreach Center in Monroe County;

    • $120,000 in new funding for Veterans of Foreign Wars NYS Chapter Field Service Operations; and

    • $10,000 (total: $50,000) for the Vietnam Veterans of America New York State Council. 

Other programs receiving funding include:

    • $500,000 for the NYS Defenders Association Veterans Defense Program;

    • $200,000 for Legal Services of the Hudson Valley Veterans and Military Families Advocacy Project;

    • $200,000 for Warrior Salute;

    • $100,000 for the Veterans Justice Project;

    • $100,000 for the SAGE Veterans Project;

    • $200,000 for Helmets-to-Hardhats; and

    • $25,000 for the Veterans Miracle Center.

The budget includes $500 million for the Health Care Facility Transformation Program to support capital improvements at hospitals, other health care facilities and community-based providers, and provides an opportunity for increased eligibility throughout the state. 

Additionally, the budget includes:

    • $24 million for cancer services;

    • $12 million for chronic disease prevention (including diabetes, asthma, and hypertension);

    • $26 million for Nutritional Information for Women, Infants and Children;

    • $27 million for maternal and child health programs, and also includes language to provide Medicaid coverage for donor breast milk to help prevent deadly complications faced by premature infants in neonatal ICUs;

    • $475,000 for women’s health initiatives;

    • $400,000 for funding to address Lyme and other tick-borne diseases through research, education, and prevention efforts;

    • $283,000 for the Adelphi Breast Cancer Support Program;

    • $8.5 million in additional funding of the Spinal Cord Injury Research Board;

    • $9 million for the Doctors Across New York Program; and

    • $1.3 million to support organ donation.

The budget boosts support for a wide array of programs and initiatives that serve seniors, including funding for the following:

    • $31 million for Community Services for the Elderly Program;

    • $27 million for the Wellness in Nutrition Program;

    • $27 million for Alzheimer’s and other dementia related programs;

    • $1.2 million for elder abuse prevention initiatives to protect vulnerable senior citizens from abuse;

    • $250,000 for Older Adults Technology Services;

    • $86,000 for the New York Foundation for Seniors Home Sharing and Respite; and

    • $32,000 for the Senior Action Council Hotline.

Despite the efforts of Gallivan and other members of the WNY Legislature Delegation, the budget does not include language to prevent the Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center in West Seneca from merging with the Buffalo Psychiatric Center.

“I am profoundly disappointed that we could not convince the Office of Mental Health that merging the Children’s Psychiatric Center with the Buffalo facility is a terrible idea,” Gallivan said. “There is no clinical reason for this move and I will continue to fight to stop this shortsighted and ill-advised plan.”

Gallivan introduced legislation, which would have required WNYCPC be maintained in Erie County as a separate and distinct entity, both organizationally and physically. 

Friday, April 7, 2017 at 4:38 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, news, crime, government, Warsaw.

The bill that is drawing contention within the New York State Assembly and has become a major obstacle in state budget negotiations has also drawn heavy criticism from local law enforcement and the District Attorney’s Office.

The Raise the Age of Criminal Responsibility – “raise the age” campaign, as it has been known – had been a longstanding priority for the Democratically held NYS Assembly. New York State and North Carolina are the only states in the union to view 16- and 17-year-old defendants as adults. However, New York also provides for Youthful Offender (YO) status to those in that age group as well. The YO designation pertains to those who have been charged with a crime when they were at least 16 years old but less than 19. The status is granted at sentencing and is meant to relieve eligible youth from the onus of having a criminal record.

In January 2015, Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined a proposal to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18. According to New York State Bar Association President Glenn Lau-Kee, raising the age of criminal responsibility will help all children to embark a more positive path to adulthood; providing troubled teenagers with support and guidance can help them turn around their lives. Wyoming County District Attorney Donald O’Geen holds the position that raising the age of criminal responsibility is both irresponsible and reckless.

“The Democratically held NYS Assembly wants to send all crimes, including serious felonies, committed by people 16 to 18 years of age into Family Court, where there will be no convictions and more important no accountability. In addition, there will be minimal, if any punishment, and very limited (if any) public access to or knowledge of the proceedings,” O’Geen said.

“The governor has put his own Raise the Age bill inside his budget, so that either he has to take it out prior to the budget being passed or the entire budget process may be held hostage over this one major policy issue. A bill or policy shift of this magnitude should never be attached to a budget. It should be voted on as a stand alone issue with debate and input from people who actually know the facts.”

According to a The New York Times article Tuesday, the Raise the Age bill passed, but with some stipulations. Although Republicans in the Senate agree with the broader outlines to divert many of that group to Family Court, contention grew about the kind of charges that would still be serious enough to warrant Criminal Court.

According to the article, a summary of the legislation agreed to by the Democratic leadership of the Assembly states all misdemeanor charges faced by 16- and 17-year-old offenders would be handled in Family Court. A new youth section of Criminal Court would handle nonviolent felony charges, with many of those cases eventually landing in Family Court. However, those cases in which a district attorney can prove “extraordinary circumstances” would be excluded. Additionally, juveniles would be segregated from adults in county jails beginning in late 2018. 

Although violent felony cases would remain in Criminal Court, they would be subject to a three-part test: whether a “deadly weapon” was used; whether the victim sustained “significant physical injury”; and whether the perpetrator engaged in criminal sexual conduct. Without one of those factors, violent felony cases could also be moved to Family Court. 

As of Wednesday morning, the measure was put back on the table after more draft language dealing with incarceration was added to the bill. 

“The public and media need to know that if this new major policy shift becomes law and the effect of it causes a severe increase in crime that will be owned by the Democrats,” O’Geen said. “Also, anyone voting for this new law is clearly not serious about fighting the heroin epidemic.

“This law will create a space for 16- or 17-year-old gang members and drug dealers to deal drugs without any fear of consequences. The legislature has created that space and without trying to stop the sale of the heroin you are never going to stop people from dying. 

“This also signals a clear message that the legislature continues to be soft on drug dealers as they continue to classify the sale of drugs that are killing people faster in Erie County than are born as nonviolent. Fighting the heroin epidemic requires treatment for the user and punishment for the dealer. Without an all-of-the-above approach it will not end and people will die. This is very disappointing and shortsighted.”

At this point, the issue is being negotiated and nobody knows what a final bill, if any, will look like. Currently the District Attorney’s Association of New York, and the Chiefs of Police and the New York State Sheriff’s associations are opposed to these proposals as they are deemed as a “threat to public safety.”

With implications that are far reaching, how does the Raise the Age bill impact other laws on the books like SORA (Sex Offender Registry Act) and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)? Under the current proposal, driving while intoxicated with no injuries would be decriminalized and go through Family Court, officials say.

“First, you have to understand that these proposed laws are a solution in search of a problem. Ninety-five percent of those arrested aged 16-17 do not end up with a criminal conviction or jail time,” O’Geen said. “This is because New York State already has many mechanisms to divert and sort out young offenders, including compassionate prosecutors and judges. The people on the other side of this issue would have you believe that 16/17-year-olds charged with nonviolent crimes are being thrown in prison and saddled with a conviction for the rest of their life. This is false and misleading.” 

During a recent address by Gov. Andrew Cuomo at the Central Synagogue in New York City, he said “86 percent of the 25,000 16- and 17-year-olds incarcerated have been accused of committing nonviolent crimes.” 

A report by the Commission on Youth Public Safety and Justice states in part: 

Weekend Detention Stays Pending Arraignment Adult system processing is currently structured to arraign adults over the weekend in order for the court to make decisions about releasing individuals pending trial. However, this kind of court access is not available in the juvenile detention setting outside of New York City. Instead, youth arrested and detained as juveniles must wait until Monday to see a Family Court judge if they are arrested after the Family Court closes on Friday afternoon. These days are spent in a detention setting despite the fact that the youth may be released once they have the opportunity to see a judge. Shifting 16- and 17-year-olds to a delinquency model without implementing weekend arraignment for Family Court cases would therefore leave these youth more subject to incarceration than they currently are. 

According to the Department of Corrections and Community Services (DOCCS) on Jan. 1, 2013 there were a total of 54,865 inmates under custody in New York State Correctional facilities. Of that total, 2,390 inmates were under 21 years old – equal to 4 percent of the total prison inmate population in the state. 

By way of comparison, those between 30 and 39 years old make up the largest inmate population – 15,206 incarcerated (27.7 percent), with those between 21 and 29 coming in at a close second – 15,106 (27.5 percent).

Approximately half of the inmates under custody – 25,442 or 46 percent – were from New York City, 6,228 or 11 percent were from suburban New York (Nassau, Rockland, Suffolk, and Westchester counties), and 13,243 or 24 percent were from Upstate counties with a population of 50,000 or more (Albany, Broome, Erie, Monroe, Oneida, Onondaga, Niagara, Rensselaer, and Schenectady counties). The rest of the inmates – 9,951 or 18 percent – were from the remaining counties.

Of those incarcerated, 35,29 inmates (64.3 percent) are in prison on violent felony charges, while 19,574 (35.6 percent) are convicted of coercive behavior, drug offenses, property and other crimes.

According to a New York State Commission of Correction report, as of March 30, 2016 there were 15,308 inmates in correctional facilities operated by counties. Additionally, 9,674 inmates are from NYC DOCCS (Department of Corrections & Community Services), which operates correctional facilities in the five burroughs – Bronx, Kings, New York, Queens, and Richmond; and 52,245 inmates were incarcerated in State Facilities (NYS DOCCS) in the remaining 57 counties – for a total of 77,227 inmates statewide.

By way of comparison, on the same date in 2006, the county inmate population was 16,640, NYC DOCS 13,661, and the remaining 57 counties housed 63,300 inmates – totaling 93,601 inmates statewide.

Across the state in 2016, there were a total of 24,623 arrests of those who were between 16 and 17 years old. Of those arrests, 17,250 were for misdemeanors, 3,930 for nonviolent felonies, and 3,445 for violent felonies.

As of Feb. 17, 2012 Wyoming County arrests showed 16-year-olds accounted for 10 misdemeanors, two nonviolent felonies and zero violent felonies. By 2016, they accounted for eight misdemeanors, three nonviolent felonies and two violent felonies. During that same time, 17-year-old accounted for (2012 arrests) 19 misdemeanors, three nonviolent felonies and four violent felonies. By 2016, 17-year-olds were arrested for 11 misdemeanors, one nonviolent felony and one violent felony. 

Since 2012, the total number of 16 and 17-year-olds arrested for those crimes decreased from 38 to 26 in the county.

The same report shows – across the state (in 2016) there were a total of 24,623 arrests of those who were between 16 and 17 years old. Of those arrests, 17,250 were for misdemeanors, 3,930 for nonviolent felonies, and 3,445 for violent felonies.

“Everyone in our jail has been committed there by a judge including 16- and 17-year-olds,” said Sheriff Greg Rudolph. “Last year (2016) we had 738 inmates in the jail, of those inmates, 12 were between 16 and 17 years old. It’s a very small population and I don’t think judges are committing 16- and 17-year-olds to jail on a regular basis. Judges take their age – the option of youthful offender status – into consideration upon arraignment. Not only that, they are like everyone else. They are represented by an attorney at arraignment, just like everyone else. They get due process, just like everybody else. I don’t see a big need to shift that. And when it comes to funding, who is going to pay all these transports, the new court or an addition to the current court? Who’s going to pay for all this?”

Anytime a juvenile younger than 15 years old has to be housed, they can to be house anywhere around the state, and oftentimes, the juvenile needs to come back to Family Court the following day. Rudolph says it takes two officers to take the accused to a proper facility, and the same to bring the accused back to court.

“It is an unfunded mandate and it’s being included in the budget process which is ridiculous,” Rudolph said. “This is a major policy shift for the state and shouldn’t be included in the budget process. It should be in a regular legislative session where it can be debated, and the pros and cons can be weighed, and come up with a solution that maybe the District Attorneys Association is looking at…I think there is a better way to do this than try pushing it through at the last minute in the budget.” 

The dozen 16- and 17-year-olds housed in the Wyoming County Jail last year were separated from the rest of the adult population, says Rudolph. The State Department of Corrections already mandates prisoners in that age group be housed in a separate portion of the jail than the adult population. While youth prisoners have already been housed separate to the adult general population, an executive order passed in December 2015, called for the removal of all minors from state prisons and into juvenile facilities.

Additionally, as of the same date, the governor offered executive pardons to New Yorkers convicted of nonviolent crimes at ages 16 and 17 who have been crime free for a minimum of 10 years since their offense. For individuals who receive this pardon, the New York State Office of Court Administration has stated that it will restrict public access to criminal history records, meaning that they will not be available to private employers, landlords or other companies that seek this information. For more information, click here

“We are already doing it (separating youthful inmates),” Rudolph said. “I don’t see a need why there should be a major change in the policy if we are already doing it. It’s not a matter of the system being broke.”

“In New York State, every first-time offender who is charged with a misdemeanor between the ages of 16 and 18 is granted youthful offender status automatically,” O’Geen said. “These cases are handled in criminal court but are done so in private. When the youth is granted this status his/her conviction is converted to a YO adjudication and the case is then sealed and they no longer have a conviction. Under the current law victims have a say and they are entitled to restitution while the defendants can face accountability with things like community service, counseling, testing, supervision, curfews and in rare cases some local county jail time.

“If a 16 to 18 year old is charged with and prosecuted with a felony, the YO status is still available but that is determined solely by the judge. I can tell you that the system already takes into account the fact that young adults sometimes make bad decisions and the system gives them every opportunity to be held accountable for their current acts without being punished forever.”

Many of the individuals may be in prison because a significant prior criminal or family court history or they may be in prison is because they were determined to be a major risk to the public, i.e. a seller of heroin or cocaine (even though the state assembly considers selling heroin to be a non-violent crime), officials say. 

“Ask the family members who have lost a loved one to a heroin overdose if selling heroin is a non-violent homicide,” O’Geen said. “There should be no such thing as a non-violent homicide in New York State.”

Anyone with any experience with Family Court knows sending thousands of additional criminal cases into Family Court is not going to solve anything, members of the DA’s Association say. They do not have the capacity for a “400 percent” increase in cases and it would require huge increases in funding. There are family court judges who are also against this proposal because they know they cannot handle the influx of cases. Since criminal prosecutors do not prosecute cases in family court there will be probation officers and other family court attorneys who will be tasked to take on these cases without the proper training and/or experience.

“The big thing is the fact that as a prosecutor, doing this 17 years, we continually go to training every year and are required to. We handle this (criminal cases) on a daily basis. We are experts in our field, just like those in Family Court are expert in theirs. With youth being sent over to Family Court, they will be handled by Family Court attorneys who know very little about criminal law, sex registration as it relates to SORA and the like. That’s the biggest structural issue with them going to Family Court.”

When a juvenile is arrested they meet with the Probation Department and the decision is made there whether the case will go to Family Court without any input from the victims, judges or prosecutors. Should the Raise the Age bill pass, the same would hold true for 16- and 17-year-olds. The DA says the proposed bill will have more of an impact on the state as a whole than here in Wyoming County.

“We don’t have a large population of 16- and -17-year-olds that commit felonies,” O’Geen said.

Some members of the DA’s association suggest an easier solution – raise the YO age from 19 to either 21-25. I personally support rising the YO age to 21,” O’Geen said. “This will cover more young adults who have that one time indiscretion, it keeps the cases in the criminal courts where they belong and it costs nothing to implement. This proposal also fulfills the promise to ‘raise the age’ so any political promises can be kept at least to some extent. If New York State made youthful offender treatment mandatory for all offenses say for example for anyone under the age of 21, but included a provision that if they get into more trouble the conviction is reinstated, it would save many youth from the onus of a conviction while not sacrificing the safety of our communities. There would be basically no cost and no possible downside, but a huge upside for both youthful offenders and the safety of communities.”

Some members of the DA’s association also support Adolescent Diversion Parts (ADPs). These are separate criminal court cases where the courts and prosecutors deal with the 16, 17 and 18 year olds based upon the needs and issues with that age group (similar in nature to Treatment Courts for addicts or Veteran Courts for veterans). These special courts may or may not be a good fit for all counties due to lack of staffing and resources but for some counties who currently have ADPs they are finding success with these programs.

“Even with the DA’s Office cut right out of it, we still have to run an investigation,” Rudolph said. “We still have to present an investigation as best we can, so instead of it going through the DA’s Office, it will go to the County Attorney’s Office and through Family Court that way. 

“When it comes to interviewing juveniles it does put more rules into place. You have to interview in a certain spot, the parents need to be notified right away…those types of things and can hinder an investigation and slow it down to a halt. When you are talking about a shoplifting or something like that, is it a big deal? No. But if you are talking something big in a school or something like that and you need to get on top of it right away, yes, it will have an impact.”

Under either the assembly proposal or the governor’s proposal, crime victims would be shut out of the process completely. In a recent case, Wyoming County had some youth damage local houses and cars with spray paint. They were handled in criminal court and given YO so their convictions were sealed and they were ordered to pay restitution. Under the proposed laws, the victims would have no chance of getting any restitution and they would have to bear the brunt of paying their deductible and worry about their insurance premiums rising. 

“In the hypothetical case where a 17 year old rapes a child under the age of 11, the victim or victim’s family (under the proposed laws) would have no right to be heard at sentencing. They would not be entitled to have a victim advocate to inform them of the processes and procedures. These victims would also be reliant on untrained family court personnel to bring them justice as the family court attorney’s usually are only experts in family law and not criminal law. It takes prosecutors years of training and experience to handle complicated violent crime cases. Then there is the issue of Sex Offender Registration and victim notification? Orders of Protection? This issue intertwines so many other ancillary issues within the criminal system it cannot and should not be negotiated by three people in a room.

“There are some very inexpensive solutions that would have a far greater impact on the issue of concern. If we could just stop the ego train and talk to those actually involved on the front lines they could learn so much and not make devastating mistakes for generations to come.

“Just because someone else…just because there are 40 people jumping off the bridge, should we go too when there’s nothing wrong than staying on the bridge?” O’Geen said. “The percentage is small, the number of people is small…I don’t think the system is broken, but again, we can only give the numbers for Wyoming County.

“The drug cartels and the like are certainly going to use these 16- and 17-year-olds to do their bidding because they can bean count and say ‘well we know you’ll be going to Family Court and you’re going to get compensated and there will be no risk.’ That… next to the current opioid issue? I don’t see how you can talk out both sides of your mouth when you say we’re going to get tough on this, when it’s just all talk. They aren’t doing anything, and then you get a policy like this and it goes in the opposite direction. This is clearly a solution in search of a problem.”

UPDATE 7:38 p.m.: With the passing of the state budget, the Raise the Age of Criminal Responsibility bill has also passed.

See related: Many of the Senate's top priorities reached in the state budget

Monday, March 27, 2017 at 6:03 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, announcements, government, mental health.

wnycpc_albany-1.jpg

Press release (photo submitted):

Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan (R-C-I, Elma) and Assemblyman Michael Kearns (D, West Seneca) are urging fellow lawmakers to prevent the Office of Mental Health from closing the Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center in West Seneca and moving young patients to the Buffalo Psychiatric Center. Gallivan and Kearns say the move would jeopardize child and adolescent care and safety. They want to resolve the four-year-old debate as part of the current state budget negotiations.    

“The Children’s Psychiatric Center in West Seneca (WNYCPC) is rated among the best in the nation in the treatment of children and teens in need of behavioral health services,” Gallivan said. “I don’t understand why the Office of Mental Health (OMH) insists on fixing something that is not broken. While the merger may save money, there appears to be no clinical reason to move these children to an adult facility and it isn’t fair to patients or their families.” 

Two recent attacks involving patients at the Buffalo facility have also raised concerns about safety.

“Hearing reports of a nurse at Buffalo Psychiatric Center being attacked is disturbing, especially as the governor and Office of Mental Health Commissioner Ann Sullivan continue to push to move the children at WNY Children’s Psychiatric Center in with the adults at Buffalo Psychiatric Center,” Kearns said.

“Why should we trust that the children from the Western New York Children Psychiatric Center will be safe at this facility, when employees at Buffalo Psychiatric Center aren’t even being kept safe? The evidence against this proposal to move these young, vulnerable patients to the Buffalo Psychiatric Center continues to mount and I urge Governor Cuomo, for the safety and well-being of these children, to put an end to this merger.”

Both Gallivan and Kearns have introduced legislation, which would require the OMH to maintain the WNY Children’s Psychiatric Center as a separate and distinct entity both organizationally and physically. Meanwhile, the Senate one house budget resolution and the Assembly one house budget resolution also include language that would keep the West Seneca facility open.

Over the past several years, former patients, family members of patients, workers, community activists and academics have pushed to keep the WNYCPC open. They argue the tranquil surrounding provided at the West Seneca campus is important for the children who are undergoing significant mental trauma and the families desperately trying to protect these children from danger.

Monday, March 27, 2017 at 5:07 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, crime, government, announcements, Sen. Gallivan.

Press release:

Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan (R-C-I, Elma) says the Senate has once again approved a bill that would require New York State to notify a local municipality when a sex offender is transferred from a state facility to a community program or residence. The Senate also passed the legislation (S.2132) in 2015 and 2016, but it failed in the Assembly.

The bill sponsored by Gallivan would amend the mental hygiene law to require the Commissioner of the Office of People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) to notify the chief executive officer of any municipality where a sex offender is transferred. The superintendent of schools in which the facility is located would also have to be notified.

"The state has an obligation to notify local leaders whenever the transfer of a potentially dangerous sex offender into a residential or community program occurs,” Gallivan said.  “Too often, community leaders learn of the transfer after the fact and don’t have adequate time to properly address public concerns and potential security issues.”

The legislation would require the commissioner of OPWDD to notify local officials no later than 10 calendar days prior to the transfer taking place.    

In the past, the state has placed developmentally disabled sex offenders at state-owned group homes in Western New York and across the state, catching many communities off guard and raising concerns about public safety.

The bill has been sent to the Assembly. 

Monday, March 27, 2017 at 5:02 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, crime, government, news, announcements.

Press release:

On a vote of 50-9, the Senate recently passed legislation which would heighten the punishment for anyone convicted of making a terroristic threat against a police officer. 

The bill (S-1984) would make it a Class C felony to make such threats against a law enforcement officer. Under current law, it is a Class D felony to make terroristic threats against any individual.    

“By the very nature of their work, police officers are frequently targets of these types of threats,” said Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan (R-C-I, Elma). “A police officer is a representative of the community which he or she serves and in order to deter these threats, a higher penalty for those who target law enforcement representatives is necessary.”

The legislation would amend the state’s penal law to create a new section establishing the crime of making a terroristic threat against a police officer. The Senate passed similar legislation in 2015 and 2016, but it failed in the State Assembly.

Monday, March 27, 2017 at 4:46 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, government, news, health.

This information was provided by the offices of Congressman Chris Collins'and Assemblyman David DiPietro:

Wyoming County has the lowest Medicaid liability in Western New York for fiscal year 2016 – 25.7 percent ($5,321,747) of the property tax levy. Erie County – 82.8 percent ($203,699,556) of the property tax levy – has the highest liability. 

The Collins-Faso amendment would save county governments billions of dollars, Congressman Chris Collins says.

Currently, New York State raises $7 billion from counties to fund its $27 billion Medicaid liability. Of that, $2.3 billion comes from outside of New York City, and would be subject to the amendment. In total, New York spends $60 billion per year on Medicaid. This amount of spending is second in the nation only to California, which is home to almost twice as many people as New York.

The following outlines the FY16 Medicaid liability for NY-27 counties:

    • Niagara: $44,152,519 (59.0% of the property tax levy)

    • Orleans: $8,074,102 (49.8% of the property tax levy)

    • Livingston: $9,064,064 (34.1% of the property tax levy)

    • Ontario: $16,033,295 (30.2% of the property tax levy)

    • Monroe: $175,851,749 (48.6% of the property tax levy)

    • Genesee: $9,403,509 (35% of the property tax levy)

    • NYS Total: $2.3 billion (44.3% of the county property tax levy)

"Governor (Andrew) Cuomo and his sidekick are using doomsday predictions to scare everyday New Yorkers into allowing Albany to continue taxing them to death,” Congressman Chris Collins said. “It's absolutely disgusting the governor would threaten the middle class with a tax increase, while holding a $14 billion taxpayer funded slush fund in his back pocket. As I have said before, if this governor can't find 1.5 percent to save in his budget, I am more than willing to find it for him."

New York spends 44 percent more per Medicaid beneficiary than the national average ($10,426 vs. $7,236), second only to Massachusetts in highest spending per full beneficiary in the nation. Additionally, while the state is home to only 6.5 percent of the national population, it accounts for 11 percent of total Medicaid spending. By passing Medicaid costs onto counties, New York State is not realizing the financial impact of its out-of-control Medicaid policy, causing more spending on the program. 

Collins says, the difference between the governor's proposal and the one introduced by him is that instead of saving hardworking taxpayer money, Cuomo's sole intention in forcing New York City to foot the bill to fund the Medicaid program was to “increase the size of his taxpayer funded slush fund.”

“For this governor to threaten to raise taxes, in the highest-taxed state in the nation, with the biggest burden on small businesses, with families fleeing for greener pastures, is absurd,” Assemblyman David DiPietro said. “We’re about to pass a budget somewhere north of $150 billion. He can’t find money for Medicaid in $150 billion because he simply doesn’t want to. Threatening the taxpayers over an issue he controls to get the attention of Washington is sad, and we deserve better.”  

DiPietro represents the 147th Assembly District, which covers all of Wyoming County and the southern portion of Erie County.

For more information visit: Medicaid Fact Sheet or NYS Medicaid Costs by County

Friday, March 17, 2017 at 9:27 pm

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget includes $120 million to continue the NY Parks 2020 initiative. Since the launch of NY Parks 2020 in 2012, State Parks has advanced more than 383 separate projects within 130 parks and historic sites to enhance, restore and repair public facilities – helping reverse decades of decline and neglect in our parks. 

Last year, New York state parks hosted an estimated 69.3 million visitors – a 6-percent increase over 2015 and a hike of 21 percent since 2011. Park attendance was boosted by major improvements to park facilities, the Connect Kids to Parks program, extending the swimming season after Labor Day, favorable weather, and more.  

Connect Kids to Parks enhances educational and recreational opportunities for schoolchildren and help promote parks and historic places. New York partnered with the National Park Service in 2016, to begin an initiative to offer all fourth-grade students and their families free day-use entry passes to state parks. The program also created a grant program to help transport schoolchildren to outdoor recreation and environmental education programs, and historic sites.

The governor’s executive budget proposal will double the state’s investment in the Connect Kids program through the Environmental Protection Fund. The fund provides free or low-cost transportation to connect schools in underserved communities with state parks. 

Parks will also expand the free or low-cost Learn-to-Swim program to all state park swimming facilities, which serves up to 5,000 youth annually. Additionally, in a partnership with the Office of Children & Families, State Parks will also expand the free Foster Family New Camper program. Approximately, 300 foster families and at-risk youth benefit from this program. 

Funding is still available for Connect Kids field trip transportation grant for the 2016-17 school year. Visit www.nysparks.com for an application and more information.

In an effort to make visiting state parks, well, effortless, a new Empire Pass Card is now being offered. This wallet-sized plastic card can be shared among family member, caregivers and more. While the Empire Pass costs $80 and allows card holders to take any vehicle to the park, the original pass is still available for $65 and must be affixed to a single vehicle.

Thursday, March 16, 2017 at 7:03 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, news, announcements, government, Sen. Gallivan.

Press release:

Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan (R-C- I, Elma) says the New York State Senate has passed a 2017-18 budget plan that creates more economic opportunity through targeted investments in infrastructure, tax reductions, and continued fiscal discipline. The Senate proposal continues a record of restrained state spending without new taxes. Additionally, it makes sensible and important changes to a number of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposals that should serve as a blueprint to a final, on-time budget.

“The Senate’s budget controls the size and cost of government while at the same time helping hardworking, middle class families and businesses,” Gallivan said. “The spending plan supports economic development, provides much needed tax relief, invests in education, promotes agriculture and provides more funding for roads and bridges. It also keeps the Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center in West Seneca.”

Reducing property taxes

The Senate’s budget proposal advances several measures to protect the significant savings provided by the School Tax Relief (STAR) program and would help small businesses save on their property taxes. 

The measures include:

    • Making small businesses with less than $350,000 in net business income and less than 20 employees eligible to receive the STAR benefit on their primary business property, saving $370 million when fully phased in;

    • Rejecting the executive budget proposal to cap the growth of the STAR benefit, saving taxpayers an estimated $272 million over the next three years alone;

    • Reversing changes made last year to the STAR Personal Income Tax Credit Program from reimbursements back to an up-front exemption effective for the 2018 – 2019 school year;

    • Addressing the significant delays of STAR payments by the state to taxpayers that occurred this year by requiring the state to postmark all advance payment STAR checks by Sept. 15, requiring the state to pay interest if they are mailed late, and reimbursing taxpayers for penalties or interest due to late school tax bill payments; and

    • Making permanent the state’s property tax cap.

Promoting economic development

The Senate budget rejects a number of onerous tax and fee increases proposed by Cuomo, including new DMV fees, new taxes on Internet purchases and a new surcharge on prepaid cell phones. In addition, to help avoid future tax increases, the Senate’s resolution imposes a statutory cap on state spending.

The Senate requires more transparency in the operations of Regional Economic Development Councils to further ensure accountability and prevent conflicts of interest in the awarding of billions of dollars in statewide economic development funds. The resolution rejects the rebranding of START-Up NY and closes the door to new applicants as of April 1, 2018, followed by an assessment to measure the program’s effectiveness.

Tax relief for businesses

In addition to creating the STAR benefit for small businesses, the Senate proposal would:

    • Expand the existing Personal Income Tax exemption for small businesses and small farms and reduce the Corporate Franchise Tax business income tax rate from 6.5 percent to 2.5 percent over a two-year period, saving a total of $466 million;

    • Increase the Manufacturer’s Real Property Tax Credit from 20 percent to 50 percent of any annual property taxes paid during the year for property owned or leased by the manufacturer and used during for manufacturing, saving businesses $150 million; and

    • Increase the MTA Payroll Tax exemption for sole proprietors from $50,000 to $250,000. 

Reforms to workers’ compensation 

The Senate has advanced a number of sensible workers’ compensation reforms, such as updates to duration caps and schedule loss of use awards. To improve the overall system, changes would be put into place to reduce frictional costs, streamline forms, improve independent medical examinations and require implementation of a prescription drug formulary by Dec. 31.

Expanding ride-sharing

The resolution provides ride-sharing companies with the ability to expand operations outside of New York City and enable new jobs to be created by offering more safe, reliable transportation options to communities and visitors Upstate and on Long Island.

Promoting workforce development

The Senate’s Task Force on Workforce Development is continuing to improve employee readiness; better meet the workforce needs of private sector employers; connect job seekers with potential employers; retrain those who have lost jobs; and help make New York State’s overall economy more robust, dynamic and resilient. 

This budget helps implement those goals by including:

    • $4 million for the Workforce Development Institute (WDI);

    • $3 million for the WDI Manufacturing Initiative;

    • $980,000 for the Chamber On-the-Job Training Program;

    • $600,000 for Statewide Youth Build programs; and

    • Increasing the current salary cap for BOCES to attract and retain qualified and skilled teachers for career and tech programs.

Keeps Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center (WNYCPC) in West Seneca

The Senate plan includes language advanced by Gallivan requiring WNYCPC be maintained in Erie County as a separate and distinct entity, both organizationally and physically. It also requires that $14 million be used to rehabilitate the existing West Seneca facility.

Supporting local infrastructure

Historic state investment of nearly $8 billion in clean water

The Senate makes an investment of nearly $8 billion to ensure all New Yorkers have access to clean, safe drinking water by addressing extensive water quality issues and infrastructure needs. 

The measures include:

    • Creation of a new $5 billion Clean Water Bond Act;

    • Support for the proposed $2 billion for clean water infrastructure;

    • Establishment of a new Drinking Water Quality Institute;

    • Creation of the Emerging Contamination Monitoring Act;

    • $300 million for the Environmental Protection Fund;

    • $175 million in continued funding for the Water Quality Infrastructure Investment Program; and

    • $275 million in continued funding for Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds.

Increased support for local roads and bridges

The budget proposal continues the Senate’s commitment to parity with the Department of Transportation and Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) capital plans, and ensures long-term regional balance in how transportation projects are funded. It helps local governments make necessary infrastructure improvements and create jobs by adding:

    • $91 million in non MTA capital, for a total $175.5 million;

    • $75 million for the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Program (CHIPS), for a total $513 million;

    • $50 million for the Local BRIDGE NY program, for a total $150 million;

    • $11.5 million to increase the reimbursement rate to cities for maintaining State highways;

    • $11.3 million in non-MTA downstate and upstate transit systems, and $5 million – including a $4 million executive budget restoration – for rural transportation systems; and

    • $27.5 million for the Aviation Capital Grant Program, for a total $40 million, and $2 million to provide the full state match to federal funds for aviation, totaling $6 million.

Improving higher education access and affordability

Enhanced Tuition Assistance Program (E-TAP):

The Senate improves upon the higher education proposals in the executive budget by making more middle-class families eligible for more financial aid, and giving students greater flexibility in school choice to promotes success.

The Senate invests $109 million in a new E-TAP initiative that helps students in public and independent schools by increasing the minimum TAP award from $500 to $3,000 and the maximum to $5,500. Income thresholds would also be increased to $100,000 in 2017-18; $110,000 in 2018-19; and $125,000 in 2019- 20. To be eligible for E-TAP, students would need a 3.0 grade-point average by the start of their junior year and take 30 credits over each academic year – which is a more flexible option for students unable to take a 15-credit semester as required in the executive budget proposal. 

The Senate budget proposal also includes:

    • $10 million to expand TAP to include part-time community college students; and

    • $2 million in new funding for Graduate TAP, to help students who are in combined undergraduate/graduate degree programs.

College affordability:

The Senate budget establishes a new Task Force on College Affordability; requires private colleges to develop college affordability plans with the goal of lowering costs; and creates the New York State Tax Advantage Student Loan Repayment Program. This innovative measure acts like a 401K for student debt – enabling employees to put up to $2,500 pre-tax each year into an account specifically set up by an employer to help pay student loan debt. The employer would then match the employee’s contribution and receive a tax deduction. 

The Senate also:

    • expands the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) scholarship to include private institutions;

    • increases the tuition tax credit to a maximum of $2,500 and the deduction to a maximum of $50,000 of allowable college tuition expenses, over 10 years;

    • provides $2 million in funding to support child care on SUNY and CUNY campuses to give access to students in need of care while pursuing a degree; and

    • provides a maintenance of effort provision that requires the state to fund SUNY and CUNY (State University of and City University of) at no less than the prior year’s funding level.

Making New York more affordable

Supporting fair wages for direct care professionals

The Senate provides $45 million annually to compensate direct care professionals for the important work they do to support individuals with disabilities. It addresses a lack of funding in the executive budget to help appropriately adjust salaries at nonprofits that employ workers who provide state services for individuals with autism, serious brain injury, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and other developmental disabilities.

Expanding the Child Care Tax Credit:

The Senate provides an additional $95 million on top of the executive budget’s child care proposals to help more low- and middle-income families qualify for the state’s child care tax credits. Families making less than $50,000 would have their credits increase by 50 percent over existing amounts. In addition, the current cap on child care expenses would rise from $6,000 to a maximum of $9,000 (depending on the number of children) for families with up to five children.

Increasing the safety and availability of child care

To help working parents find affordable child care, and give them peace of mind about their child’s safety, the Senate included several budget provisions to:

    •  Increase child care subsidy funding from traditional sources to maintain the current level of $806 million;

    • Add $5.3 million to restore child care facilitated enrollment programs that help increase access to child care financial assistance, especially for moderate income families, in Monroe, Erie, Onondaga and Oneida counties, the Capital District, and New York City;

    • Require the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) to conduct a comprehensive study of the availability of child care for low-income working parents in the State; and

    •  Enhance the safety of child day care programs by giving OCFS greater ability to suspend or limit a license or registration to operate when public health or safety is at risk and to assess fines for violations.

This legislation also creates a comprehensive online registry of child care providers in the State that will include inspection and violation history for each.

Savings on Retirement Income:

To help more seniors save money and choose to stay in New York during retirement, the Senate increases the private pension and retirement income exclusion from $20,000 to $40,000 for single taxpayers and to $80,000 for married taxpayers, over three years. This would be the first increase to the exempt amount of private pensions and retirement since 1981 and save retirees approximately $315 million.

Supporting learning opportunities for all children

Significant education funding increases

The Senate’s education budget includes a five percent increase in school aid funding over last year, for a total of $1.2 billion, bringing the total investment in schools to a record level of $25.4 billion. 

Other highlights include:

    • Doubling the governor’s Foundation Aid proposal with $478 million in additional funding, for a total increase of more than $906 million since 2016-17;

    •  Rejecting the executive budget’s changes to the Foundation Aid formula and instead provides flexible operating aid to districts for operating expenses, which may include creation or expansion of dual language programs, after school programs, mental health services, and personnel within schools;

    • Removing a cap on charter schools and placing surrendered charters back into the pool of eligible charters;

    • Increasing facilities funding for New York City charter schools;

    • Providing statewide building aid for charters;

    • Including significant funding increases over the executive budget for non-public schools: an additional $34 million for reimbursable security costs; $15 million for non-public school safety grants;

    • increasing by $7 million above the executive budget proposal for mandated services aid; $25 million for non-public school STEM programs; $3 million to expand eligibility for STEM college scholarships to students at non-public schools; and $7.7 million for non-public school immunization compliance.

Protecting public health

Investments in battling substance abuse

The Senate’s budget proposal includes $206 million for the state’s heroin and opioid-related initiatives. This is an increase of $32 million over last year’s enacted budget, and above the approximately $200 million announced in the executive budget.

The Senate would also expand upon an initiative first proposed as a recommendation by the Senate’s Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction to help teens battling substance abuse. The measure increases the proposed number of Recovery High Schools from two to three – enabling more youth to find a secure learning environment to help them on their way to overcoming addiction.

Transforming health care delivery statewide

The Senate includes $300 million above the executive budget’s proposal for a total of $800 million for the Health Care Facility Transformation Program. The funding is included subject to additional details to be further outlined in the budget process to ensure appropriate regional disbursement, and appropriate disbursement among community based providers and all facilities. Further, before making the allocation, the remaining capital from last year’s budget of $195 million should be awarded.

Promoting agriculture

Restoring $12 million in agriculture support

The Senate commits significant resources to promoting and supporting agriculture in the state, including $12 million in restorations to more than 30 programs throughout the state that were cut in the executive budget. 

In addition, the budget resolution:

    • Makes the Investment Tax Credit refundable for farmers.

    • Enacts the Farm-to-Food Bank proposal that allows farmers to claim a tax credit to for produce and other farm product donations to food banks or other emergency food programs.

    • Modifies the executive proposal for state fair funding to include $10 million for local fair capital costs;

    • Adds $5 million for a competitive grant program for animal shelters; and

    • Doubles the Farm Workforce Retention Credit Upstate and further increase the credit for farms that are located in Nassau, Suffolk, or Westchester counties due to the accelerated minimum wage schedule in those counties.

Supporting veterans

The Senate budget includes a number of measures to provide valuable assistance and support to New York’s veterans, including:

    • $3.2 million for the Joseph P. Dwyer Veteran Peer to Peer Program;

    • $1 million to implement a veterans treatment court peer-to-peer service grant program;

    • $700,000 for the New York State Defenders’ Association Veterans’ Defense Program;

    • $400,000 for the NLP Research and Recognition Project for PTSD research treatments;

    • $350,000 for Legal Services of the Hudson Valley’s Veterans and Military Families Advocacy project;

    • $100,000 to expand Legal Services of the Hudson Valley’s Veterans and Military Families Advocacy project into Westchester County;

    • $250,000 for Nassau Suffolk Law Services Committee’s Veterans’ Rights Project;

    • $250,000 in additional funding for the Veterans Outreach Center in Monroe County; and

    • $300,000 for Warrior Salute.

Protecting seniors

The Senate restores cuts and adds additional resources to help seniors continue to receive long-term services and supports, such as home care, transportation and meals, and initiatives to prevent elder abuse.

Measures include:

    • Adding $5 million for the Community Services for the Elderly Program (CSE) for transportation, case management and other supports;

    • Restoring $3.35 million in the executive budget for the New York Connects program that provides free comprehensive services and supports for seniors and caregivers;

    • Providing $10 million to establish a statewide central register of elder abuse and maltreatment;

    • Restoring $700,000 for the establishment of multidisciplinary investigative teams for reports of suspected elder abuse or maltreatment, as well as including legislation that creates those teams; and

    • Adding $49,000 for a total of $951,000 for the Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs) and/or Neighborhood NORCs.

Thursday, March 16, 2017 at 6:00 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, news, announcements, government.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) released the following statement after President Donald Trump unveiled his fiscal year 2018 budget request.

“President Trump’s budget delivered a clear vision for the role the federal government should play,” Collins said. “It demonstrates that president Trump is committed to keeping the promises he made to the American people. He will rebuild our military. The budget’s $54 billion increase in defense spending is much needed, and I fully support the increase in military funding. Additionally, president Trump promised to secure our borders, and this budget lays the groundwork for building a wall and taking the necessary steps to ensure our nation’s border security.

“However, I have several concerns about significant cuts to local programs, which I believe go too far. I worked for more than two years to help write and pass the 21st Century Cures Initiative, and I fully believe that the funding guidelines established in that legislation must be followed. The $5.8 billion cut to NIH (National Institute of Health) is drastic. I will do whatever I can to ensure that the Appropriations Committee recognizes how crucial medical research is to Western New York and the millions of Americans whose lives could be saved with better medical research.

“The Great Lakes are a crucial part of Western New York’s economy. I have always fought to protect them and have voted to increase funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at every opportunity. I will do the same this time around. Western New Yorkers can rest assured I will be fighting tooth and nail to restore the program’s funding.

“Agriculture plays a significant role in Western New York’s economy. This budget eliminates the Water and Wastewater loan and grant program, which helps rural areas alleviate the financial burden of maintaining wastewater programs. I have always fought hard to support this program and this year will be no different.

“Over the next few months, I will continue to evaluate this budget. Ultimately, it is up to the Appropriations Committee to fund these programs and I will be strongly advocating for Western New York’s best interests.”

Tuesday, March 14, 2017 at 10:20 am

Press release:

Senate Republicans recently released a 2017-18 state budget proposal that provides $45 million annually to compensate direct care professionals for the important work they do to support individuals with disabilities. The proposal addresses a lack of funding in the executive budget to help appropriately adjust salaries at not-for-profits that employ workers who provide state services for individuals with autism, serious brain injury, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and other developmental disabilities.

"Direct care professionals deserve to be fairly compensated for the crucial services they provide to individuals with developmental disabilities,” said Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan (R-C-I, Elma). “Families rely on these highly trained workers to assist their loved ones on a daily basis and we must do all we can to reduce the high turnover rate within the profession and ensure that adequate staff is in place to provide proper care."  

Currently, many direct service professionals (DSPs) earn an average of $10-$13 per hour – just above the state’s minimum wage. Last year, the state implemented minimum wage increases that did not provide funding to account for the “compression factor.” The compression factor is the need to increase the salaries for more experienced DSPs and supervisors in order to maintain the current salary gap with minimum wage workers. Without new funding provided to the DSP employers providing services on behalf of the state, the salary gap will compound the existing high turnover rate among those providing these critical services. This may lead to significantly increased vacancies as qualified individuals seek less strenuous minimum wage work.  

The Senate’s proposal provides $11.25 million in funding to help implement wage increases in the current year’s budget. Starting in 2017-18, $45 million would be provided annually to further ensure fair wages for this sector and prevent negative impacts on developmentally disabled services.

The Senate’s one-house budget will be advanced and approved this week, followed by the start of open, public conference committees to iron out differences that exist between the Senate and Assembly plans.

A new state budget is scheduled to take effect April 1.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017 at 10:03 am

The Wyoming County Government Center is “turning green” for the month of March to celebrate the Girl Scouts, the 4-H program and cookie sales, and Wyoming County’s biggest producer – agriculture.

While the color green is most often associated with Saint Patrick’s Day when March rolls around, these organizations allude to the “luck of the Irish” as well. Subsequently, the Wyoming County Board of Supervisors has proclaimed March 2017 to be Girl Scout and Agriculture month – March 21 is National Agriculture Day and March 12 signifies the inception of the first Girl Scout troop in the United States.

This month, the Girl Scouts celebrate not only 105 years as an organization but also 100 years of their most successful fundraising program – the annual cookie sale.

The Girl Scout program was founded by Juliette Gordon “Daisy” Low, with the help of Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scouting movement. Low believed in the power of every girl. 

Low had joined the Girl Guide movement while in Scotland and in 1911 formed a group of Girl Guides while there. When she returned to the United States in 1912, she established the first American Girl Guide troop in Savannah, Ga.

It wasn’t until 1915 that the United States’ Girl Guides became known as the Girl Scouts. 

Modeling the program after the Boy Scouts, she was inspired by its stress of military preparedness and having fun, she encouraged the girls to become self-sufficient. 

While in Scotland, the group learned how to spin wool and care for livestock. She also taught them knot tying, map reading, kitting cooking and first aid. With the help of her friends in the military the girls also learned drilling, signaling and camping.

When she brought the program to the United States, she spread the movement as a way to help girls learn practical skills and build character. 

Although Low died in Savannah on Jan. 17, 1927, her vision lives on in the 1.9 million girls and 800,000 volunteer that continue the Girl Scouts worldwide.

The 4-H programs are based in science, healthy living and citizenship. It is backed by a network of 100 public universities and a community of 4-H volunteers and professionals. 

Through hands-on learning, youth build not only confidence, creativity and curiosity, but also life skills such as leadership and resiliency.

Grounded in the belief that kids learn best by doing for more than 100 years, 4-H has become the nation’s largest youth development organization. 

In the late 1800s, researchers noticed that young people were more open to new thinking in agricultural practices than their adult counterparts. In this way, it was the younger generations that introduced new agriculture technology to communities.

Today, 4-H’ers tackle issues such as global food security, climate change, as well as animal sciences, robotics, environmental protection and computer science to take on the challenges of the 21st century.

The program empowers the youngsters to be well-informed citizens who are actively engaged in their communities.

The month of March also signifies the start of its annual cookie sale. From March 7 through 21, cookies will be on sale.

“This is Wyoming County’s annual fundraiser that helps support programming in the county,” said 4-H educator Holly Harwood. “Proceeds from the sale allow youth to earn camperships at Wyomoco supports educational opportunities throughout the year, supports supplemental project and teaching materials, scholarships and more.”

Harwood says its these opportunities allow the youth to travel outside the county and the state to see the different careers available to them in agriculture, as well as meet other kids who are of similar mindset. It also allows kids to “build friendships that last a lifetime.”

And of course, one cannot travel about in Wyoming County without taking note of the rolling hills dotted with cows, corn, and other crops. These crops make the county number one in the production of milk, potatoes, hay, honey, and corn silage in New York State.

The county boasts 1.1 billion pounds of milk produced annually – 129.5 million gallons, 713 farms and 230,000 acres of cultivated farmland. The greens and golds of the county’s landscape is in large part due to 60 percent of its land being dedicated to farming. 

The economic vitality of Wyoming County is dependent on the food and fiber products agriculture plays a role in. Additionally, the county’s strong agribusiness ensures the maintenance of a strong economy.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017 at 5:10 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, news, Congressman Collins, government.

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) has released the following statement after President Donald Trump's address to Congress:

"Americans across the country tonight (Feb. 28) witnessed a leader committed to restoring American greatness," Collins said. "This past November, voters elected a change agent.

"In his first 40 days in office, President Trump is already delivering the results Americans, especially those in my district of Western New York, have demanded. Whether it's fighting to return American jobs stolen by countries like Mexico and China, or securing our porous borders, President Trump has shown the world he is a president of action.

"If we are going to restore the hope of the American Dream for our children and grandchildren, tough choices need to be made. Unlike our last president, President Trump acknowledged that reality, and outlined a clear vision for us to overcome the challenges we will face. We are going to fight for the American worker, respect the rule of law, and harness the endless potential all Americans possess.

"I look forward to President Trump implementing the change Western New Yorkers voted for, and will continue to fight here in Congress for policies that improve the lives of my constituents."

Thursday, February 16, 2017 at 4:36 pm

Press release:

Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan, (R-C-I, Elma) says $3 million in state funding will help eligible municipalities and rural electricity cooperatives purchase electric vehicles for their municipal use fleets. The program is part of the New York Power Authority’s Municipal Electric-Drive Vehicle Program, which provides financial assistance to facilitate the replacement of less fuel-efficient vehicles.

“This funding will help towns and villages purchase electric and hybrid vehicles that are more fuel efficient and promote a cleaner environment,” Gallivan said. “The state’s financial support allows municipalities to participate in this important initiative and makes the program affordable to more communities.”

In Senate District 59, the villages of Arcade, Castile, Churchville, Silver Springs, and Springville are eligible to participate in the Municipal Electric-Drive Vehicle Program.
Several types of electric and hybrid vehicles are offered for purchase under the program, including passenger cars, pickup trucks, off-road specialty vehicles and heavy-duty utility bucket trucks. 

Municipalities and rural electric cooperatives that currently receive low-cost hydropower from the New York Power Authority are eligible to participate in this program. The funding builds on $5 million previously distributed under this program that has helped put 61 clean vehicles into service in 24 towns and villages across the state.

New York Power Authority's Municipal Electric-Drive Vehicle program works by providing zero-interest financing. The funds made available for the purchase of these vehicles are recovered over the course of three years.

New York Power Authority serves 47 municipal and four rural electric cooperative utility systems around the state, providing them with low-cost hydropower to help meet the electricity needs of their residents and businesses.

Thursday, February 16, 2017 at 4:27 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, government, taxes, news.

Press release:

On Monday, the Senate approved legislation to compensate property taxpayers who are owed money by the state after last year’s changes to the School Tax Relief (STAR) program. The bill (S3505) cosponsored by Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan, (R-C-I, Elma), enables taxpayers who have applied for STAR but who do not receive accurate reimbursement payments from the state in a timely fashion to be paid interest for each day their check is late.

“Delays in issuing checks through the STAR program are unacceptable and have left far too many homeowners frustrated,” Gallivan said. “The state and the Department of Taxation and Finance must work to correct these delays as soon as possible and ensure that hardworking taxpayers receive the rebate they are due.” 

Since its enactment, the original STAR program has provided almost $60 billion in property tax relief to eligible senior and non-senior homeowners. This year alone, total STAR benefits to eligible recipients are estimated to be almost $3.4 billion.

Last year’s budget changed the current STAR program by phasing out direct payments to school districts on behalf of eligible homeowners. It converted the exemptions into a refundable property-tax credit for new homeowners. The conversion applied to people who purchased their primary residence after the 2015 STAR application deadline or did not apply for the exemption by the 2015 STAR application deadline.

The credit was paid in the form of checks that were supposed to have arrived in the mail by Sept. 30. However, multiple reports and many constituent complaints indicate that numerous checks arrived late or with the wrong amount of money. The Senate estimates the average basic STAR benefit is $840 per eligible homeowner and the average senior STAR benefit is $1,555. Many property owners need that money to pay their taxes on time.

This legislation would require STAR checks to be postmarked by Sept. 15 to allow taxpayers adequate time to pay their school tax bills, and require added interest for any late payment penalty imposed by a school district plus interest of 3 percent annually for checks postmarked after Sept. 15.

The bill has been sent to the Assembly.

Monday, February 6, 2017 at 5:40 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, news, announcements, government.

A comprehensive bill to bring ride-sharing to upstate New York communities has been approved by the Senate. The bill (S4159) provides the framework for ride-sharing companies to expand operations outside of New York City. It will also enable new jobs to be created by offering safe, reliable transportation options to upstate residents and visitors.

“It is simply unacceptable that ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft are not available in Western New York and other upstate communities,” said Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan, (R-C-I, Elma).

“This legislation will create jobs and provide more transportation options for residents and visitors while generating funds to improve our roads and bridges. I urge the Assembly and the governor to act on this bill and end the unfair treatment of Upstate New York when it comes to ride-sharing services.” 

This Senate bill differs from the executive budget proposal by significantly cutting the taxes to be paid by ride-share customers to make it more attractive for businesses to operate here. While the budget includes a tax of 5.5 percent on rides that begin outside of New York City, the Senate’s measure cuts that tax to 2 percent. Additionally, it does not subject rides to the 4-percent state sales tax. That new revenue would go directly toward infrastructure improvements for roads, bridges, and county transit needs.

The measure includes important protections for both drivers and consumers as part of the regulatory framework authorizing Transportation Network companies (TNC) like Uber and Lyft to operate in Upstate communities. It requires criminal and driving history background checks, passenger notifications of driver information and trip charges, and the adoption of nondiscrimination and zero-tolerance drug and alcohol policies. 

The bill also creates a new TNC Accessibility Task Force to identify and address barriers to and opportunities for greater access for New Yorkers of all abilities. It also includes TNC drivers in workers’ compensation insurance offered through the existing Black Car Fund, among other provisions.

The bill will be sent to the Assembly.

Friday, February 3, 2017 at 12:42 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, announcements, news, Sen. Gallivan, government.

Press release

Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan, (R-C-I, Elma) issued the 2016 report of the New York State Senate Standing Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Correction.  

Gallivan serves as chairman of the committee, which has legislative oversight of proposals pertaining to Correction, Penal and Executive Laws. In 2016, the committee reviewed a total of 57 bills and approved the nomination of Lt. Col. George P. Beach II as superintendent of the New York State Police. 

“One of the most important responsibilities of government is to help ensure the safety of our citizens and our communities,” said Gallivan, a former State Trooper and Sheriff of Erie County.  “I want to thank the members of the committee for their work in reviewing legislation dealing with various aspects of our criminal justice system.” 

Of the 57 bills reported to the committee, 13 passed both the Senate and Assembly, and eight were signed into law.  

These include:

    • Legislation requiring the Division of Criminal Justice Services to notify local law enforcement within 48 hours of learning that a convicted sex offender has had a change of address;

    • Legislation allowing prior statements made by crime victims to be provided to the Board of Parole for consideration at each board appearance.  The law protects victims from reliving such a traumatic experience every time a parole hearing is held; and

    • Legislation ensuring due process of inmates who require a translator at parole board hearings. 

Also during the 2016 session, the committee approved the nomination of Beach as the 15th superintendent of the New York State Police. He now commands more than 5,000 troopers, investigators and civilian support staff who provide policing and public safety services to New Yorkers and other police agencies across the state. 

 A full copy of the committee report is available here

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