Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
“I applaud this decision by the Supreme Court to uphold the federally protected right of every American to keep and bear arms. I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and I am glad to see that it cannot be infringed upon by state and local governments,” said Owens.
Congressman Owens is a member of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus and recently signed on to a bipartisan amicus curiae brief urging the Supreme Court to overturn Chicago’s unconstitutional ban on firearms.
Although the budget process may have taken longer than any of us would have liked, it would have been unthinkable to not fight for a final budget that did not address the needs, values, and priorities of our region.
Working together, we were able to do just that by reprioritizing and reconfiguring the Governor's proposed cuts and reductions in spending.
It is unfortunate the Governor has chosen to veto our proposal, as we found alternatives to some of the most devastating cuts.
Rather than accept the entirety of the proposed education cuts, we were able to restore $600 million in funding to our state's public schools. These funds would keep teachers in classrooms and require all but the highest needs districts to reduce their property tax levies.
By reprioritizing, we made it possible to restore $700 million to healthcare and prevent nearly $47 million in Medicaid cuts while at the same time rejecting new taxes on hospitals and nursing homes.
Despite the Governor’s veto of critical education and healthcare priorities, we were successful in blocking his taxes on hospitals, nursing homes, and sugared beverages, We took the long road to the better decisions for Upstate children, families, agriculture.
I remain hopeful we can find common ground with the Governor.”
Friday, June 25, 2010
The North Country Democrat just found out that the New York State Independence Party has backed Brian McGrath to represent them on the ballot for the 122nd Assembly District. Brian's vision and experience is something that stood out to the Independence Party.
Brian understands that it's not the job of Government to create jobs but to foster an environment that creates jobs. Brian wants to bring that approach to Albany.
Brian recently told the North Country Democrat that "Families are hurting and they need relief. Taxes are way too high and government needs to start giving us a budget that reflects the desperate situation of our state".
Brian McGrath is expected to formally announce the kick off to his campaign this Saturday June 26th at the Lowville Elks Club at noon. Space is tight so please come early and show your support for this new voice for the North Country.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Better Access to Care and Tax Relief
Legislation (S.2056b) in that package also builds on the previously established statewide Amber Alert system used by law enforcement to alert the public to missing children. This will allow information to reach police officers sooner aiding in locating vulnerable adults who have wandered away from their homes.
The Senate passed 12 bills last week to benefit seniors. The package includes legislation which provides for increased absentee voting options in nursing homes, authorizes the Office of Children and Family Services, in cooperation with the Office of the Aging, to track and report on the incidence of elder abuse, and extends the deadline for seniors to apply for property tax exemption.
“This new tax is not likely to generate the amount of revenue that is projected and is likely to hurt small businesses and burden many in our working class. The worst part about the tax is the additional dollars will not be used for tobacco cessation or prevention programs.
“Logistically and practically, these tax bills have too many problems and do nothing to address addiction. There are also concerns that other provisions are illegal and may invite litigation. This is not a solution to our states deficit.”
I have an easy answer this week - get as many friends, family members and children as you can to attend the official campaign kick-off event at the Lowville Elks Lodge on Saturday from 12-2 pm. The event is open to the public, there will be free food, music and entertainment (including a renowned balloon artist to entertain kids). Republican, Democrat, Independent, doesn't matter, all are welcome and the more the merrier!
When: Saturday June 26th from 12-2 pm
Where: Lowville Elks Lodge 5600 Shady Avenue, Lowville, NY 13367
What: Campaign kick-off, free food, music and entertainment - open to the public
Why: Because we need to reform our state government, lower taxes and turn the North Country around!
Thanks for spreading the word!
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Here's a word from Paul Simmons
Saturday evening the JCDC spent the day with Assemblywoman Addie Russell watching a great game of baseball and scooping ice cream for children from across the region. Addie's scooping abilities were put to the test and at last count several hundred people walking away with not only a cone in there hands but a smile on their faces.
We want to especially thank Paul Simmons and the Watertown Wizards Base Ball team for being so generous. It was a great evening at the Duffy dome. One of the best features of this Collegiate league is the family atmosphere. It's something every family in Jefferson County should experience first hand. Especially the new sports deck along the 3rd bast line. Check out there schedule by clicking HERE. Oh and GO WIZARDS!!!
Saturday, June 19, 2010
State Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine today announced that an agreement has been reached providing for the full and continued operation of Ogdensburg Correctional Facility and Moriah Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility. A letter will be sent by the Department of Corrections rescinding the notice of closure, reflecting the agreement finalized this week.
“We have reached an agreement with the Governor to keep both Ogdensburg Correctional and Moriah Shock open,” Sen. Aubertine said. “As I’ve said all along, working together we would get this done. This letter will provide for the full and continued operation of these facilities. I want to thank Governor Paterson for listening to the people, giving us the opportunity to present our case and agreeing to take this proposal out of the budget process.”
The local Ogdensburg Correctional Facility Task Force, headed by St. Lawrence Newspapers Publisher Chuck Kelly, worked closely with Sen. Aubertine, including through regular phone calls between Mr. Kelly and the Senator, to keep OCF open. A staff member attended every meeting and the Senator attended several events, including a meeting of hundreds to gear up for the fight, a rally of thousands on the steps of Ogdensburg City Hall to show support, and a rally of hundreds who descended on the Capitol in Albany wearing unmistakable bright orange shirts to work with Sen. Aubertine. On that Albany trip, the Senator arranged a meeting with the Governor’s office and Commissioner Fischer, who later made his own trip to see OCF for himself.
“The community involvement has been remarkable and like no movement I’ve seen,” Sen. Aubertine said. “Whether by rallying thousands people in Albany, by sending hundreds by busload to Albany with binders detailing every reason to keep OCF open, or by sending thank you cards to the lawmakers who have supported our cause, the people of Ogdensburg have left no stone unturned in their efforts to save these jobs and the hundreds more the facility supports in this community. This has always been about standing up for our friends and neighbors who make up this community, and ensuring our friends and relatives at other prisons have the opportunity some day to transfer back home.”
Moriah Shock in Minneville employs 102 people and has been part of an increasing effort to use alternative incarceration techniques to rehabilitate prisoners. The facility has been run at about 85 percent of its 200 staffed bed capacity.
Official Campaign Kick-off Event
The momentum and excitement to bring real reform to the broken and dysfunctional New York State legislature is growing by the day, but we need to keep this going! Please consider joining this movement by making a small or large donation to the McGrath for the North Country campaign fund by visiting the official website at http://www.mcgrathforassembly.com/. Every dollar, whether it be $5, $10, $25, $250 or more makes a big difference! As I will explain further at my official campaign kick-off event next Saturday, I am committed to bringing real reform and fresh ideas and energy to our state government. Help me by making an online donation today. Of course, also please come help me officially kick-off our campaign at the Lowville Elks Lodge next Saturday, June 26th from 12-2 pm. The event is open to the public and kids are welcome as Certified Master Balloon Artist Daryl Baldwin will be on hand to entertain young and old alike and there will be plenty of free food!
Have a great Father's Day weekend and see you next Saturday!
“This just demonstrates that a small community like ours can unite to make our voices heard to affect and shape budget negotiations,” Assemblywoman Russell said. “Today I am so proud to announce that all of our hard work has finally paid off, and OCF will remain open, protecting the 287 jobs at the facility. Whether you are the officer worried about a downstate transfer, or a store owner worried about having 287 less families patronizing your business, we are all fighting to ensure the stability of our communities, and to ensure families can remain here in the community they love. I extend my thanks and congratulations to all of those who have helped in this effort.”
Russell also noted the economic development budget bill includes a $1 million small business revolving loan fund created from NYPA funds dedicated specifically to St. Lawrence and Jefferson Counties. “It is only natural St. Lawrence and Jefferson County businesses benefit from being host to NYPA,” Russell said. “This is the access to capital that our small businesses need to make it through this recession.”
The bills also take significant gap closing measures by cutting millions in state spending as well as achieving $9 million in annual savings by mergers and consolidations to deliver essential services at a lower cost to taxpayers.
“I am committed to putting the state back on sound fiscal footing,” Russell said. “The Assembly has made smart, targeted cuts as well as consolidations where it makes sense, and where it will not affect the services we provide.”
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
OSWEGO, NY (wrvo) - Upstate Medical University is looking at ways to bring more doctors and nurses to rural areas, like the Mohawk Valley.
A bill in the state legislature calls on Upstate to study the issue.
The bill wouldn't provide any money for the study, but Upstate President Dr. David Smith said its passage is still important.
"I think this is an acknowledgement of the problem as much as anything else. It validates that we have an issue," said Dr. Smith.
Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito sponsored the bill. She said the measure aims to help reverse the trend of doctors leaving sparsely populated regions.
"More and more physicians and health professionals are choosing to practice in large cities rather than small communities," said Destitio in a statement.
She says the number of active physicians in the Mohawk Valley has declined by 8% during the past five years.
The findings of the study would have to be presented to the governor, state Legislature, and the SUNY Board of Trustees by January, 2011.
Assembly Democrats William B. Magnarelli and Al Stirpe from the Syracuse area, along with Addie J. Russell from the North Country sponsored the bill.
the measure now heads to the state Senate.
See more from WRVO by clicking HERE
Albany, NY – After nearly 40 years, an Albany navy vet finally received the war medals he deserved. U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand helped secure the medals, which arrived just in time for this week’s Flag Day ceremony at South Mall Towers, where an Albany police officer and Navy veteran Eric Sprague proudly presented the honors to the 63 year-old soldier. The Albany resident, who wore the same flight suit he donned during his Vietnam-era service, received the National Defense Service Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation Ribbon, Navy discharge button and Meritorious Unit Commendation citation.
Senator Gillibrand said, “These medals represent a small token of appreciation for our brave men and women who have shown heroism, sacrifice, and valor in their service to our great country. I thank Mr. Barrett for his years of service to protect our freedom and hope these medals will bring him closure.”
Mr. Barrett said, “I am thrilled that I finally received these medals. It made my day, if not my life. These medals remind me of the veterans who proudly served and risked their lives for our country. I thank Senator Gillibrand for securing these medals, which gives me great honor.”
In 1968, John E. Barrett enlisted in the military where he was trained in the French language and in cryptology special communications, intercepting top-secret French intelligence in Spain and Morocco during air combat and flying aboard EA-3B Skywarrior – a double-engine jet bomber designed for electronic warfare. He joined the active reserve duty in 1972 and was honorably discharged in 1974.
After Mr. Barrett made many attempts to obtain his medals to no avail, he contacted Senator Gillibrand’s office for help. Senator Gillibrand’s office reached out to the Department of Navy and secured the medals, which finally arrived in Albany this week.
Photo credit: Chelsea Woods
Monday, June 14, 2010
Senate Passes Bill Requiring Economic Development Officials Make Re-Development Plans for Closing Correctional Facilities, In Order To Save Jobs
The legislation (S.7068) requires the Commissioner of Economic Development to issue an adaptive reuse plan for state prison facilities that are scheduled to be shut down.
“For our Upstate communities hosting correctional facilities, be it Ogdensburg, Watertown, Gouverneur or Cape Vincent, the economic impact is very real and surrounding businesses depend on these facilities,” said Sen. Aubertine, chair of the Senate Upstate Caucus and the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources. “The Department of Corrections is not in a position to make economic development decisions. Our priority should be to keep these prisons open, but with this legislation, we are putting the correct agency in place to develop a plan to protect the economic future of our communities before the state can close a prison. We cannot afford to pull jobs out of a community and expect DOCS to pick up the pieces of a broken economy.”
Saturday, June 12, 2010
WITH SUMMER VACATIONS NEARING AND TOURISM STILL LAGGING, SENATOR GILLIBRAND UNVEILS NEW EFFORT TO PROMOTE TOURISM IN THE REGION
Gillibrand: From World Class Vineyards In The Finger
“From world class vineyards in the Finger Lakes to Niagara Falls to the beautiful Adirondacks and all the attractions of New York City, there is absolutely no place better to vacation than New York,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Visitors add billions of dollars to our state’s economy each year and support thousands of jobs right here at home. Many New Yorkers get their very first job in the tourism industry. As the economy continues to recover, this critical legislation would help promote New York's tourism and ensure long term growth. I have long advocated for this type of federal initiative into tourism promotion because I believe it would bring tremendous economic opportunity to the families of our state.”
Tourism is a critical industry in New York State. According to the U.S. Travel Association, domestic and international travelers to New York spent $51.3 billion in 2007 and generated $9.9 billion to federal, state and local governments. According to Tourism Economics, the tourism sector supported more than 660,000 jobs in New York last year. The recent economic downturn has taken a toll on the travel and tourism industry nationwide.
The TRIP Act would allow local tourism promotion organizations, such as convention and visitors' bureaus, to partner with other regional tourism entities, such as parks or resorts, to receive federal funding to market their destination across the United States. Funding would come in the form of matching grants totaling between $100,000 and $1 million. The grants would leverage millions more from the private sector and attract billions in economic activity and consumer spending. The TRIP Act would present New York organizations and localities the opportunity to compete for more resources and leverage public-private partnerships to attract visitors.
The TRIP Act could encourage people across the country to visit New York, and would complement the recently enacted Travel Promotion Act, which was co-sponsored by Senator Gillibrand and aims to encourage tourism from overseas. The TRIP Act is sponsored by Senator Mark Begich in the Senate and Congressman Sam Farr in the House of Representatives.
Senator Gillibrand also joined legislation that would monitor the effects of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) on local tourism. The WHTI Implementation Monitoring Plan to Assure Continued Travel and Trade (IMPACTT) Act would require the Secretaries of the Department of Homeland Security and State Department to jointly report to Congress on the implementation of the WHTI, including information on travel, trade, and border security, frequent traveler program enrollment, effectiveness of radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection staffing levels. The IMPACTT Act is sponsored by Senator Patty Murray in the Senate and Congresswoman Louise Slaughter in the House of Representatives.
Finally, Senator Gillibrand called on the U.S. Trade Representative to work with the Canadian Government and Province of Ontario to address the inequities in the tax on U.S. wine brought into Ontario. New York is the number three grape producing state in the United States, and in 2008, winery sales alone added $508 million to New York’s economy. Currently, when individuals bring wine purchased in the U.S. into the Province of Ontario, Canada, they are subject to a 12 percent provincial sales tax on top of the normal customs duty that they pay to the Canadian Federal Government. This hurts New York business by making it less attractive for Canadian citizens to enjoy wine produced by one of New York’s many wineries.
In her letter to USTR Ambassador Ron Kirk, Senator Gillibrand wrote, “I believe that equalizing the tax disparity for importing wine and other products for personal use into Ontario will help to facilitate more tourism into the United States and allow more Canadians to enjoy products that New York has to offer. […] During this challenging economic time, we must do all that we can to promote U.S. products and facilitate greater cross-border trade with Canada that will benefit New York producers and retailers.”
Friday, June 11, 2010
“This is just one example of how health care reform will strengthen Medicare and help seniors,” Owens said. “The so-called Donut Hole has hit the wallets of Upstate New York seniors for far too long, and it’s well past time that the situation be corrected. Prescription drugs cost our seniors thousands of dollars a year and, while this payment will not correct this issue immediately, we are on pace to completely close the donut hole in ten years.”
The checks are the first benefit from health reform for seniors in the Medicare Prescription Drug program. Beginning in January 2011, seniors in the donut hole will receive a 50% discount on brand name drugs. By 2020, the donut hole will close completely.
Seniors are subject to the donut hole if their prescription drugs cost too much to be paid for through basic Medicare coverage, but aren't expensive enough to qualify for catastrophic coverage. The ‘donut hole’ coverage gap is the period in the prescription drug benefit (once their prescription drug costs exceed $2,830) in which the beneficiary pays 100 percent of the cost of their drugs until they hit the catastrophic coverage threshold.
Cost of Rx
Cost to Patient
Covered by Medicare
100% of Rx cost
No Medicare coverage
25% of Rx cost
75% covered by Medicare
100% of Rx cost
No Medicare coverage
5% of Rx cost
95% covered by Medicare
“Last year, almost a quarter million Medicare beneficiaries in New York fell into the donut hole and received no extra help to defray the cost of their prescription drugs. Recent health care reform is beginning to bring much needed relief to our seniors,” Owens added.
Medicare recipients don’t have to do anything to get the $250 check – once their drug costs for the year hit $2,830 the one-time check will be issued automatically.
Making prescription drugs more affordable for seniors is only one of the many benefits for seniors included in the recently enacted health reform law. Other benefits for seniors include:
Provides free preventive care services under Medicare, beginning in 2011.
Strengthens Medicare by extending its solvency by an additional 12 years, from 2017 to 2029.
Improves seniors’ access to doctors.
Continues to reduce waste, fraud and abuse.
Improves care by helping doctors communicate and coordinate.
Expands home and community-based services to keep seniors in their home, instead of in nursing homes.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
ALBANY (June 9, 2010)—State Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Darrel J. Aubertine has introduced legislation to establish a “Bill of Rights” for New York’s dairy farmers. The legislation is intended to protect a dairy farmer’s right to join or remain in an association of producers, or operate independently, against unfair business practices by milk dealers.“Dairy is the backbone of an agriculture industry that supports hundreds of thousands of jobs statewide,” Sen. Aubertine said. “Our farmers need to know their rights and be protected from actions that are already illegal in any other line of business. When you hear words like coercion, bribery and conspiracy, you expect there to be protection under the law for our farmers. Yet, this is what dairy farmers too often face if they try to find a better price for their product.”The Senator’s legislation (S.8085) would build on the federal Agriculture Fair Practices Act, expanding and further defining the limits of a business relationship between a milk dealer and a farmer making it specifically unlawful to engage in coercions, breach of contract, bribery, refusal to deal, falsehood and conspiracy against the farmer. It also expands the list of those who could be considered guilty of violating the law to include any agent or employee, rather than just “officer or manager” as is now law.Most importantly, it raises the penalty against the milk dealer who engages in these practices of coercion, breach of contract, bribery, refusal to deal, falsehood and conspiracy from an insignificant $100 to the more substantial $10,000.
“Farmers can’t store raw milk for weeks or even a few extra days to hold out for a better price,” Sen. Aubertine said. “They are already at a competitive disadvantage in selling their milk. These all too common practices can be devastating for the farmer. Our farmers deserve the right to market their milk independently or through a co-op or even create their own association. This legislation clearly defines and prohibits practices that violate this right and increases the fines to a level where they actually mean something.”
The Dairy Farmers’ Bill of Rights was approved unanimously by the Senate Agriculture Committee on June 8 and has been reported and committed to the Senate Codes Committee.
- Create the crime of criminal trespass for level 2 or 3 sex offenders who enter a school where his or her victim attends or used to attend (A.2257-B);
- Enhance information required on the sex offender registry by requiring DCJS to indicate whether a sex offender is in violation of registration requirements (A.2108) and the type and length of the registrants assigned supervision (A.10777);·
- Require that an offender who fails to register or verify as a sex offender will have the length of time they were in violation of the law added to the duration of the registration (A.2132); and· Require level two sex offenders to disclose their employment address, including any volunteer employment (A.10276).
Friday, June 4, 2010
This evening the Jefferson County Dairy Parade took place along Washington St and what a Parade it was!! There were over 50 entrants in the parade not to mention the several school bands, FFA from Carthage NY, over a hundred Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts from across the Longhouse Council, numerous reconditioned tractors and many floats from other farm based organizations from all over the North Country.
One that really shocked the crowd was the immense size of some of the Farm equipment in the Parade. Some of the combines had to stand 20 feet tall and easily spanned most of the width of Washington st.
Our Committee marched with John Burns tonight and we can tell you that there is no doubt that the City of Watertown supports Sheriff Burns. The reaction to our team was thumbs up and many shouts of "He's our man" and "He's got my vote!".
Another person that was received with open arms was our Senator, Darrel Aubertine. Senator Aubertine was driven in a classic Corvette to the reviewing stand and what a reception he received. Senator Aubertine is truly the guardian of our farming families and the crowd showed it.
Brian McGrath is a political outsider who is not part of the broken system, but instead a successful attorney with experience helping people and businesses solve complex problems. Brian has the fresh ideas and energy to change the way state government is working, or not working, for North Country families.
Brian knows that government can't create jobs, but only gets in the way without the right leadership. Brian will fight wasteful spending and burdensome taxes to help create better conditions for farms, small businesses and industry, which means a brighter economic future for us all.
We need a political outsider to fight for us; for the public interest, and not the special interests. Brian McGrath has the skills, energy, and passion to be the fighter the North Country needs
To see more on Brian's campaign check out his web site by clicking HERE.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
The North Country Democrat and the Jefferson County Democratic Party would like to thank all the volunteers that helped out tonight with collating and processing the numerous petitions for our upcoming election cycle.
We want to apologize for not getting everyone in the shot but suffice it to say that everyone's help was very much appreciated.
Petitions for Congressman Bill Owens, Senator Darrel Aubertine, Assemblywoman Addie Russell, Sheriff John Burns and many more were divided into packets for all 22 Towns and the City of Watertown. We're looking forward to getting out and pressing some flesh so keep an eye out for us out there.
If you'd like to help walk a district we'd love to hear from you. Our office is open most afternoons and evenings. We can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling our Watertown office at (315) 788-4590.