Some good news was recently announced that hopefully will help spur private investments in communities that traditionally have had difficulty attracting business investment. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 created an economic development tool known as Opportunity Zones designed to encourage long-term investments in low-income communities.
At times, a person’s struggle with drug addiction starts with access to unused medication in a home medicine cabinet. In order to help prevent this pathway to addiction and also help the environment, this session the State Legislature passed a measure that, if signed by the Governor, will for the first time in New York require drug manufacturers to assist with the collection of unused drugs.
The 2018 session has officially ended in Albany. Unfortunately, much of the dialogue in Albany was spent focused on President Trump instead of seizing the opportunities to improve New York. Even before session began, the Governor claimed New York was under assault from the federal government. Due to anticipated cuts in health care funding, he said that New York would face a $4 billion deficit. Further, he claimed that the recent federal tax reform would only widen this gap and harm our state.
In a recent legislative district survey, respondents noted that one of our area’s strengths is its cultural events and historical sites. I happen to agree with them. We are fortunate to have organizations throughout our communities that work to preserve history and foster the arts. It has always been important to me that the state supports these local efforts which enrich our communities.
Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day was held last week by the State Assembly. The day highlights both the issues and the accomplishments of advocates, families, and individuals with special needs across our state. As part of the awareness day, more than 40 agencies and associations that serve people with disabilities participated in an outreach fair to advocate for disability-related issues and promote services, programs, and adaptive equipment.
During World War I, American women wore a black arm band that featured a blue star around their left arm to show they had family serving their country. As the war progressed and, sadly, more and more soldiers died in combat, families sought to show their personal loss and display of patriotism by covering the blue star with a gold star.
This month, Albany was hit with yet another scandal when Attorney General Eric Schneiderman resigned only hours after it was reported that several women had made accusations that he had been physically abusive to them. While, as far as we know, the allegations are not related to his official duties, due to the seriousness of the claims a quick resignation was wholly appropriate and a full investigation needs to be undertaken. In the meantime, the question of who will replace Schneiderman has preoccupied Albany.
A bill was recently put forward by a Manhattan lawmaker that, if passed and signed by the Governor, would do away with marksmanship, archery, and shooting programs in New York state schools. The bill would also ban gun safety classes on school grounds by prohibiting the use of firearms as part of the lesson. Under this proposal, highly successful programs and teams that positively impact thousands of kids each year would be eliminated.
The heroin and opioid crisis has touched countless lives and ravaged families throughout the country. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 60,000 people died of a drug overdose in the U.S. in 2016, five times higher than in 1999. That number is roughly the same amount of people who live in a mid-sized city such as Utica.
My office recently invited people in the 120th Assembly district to participate in a legislative survey and more than 800 people took the time to respond. The survey asked people their thoughts on the local economy, laws pertaining to drugs, child welfare, the SAFE Act, economic development, and health care. Not surprisingly, in this unscientific survey, the overwhelming majority of people are concerned about our local economy.