Standing Up for Central and Northern New York

By State Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine

Last week was a big week for our region. I am relieved that we are finally drawing the 2010-11 budget process to a close. It has not been easy. We all want an on-time budget, but the struggle here was making sure that our priorities are addressed in that budget.

A few weeks back, we reversed the Governor’s initial proposal to close many of our state parks and historic sites. This past week we reached an agreement to save Ogdensburg Correctional Facility from closure. Now in the closing days, I am continuing to work toward ensuring the budget, which will be far from what I would choose in a perfect world, best reflects our needs in these difficult times.

Throughout the session this year, I have worked not only on ensuring we improve on the Governor’s proposed budget, but also on passing key legislation to address our needs. Be it agriculture bills or local bills like the bill for Constantia we passed last week to help the town move forward on its water project, my focus is and has always been meeting the needs we all have.

Here in Central and Northern New York, many of us are sportsmen. So when a controversial bill affecting the rights of gun owners was brought to the floor last week, I was proud to vote no, a vote that forced proponents to pull the bill off the agenda. The lack of votes for proposed microstamping legislation was a victory for Upstate New York, law abiding gun owners and our economy.

Quite frankly, this legislation misses the mark and will only infringe on the rights of law abiding gun owners. The technology required by this legislation is unproven and will not achieve the public safety protections proponents of this bill claim. Instead, the end result will be limitations on responsible, law abiding gun owners who will be required to pay more for their legal guns if they can get them at all, while the actual criminals continue to purchase illegal handguns. We should not be looking to add more laws that infringe on our Second Amendment rights and instead enforce the laws already on the books.

This bill would have also threatened good paying jobs for upstate workers and raised costs for local law enforcement, while still being ineffective in stopping crime. Opposition has come not only from sportsmen’s groups and gun rights advocates, but also concerns raised by law enforcement officials, including our state police. I am pleased that common sense prevailed. The flaws in this legislation are numerous and I will continue working to preserve and protect the rights of law abiding gun owners.

In the closing days of session this week, I will continue to do my best to work for all of us. Times are tough. We can’t spend money we don’t have. There are many difficult decisions to be made. It’s not easy cutting programs and funding, but the state must tighten its belt. The important thing is that this budget improves dramatically on the starting position given to us by the Governor.