July & August 2013

August 21, 2013                                                                                  

Muller Tour


August 21st I had the opportunity to tour the new Muller Quaker Dairy Yogurt facility in Batavia.  I met with management and staff to discuss the facility's operations and impact on the local economy.  The yogurt facility features two warehouses, a recycling center and production space, which sits on 82 acres of land.  Once approved, Muller Quaker Dairy will be the largest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified dairy facility in the world.  LEED examines a facility's design, sustainability, water and energy efficiency, and recycling and waste management.

Muller Quaker Dairy is a perfect model of how to combine Western New York's agricultural heritage with developing technology to produce a successful, job-creating enterprise.  This yogurt facility is not only stimulating the local economy through its production and employment, but is doing so in an environmentally-sound manner that is garnering global recognition.  The owners and operators of this facility provided great insight into the challenges that agriculture and manufacturing businesses face in New York, and I hope that their achievements can serve as a model for other local entrepreneurs.

Kevin Williams, Vice President, Supply Chain, Muller Quaker Dairy said "Muller Quaker is happy to be in Batavia, the heart of America's robust dairy region.  This is a great agricultural community and our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility will only serve to further build this area's expertise."

August 20, 2013                                                                                  

Meeting with Deputy Secretary for Education



On August 20th I arranged a meeting between State Deputy Secretary for Education De'Shawn Wright with more than 20 local school superintendents and Board of Education members.  The gathering provided local education leaders the opportunity to voice their concerns and opinions on the challenges facing our local schools and teachers in Western New York, as well as what the state must do to improve local education.

The fact that the governor sent such a high-ranking education official to our community shows that our calls for fair aid allocation and greater control of our schools are being heard.  Issues such as Common Core, mandate relief, special education programs and eliminating the Triborough Amendment, Gap Elimination Adjustment and frivolous lawsuits were examined.  The local education leaders in attendance did a terrific job of illustrating to Deputy Secretary Wright the need for equitable school aid regardless of geographic location or socio-economic status.  The meeting helped make the point, to the highest levels of the State Education Department, that children in low-wealth school districts deserve the same opportunities as kids in wealthier areas.  I thank Deputy Secretary Wright for traveling to our community as well as all of the local education leaders who did such a tremendous job showing how much Western New York cares for its students.

August 10, 2013                                                                                  

STAR Exemption



 I am encouraging all of you who use the Basic STAR exemption for property tax assistance to register with the state Department of Taxation and Finance to continue your exemption for 2014 and beyond.


New guidelines meant to prevent fraud and abuse of the STAR program have been set up.  Now participants must sign up by telephone or online by December 31, 2013.  The new guidelines do not effect homeowners age 65 or above enrolled in Enhanced STAR.


Property taxes continue to be a primary source of financial stress for local homeowners, and the STAR exemption is a critical way to reduce the cost of living.  It is essential that anyone who has relied on this program to combat the excessive cost of property taxes signs up to ensure that they receive the help they deserve.


To register, visit www.tax.ny.gov or call (518)457-2036. 

August 8, 2013                                                                                   

Alpina Tour


On August 8, 2013 I toured the new Alpina Foods yogurt plant.  I was guided through the facility by Gregg Torrey who does accounting and planning for Alpina.  He also is a part-time legislative liaison for my office.  As we worked our way around the plant I was greeted by many familiar faces.  It was great to see so many local residents employed there.  I attended the ground breaking for the new plant back in October of 2011 and this was my first opportunity to tour the facility since it has been up and running.

The factory has 50-60 full-time employees and 40 part-time employees.  The majority of the workforce are residents from Genesee, Orleans, Monroe, Livingston and Wyoming counties.  All the milk used at the plant comes from New York State dairy farms with most of it processed at O-At-Ka Milk Products in Batavia.  The company started with one shift of workers in the fall of 2012 and was using three shifts within two months, ahead of expectations.  This past April the plant added two new milk-holding silos and new fermentation tanks with further expansion plans in the future.  The business is expecting to hire more employees in the next few weeks.

Alpina primarily makes a traditional non-fat Greek style yogurt.  The company is based in Bogota, Columbia and the Batavia facility is their first manufacturing plant in the United States.  Most of its yogurt is sold in the Northeast but they have recently expanded into Texas.


August 2, 2013                                                                                   


Unfinished Business in Albany


            Due to the misplaced priorities of the Assembly Majority, the legislature failed to address a number of critical topics facing our families and job creators in 2013. In fact, the Assembly left Albany with so much unfinished business that I believe we should return to the Capitol for a special session as soon as possible. 

            Perhaps the most dismal failure of the 2013 Legislative Session was the Assembly’s inability to pass nine critical pieces of legislation in support of women. While the Senate passed individual pieces of legislation that would combat human trafficking, expand protections for victims of domestic violence and prevent housing discrimination, the Assembly chose to play politics with a controversial catch-all bill that prevented the nine widely-supported measures from becoming law. This was a major disappointment for women, who deserve the basic protections and support passed by the Senate. These bills would easily pass the Assembly if voted on individually, and that alone is reason enough to call the chamber into special session. 

            However, the disappointment in the 2013 session didn’t end there. Job creators took a hit as a significant anti-business cost-driver survived session. A provision passed in 2011 forces businesses to issue a written statement to their employees informing them of their pay level every year, even if their pay, already required to be printed on individual paychecks, hasn’t changed. The state is literally forcing private businesses to waste supplies and manpower to remind their employees how much money they make, even though it’s written out for them every single payday. This is the kind of illogical, job-killing overregulation that earns New York its anti-business reputation, and it needs to be repealed immediately. 

            Taxpayers were negatively impacted by the 2013 session as well. A hidden fee on utility bills, set to expire in 2014, was extended for four years, costing families and businesses $1.7 billion. I advanced a budget amendment to undo this disastrous extension and have sponsored a bill to repeal the surcharge with bipartisan support since the fee was created in 2009. A special session agenda should include an immediate repeal of this fee, as well as address the continuing problem of unfunded mandates, which drive local taxes through the roof and rob our communities of power over our own finances and programs. 

            It shouldn’t take six full months for the Assembly to pass legislation supporting women, businesses and taxpayers, but this year’s session left too much unfinished business to wait until 2014 to reconvene. The Assembly must return to the Capitol and finish the people’s business as soon as possible. Anything less is a failure for all New Yorkers.


July 17, 2013                                                                                   

Traveling Town Halls

On Saturday, July 27, 2013 I will be hosting a series of town hall meetings across Monroe County.  I will be traveling to four different locations in an effort to hear the needs, ideas and concerns of different neighborhoods and regions within the 139th Assembly District.  As a public servant, it is my job to speak directly for my constituents in state government, and there is no more effective or enjoyable way to hear from our friends and neighbors than by holding these meetings throughout the community.  These events will provide residents with an opportunity to share their ideas to improve life not only throughout our state, but right here in our own backyards.  I am extremely excited to take this show on the road and visit with friends both old and new.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Village of Churchville/Town of Riga

10:00 am - 10:45 am

Riga Town Hall

6460 Buffalo Rd



Village of Brockport/Town of Sweden

11:15 am - 12:00 pm

Seymour Library

161 East Avenue



Town of Clarkson

12:45 pm - 1:30 pm

Clarkson Town Hall

3710 Lake Road



Town of Hamlin

1:45 pm - 2:30 pm

Hamlin Public Library

422 Clarkson Hamlin Town Line Rd


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