May 2015

May 29, 2015                          ___                                                           ___

REWARDING ALL VETERANS FOR THEIR SERVICE, PASS VETERANS BUY-BACK BILL

            Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) today called on the Assembly Majority to bring a bill to the floor that would allow honorably-discharged veterans to purchase up to three years of active military service from the state and have it count toward their pension and retirement benefits. Hawley sponsors this legislation and said we can never do too much to repay New York’s veterans for their years of service.

            “As the son of a veteran and veteran myself, I understand the importance of this legislation,” Hawley said. “Currently, only veterans who have served during certain conflicts and wars are given this opportunity, and that unfairly alienates those who have valiantly and honorably served our nation at home and abroad. This legislation overwhelmingly passed the Assembly last year with 133 votes from both sides of the aisle and unanimously passed the Senate this week. I am calling on my legislative colleagues in the Majority to follow the Senate’s example and bring this bill to the floor for a vote. New York’s veterans deserve the utmost privilege and opportunity.”

            Assembly Bill 4313-A has 107 bi-partisan sponsors but is slightly different from the Senate version due to a $31.5 million appropriation to cover state costs of the program. Hawley is a longtime advocate for veterans and currently serves as Ranking Minority Member of the Assembly Committee on Veterans Affairs. He served in the Ohio Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserves.

May 28, 2015                          ___                                                           ___

SESSION WINDING DOWN, PUT TURMOIL BEHIND US AND FINISH PEOPLE’S WORK

A Legislative Column from Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia)

            As the legislative session begins to wind down, legislative leaders start to get their ducks in a row and make the final push to squeeze every bit of work into those waning final hours. This session was an infamous several months that saw two of Albany’s most powerful leaders topple, an overwhelmingly poor budget and little to help small businesses or the middle class. But, fortunately for us, the clock has not struck twelve and we still have a chance to do what is right for New Yorkers.

            It seems like forever since we have seen large-scale businesses tax and regulatory relief in New York. As a small-business owner for over four decades, I know the daily struggles and frustrations of owning a business here. Simple expansions or financial changes are met with hundreds of pages of regulations, and that doesn’t take into account the slew of taxes paid by business owners.

            To spur New York’s lackluster economy we need real business tax relief so employers can afford to hire more employees and retain larger profits that they will ultimately reinvest into their businesses. Too often legislative initiatives have targeted only the politically connected or promised to create jobs while falling short. I sponsor the Small Business Full Employment Act, A.5898, which would prohibit new unfunded mandates and provide a host of tax and regulatory relief measures to spur small business growth. It is time we embrace New York’s business climate and create jobs for our thousands of college graduates.

            It is time once and for all to clean up Albany’s corruption and restore the people’s faith in government. I, along with the Assembly Minority Conference, have fought for several ethics reforms to deal with unlawful abuses of power and increase openness and transparency in government. Measures used by the governor and Assembly Majority allow the passage of unlawful laws like the SAFE Act and backroom deals that besmirch our Legislature.

            Our conference supports the removal of corrupt politicians’ pension and retirement benefits, a measure promised in this year’s budget but removed due to the influence of labor unions on downstate politicians. Furthermore, we have pushed the Public Officers Accountability Act, A.4617, which strengthens campaign finance laws and places term limits on legislative leaders to prevent the alleged abuses committed by former leaders Silver and Skelos over the past few months. Until we enact both of these measures, Albany will remain a cesspool of corruption and malfeasance.

            Despite the large increase in education aid, millions for local development such as the Brownfield Cleanup Program, and tens of millions in aid for our farmers, much more needs to be done. Despite our rocky start, it is time to finish strong and help upstate New York regain the economic strength it once enjoyed. We’re part of New York State too!

May 26, 2015                          ___                                                           ___

CORRUPT POLITICIANS SHOULD

NOT RETIRE ON THE BACKS OF TAXPAYERS

            “As a public official, I have sworn to protect the citizens of my district and taxpayers of New York State by honoring my office and embracing integrity, openness and transparency in my role as an elected leader. It is repugnant to have taxpayers fund the pensions and retirement benefits for public officials convicted of corruption and other felonies related to their official duties. It is morally and professionally irresponsible to ask the residents, whom we have betrayed and stolen from, to line the pockets of public officials who have used their power and social status for personal gain. We are public servants and our focus should be on improving the public’s faith in government and serving our constituents to the best of our abilities.

            “The Assembly Minority Conference has led the charge on stripping corrupt public officials of their state pension and retirement benefits. I sponsor bipartisan legislation, A.4643-A, that would accomplish these goals. We were told by the Assembly Majority and Gov. Cuomo that a pension forfeiture bill would be voted upon during budget night this year. To the surprise of many, no such bill reached the Assembly floor for a vote for unknown reasons and we are still waiting on this initiative to pass. With only 12 session days left, and overwhelming support from across the aisle and the governor’s office, I cannot imagine why this bill has not reached the legislature for a vote. This common-sense measure is way past due and cannot wait until next January for action. I will continue to push this measure to do what is right for the people of New York State.”

May 22, 2015                          ___                                                           ___

 This Memorial Day let us join together to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. These brave men and women are the reason we enjoy the lives we lead and it is important that we honor their service and sacrifice.

 Memorial-Day-2015.png

I would like to wish all the veterans and active military personnel in my district and throughout New York State a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend. Your courage and sacrifice has ensured the freedom of our nation since its inception and stands as inspiration to us all. As you spend time with family and friends, remember that freedom isn’t free and please take time to thank the veterans in your life. Have a fun and safe Memorial Day and remember to never drink and drive.


 

DOWNSTATE TAPPAN ZEE TRAVELERS RIDE THE COATTAILS OF UPSTATE TAX DOLLARS

            Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) today called on the New York State Thruway Authority (NYSTA) to clarify its 2015 budget and publicly release a financial plan for the Tappan Zee Bridge project. Hawley said NYSTA has mismanaged funds in the past and the state should not be funding a project that primarily benefits downstate residents. 

            “Unfortunately, this is another case of a state government devoid of transparency and openness,” Hawley said. “At a time when the public has lost faith in its government, state agencies should be making every effort to be fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars and at least let the public know how resources will be budgeted. We have been waiting for a financial plan on the Tappan Zee Bridge project for years, and at this point we have little information about how funds will be raised to pay for the multi-billion dollar project.

            “Most of my constituents do not use the Tappan Zee Bridge and an increase in toll hikes statewide would unfairly force everyone to pay for the luxuries of downstate residents and politicians. That is unacceptable. I am once again calling on NYSTA and Chairman Megna, who spoke about the importance of a financial plan a mere 4 months ago, to release the remaining budgetary information and spending plan for the Tappan Zee Bridge project.”

            NYSTA was given $1.285 billion in this year’s enacted state budget, of which only $750 million has been accounted for. The Tappan Zee Bridge project is estimated to cost $3.9 billion and will be partially financed through a U.S. Department of Transportation loan. Previous attempts to access specific financial plan information have been denied.  

May 21, 2015                          ___                                                           ___

ASSEMBLY DRAGGING FEET ON BRITTANY’S LAW, LEAVE WOMEN AT RISK

            Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) today called on Assembly Democrats to pass Brittany’s Law, which would establish a statewide registry of violent offenders. The legislation provides the public with crucial information about criminals with histories of violence to prevent future victimization. The Senate version, S.513, was passed on Monday and championed as a method to combat domestic violence and preserve the safety of New York’s communities and families.

            “Every day this legislation sits dormant in the Assembly is another day that New York’s women are at risk of becoming victims,” Hawley said. “Unfortunately, many victims do not know that their assailant has a violent history or has been incarcerated. This bill would make information of that nature accessible and help law enforcement track convicted felons to ensure the safety of the neighborhood or community in which they live. I am once again calling on Assembly Democrats to stop playing politics with women’s safety and pass Brittany’s Law immediately.”


 

HAWLEY ANNOUNCES “SHOVEL READY”

SITE IN ORLEANS COUNTY

            Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) today announced that the former Sandstone Development Site in the Town of Shelby has been designated as “shovel ready” and is set to become a multi-tenant technology and business park. The process for companies to locate on the site has been streamlined, although businesses may still have to obtain permits on an as-needed basis.

            “I am glad to finally see a major site in my district become ‘shovel ready’ and able to attract new businesses to our area,” Hawley said. “The former Sandstone Development Site is a 125 acre plot with the potential to bring crucial economic development to our region and create many new jobs. I have been battling New York’s oppressive business climate for years and I believe we can use this site as a model for how to quickly approve an area for economic development. Too often, zoning and business regulations halt the development of new businesses in our area and they are forced to take their jobs and tax revenue out of state.”

            The designation of the Sandstone Development Site was announced by Empire State Development (ESD) on May 18. The site is located on Maple Ridge Road south of the Medina Business Park in the Town of Shelby. For more information on the Sandstone Development Site, visit www.orleansdevelopment.org/projects or contact (585) 589-7060 ext. 104 or 105. For more information on New York State’s Shovel Ready program, visit http://www.esd.ny.gov/BusinessPrograms/Data/BuildNow/index.htm.


 

FINANCIAL INDUSTRY LEADERS AGREE TO COMBAT ZOMBIE PROPERTIES

            Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) today announced that 11 banks, mortgage companies and credit unions have agreed on best practices to combat problems associated with abandoned “zombie properties” in New York’s neighborhoods. Hawley was pleased that industry leaders are taking initiatives to combat this widespread issue and preserve the safety and appearance of local communities.

            “Zombie and abandoned properties are a serious widespread problem in New York State communities,” Hawley said. “After the market collapsed several years ago, the incidence of zombie properties spiked and many consumers and credit agencies lacked the financial resources to purchase such properties or perform necessary maintenance. Abandoned and vacant properties are eyesores to local communities, drive down nearby home and land values, and attract squatters and criminals to the area. Unfortunately, banks are not required to maintain vacant properties until they are officially foreclosed, which could be years after previous residents moved elsewhere. This leads to serious property damage and unwillingness of various parties to perform maintenance. I am pleased that a regular maintenance schedule and safety measures have been established by real estate industry leaders.”

            The businesses participating in the establishment of best practices are Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citi Mortgage, Ocwen, Nationstar, PHH, Green Tree Services, Astoria Bank, Bethpage Federal Credit Union, M&T Bank and Ridgewood Savings Bank. The best practices are expected to be implemented by August 2015 and complaints regarding zombie properties can be submitted to the New York State Department of Financial Services at http://www.dfs.ny.gov/consumer/fileacomplaint.htm.

May 15, 2015                          ___                                                           ___

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT WORKSHOPS, CALLS FOR JOB CREATORS TO SUBMIT INNOVATIVE IDEAS

          Today, Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) announced that Empire State Development will be hosting a series of Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) workshops throughout the state. The workshops will provide valuable insight to the application and CFA process. Following each workshop will be a forum discussing the Upstate Revitalization Initiative (URI) and other economic development projects.

A CFA workshop will be held in the 139th Assembly District on Thursday, June 4 from 3 to 7 p.m. at Genesee Community College. Individuals interested in participating can register here.

“I encourage all potential applicants to attend these informative events,” said Hawley. “In order for their ideas to be taken into serious consideration by the Regional Economic Development Councils it is critical that well-developed proposals are submitted. By attending the CFA workshops individuals will gain the essential knowledge they need to properly submit their application.”

Additionally, the assemblyman announced that the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council is seeking meaningful ideas from local job creators. The ideas must provide practical strategies on how to best pool resources and create the most effective revitalization plan for the Finger Lakes region.

“In order to enhance and improve the current conditions of the economic climate in the Finger Lakes Region, the development council is calling on the best and brightest to put forth innovative proposals and ideas. By incorporating a large variety of ideas the council will be able to prioritize the projects and strategies in a way that best benefits the future of the Finger Lakes,” Hawley concluded.

May 13, 2015                          ___                                                           ___

GOVERNOR’S MINIMUM WAGE BOARD BUCKS DEMOCRATIC PROCESS

          Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) today criticized Gov. Cuomo’s attempt to unilaterally raise the minimum wage for fast food workers by convening a Wage Board through the Department of Labor without vetting the proposal through the Legislature. Hawley said drastic minimum wage hikes kill jobs and burden businesses and any increase in New York’s minimum wage should be subject to the legislative process.

            “This is simply a case of the governor trying to sidestep the legislative process because he knows a drastic minimum wage hike is unlikely to pass both houses,” Hawley said. “Furthermore, Gov. Cuomo did not fulfill his aspiration of a minimum wage increase in this year’s budget, so he has commissioned a board which will undoubtedly release favorable information that supports a minimum wage increase. There is a reason that bills must be passed though committees and two houses of the Legislature before being signed into law or vetoed. By sidestepping the democratic process, we are closing the door on transparency and public input on this legislation and leaving the analysis up to bureaucrats. Elected officials and businesses in this state deserve time to vet and analyze another minimum wage increase before it is enacted.”

May 7, 2015                          ___                                                           ___

NEW YORK’S TAX FREEDOM DAY 48TH LATEST IN THE NATION

          Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) today commented on New York’s Tax Freedom Day, which falls on Friday May 8. The day represents how long a citizen of New York must work to pay off their annual tax burden. In other words, if every penny of one’s income went to taxes from January 1 until May 8, they would finally be working for themselves from May 9 until the end of the year. Hawley said that New York has a notorious reputation for high taxes and widespread relief is necessary to stimulate our business climate. 

            “As a lifelong resident and small-business owner for over four decades, I can attest that New York’s tax burden remains crippling,” Hawley said. “It is difficult for small businesses to produce large profits and create more jobs when a large share of their revenue goes to New York State. The Assembly Majority has done little to lessen the middle-class tax burden on families in the last several budgets and our property taxes remain some of the highest in the nation. In order to preserve our tax base and stop the huge exodus of residents to more tax-friendly states like Florida, we need to enact a serious middle-class tax cut immediately.”


HAWLEY JOINS SUPERINTENDENT AND CADETS FOR WEST POINT DAY IN ALBANY  

West_Point_2015.jpg

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) greets Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr. at West Point Day in Albany

            Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) praised and thanked leadership and new cadets from West Point Military Academy who were present in the Assembly Chamber on Wednesday. Hawley, the Ranking Minority Member of the Assembly’s Veterans Affairs Committee, son of a veteran and veteran himself, gave an impassioned speech about West Point’s significance and tradition on the Assembly Floor during the ceremony.

            “As a veteran and son of a veteran, I know firsthand the sacrifice and commitment it takes to serve and protect our country,” Hawley said. “I am sincerely proud of the incoming West Point Cadets, the academy’s tradition as a New York institution, and its role in producing some of the finest men and women in our country’s history.”

May 5, 2015                          ___                                                           ___

HAWLEY: MINIMUM WAGE HIKE

KILLS JOBS AND BURDENS BUSINESSES

          Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) today commented on last night’s passage of legislation to increase the minimum wage. Hawley said the legislation is misguided and does not improve the already suffocating business climate that New York has perpetuated in past years. The 2015-16 State Budget provides no tax or regulatory relief for small businesses or the middle class.

            “As the owner of small businesses for over four decades, I know the struggles of operating in New York’s tax and fine environment,” Hawley said. “I voted against a minimum wage increase because when businesses are legally obligated to pay their employees more, they are therefore able to hire less employees and therefore create less jobs. A more viable option to help taxpayers would be a widespread middle class tax cut, something the Assembly Majority again failed to include in this year’s budget. My district is heavily agriculturally based and a minimum wage hike would jeopardize the ability of farming operations to hire additional employees, especially on an hourly basis. I will continue to support my district’s business interests and alternatives exist that would address the root problem of high taxes and regulations that is hindering our middle class and business community.  

            “Furthermore, this bill raises the minimum wage to a much higher rate in New York, Westchester, Suffolk and Nassau Counties than the rest of New York State. This is another piece of evidence highlighting the growing disparity between upstate and downstate and why we should allow the public to decide if they would support a division of New York into two separate states by passing my legislation, Assembly Bill 4167. New Yorkers deserve this choice now more than ever considering downstate interests dominate our legislature while the social and economic concerns of millions of upstate New Yorkers are ignored.”

            Hawley is the owner of an insurance agency based in Batavia, NY and the former owner/operator of Hawley Farms. He is a current member of the Farm Bureau’s Circle of Friends and has voted with pro-business groups such as the Business Council and Unshackle Upstate the vast majority of his time in the legislature.

May 4, 2015                          ___                                                           ___

HAWLEY: POLICE LIGHTS AND SIRENS FOR CUOMO AND AIDES CREATES ELITIST DIVISION  

            Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) today commented on the new emergency regulation that will allow Gov. Cuomo and the upper echelon of his administration to use police lights and sirens on their personal vehicles. Hawley said this new privilege has the potential for abuse and creates an elitist mentality where high-ranking officials in the governor’s administration are given too much power to circumvent the law even on their off hours.

            “It is unnecessary for the governor and his top aides to be awarded the ability to sidestep basic traffic requirements and speed limits even when off duty,” Hawley said. “I can’t imagine too many situations where the commissioner of environmental conservation or secretary to Gov. Cuomo would be ‘involved in emergency operations.’ There is definitely a high potential for abuse because ‘emergency operations’ could be used in a variety of contexts. I am concerned that such disregard for traffic laws will put other drivers and bystanders in danger. This is another example of how the governor’s office thinks the law does not apply to them and will expand executive power without properly vetting and debating it first.”

            Many top state officials, including Gov. Cuomo and Lt. Gov. Kathy Hocul, already travel with state police protection but the new regulation would allow police lights and sirens to be installed on their personal vehicles. 

 

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