Monthly Column: Productive session to keep New York moving forward
By: Michael H. Ranzenhofer
As you may know, the 2014 Legislative Session has just concluded. Many initiatives passed in this year’s Session will help to keep our State moving forward.
Major highlights include:
1. Tax relief for residents: lower energy taxes and a new property tax rebate;
2. More tax relief so that small businesses and manufacturers can succeed, grow and help create new job opportunities;
3. Job training initiatives to open doors to successful careers and a bright, rewarding future;
4. Funding for critical road, bridge and infrastructure upgrades to keep our economy moving; and
5. Helping seniors lead healthy, independent lives with an expansion of the EPIC program.
From the start of the year, my main objectives were clear: reducing the tax burden and enacting strategic initiatives to spur economic opportunities. These five initiatives will help to achieve these goals.
Other important measures were taken to address a scourge of heroin and opioid addiction all across New York State. This serious problem is taking young lives and destroying once promising futures.
Given the serious nature of this statewide crisis confronting our communities, I am pleased that action is being taken on this particular issue. A comprehensive legislative package, consisting of 11 separate bills, will enhance treatment options and availability, crack down on the illegal distribution of opioids, and increase educational efforts and public outreach about the dangers of heroin and opioid abuse. Each one of these new laws will help to protect our local communities and families from these destructive and potentially deadly drugs.
Taking action to combat this crisis follows on the heels of the work completed by the Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction. Recently, the Task Force conducted 18 public forums across the State, including one which I hosted in Western New York. After hearing from 276 panelists, the Task Force issued a report with recommendations provided by substance abuse experts, law enforcement officials and concerned citizens.
In general, the 2014 Legislative Session was productive in many respects. However, I am disappointed that the State Assembly failed to act on some important initiatives already passed by the State Senate, including a bill to end workplace discrimination against pregnant women, a measure to ensure equal pay for women, and the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act. I am deeply disappointed that the State Assembly failed to change its course of inaction on these important issues.
To learn more about the 2014 Legislative Session, visit my website at ranzenhofer.nysenate.gov.
Senator Ranzenhofer's monthly column appeared in the Amherst and Clarence Bee on July 16th.