James L. Seward's Blog entries

Property Tax Relief is Overdue

For many people the great American dream is to own a home.  Unfortunately, once you achieve that dream in New York, the nightmare known as property taxes can keep you up at night.  According to the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan tax research group based in Washington, D.C., New York routinely leads the nation when it comes to high property taxes.  In fact, between 1977 and 2008, the Empire State ranked first of second in the country for its state-local tax burden compared to the U.S. average. 

March 11, 2010

Strengthen Domestic Violence Laws

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 out of every 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, and there are more than 400,000 domestic violence incidents in New York state each year.  In addition, fifty percent of all women murdered in New York State are killed as a result of domestic violence.

March 4, 2010

Family Health Care Decisions Act

Imagine someone you love is incapacitated and unable to make decisions concerning his own well being.  Now imagine that there is no way you can help this individual because the proper paper work is not in place.  Even though you know very well the wishes of your loved one, your hands are tied. 

February 25, 2010

The Future of Farming

As our world evolves and technological advances propel us forward at lightning speed, one constant remains – agriculture.  No matter how smart our cell phones become or how large our television screens grow,  agriculture persists as the economic, social and environmental binding force. 

February 18, 2010

Move 9/11 Terror Trials

Every American remembers certain moments in our nation’s history.  They remember where they were, they remember whom they were with.  These are the moments that define our country; exciting events like the Apollo moon landing, tragic occurrences like the assassination of President Kennedy and in our more recent history, the 9/11 terror attacks.

February 11, 2010

Medicaid Fraud Costs All New Yorkers

As work begins in Albany on the 2010-2011 state budget, one of our primary focuses is saving money.  New reports of the budget deficit continue almost daily and the dollar amounts are staggering.  Moving forward, we must review every possible money saving option. 

February 4, 2010

Job Creation Is Job One

Statewide unemployment in New York recently reached nine percent.  Last year, the state lost 269,000 jobs and the governor is already projecting that another 40,000 will be lost in 2010.  It is clear that we need to reverse this trend.  That’s why I am proposing a major new jobs initiative designed to jump start our economy and get people working.

The 2010 Job Creation & Retention Plan is a comprehensive recovery blueprint which would add no spending to the state budget and would pay for itself through increased jobs and revenue from economic growth.

January 29, 2010

Terminate New Taxes

Governor Paterson recently unveiled his 2010 – 2011 budget proposal and while some ideas merit further examination others must be dismissed entirely if we are to promote economic development and job growth in upstate New York.

January 22, 2010

Freeze High Energy Bills

As we work our way through another upstate New York winter there are many exciting outdoor pursuits to help pass the time.  Skiing, snowmobiling, hiking, ice fishing and simply riding a sled in the backyard with the kids are just some of the activities so many of use enjoy.


Unfortunately, the cold temperatures lead to an indoor activity none of us are too fond of- paying the heating and electric bills.  When the days are shorter and the temperatures colder the home energy bills can sky rocket.  The good news is that there are steps you can take to help keep your costs under control.

January 14, 2010


As we start 2010 it is time for New York to embark on a new direction.  Our economic struggles have been well documented, particularly across the upstate region, and the time has come to change our thinking and generate a true rebirth.  Last year we went to the edge of the cliff and if we are to avoid plunging into the financial abyss some tough decisions are required.

January 7, 2010

Authority Reform

While the debate over the state budget was rightfully grabbing headlines over the past few weeks, other pieces of important legislation were also discussed and voted on in Albany.  Among those receiving approval was senate bill 1537B, authority reform.  This important reform measure, which has been signed into law

December 31, 2009

Buckle Up - Stay Safe On The Highway

As holiday travel increases it is important that we properly secure our most precious cargo – our loved ones and ourselves.

Back in 1984, New York became the first state to enact a mandatory seat belt law.  The law became effective in 1985.  Prior to the law only 16 percent of New Yorkers wore their seat belts; now 88 percent buckle up.  New York's seat belt law is a "primary enforcement law.”  This means that a police officer may stop you for not having a seat belt on.  Along with requiring all front seat passengers to buckle up, the law also has special conditions concerning children.

December 24, 2009

'Tis The Season For Safe Shopping

While shopping our local main streets is still one of the best ways to get in the holiday spirit and at the same time help spark the local economy, shopping online has also become a very popular way to purchase gifts.   Whether during the holiday season or any other time of the year, Internet shoppers can reduce their chances of becoming victims of online predators by following some simple tips.

According to the New York State Consumer Protection Board (NYSCPB), online shoppers should follow these safety guidelines:

December 17, 2009

Proper Protection Needed Before Drilling

The clock is ticking on the public comment period for those interested in registering their thoughts on revised natural gas drilling regulations.  The topic has understandably generated a great deal of interest as the regulations will likely govern potential drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation for the foreseeable future.

December 10, 2009

DRP Is Just A Start

New York’s finances have been front and center over the past several weeks.  Every time you opened the newspaper or turned on the television or radio another story concerning the budget deficit was making headlines.  Now after multiple special sessions in Albany a budget deal has been finalized.  However, this won’t be the last time you hear about the state’s financial situation.

December 4, 2009

A Time To Give Thanks

While I typically devote my weekly column to the work of state government and the efforts of the New York State Senate to propose, craft and pass laws that would improve our lives, this week I wanted to take a momentary departure to observe one of the governmental roots of Thanksgiving.

November 20, 2009

Cut Government Mandates - Save Local Tax Dollars

As local governments seek creative ways to save money they often look to the state for assistance.  One of the most important avenues I have long pursued is mandate relief.  During the recent special legislative session in Albany we were able to take a step in the right direction by passing a bill aimed at encouraging efficiencies that would ultimately benefit local property taxpayers.

November 13, 2009

Hands On The Wheel

A new law took effect this month which will increase safety on our highways in New York.  While it was already illegal to talk on a cell phone while driving, the new law also bans reading, typing and sending text messages while behind the wheel.  The law is meant to limit driver distraction and in turn enhance highway safety.   This measure is long overdue and one I have supported for several years.

Our lives are filled with distractions and as a result individuals have become accustomed to multi-tasking.  Certainly, this is a skill which comes in handy in many instances, but when driving a motor vehicle it is important to focus on a single pursuit – arriving safely at your destination.

November 6, 2009

New York's Greatest Export - People

As the birds fly south for the winter, they are joined by a host of New Yorkers.  While the birds will return when the weather improves next spring, the people are only coming back if our economy makes an about face.

According to a recently released study by the Empire Center for New York State Policy, we are losing residents in droves.  From 2000 to 2008, New York experienced the nation's largest loss of residents to other states—a net domestic migration outflow of over 1.5 million, or 8 percent of its population at the start of the decade.  This rate of loss means our most valuable resource, our people, is being eroded at an alarming pace.

October 30, 2009

Flu Season

Each time you turn on the television, listen to your radio or open a newspaper you are inevitably bombarded with stories about the flu.  Certainly, this year more than any other time in recent memory, the warnings need to be taken seriously. 

First, we are dealing with more than one challenge this year.  The seasonal flu, a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses is making the rounds just like any other year.  Along with that threat, we are also combating H1N1, or the swine flu.

October 23, 2009
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