Asks Governor for Oversight of Freight Trains Speeding Through Rural Communities
Senator Patty Ritchie wants the state to boost its oversight of freight trains coursing through Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties in the wake of moves by national rail companies for higher speeds on the local lines, and growing concerns about transport of hazardous materials through populated communities.
The Senator has written a letter to Governor Cuomo urging him to expand a new rail safety review he’s ordered into rail transport of crude oil on downstate lines to also include potentially hazardous freight being moved through other communities. The letter is available here.
“Community leaders have expressed concern that these higher speed trains could be causing unnecessary risks to neighboring communities and schools, local populations and our environment, should a serious accident occur,” Senator Ritchie said in her letter to the Governor, copies of which she has sent to emergency response officials in the three local counties.
Online Petition Aims to Stop Welfare Use in Liquor Stores, Bars and Casinos
State Senator Patty Ritchie is urging the public to join her fight against welfare abuse by signing an online petition to stop the use of EBT benefit cards in liquor stores, casinos and adult entertainment businesses.
Her call comes as the State Senate passed a bill—for the third time in as many years—that makes those businesses off-limits for using welfare cards. Senator Ritchie is a cosponsor of that bill (S.966).
“Welfare benefits are intended to help those who have fallen on hard times, to feed their families and make ends meet, and taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be used to buy booze, cigarettes and lottery tickets,” Senator Ritchie said.
The Senator’s “Public Assistance Integrity Act” would prohibit the use of welfare benefits to buy alcohol, tobacco or lottery tickets, and bars the use of EBT benefit cards in liquor stores, casinos and adult entertainment businesses.
Senator Patty Ritchie questioned the state DOT Commissioner, Joan McDonald, during last week's public hearings on the State Budget. Senator Ritchie focused on key issues impacting Northern and Central New York, including the Governor's I-98 proposal, road needs in Oswego County, a continuing problem with polluted water wells near Alexandria Bay and rail safety issues.
Advance to the following time marks to find the discussion of these issues:
0:04 Rooftop highway proposal
1:41 Specific road repair needs needs in Oswego County (Fulton and Parish)
AT “PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE: A CELEBRATION OF ADAMS, NY”
Free Event to be Held on February 8th
State Senator Patty Ritchie is asking those who experienced the recent fierce lake effect snowstorm last month to share their “snowstorm stories.”
The pictures and stories will be part of an event being held to recognize those who lent a helping hand during the recent storm. The free event—“People Helping People: A Celebration of Adams, NY”—will take place on Saturday, February 8th from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Adams firehouse, located at 63 N. Main St.
“From the hundreds of people taking refuge in the Adams firehouse, to the people who opened their homes to stranded motorists, there are so many stories of generosity and community that have come out of this recent storm,” said Senator Ritchie.
“I’m calling on those who experienced the weather event—whether they were helped or lent a hand to someone in need—to share their stories to be featured at this special event being held to recognize the Adams community.”
Call on Governor to Join in Supporting Vehicles Popular with Outdoorsmen
State Senator Patty Ritchie is leading a bipartisan group of more than a dozen state lawmakers in calling on Governor Cuomo to join in supporting the use of Side-by-Side recreational vehicles, or “UTVs.”
The group of lawmakers have written to the Governor urging him to amend his state budget proposal to allow UTVs, which are increasingly popular among outdoorsmen—particularly elderly couples and families. New York is losing out on tens of thousands of dollars in state revenue through registration fees, and taxes from retail sales of UTVs, as well as countless tourism-related jobs by prohibiting UTVs which, because they are slightly larger than standard four-wheelers, can exceed outdated weight limits in current law.
The letter is signed by Senator Ritchie (R-Heuvelton), Senator Joe Griffo (R-Oneida County) and Assemblyman Bill Magee (D-Madison County), who are sponsors of legislation to allow UTV use. Both of those bills have passed the Senate in prior years.
The letter also is signed by Senator Bill Larkin (R-Orange County), George Maziarz (R-Niagara County), Michael Ranzenhofer (R-Erie County) and Jim Seward (R-Otsego County); as well as Assembly Members Will Barclay (R-Pulaski), Ken Blankenbush (R-Black River), Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica), Clifford Crouch (R-Chenango County), Aileen Gunther (D-Orange County), Steve Hawley (R-Genesee County) and Claudia Tenney (R-Oneida County).
“UTVs are increasingly popular with senior riders, couples and family members who may want to bring a child with them while enjoying our great outdoors,” the letter says. “Every year, New York State loses sales tax and motor vehicle registrations because of our outmoded definition of all-terrain vehicles in Transportation Law.”
Richard Ball, the Governor's nominee for state Agriculture Commissioner, appeared today at the meeting of the State Senate's Agriculture Committee, which is chaired by Senator Patty Ritchie.Senator Ritchie invited the Commissioner to meet with members of the committee in advance of the official hearings on his confirmation to the post.Mr. Ball has made a living in agriculture his entire life, and modeled his career on his grandparents, who were lifelong dairy farmers.For the past 20 years, he has been the owner and operator of Schoharie Valley Farms, which consists of 200 acres and produces a wide range of vegetable crops, small fruits and greenhouse crops.
We all know that one of the keys to a booming economy is creating jobs. But what’s the driving force behind allowing businesses to expand and grow employment opportunities? Cutting red tape. For years, New York has been known for its high taxes and regulations. As state senator, it’s a top priority for me to not only cut taxes, but also to do away with burdensome regulations that hinder the growth of businesses in the Central and Northern New York region.
Recently, I was pleased to be part of an effort to collect ideas from small businesses, farmers, manufacturers and other employers on ways to cut red tape. That effort identified 2,219 specific rules, regulations and practices that employers believe puts New York at a competitive disadvantage for attracting and creating jobs.
Part of this initiative included industry-specific public forums that took place throughout New York State. I hosted one of the first of these sessions in Watertown, focusing on agriculture.
State Senator Patty Ritchie "got schooled" at the annual "Maple School" hosted by the St. Lawrence County Maple Producers Association and the local FFA.
The event, held Saturday at Gouverneur Central School, drew nearly 100 current and aspriring maple producers from across the North Country to learn from experts and fellow farmers about the age-old springtime tradition of sugaring, as well as new techniques to improve production and quality.
“People Helping People: A Celebration of Adams, NY” to take place February 8th State Senator Patty Ritchie will recognize those who lent a helping hand during the fierce lake effect snowstorm that hit the North Country earlier this month at “People Helping People: A Celebration of Adams, NY,” a special event that will take place on February 8th. “Here in the North Country, we are used to tough winters but when a major snowstorm hit earlier this month, people in the community of Adams truly went above and beyond to help those in need,” said Senator Ritchie.“Whether they opened their homes to motorists who couldn’t travel on I-81 or simply checked on an elderly neighbor, their actions are a true examples of what makes the North Country such a special place to live and this event is a sm
The 2014-2015 State Budget address delivered today by Governor Cuomo puts New York State in a great position to build upon the work we have done in recent years to control spending, cut taxes and invest in initiatives that create new jobs and revitalize our economy.
Working together, we have put a stop to the decades of late and unbalanced budgets by passing three consecutive early budgets. I am hopeful that this year we can continue that trend.
It was two years ago when Senate Republicans led the fight to pass a property tax cap that helped to rein in burdensome property taxes and reduced middle-class tax rates to their lowest levels in 60 years. This year, I’m eager to provide continued tax relief to hardworking New Yorkers by making the property tax cap and middle-class tax cuts permanent.
In addition, it’s also key that we work to continue to cut red tape and foster an environment that enables businesses to expand and create jobs. In order to do so, we should work to eliminate corporate taxes for manufacturers and do away with the onerous energy tax surcharge to promote business growth.
I was shocked and deeply disappointed by Alcoa’s surprise announcement of job reductions at Massena’s East plant.
Here in the North Country, we’re working every day to try to preserve and create jobs for our communities. That’s why, upon hearing this news, I immediately reached out to local and state officials, and the Governor, to try to find ways we can work together to preserve these jobs.
Measures Would Spotlight Black Lake, Lisbon and Winthrop Wineries
State Senator Patty Ritchie has announced she has introduced legislation to establish a St. Lawrence County Wine Trail in an effort to help put local wineries and vineyards on the map, boost local businesses and create jobs in the North Country.
“Over the past 27 years, more than 250 new wineries have opened across New York State—that includes many in the North Country. Along with those new businesses come new opportunities to attract tourists to our region,” said Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Senator Patty Ritchie.
“This legislation will literally put our local wineries on the map, creating a county-wide tourist destination that can eventually be linked to the Thousand Islands Wine Trail in Jefferson County. Moreover, the measure will help to spotlight these new wineries, boosting their businesses and also will provide for new business and employment opportunities in the North Country.”
There are currently 16 wine trails across New York, from the eastern end of Long Island to the Niagara escarpment, and including Jefferson County’s wine trail. The St. Lawrence County Wine Trail would be the state’s 17th; a reflection of the industry’s growth and statewide presence.
Under the proposed legislation (S.6321), the St. Lawrence County Wine Trail would begin near Black Lake’s Bella Brooke Winery in Morristown, extending to Lisbon’s River Myst Winery and then to High Peaks Winery in Winthrop. The trail is designed also to attract visitors to St. Lawrence Brewing’s microbrewery in Canton, providing the four establishments additional opportunities to collaborate and market themselves.
Measure to Expand Business Opportunities for Veterans
State Senator Patty Ritchie has announced she is cosponsoring a measure that supports the brave men and women of our armed forces by giving preference for state contracts to businesses owned by disabled veterans.
The measure, (S.2803-B) also known as the “NY Jobs for Heroes” program, is an initiative that would amend the executive law to require state agencies to set a goal of awarding 3 percent of contracts to businesses that are owned by service-disabled veterans.
“After traveling the world in support of our country, many of our veterans decide to settle in New York State—especially in the region that surrounds Fort Drum,” said Senator Ritchie.
“Service-disabled veterans have made the ultimate sacrifice in putting their lives on the line to protect our freedom. The very least we can do to recognize them for their contributions is to stand with them and provide them with the support they need to succeed in their post-military life.”
Funding will be used for Full Day Pre-Kindergarten Expansion and Community Learning Center Programs
State Senator Patty Ritchie has announced she has secured nearly $215,000 in special funding to help enrich educational opportunities in Central and Northern New York through an expansion of full-day pre-kindergarten and community learning center programs.
Included in the funding is more than $60,000 for the Oswego City School District to expand its full day pre-kindergarten program. For use with community learning center programs, the Fulton City School District was awarded nearly $47,000 and the Watertown City School District will receive nearly $108,000.
“I am thrilled to be able to help provide this funding, which will go a long way towards ensuring the students in our region have access to top-notch educational opportunities that set them on a path for bright futures,” said Senator Ritchie.
State Senator Patty Ritchie joined Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy and more than 100 other local officials and community members Thursday for the regional State of the State address held in Watertown.
The address featured key points of Governor Cuomo’s recent State of the State address, including providing tax relief for hardworking New Yorkers, creating jobs and securing the best educational opportunities possible for students.
Today marks the beginning of the 2014 Legislative Session and with a new year comes new opportunities to create a brighter future for all New Yorkers.
In recent years, we have worked diligently to make changes that deliver results for the hardworking people of this state. We ended decades of late, unbalanced and bloated state budgets by passing three consecutive early budgets. We have kept money in the pockets of hardworking middle class taxpayers by reducing income tax rates and enacting a property tax cap. We’ve also continued the hard work of rebuilding our state’s economy by creating thousands of new jobs in our region and making strategic investments in Central and Northern New York.
Our achievements aside, there’s still a lot more to be done. Today, we heard Governor Cuomo discuss the benefits of cutting taxes. In the past three years, I’ve been pleased to support a total of 30 different tax cuts—saving New Yorkers $3 billion. This year, I’m looking forward to working just as hard to continue to push for new tax cuts that help to create more opportunities for New Yorkers to succeed.
Ritchie Website, Facebook Page to Feature “Pets of the Week”
In an effort to find homes for animals up for adoption, State Senator Patty Ritchie is teaming up with local animal shelters to feature “Pets of the Week” from Central and Northern New York on her website and Facebook page.
“There are many people who bring pets home in December as holiday gifts who are now heading back to work and school and finding that they don’t have the time to dedicate to caring for an animal,” said Senator Ritchie.
“Many of those animals end up at local shelters. That’s why, this month—and in the months to come—I’ll be working with the Potsdam Humane Society, the Jefferson County SPCA and the Oswego County Humane Society to help find loveable pets a home.”
Senator Ritchie—a longtime pet owner who now owns a yellow lab named “Gunner”—is currently featuring the following pets on her website and Facebook page:
Potsdam Humane Society: This week’s pet is Barron von Willie, a male dog that has been part of the Potsdam Humane Society family since April of 2012. He is house trained, smart, energetic, full of love and according to Potsdam Humane Society staff, would do best in a single pet household. For more information on Baron von Willie and other pets up for adoption, please call the Potsdam Humane Society at (315) 265-3199.
For the people of the North Country, the St. Lawrence Psych Center has been a “Center of Excellence” for more than 100 years. With today’s announcement, we are ensuring it continues to play a central role in delivering that quality and compassionate care, and serving our community.
Six months ago, the state Office of Mental Health announced that it was transforming mental health services in Northern New York. And for six months, members of this community—including clients, family members, employees and a far greater number of ordinary, concerned citizens—rallied, petitioned, organized and appealed for a better idea.
We set just three goals: maintaining inpatient mental health services in Northern New York; providing a stronger mental health safety net in our communities, and preserving and protecting critically needed local jobs.
Today, we achieved all three. With today’s announcement, we are assured that North Country families won’t have to endure an hours-long drive through dangerous winter storms to find appropriate care for our loved ones.