This week in New York, July 12-18, brings the second annual “Invasive Species Awareness Week” (ISAW), and there’s simply no denying its importance: the impact of invasive species can be costly, and devastating.
From the longstanding battle to control the spread of Eurasian Water Milfoil (EWM) in Waneta and Lamoka Lakes in Schuyler and Steuben counties, to the more recent invasion of Hydrilla in the Cayuga Lake Inlet in Tompkins County, our waterway-filled landscape is no stranger to these threats.
The future of public transportation in our rural, Upstate regions is being put at risk by Albany’s attempt at a statewide, one-size-fits-all approach to these local systems.
It’s a developing crisis for many rural residents. So we’re trying to bring more widespread attention to the changes underway, fully assess the consequences for our counties and do what we can to ensure that the impact on rural, Upstate public transportation at least receives a full and a fair hearing.
In New York State it always seems, sooner or later, to circle back to jobs and taxes.
As in lack of jobs, and high taxes.
So it’s no surprise that one of the state’s most highly touted job creation initiatives has been under the microscope over the past week. And – just to make it clear where I’m coming from at the outset – rightly so.
The online volunteer registration process is underway for the 4th Annual “I Love My Park Day” on Saturday, May 2, 2015 at state parks and historic sites across New York, including events at several regional sites.
The statewide event, sponsored by Parks & Trails New York (PTNY) in partnership with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) and local groups, is aimed at encouraging volunteer efforts to enhance New York’s parks and historic sites and promote the entire park system.
The 2015-2016 New York State budget includes higher state aid to local schools, a stronger commitment to local infrastructure and broadband development, and enhanced assistance to key economic sectors including agriculture.
This budget targets key Upstate industries like agriculture and tourism, helps local schools, and enhances state support for addressing critical Upstate challenges like local roads, bridges, universal broadband and other vital infrastructure.
A few weeks ago, state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) biologists were wading in a number of area creeks weighing and measuring rainbow trout as part of the annual samplings that help monitor fish populations in Finger Lakes tributaries.
It’s one of the annual and much-anticipated preludes to the opening of trout season this Wednesday, April 1st.
"The fish are in real good shape, really fat...The biggest one was just under 9 pounds. Fishing should be really good for the opener," one biologist said, in what can only be music to the ears of all anglers.
I was proud to join several of my Senate colleagues recently to call for increased state funding to support the expansion of a groundbreaking treatment program for military servicemen and servicewomen suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) -- a program known as the Research & Recognition Project.
I'm equally proud that the Senate this week included funding for the project in our Budget Resolution -- a document that sets the stage for final budget talks with Governor Cuomo and the Assembly leadership.
I was glad to be able to join area Assemblyman Phil Palmesano again this year to organize a bipartisan group of 114 state legislators to join county and town highway superintendents and other local leaders from across New York in calling for increased state support for local roads, bridges and culverts.
At an Albany news conference in the Capitol, we made our case for increasing state funding for the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program, commonly known as CHIPS, by $200 million to a total of $638.1 million in the 2015-2016 state budget.
A mid-January report from the state comptroller’s office found that the state Department of Health (DOH) wrongly paid more than 29,000 pharmacy claims, worth nearly $1 million, for thousands of Medicaid recipients already covered by managed care plans.
And just last week, a second comptroller’s report found that the DOH failed to collect an estimated $120 million in available rebates from prescription drug makers.
These are the findings that drive state taxpayers crazy.
This week the Legislature’s fiscal committees commence joint, public hearings on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2015-16 proposed state budget. These extensive, often daylong hearings will continue throughout February.
That means we’re going to keep learning more and more about the governor’s plan for New York’s future, short and long term, as the hearings highlight additional information and dissect detail after detail.
The recent killings of two on-duty New York City police officers have reignited, in many places, long-simmering conflicts between law enforcement and the communities they are sworn to protect and serve.
It's a highly dangerous time for all of us.
Governor Cuomo and other top state officials have signaled their intention to make criminal justice reform a top priority in 2015. In light of these stated intentions -- and in response to them -- the Senate Republican Conference wants to ensure that a key centerpiece of any upcoming debate is not overlooked: police safety.
The Southern Tier region was awarded a total of $80.8 million and the Finger Lakes region $80.7 million through the fourth round of funding for the state’s Regional Economic Development Councils (REDC) initiative.
In fact, both the Southern Tier and the Finger Lakes regions are among the five regions recognized as a “Top Performer” in this year’s competition.
So the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions continue to stand out this year.
Talk about change. One thing we know is that e-commerce has become big, big business -- especially during the holiday shopping season. "Cyber Monday," for example, is the beginning of a rush of online purchasing that, according to reports, generates more than $1 billion in spending by American consumers.
Going hand in hand with this modern economy, however, the unprecedented exchange of online information raises concerns over cyber-crime, especially identity theft.
It's been a constant topic on these pages over the past several years: the resurgence of meth across the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions.
Meth's rise has been accompanied more recently by a resurgence of heroin abuse.
We've stressed that it's going to take a multi-pronged approach to combat the spread of these drugs, one that includes tougher laws and law enforcement, prevention and treatment, and, equally important, heightened community awareness and education.
The years keep passing, 13 have now gone by, but Americans of all ages will gather again this week, in the words of former President George W. Bush, to “honor the memory of the 11th day.”
From east to west, from north to south, Americans do their duty as citizens to remember September 11, 2001, like we always have, and like we always will.
For this generation, to this very day, September 11th evokes one of the most powerful reminders of all: we are Americans and above all else, in the toughest of times, we will stand together in aid, in comfort, and in resolve.
Here's what Stuart F. Gruskin of The Nature Conservancy in New York, has to say about a recently enacted state law aimed at further combating the spread of aquatic invasive species througout the Finger Lakes and all of our waterways, "This (new law) will reduce the spread of aquatic invasive species that harm human, economic and environmental health. Each year, invasive species cost our communities millions of dollars. By taking simple and common sense measures to clean, drain and dry our boats we can reduce the spread of these harmful species and protect our fishing, tourism and other water-dependent industries."
Summer's moving fast, so it' a good time to issue this reminder about the Senate's Summer Reading Program.
Area students and their families are invited to take part in an online summer reading program that I'm sponsoring locally and that the Senate will be promoting throughout the summer of 2014 in partnership with the New York State Library and public libraries across the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions, and statewide.
Lyme disease, once considered mostly a “downstate” concern, is now a growing public health threat across Upstate New York.
In recent weeks, as we’ve entered the height of tick season, we’ve heard public health officials in Yates and other area counties issue warnings about this debilitating illness that affects hundreds of thousands of Americans annually.