By Jessica Bagley
State Sen. Mark Grisanti touched on a number of hot topics during his keynote speech at the Ken-Ton Chamber of Commerce's first luncheon of 2013, held Friday at Banchetti by Rizzo's.
Per new redistricting measures, Grisanti has recently taken over a role in Kenmore and Tonawanda, and Friday's event served as a chance for him to discuss a variety issues with his new constituents, including the passage of the gun control legislation, which Grisanti voted for.
"I have received a lot of feedback from people who believe my vote infringed upon their Second Amendment rights," Grisanti said. "But I took action to get things taken out of the original proposal that could have been massive infringements."
Grisanti said he, along with other senators, worked to get more stringent requirements taken out of the bill, including the confiscation of assault weapons and limitation of rounds of ammunition to five, instead of seven — which would effectively make many guns used for hunting illegal.
"We also put additional policy items in the bill," he said. "Like the expansion of criminal penalties for those who use guns violently, loaded or not loaded ... and life without parole for those who kill a first responder."
Grisanti said he also worked to add penalties for those who buy guns for felons, as well as penalties for use of "community guns" by gangs.
And after all his work to modify the bill, Grisanti said he had no choice but to vote for it, repeatedly stating that no matter how he voted, the bill would still have been passed.
"In Albany, you'd look like a complete loser if you went through all those negotiations, succeeded, and then voted no," he said. "You'd lose your credibility."
Town of Tonawanda Supervisor Anthony Caruana, who was in attendance Friday, asked Grisanti if Gov. Andrew Cuomo's hastening of the bill's passage was circumventive to the democratic process.
"In my opinion, the three-day waiting period allows people to stew about it ... go back to their districts, hear things, and then get worried," Grisanti said. "Then, they come back and the deal falls apart."
Grisanti also discussed lawmakers' proposal to increase minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $8.75 per hour, a jump that Grisanti believes is too drastic.
"Small businesses have said that would be detrimental to them," Grisanti said. "Studies show that those between the ages of 16 and 24 would lose their jobs if it was increased by that much...and many would not qualify for HEAP and health coverage."
Grisanti noted that if correlated to inflation rates, the minimum wage should be $10.10.
"I'm glad we've gotten away from tying it to inflation," he said. "I think $8 would be more reasonable."
Tracey Lukasik, Executive Director of the Ken-Ton Chamber of Commerce, also provided attendees with commerce news and told local businessmen and women to inform her of their company's news for advertising on the commerce's Facebook page.
She also announced an award ceremony to be held at the Village Square Events & Catering on Feb. 6. Board members of the commerce and the Kenmore Merchants Association will be installed for 2013, and awards will be given businesses for their community service and environmentally friendly policies.
The commerce is accepting nominations for the awards on their website.