Albany, NY...On the eve of the 2020 legislative session, Senator Jen Metzger (SD-42) took a look back on her first year of office, which saw 21 of her bills signed into law—all of them passing the Senate with wide bipartisan support. Metzger's legislative initiatives covered a diverse range of issues, from reducing regulatory burdens on farmers to expanding electric vehicle infrastructure in New York State, to combating Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. "It's important that we work together to address issues of concern to our region and state, and I'm proud that these laws were supported by both sides of the aisle," said Senator Metzger.
One of Metzger's most important bills was a nation-leading law creating a framework for the production, processing, and sale of hemp and CBD products. “We have a real economic opportunity in the production of hemp and CBD products, and I am eager to see our region capitalize on this opportunity for farmers and local businesses up the value chain,” said Senator Metzger, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee. “By working together, we protect our farms and rural heritage while diversifying the economy.”
The 42nd Senate District covers all of Sullivan County and parts of Orange, Ulster, and Delaware counties. The 2019 session also saw passage of important "local bills" introduced by Metzger, including a bill to protect the Roscoe Central School District from losing $1.1 million in building aid penalties, and a bill that extends the Community Preservation Act to Ulster County to help communities protect their unique natural, historic, agricultural, and scenic resources for the benefit of current and future generations. Two Middletown bills were also signed into law, one enabling the school district to set up an insurance reserve fund and another to relieve the City from antiquated restrictions limiting the plumbers the city could hire.
Metzger’s very first bill signed into law designated a bridge in the town of Fremont as the ‘Specialist Allan Milk Memorial Bridge’ in honor of the Sullivan County native who was killed in Vietnam just months before his 21st birthday. "This was such an important bill to the community, and seeing it signed into law was certainly one of the most moving moments in my first year,” Metzger said.
A priority issue for Senator Metzger is addressing climate change, and she was an active member of the Senate's work group on the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), which was signed into law in July. Metzger has also introduced a package of bills to accelerate the shift to clean transportation as well as the Freedom from Fossil Fuels Act, which prohibits new fossil fuel infrastructure and encourages the shift to a clean energy economy. "As we address climate change, we also create new opportunities for our rural economies through clean energy investments that create jobs in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and transportation," said Metzger.
Looking ahead to the 2020 session, Metzger's priorities include legislation banning corporate donations to political candidates to make government more accountable to the electorate (a bill she introduced in 2019); extending rural broadband and cell service coverage and creating new service quality standards for telecommunications companies; fortifying emergency management services; working to lower property taxes; and strengthening efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. As Chair of the Agriculture Committee, she will continue her efforts to support a strong and diversified agricultural economy that sustains New York's family farms, which comprise 98 percent of all farms in the state. Recently, Metzger introduced a bill for the 2020 session to double the farmworker retention tax credit and extend it indefinitely. To aid small businesses of all kinds, Metzger has introduced a new bill requiring the Department of State to better inform small businesses of regulatory and legal changes affecting them through publication of annual small business compliance guide.