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The Times
  • Local lawmakers sound off on State of the State address

  • As Gov. Andrew Cuomo made his State of the State address on Wednesday several officials waited in anticipation to hear the possible new changes for 2013.

    During the governor’s speech he called for closing loopholes on a state ban on assault weapons and ammunition magazines that carry more than 10 bullets as a part of a gun control package.

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  • As Gov. Andrew Cuomo made his State of the State address on Wednesday several officials waited in anticipation to hear the possible new changes for 2013.
    During the governor’s speech he called for closing loopholes on a state ban on assault weapons and ammunition magazines that carry more than 10 bullets as a part of a gun control package.
    Ilion Mayor John Stephens disagreed with the governor’s proposal for harsher gun control.
    “What happened in the Connecticut shooting was a tragedy for every community in the nation, including our own, but Remington Arms employs about 1,500 people in the Mohawk Valley. Is a job more important than someone’s life, absolutely not, but the laws currently in the books need to be better enforced,” said Stephens. “Over 200 years ago, our forefathers put together the Constitution which gives the right to bear arms. I don’t feel the way the higher officials are handling this issue is correct and I don’t want to see something hastily done that will have a negative effect our area.”
    State Senator James Seward added, “In light of recent tragedies, something must be done, but it is wrong to adopt superficial measures that fail to confront the heart of the problem and only serve as a constraint on law-abiding gun owners. We need to take an approach that addresses the sale and possession of illegal guns, increases penalties for those who use guns to commit crimes and focuses on the treatment of mentally ill individuals who are a danger to themselves and others.”
    Further commenting on the governor’s address, Seward, R - Milford, said New York is headed in the right direction financially thanks in part to a strong working relationship between the legislature and Cuomo that has evolved over the last two years. “The governor’s pledge to continue to hold the line on taxes is one I wholeheartedly endorse. This has been a key piece of our state’s rebuilding foundation and one that must remain if we are to make further strides,” he said.
    Although Seward agreed with the governor’s decision to hold the line on taxes, he said he feels there was a serious omission in Cuomo’s State of the State address. “The words ‘mandate relief’ were never uttered by the governor. When the property tax cap was approved, mandate relief was supposed to be part of the package, but little has been done. We need to take real steps to help our local governments and schools cut costs and focus on local needs,” he said.
    Raising the state’s minimum wage was another controversial subject addressed by the governor in his address. Cuomo proposed a minimum wage increase from $7.25 an hour to $8.75 and hour.
    According to Assemblyman Marc Butler, R - Newport, “Last year there was a proposed raise in minimum wage to $8.50 an hour that was later rejected due to an annual escalator written in the legislation. Because of what previously occurred, the amount of $8.75 could be subject to negotiation if there is an annual escalator, but this may be the year minimum wage rises.”
    Page 2 of 2 - In a statement Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, D - Utica, said he is pleased the governor is putting together a strong economic development investment and marketing plan for upstate New York.
    “Gov. Cuomo’s plan to overhaul the state’s workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance plans to help businesses reduce their bottom line is very much needed,” he said, adding the governor’s proposal for an Equal Pay Act for women is a proposal he strongly supports.
    Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, R - New Hartford, said in a statement she will enter the new legislative session with reservations about the governor’s pronouncements.
    “The Taste NY program, which promotes locally grown and produced products in ‘duty free zones,’ is a testament to the ingenuity, pride and talent of our local farmers and artisans, but they need tax relief to truly flourish and share their goods,” she said.
    According to Tenney, a few months ago New York was listed as dead last nationally for states that are “open for business.” “We cannot sustain any more overbearing government involvement when year in and year out it has failed our small businesses and communities. Taxes are too high, economic development is just another name for member items and our children are suffering from poor school funding and education policies,” she said. “This year, I want to see the governor pick this state up by the boot straps and put us on a road to recovery. If he can come to the table with that attitude, I will be there to work with him to ensure that New York is once again known as the Empire State.”

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