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January 2, 2013 - 7:20am
posted by Howard B. Owens in kathy hochul.

Rep. Kathy Hochul voted yes on the "fiscal cliff" package passed yesterday by the House. Here is her statement of support for the package:

“Like most Western New Yorkers, I was frustrated and disappointed by the inability of Congress to reach a bipartisan agreement before the December 31st deadline. Only in Washington would political leaders use the security of our families and the strength of our economy as a bargaining chip to score political points. For more than a year, I have called for a bipartisan compromise that would extend the Bush tax cuts for individuals making up to $500,000. The package before Congress tonight is a significant step in that direction. More importantly, it represents the type of compromise necessary to protect Western New York families and businesses, avoid a recession, and move our country forward. I supported this package not because it was perfect, but because it represents the best option for our country at this time.”

December 18, 2012 - 4:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-26, kathy hochul.

Press release:

During her year and a half in Congress, Representative Kathy Hochul (NY-26) worked with members of both parties on behalf of Western New York’s small businesses, middle class families, veterans, students and seniors.

“It has been an honor and privilege to represent and fight for the people of Western New York,” Hochul said.

Thanks to Hochul’s efforts, the temporary guest worker program has been streamlined and is now available electronically, saving farmers across the country time and money.

Under Hochul’s Clothe a Homeless Hero Act, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will partner with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and local charities to distribute unclaimed clothing left at airport security checkpoints to homeless and needy veterans and their families. This bill passed House and Senate and is expected to be signed into law by the President.

Rep. Hochul is known for working closely with constituents to answer questions, solve problems, or cut through bureaucratic red tape. Hochul secured over $1.3 million dollars for her constituents.

Hochul made it a top priority to ensure the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station (NFARS) would remain in Western New York for the foreseeable future. At Hochul's invitation, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta visited the air base in August and promised to preserve the base.

Additionally, Hochul worked to ensure that American manufacturers continue to grow, create jobs at home, and outperform foreign competition. In her manufacturing jobs plan, she advocated for investing in American workers by closing the skills gap, bringing jobs home from overseas, cracking down on unfair Chinese trade practices, spurring production of America-made energy and resources, and keeping tax dollars in America. Rep Hochul introduced a bill to create incentives for local companies to partner with colleges and universities to match education and job training with the needs of our local businesses.

Please click here to see accompanying document for further information on Rep. Hochul’s accomplishments.

November 27, 2012 - 8:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-26, kathy hochul.

Press release:

Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 6328, The Clothe a Homeless Hero Act, which was introduced by Rep. Kathy Hochul (NY-26). The legislation will require the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to partner with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and local charities to distribute unclaimed clothing left at airport security checkpoints to homeless and needy veterans and veterans’ families. The bill passed by voice vote with strong support from members of both parties.

“As cold weather approaches across much of the country, this legislation will be a greatly needed help for homeless veterans while we work to end homelessness for good. It is unconscionable that so many of our veterans are homeless, and we must support our returning heroes. I am proud that my legislation to assist veterans passed with the bipartisan support of my colleagues,” Rep. Hochul said.

“Since joining the Committee, Rep. Hochul has worked tirelessly to identify bipartisan solutions to our nation’s problems, and thanks to her thoughtful leadership, the House took a small, but important, step in support of our veterans in passing H.R. 6328. We owe it to our veterans to do all that we can to ensure they get the helping hand needed to get back on their feet when they return from the battlefield.”

According to the VA, approximately 75,000 veterans are homeless on any given night, and about 20,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been homeless within the last five years.

Hochul has consistently supported the needs of veterans throughout her time in Congress. She introduced the Vocational Employment and Technical Skills Act (VETS Act), which would make it easier for veterans to receive professional certification in skills they performed while members of the armed services. Rep. Hochul cosponsored additional legislation to encourage the hiring of veterans, including the Hiring Heroes Act that modernizes and improves programs to assist our veterans with the transition from service member to civilian life.

November 22, 2012 - 3:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in kathy hochul.

From Kathy Hochul:

This Thanksgiving Day, as we count our blessings, let us also be mindful of those brave men and women away from their families, serving overseas to protect our freedom and defend others around the world. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers. I wish Western New York and the nation a safe, peaceful, and happy Thanksgiving.

November 7, 2012 - 9:06am
posted by Howard B. Owens in kathy hochul, NY-27, chris collins.

Press release from Kathy Hochul:

“Early this morning I called Chris Collins and congratulated him on being elected to Congress. I encouraged him to work across the aisle and offered to assist him in any way I can. I also volunteered to help him make a smooth transition in January to ensure our constituents are well served. Congress can do better, and the people of this country deserve better than what Washington has given them.”

November 3, 2012 - 9:21am
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, kathy hochul, NY-27, chris collins.

A little more than a week ago, we sent seven questions to each of the candidates for NY-27 congressional seat.

The rules were:

Here are seven questions we are asking each of the candidates to answer. Answers are due by Noon, Nov. 2. We’re asking each candidate to answer the questions directly without referring to your opponent or members of the opposing party. This is about each candidates positions on these issues, not what they think about the opposing party or the opposing candidate. Please craft answers accordingly. Answers will be published verbatim in a Q&A format.

Below are the questions and the answers from Chris Collins. Though we were told to expect answers from Kathy Hochul's campaign, we have not received the answers.

What would be your top priority over the next two years to help lower the costs of medical care – if it’s even possible – in the United States?

We must repeal ObamaCare which is, in effect, a government takeover of medical care in the United States and will greatly increase the cost of medical care. ObamaCare dictates to employers what benefits to provide even if those benefits are not needed or wanted by employees. ObamaCare greatly expands Medicaid which is already out of control in New York State and in many cases consumes 100% of county property taxes. We can’t afford more. We need tort reform with a cap on medical malpractice awards. Too much medicine is defensive medicine (some say as much as 30%). Tort reform is our greatest opportunity to reduce the cost of medicine.

What is your ideal future for Medicare?

We must repeal ObamaCare which cuts $716 billion from Medicare including cuts to current seniors, including my 85-year-old Mom. ObamaCare is focused on ending Medicare Advantage by cutting payments to providers which will result in increased premiums and cuts to benefits. Well over 50% of seniors in the 27th Congressional District depend on Medicare Advantage, including my 85-year-old Mom. We should not make cuts to Medicare for seniors age 55 or over, which is why we must repeal ObamaCare. We must work together to make sure Medicare is solvent for future generations and those age 55 and under.

Should the federal tax system be changed – flat tax or consumption tax instead of income tax, or remain as it is? If an income tax, should deductions such as the home mortgage interest deduction be eliminated?

We should make the current tax code flatter and fairer. The maximum marginal tax rate should be 25% - 28% to compete with the rest of the world. We can cap itemized deductions for higher wage earners so the top 1% still pay 37% of the nation’s tax. We should not eliminate mortgage interest deductions since we want to encourage home ownership.

Would you support military action against Iran to prevent that country from obtaining either a nuclear weapon or the capability to build one?

Military action should always be a last resort but the United States cannot allow Iran to obtain nuclear capabilities. All options should be on the table, but military action must be a last resort.

Genesee County needs to spend as much as $15 million on road and bridge repair in the next five years. What will you do, if anything, to help the county pay for infrastructure repair?

The federal government plays a role in infrastructure repair and should continue to do so. As Erie County Executive, I prioritized infrastructure repairs as an important piece of making the county a place where businesses wanted to locate.

What is your position on WNY STAMP? Should federal grants and subsidies be directed to that project to help bring businesses into the industrial park?

WNY STAMP is an opportunity to bring good jobs to our region. The decision should ultimately rest with the local community.

Sen. Charles Schumer supports building a section of high-speed rail through a portion of Genesee County in the area of Bergen. What is your position on this project?  

I do not support high speed rail. The United States has $16 trillion in debt and currently runs a $1 trillion yearly deficit. We are broke and the cupboards are bare.

UPDATE: We received Hochul's answers this afternoon as I was on my way to Rochester to cover the Notre Dame game, or I would have posted them several hours ago.

What would be your top priority over the next two years to help lower
the costs of medical care – if it’s even possible – in the United
States?

I am confident our country can slow, and even reverse the skyrocketing growth in health care costs.  First of all, Medicare should be allowed to negotiate with drug companies and secure lower cost prescription drugs for our seniors.  We must also look to new, innovative methods of care delivery, specifically care coordination. If different parties in the health care sector – hospitals, primary care physicians, specialists, insurance companies, etc. – all work together to coordinate patient care and ensure that everyone is on the same page, the quality of care will improve, and the cost of care will go down.  There is also great potential for reducing health care costs through the use of tele-medicine, especially in rural communities.  To make this a reality, I introduced Veterans Tele-Health legislation to ensure we save our veterans valuable time and money when while providing them with the health care they need.

What is your ideal future for Medicare?



We must ensure our seniors can continue to rely on the Medicare program they have earned and paid into their whole lives.  To keep the program viable, we must eliminate wasteful spending and lower the cost of healthcare.  That is why I introduced the Stop Medicare Fraud Act, which would dramatically increase penalties for defrauding Medicare and redirect those funds to the prosecution of fraud.   I do not support the Paul Ryan budget proposal, which would end Medicare as we know it and essentially transform Medicare into a voucher program. 

Should the federal tax system be changed – flat tax or consumption tax
instead of income tax, or remain as it is? If an income tax, should
deductions such as the home mortgage interest deduction be eliminated?



I do not support imposing a national sales tax on all Americans, and I believe that billionaires should be expected to contribute more to reducing the deficit than middle class families.  Overall, we do need a simpler tax code and must comb through the tax code line by line to make sure it is fair and encourages job creation here in America.  That is why I support ending tax breaks for Big Oil companies earning billions of dollars in profit, and why I cosponsored legislation to close tax loopholes for companies that ship jobs overseas.

Would you support military action against Iran to prevent that country
from obtaining either a nuclear weapon or the capability to build one?



Under no circumstances can we allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons, and we must leave all options on the table.  In Congress, I have consistently stood with Israel and voted to strengthen crippling sanctions against Iran, sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy.  I have also helped lead the fight to monitor Hezbollah's activities in the Western Hemisphere, and have pushed the European Union to formally designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

Genesee County needs to spend as much as $15 million on road and
bridge repair in the next five years. What will you do, if anything,
to help the county pay for infrastructure repair?



The best way to shore up finances for Genesee County and local governments in Western New York is to create a strong economic environment where jobs are being created and employers are hiring. Right now, the Greek yogurt industry is booming. To ensure New York yogurt is always made with New York milk and to boost local economic development, we need to cut red tape for dairy farmers so they can increase their production to supply the projected 15% change in demand for milk from yogurt companies. On the federal level, I’ve been advocating for increased infrastructure funding and sponsored an amendment to protect dedicated funding for rural bridge repairs when some in Congress tried to eliminate this program.

What is your position on WNY STAMP? Should federal grants and
subsidies be directed to that project to help bring businesses into
the industrial park?



Of course, land use decisions should be made by local residents -- not the federal government.  When community support for a project is strong, like it is for developments at the Agri-Business park, I support the use of targeted grants and tax incentives to encourage businesses invest in Western New York.  Ultimately, it is the private sector that creates jobs--not the government.  As your Representative, I am working to foster a better business environment that is conducive to job creation and economic growth.  To close the skills gap that holds back growth in advanced manufacturing, I have held school-to-work roundtables to partner local employers with educators.  And in Congress, I introduced legislation to provide tax breaks to businesses that manufacture in America and partner with local schools to provide students with on-the job training opportunities.

Sen. Charles Schumer supports building a section of high-speed rail
through a portion of Genesee County in the area of Bergen. What is
your position on this project?

The residents of Bergen should decide if a project of this scale is right for their community. I do believe we need targeted investments in infrastructure, including transportation, to advance our economy. To take advantage of the new economy and ensure agricultural producers can reach new markets and customers, we need to more robustly invest in all forms of transportation infrastructure, including our roads and highways, airports and runways, harbors and waterways, as well as rail systems.

October 18, 2012 - 4:53pm

Every year in Genesee County, 350 people are diagnosed with cancer and 100 people die from cancer, which is why, according to a group of the American Cancer Society who were in Batavia today, cancer should be an important election issue.

Americans need research and treatment for the disease and the assurance of funding for both, according to Hillary Clarke, director of federal government relations, so this is an issue voters should take up with candidates for office.

At www.cancervotes.org is a voter's guide for the presidential election with responses from the two major party candidates, but Clarke said neither of the candidates for the NY-27 Congressional District responded to the Cancer Action Network's survey.

Contacted today, a spokesman for Kathy Hochul's campaign said Hochul did respond and her answers are posted on the Web site. We've not been able to find those answers and requested a direct link to the appropriate page.

The spokesman for Chris Collins, Micheal Kracker, sent the following statement in response to a simple question of what would Collins do to support the fight against cancer.

"As the brother of a cancer survivor, Chris Collins knows how important it is to support cancer research. Chris also recognizes how important it is to make sure no government bureaucracy stops doctors from giving patients like Chris' sister the treatment they need to stay healthy. We need to be sure that doctors, not government bureaucrats determine how best to care for patients. We must also promise to protect Medicare for our seniors so they continue to receive the access to affordable care they paid for their entire lives."

We'll update this post if any additional information comes in.

UPDATE: Statement from Angela Pause-Smith, communications director, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Inc.: "Neither candidate responded to our questionnaire so there actually isn't a Voter Guide for this race. I'm sorry if someone told you that there was one."

UPDATE II: As soon as I posted the update above, Pause-Smith emailed the following: "So I learned literally a moment ago that late this afternoon Hochul returned our questionnaire. There is a process we need to follow to post it on our Web site and we've asked for that process to be expedited so you can see the responses, but I can't provide a time that they will be available."

UPDATE III: Pause-Smith clarifies: "It may not have been late this afternoon that she returned it, I just learned of it late this afternoon. We received it sometime today."

UPDATE IV: Hochul's answers are now available, click here.

Photo: Julie Kumiega, Hillary Clarke and Karen Hall.

October 4, 2012 - 2:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, kathy hochul.

Press release:

Today, Representative Kathy Hochul (NY-26) announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated the seven counties of New York State’s 26th Congressional District as natural disaster areas due to the significant production loss caused by damage from armyworms.

"The infestation of armyworms combined with the spring's wild temperature swings, the summer's drought, and high feed prices have resulted in a particularly difficult year for Western New York farmers. The USDA's disaster designation will provide much needed relief to our farmers dealing with the devastating effects of the armyworms. Farms seeking assistance will now be eligible for emergency loans to help them recover and keep their businesses viable," Rep. Hochul said.

For more information, affected farmers are encouraged to contact their local Farm Service Agency office or Cornell Cooperative Extension Office.

Since the initial reports of the armyworm outbreak, Rep. Hochul has worked with local farmers to mitigate the damage, including seeing the effects firsthand at a Wyoming County farm.

Rep. Hochul has continually advocated for agriculture, a mainstay of Western New York’s economy with nearly 3,500 farms and an annual output of over $739 million in the 26th District alone. Support for agriculture is a key component of Hochul’s REBUILD Plan.

October 3, 2012 - 4:43pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, events, kathy hochul.
Event Date and Time: 
October 16, 2012 - 10:00am to 1:00pm

Representative Kathy Hochul (NY-26) will hold satellite office hours in Batavia from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 16, in the second-floor conference room at city hall, One Batavia City Centre.

This will provide constituents of New York’s 26th Congressional District with direct access to Rep. Hochul’s district staff to assist with casework issues.

September 27, 2012 - 10:29am
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, kathy hochul.

Press release:

Today, Representative Kathy Hochul (NY-26) announced that the United States Department of Labor (DOL), at her urging, will begin accepting online applications for the H-2A temporary agricultural worker visa program on Dec. 10.

“I am pleased to announce today that farmers in Western New York and across the country will be able to utilize the new electronic filing system for H-2A visas by the end of this year. This reform will save time and money for taxpayers and farmers and will go a long way toward ensuring our fruit and vegetable growers have the help they need to plant and harvest their crops, expand production, and grow their businesses here in Western New York,” Rep. Hochul said.

“This change is a welcomed one for New York farmers who depend on timely and accurate information when it comes to securing the workforce their farms require. It is imperative as each harvest approaches that family farms have the ability to hire the workers they need in order to have a successful season. We appreciate the work that has been done on our farmer members’ behalf to modernize the H-2A hiring process,” said Dean Norton, New York Farm Bureau president.

“The new online filing system for H-2A visas will streamline this process, cutting burdensome red tape,” said Maureen Torrey of Torrey Farms. “I thank Rep. Hochul for her efforts to modernize this program, and bring efficiencies to farmers across Western New York.”

Last summer, Hochul met with Deputy Labor Secretary Seth Harris and farmers from throughout Western New York to discuss concerns with the H-2A program, including the need to make the application system available online. Hochul also pushed Labor Secretary Hilda Solis to modernize the H-2A visa program and met with Deputy Assistant Secretary Gerri Fiala to stress the importance of this reform.

In addition, Rep. Hochul has actively worked to expand the H-2A program to include dairy farmers, who are currently prohibited from participating due to the industry’s year-round demands. Rep. Hochul has introduced bipartisan legislation to allow dairy farmers to participate in the H-2A program, to ensure Western New York dairy farms have adequate labor to increase production and meet the needs of the booming Greek Yogurt industry.

Nearly all of New York's 35,000 farms are family owned – making agricultural one of New York's top small-business industries – and making the need for a user-friendly, online H-2A application system even more critical.

September 21, 2012 - 2:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, agriculture, kathy hochul.

Rep. Kathy Hochul is boarding a plane in Washington, D.C., right now, heading back to her district for an election-period recess, but she would rather stay in the Capitol, she said, and give local farmers what they need to run their businesses -- the certainty of a farm bill.

"I'm ready to turn around right now and stay in Congress as long as it takes day and night and do what's right for our farmers," Hochul said.

"This is just another sign that Washington is broken and we've let our farmers down," Hochul said.

Every five years, Congress must pass a new farm bill. Last passed in 2008 as the Food, Conservation and Energy Act, the $288 billion appropriations bill not only provides crop insurance and price support for farmers, it also provides subsidies for private land conversion back to a natural state, biofuel subsidies and is the funding source for food stamps.

A version of the bill was passed with bipartisan support by the Senate, but even after winning Agriculture Committee support in the House, the bill hasn't come to a floor vote.

The 2008 act expires in a week.

Hochcul said it's baffling and unconscionable that the House leadership has blocked a floor vote.

Agriculture, Hochul said, is a $739 million a year industry in her district, and $4.7 billion statewide. 

Regardless of the legislation's provisions -- the Senate and House versions would need to be negotiated into a compromise bill in conference committee -- farmers need the certainty of a farm bill in order to operate their businesses on a daily basis.

According to an NPR article, the near-term fallout of the failure of the House to pass a farm bill is pretty minimal. The provisions of the current farm bill that most effect farmers remain in place through the end of the current growing season, which for something like winter wheat means until spring.

However, it is very uncertain what will come next, according to NPR, because some deficit hawks have their eyes set on greatly reducing expenditures in the farm bill, including for food stamps, and there may be a lot of political pressure in Washington next year to reduce spending.

"We need to keep spending under control, yes, and we need to find ways to do it," Hochul said, "but the farmers need the certainty that comes with passage of this bill."

There is bipartisan support for passage of a farm bill in the House, Hochul said, and she won't speculate on why its leadership is blocking a floor vote on such a critical piece of legislation.

"The fact they won't let us get to a compromise means that they refuse to govern and that's just inexcusable," Hochul said.

September 11, 2012 - 9:20am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Andrew Cuomo, 9-11, kathy hochul.

Press release:

"On this day, we mark the eleventh anniversary of the terror attacks that claimed thousands of lives and truly changed New York and our nation forever. On this day, we honor the memories and the lives of those who were killed and the families who will never forget them. We also honor the first responders who bravely put themselves in harm’s way – many of whom never returned home.

"It is also our obligation and our duty to make sure that we will always remember. As a new generation grows up without having witnessed the horror of September 11th, it is important to educate our children so they can understand the tragedy that unfolded on that day, the bravery and courage of our first responders, and the outpouring of goodwill in communities across New York and America as we recovered as one state and one nation."

UPDATE:  Statement from Rep. Kathy Hochul:

“Today as we mark the passing of another year since the September 11 attacks in 2001, we honor those we lost on that day. We recall the innocent victims taken too soon, the courage of the passengers who prevented further tragedy, and those first responders, who in doing their jobs, laid down their lives to protect their fellow Americans.

“What grew from this tragedy was an all encompassing spirit of patriotism, bonding our nation together in common purpose to move our country forward. Our endeavor today is to find that spirit once again. We must recognize that so much more binds us than divides us, and as Americans we are capable of solving the challenges of our time.

“In the memory of all who were lost on 9/11, I call on each of us to rekindle the spirit of patriotism that brought us together in our country’s darkest hour.”

September 10, 2012 - 11:13am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, agriculture, kathy hochul.

Press release:

Today, Representative Kathy Hochul, joined by Bill and Terry Zittel of Zittel Farms, renewed her call for a comprehensive five-year Farm Bill. In a letter to House leadership, Hochul urged passage on a five-year Farm Bill to ensure farmers in Western New York and across the country have the certainty and support they require.

“I have heard firsthand from farmers across Western New York about the crucial need for a comprehensive, five-year Farm Bill,” Rep. Hochul said. “It is critical that Washington stops playing politics with the future of American agriculture.

"Our region is the largest producer of agricultural goods in New York, and I will continue to fight to ensure farmers have the support and certainty they need.”

Rep. Hochul has sent two letters to House leadership urging a vote on a five-year Farm Bill – one letter in July, and another this week.

With nearly 3,500 farms and an annual output of more than $739 million in the region, agriculture is an essential part of Western New York’s economy and a key component of Hochul’s plan for economic development.

August 25, 2012 - 10:09am
posted by Howard B. Owens in kathy hochul.

Press release:

Representative Kathy Hochul (NY-26) announced that the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has awarded $125,000 from the Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program to the Genesee County Drug-Free Communities Coalition in Batavia.

The funding will be used to involve and engage the local community to prevent substance abuse among youth.

“I am pleased that the Drug-Free Communities Support program recognizes the great work of the Genesee County Drug-Free Communities Coalition,” Rep. Hochul said. “With the recent rise in the abuse of prescription drugs and bath salts among young people, it is imperative that our communities have the necessary resources to help young people overcome these life-altering addictions, particularly in our rural areas.

"Working together to keep our youth drug free is critical to creating strong communities that are safe, healthy, and drug free. This funding will provide the support necessary to implement substance abuse education and prevention programs across Genesee County.”

The DFC Program was created by the Drug-Free Communities Act of 1997 and reauthorized by Congress in 2001 and 2006. Since 1998, ONDCP has awarded more than 2,000 Drug-Free Communities grants nationwide.

August 14, 2012 - 11:39pm

The 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution got a ringing endorsement Tuesday from three of the top-ranking elected officials who represent Genesee County.

Rep. Kathy Hochul, State Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer and Assemblyman Steven Hawley all appeared at SCOPE's monthly meeting to talk about what they're doing to help prevent extremists on the left from stripping gun owners of their right to own firearms.

Ranzenhofer started off the evening by discussing how important a Republican majority is in the State Senate to protecting gun rights.

"There are people out there who don’t like you and want to take away your rights," Ranzenhofer said.

When Ranzenhofer was first in office, and the GOP didn't have a majority in the Senate, he said anti-gun Democrats regularly tried to push new laws to restrict gun and ammo sales.  Since the GOP regained control of the upper chamber, "we’ve not had to be constantly on guard for new legislation coming up," Ranzenhofer said.

Now, Ranzenhofer said, the biggest worry at the state level for gun-rights advocates is a popular governor who wants to push through legislation to restrict the rights of gun owners.

Hochul said she comes from a family of gun-rights advocates. She has two brothers in Maryland, she said, who are expert marksmen. While Hochul said she isn't big into hunting or target shooting herself, she has taken safety courses and knows how to handle a firearm.

"When a bill comes up that affects your 2nd Amendment rights, I’m on your side," Hochul said.

While clerk in Erie County, Hochul said she streamlined the process for a gun permits from a year or longer to four months, and three of those months involve the State of New York doing background checks.

"Some of you may say I have a 'D' after my name and I can't vote for you," Hochul said. "Well, fine, but I still represent you. I am independent and I look at each and every issue as what's best for the people of Western New York. Sometimes the Democrats are right and sometimes they're really wrong. Some times the Republicans are right and some times they are really wrong."

According to Hochul, when the gun rights groups come out with their congressional rankings soon, she will receive a very high grade for her voting record for her first year in office.

"I'm very proud of my ranking," Hochul said.

Hochul also noted that she opposed the "Fast and Furious" operation, which provided guns to drug gangs in Mexico, and believes Attorney General Eric Holder should respect the powers of Congress under the Constitution and turn over all "Fast and Furious" documents to the House of Representatives, a demand from Congress the Obama Administration is fighting.

Hochul faces the most serious reelection challenge in November of the three officials who spoke Tuesday and SCOPE Chairman Jack Taylor said he contacted the campaign for her challenger, Chris Collins, to invite Collins to the meeting, but didn't get a response.

Hawley talked a good deal about his work on veterans' issues, particularly his annual Patriot Tour of Washington, D.C., and noted that while his colleague in the Senate, Ranzenhofer, may need to deal with only two anti-gun zealots in that chamber, the state Assembly is filled with 40 or 50 people eager to water down the 2nd Amendment.

Hawley said those representatives deal with a very different constituency than Assembly members in Upstate and Western New York, where people often live on a bit of land, own their own homes, like to hunt and fish and target shoot.

In noting the differences, Hawley segued into a discussion of a bill he has repeatedly sponsored -- allowing a referendum vote on whether New York should be split into two states.

Taylor spoke between each guest and hammered home the same point: Gun rights advocates need to educate the public on the difference between law-abiding citizens who own guns and criminals who not only use guns but other implements to commit their crimes.

"In all my years in retail, I've never seen a gun jump off the shelf and shoot somebody," Taylor said.

Some of the blame for the misrepresentation of guns falls on the media, Taylor noted, reminding SCOPE members that you never see a headline that says "Chevy and Budweiser kills family of four," but you do see headlines like "Glock used in murder spree."

The former county coroner said the most common way that young people die a violent death in Genesee County is from drunken driving, while there is only about one homicide every seven years locally (worth noting: the last homicide locally was Scott Doll beating to death his victim, no gun involved).

"We are all against crime, whatever the implement," Taylor said. "We need to separate the crime from the implement. There’s not a gun law out there that ever saved a life or prevented a criminal from committing a crime."

August 14, 2012 - 5:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, kathy hochul.

Press release:

Representative Kathy Hochul (NY-26) recently sent a letter to New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo urging him to provide New York dairy farms with regulatory relief to help milk producers expand their businesses.

Hochul asked that the state raise the threshold for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) regulations from 200 cows to 300 cows, a threshold consistent with national standards.

Increasing the threshold will allow dairy farmers to increase milk production, enabling them to fulfill the needs of New York’s growing yogurt industry. Hochul also requested that New York expand programs to assist dairy farmers with environmental conservation and protection.

Hochul wrote, “I request your assistance in delivering much-needed regulatory relief to our state’s dairy farmers, many of whom are still recovering from disastrous market conditions in 2009. Without assistance, too many New York milk producers will remain unable or unwilling to expand their businesses despite the game-changing opportunity for economic development made possible by the booming Greek yogurt industry. … Our dairy farmers need a level playing field and supportive regulatory regime to fully capitalize on the Greek yogurt boom, and I look forward to working with you to ensure they have both.”

The Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park will soon be home to Theo Muller Gmbh and PepsiCo’s $206 million yogurt manufacturing facility as well as a $20 million dollar Alpina Food yogurt plant.

Rep. Hochul has introduced bipartisan legislation that allows dairy farmers to apply for H-2A visas, which are available for seasonal agricultural producers but not the year-round dairy industry. She also is a member of the House Dairy Caucus.

August 14, 2012 - 1:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in kathy hochul, NY-27, chris collins.

Press release:

Clarence, NY – “At a time when our nation is debating critical policy issues including whether to extend middle class tax relief or give more tax breaks to millionaires and companies that ship jobs overseas, voters deserve to know how their elected officials make their money and how much they pay in taxes. In a commitment to transparency, Congresswoman Hochul has made the last three years of her tax returns public,” said Campaign Manager Frank Thomas.

“Given Chris Collins' unwillingness to discuss his support for policies that gut Medicare to pay for additional tax cuts for the rich and lingering questions about the business he does with China so he can better line his pockets, we call on him to give voters the clarity they deserve and be candid with his tax returns,” continued Thomas.

Copies of her 2009, 2010, and 2011 returns are available here: http://www.kathyhochul.com/meetkathy/tax-returns/


Chris Collins supports tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.  According to a Collins campaign press release, “Collins supports a full extension of the tax cuts.” [Collins Press Release, 7/9/2012]

Chris Collins refused to release his tax returns so he could hide sources of business income. According the Buffalo News,

For his part, though, Collins said he would not release his tax records because they would show how much he's earning from various business partnerships, meaning the release would also make public his partners' income.

More importantly, he said, his income would reveal how much money his companies are making -- and, therefore, provide important information to his competitors. [Buffalo News, 6/2/2012]

Collins told voters “I would never” release tax returns. At an event on May 21, 2012, Collins told an audience “so again, I'm not going to release personal tax returns, because it's got my partners' income. I would never do that.” [Chris Collins Video, 5/30/2012]

 

August 7, 2012 - 10:31am
posted by Howard B. Owens in farmers market, agriculture, kathy hochul.

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It's national Famers Market Week and to help commerate the event, Rep. Kathy Hochul stopped by the Genesee County Farmers Market in the Batavia Downs parking lot this morning.

Above, Hochul buys flowers from Kathryn Schneider, as mother Dana looks on. Dana Schneider is owner of Stonehouse Acres. Hochul told Kathryn that she worked in her mother's flower shop as a child as did her daughter. "See, you can learn a lot selling flowers," Hochul told Kathryn.

Below, Hochul is greeted by another constitutent and a couple of pictures of flowers and corn for sale today at the market.

August 3, 2012 - 6:47am
posted by Mark Brudz in kathy hochul, chris collins, NY 27.

A press release from Kathy Hochul's office, dated 1 Aug., had this headline:

"HOCHUL CAMPAIGN RESPONDS TO CHRIS COLLINS’ PUSH FOR MORE DEFICIT-RAISING TAX CUTS FOR MILLIONAIRES AND BILLIONAIRES"

Hochul's Campaign Manager Francis Thomas cites a report issued by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities [CBPP] stating:

"Economists say that cutting taxes for the richest Americans would raise the deficit by “nearly $1 trillion” and give the most benefits to people making more than $1 million per year."

Thomas goes on to cite a [CBPP] article dated 7/19/2012 that poses the proposition that maintaining the Bush Tax Cuts for those in the upper 2 percent would, in fact, add deficits of more than $1 trillion to the 2013 budget.

"According to the nonpartisan Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP),
just 2.5 percent of small business owners face top tax rates. In a July 2012 study, they wrote 'allowing the top two marginal tax rates to return to pre-2001 levels as scheduled next year would affect very few small businesses, a recent Treasury Department study found. The study shows that only 2.5 percent of small business owners face the top two rates.' ” [CBPP 7/19/2012]

Although the CBPP does, in fact, claim to be "nonpartisan" on its Web site, further reading clearly disputes this claim. On the page titled "Experts" on the CBPP Web site, my research shows that all but one of those listed on the page have held positions with the Democrat Party. Of the 46 names listed in various positions, not one has held a position in the GOP or any other conservative or moderate think tank of a similar nature. Below are four examples selected from the Federal Fiscal Policy Section.

Jared Bernstein (Senior Fellow) is a Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. From 2009 to 2011, Bernstein was the chief economist and economic adviser to Vice President Joseph Biden in the Obama Administration. Bernstein is considered to represent a progressive, pro-labor perspective.

Indivar Dutta-Gupta (Policy Advisor) was involved with Amnesty International USA, as a member of its Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Advisory Group and in other volunteer positions. After graduating from the University of Chicago in June 2005, Dutta-Gupta came to D.C. to work with a nonprofit Democratic consulting firm on political campaigns, food and hunger, international development, energy and national security issues. While in college, he interned at the Chicago office of U.S. Senator Richard J. Durbin (D-IL).

James R. Horney (Vice President for Federal Fiscal Policy) was a deputy Democratic staff director at the Senate Budget Committee from 2001 through 2004.

Chuck Marr is the director of federal tax policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. He served as economic policy adviser to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.

Further, the report cited by Thomas has come under fire from nonpartisan and conservative tax policy organizations like the TaxFoundation and the Heritage Foundation.

"While we applaud the CBPP's obvious success at bringing attention to the budget, it paints an incomplete picture to place only certain budget items in a graph of the deficit, as if that demonstrates causality. Why not throw entitlement spending in the deficit category, or defense spending, or certain initiatives from the Clinton years? Better yet, why not simply show the entire budget, and in a larger historical context?

"Indeed, the CBO report on which the CBPP analysis is based does just that. A closer look at the CBO report will help illustrate the relative importance of tax cuts and spending (including spending through the tax code) in creating the projected deficits." The Budget Debate, taxfoundation.org

Clearly the issue is not so black and white.

Complete Hochul press release after the jump (click on the headline to read more).

August 1, 2012 - 7:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-26, kathy hochul.

Press release:

Today, Representative Kathy Hochul (NY-26) voted to preserve and extend middle-class tax cuts to all Americans on the first $250,000 of earned income. This bill would provide tax relief and prevent a tax increase of about $2,200 on working families and small businesses in Western New York.

“At a time when our national debt is approaching $16 trillion, the House leadership has insisted on passing an irresponsible plan to add $1 trillion to the debt to pay for additional tax cuts for millionaires. This extra trillion puts us in even greater debt to the Chinese. Instead, I supported an alternative that would provide tax relief to middle-class families and small businesses, while requiring the wealthiest top 2 percent to pay the same tax rates they paid during the economic boom of the 1990s,” Rep. Hochul said.

“If we are going to effectively address our nation's fiscal challenges, we need a balanced approach that requires meaningful cuts to government spending and the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share. That is why I have worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support a balanced budget amendment and to cut $2.4 trillion in deficit spending. It’s also why I supported cuts to wasteful spending, such as aid to Pakistan. There is still work to be done to protect middle-class families and reduce the deficit, and I will continue to work with both Democrats and Republicans to find ways to accomplish that goal.”

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