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July 9, 2018 - 12:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, firefighter cancer registry act.

Press release:

Congressmen Chris Collins (NY-27) and Bill Pascrell Jr. (NJ-09) today celebrated President Trump signing H.R. 931, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act, into law. The legislation they authored together will require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop and maintain a voluntary registry to collect data regarding the incidence of certain cancers in firefighters.

This registry will allow researchers to have a greater understanding of the impacts that smoke inhalation and other occupational hazards have on a firefighter’s health, and lead to better treatment options.

“The brave men and women who selflessly keep our communities safe while fighting fires deserve for us to do everything in our power to also keep them out of harm’s way while they are on duty,” Collins said. “We currently have a lack of information about how being exposed to certain fires will impact a firefighter’s health, and this is a common sense way to collect that data to improve protocols and equipment.

"I express my deepest gratitude for our nation’s firefighters and first responders, and take pride in knowing that this registry could lead to reforms that will save lives.”

“I’m proud that this legislation has been signed into law. The Firefighter Cancer Registry will bring together information on firefighters’ history to help doctors and researchers find any connections between firefighters’ work and increased risk for cancer,” said Pascrell, co-chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus.

“This will improve the safety of the brave men and women who put their lives on the line every single day. This legislation has long enjoyed bipartisan support because all of us want to protect those who protect the rest of us. Thank you representatives Chris Collins and Frank Pallone, and senators Bob Menendez and Lisa Murkowski for your efforts getting this bill through Congress and into law. I look forward to working closely with the CDC and members of the firefighting community to see that the new registry is implemented to its fullest use.”

“Day after day, firefighters all across the country are quick to answer the call of duty. Whether they do so in volunteer service or as a career, they put their communities first on a daily basis without question,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Health Subcommittee Chairman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX).

“This commonsense bill will create a national registry to better document the physical toll these everyday heroes undertake and help lead to better treatment options. We look forward to seeing this registry come to fruition and applaud Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) for his leadership on this issue.”

The Firefighter Cancer Registry Act authorizes $2 million in federal funds to the CDC from FY2018 to FY2022. Data gathered would include a number of potential risk factors, including but not limited to the status of the firefighter (volunteer, paid-on-call, or career), number of years on the job, the number of incidents attended, and the type of incidence.

The collection of this data would allow for improved equipment, enhanced safety protocols and preventative techniques for our firefighters.

The House of Representatives passed H.R. 931, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act of 2017, by unanimous consent on June 22, 2018. H.R. 931 first passed the House in September 2017, by voice vote. The Senate passed the bill, with an amendment, in May by unanimous consent. H.R. 931 was signed into law today by President Donald Trump.

July 3, 2018 - 4:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, Nate McMurray.

Press release:

More than 1,000 constituents have signed an online petition demanding that Chris Collins debate his Democratic challenger Nate McMurray. A further 150 signatures have been collected in person at events across the district.

The McMurray campaign reached out to Chris Collins' office with a formal request for debate but received no response.

Western New York hasn't had a debate between their candidates for the House since Chris Collins challenged Kathy Hochul in 2012. American democracy is a marketplace of ideas. Debates between candidates running for elected office are crucial to a functioning democracy.

Nate McMurray does not believe that elected officials get to hide from the people they serve.

McMurray said, "I hope one of the local news stations will host a debate between us. The people of the district want this debate. We hear it at every event we go to.

"We see it from how quickly the petition broke 1,000 signatures. It's the right thing to do and it's the only way for the voters of NY-27 to make an informed decision in November."

June 28, 2018 - 11:33am
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news.

Press release:

U.S. Representative Chris Collins (NY-27) and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today introduced "Denying Chinese Investors Access to U.S. Small Business Aid," a bill that would prevent businesses owned by citizens of the People’s Republic of China from accessing all assistance offered by the Small Business Administration (SBA).

“The SBA exists to help Main Street America grow and flourish, not to aid companies whose profits go to China," Collins said. "This is a common-sense reform that provides a greater check on where taxpayer dollars are going because they certainly should not be going to China.

"SBA programs should focus on helping small business owners in communities like Western New York, and I am proud to join with Senator Rubio to advance this important legislation.”

“Chinese companies are abusing our current system to exploit American small business programs, which are taxpayer subsidized and were created to help spur American ingenuity and boost small businesses,” Rubio said. “This bill will ensure that our tax dollars aren’t going overseas to China, our biggest economic competitor.”

Current law permits SBA to provide assistance to qualifying small businesses who legally operate in the United States, allowing Chinese-owned businesses to obtain a federally guaranteed loan, surety bond, research and development grant, or disaster loan, among other SBA programs.

The Denying Chinese Investors Access to U.S. Small Business Aid would prohibit SBA benefits from being awarded to businesses headquartered in China. Under this bill, those China-based businesses with operations in the United States or those with at least 25 percent of their voting stock owned by Chinese investors will no longer be able to benefit.

June 27, 2018 - 12:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today released the following statement after the Supreme Court released its opinion on Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.

“Today’s Supreme Court decision is a big win for government workers who, for far too long, have been forced to pay union fees in support of causes they are fundamentally against. Forcing an individual to join a political organization or government union goes against one of the greatest freedoms we are granted as Americans, the right to free speech. Any violation of the First Amendment is counter to the values our nation was founded upon and I applaud today’s monumental decision.”

UPDATE: Nate McMurray, candidate for NY-27 against Chris Collins in November, issued this press release:

Nate McMurray, town supervisor for Grand Island and Congressional candidate running for New York’s 27th District, announced that he condemns the Supreme Court ruling today, which ruled in favor of Janus.

“This Supreme Court ruling will cause a drastic financial blow to both public and private sector unions across the country. Unions are what built the middle class," McMurray said. "If you look back at the 1950s when labor was at its peak, unionization rates in the private sector were 35 percent and the average CEO made 45 times that of the average worker."

Today, the unionization rate is only 6 percent in the private sector and the average CEO makes 844 times the average worker. Corporate greed is at an all-time high and America’s middle class is suffering because of it.

"We are seeing cuts to crucial public programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, Americans still remain without healthcare and it’s only getting worse, kids can’t afford college and become saddled with debt, senior citizens are unable to retire with dignity since Social Security benefits are no longer enough to live on, and prescription drug prices continue to skyrocket. Meanwhile, many Americans are struggling to find good paying jobs," McMurray said. 

"If anything, this country needs MORE unions and we need to make it easier for workers to unionize, to fight against corporate greed and fight for fair wages and benefits.”   

June 26, 2018 - 5:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news.

ryansignbill2018.jpg

Press release:

House Speaker Paul Ryan (WI-01) today signed legislation authored by Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) that will collect data regarding cancer incidence in firefighters to better inform the development of new protocols, safeguards, and equipment to protect these men and women.

When signed into law, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will develop and maintain a registry to collect data regarding the incidence of certain cancers in firefighters. The registry will improve collection capabilities and activities to address an enormous gap in research on the heath impacts of cancer incidence among all firefighters – career and volunteer.

The Firefighter Cancer Registry Act unanimously passed the House on Sept. 12, 2017 and passed the Senate on May 10, 2018 with one amendment making technical corrections. On June 22, 2018 the amended version passed the House under unanimous consent and will head to President Trump for signature.

For more information on H.R. 931, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act, click here.

June 26, 2018 - 10:47am
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, opioids, news.

Press release:

Congressmen Chris Collins (NY-27) applauded the House passage of a package of bills that take action to fight the opioid epidemic, including the passage of H.R. 6, the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act.

The SUPPORT Act includes dozens of bills that passed the House over the past two weeks, in addition to the base text which includes provisions that previously passed the Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means committees.

“Throughout the past two weeks, the House has been devoted to the thousands of Americans struggling with addiction, their families, and our communities in our work to end this deadly crisis,” Collins said.

“Serving on the Energy and Commerce Committee, we have put an enormous amount of time and effort into studying addiction, listening to struggling families, reviewing the supply chain, and immersing ourselves into the communities that have been ravaged by this crisis. It was a heart-wrenching process, but we came up with common-sense, bipartisan solutions that will save lives.”

The opioid epidemic is claiming more than 115 lives each day, destroying families in communities across the nation. As a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Collins helped craft a legislative package that would address the many issues that have led to this crisis and would implement solutions to end this epidemic.

Starting in October, the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee pursued an aggressive timeline to produce this legislation prior to Memorial Day. In May, 57 bills were advanced to the House of Representatives, which have passed the House throughout the past two weeks. Collins worked with colleagues across-the-aisle to co-author several pieces of legislation.

Collins joined fellow New Yorker, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries in introducing the Synthetic Drug Awareness Act of 2017 that would require the Surgeon General to report to Congress the public health effects of the rise of synthetic drug use by 12- to 18-year-olds. Currently, Congress does not have sufficient information to craft the unique types of public health and law enforcement approaches that could save our nation’s children from these dangerous substances.

Collins also introduced the Eliminating Opioid Related Infectious Diseases Act of 2018 with Congressman Leonard Lance, Congressman Joseph Kennedy, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, Congressman Joe Barton, and Congresswoman Doris Matsui that focuses specifically on how the opioid epidemic has contributed to an increase in infectious diseases like Hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS. Increased monitoring and education will lead to a better understanding of the impacts that this crisis is having on public health.

Building on the efforts of the Medicaid DRUG Improvement Act, Collins introduced an amendment with Congressman Scott Peters and Congressman Peter Welch that would require states to identify and address inappropriate prescribing and billing practices under Medicaid. States are currently authorized to implement prescription drug monitoring activities through their prescription drug monitoring programs and claims data, but not all states have adopted such activities.

In addition to working with the Energy and Commerce Committee, Collins worked with the Committee on Ways and Means and Congressman Tom MacArthur on introducing the Stop Excessive Narcotics in Our Retirement (SENIOR) Communities Protection Act. The SENIOR Communities Protection Act allows Medicare Advantage Part D plans to suspend payments to a provider or supplier pending an investigation of a credible allegation of fraud or abuse, as determined by the Inspector General. This legislation will help in preventing future “pill mills” from occurring.

Finally, Collins introduced legislation with Congressman Eric Paulson, Congressman Ron Kind, and Congressman Connor Lamb that would require Medicare to send an annual notice to Part D patients about the adverse effects associated with prolonged opioid use. By improving awareness and education, the Medicare Clear Health Options in Care for Enrollees (CHOICE) Act will help patients be more inclined to watch for the warning signs of addiction and be more informed to talk with their doctors on their options for pain management.

Collins added: “In every community across our nation we have brokenhearted families, which is why we need immediate action. I’m thankful for President Trump’s dedication to this issue and urge the Senate to get these important bills on his desk.”

June 22, 2018 - 1:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, fire services, news, NY-27.

Press release:

U.S. Representatives Chris Collins (R-NY-27) and Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-NJ-09), the co-chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, celebrated the passage of H.R. 931, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act.

The legislation they sponsored together would require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop and maintain a registry to collect data regarding the incidence of certain cancers in firefighters. The registry will improve collection capabilities and activities to address an enormous gap in research on the health impacts of cancer incidence among all firefighters – career and volunteer.

Firefighters may experience detrimental health effects due to smoke inhalation and other harmful, toxic substances. The legislation takes a first step toward gathering this information to develop new protocols, safeguards, and equipment to protect these men and women. Senate legislation is sponsored by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

“I am extremely humbled and proud of the work we have done to get this bill on President Trump’s desk,” Collins said. “We have to prioritize the health and safety of the brave men and women who selflessly protect our communities.

"It has been an honor to work with Congressman Pascrell, and we have seen an outpouring of support for this legislation from the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, various firefighter organizations, health care groups, our colleagues in Congress, and of course the firefighters in our districts and across America that this is intended to serve.

"I look forward to President Trump signing this bill into law and to see all of the positive impacts this will have on the firefighting community.”

“Today is a big day. I can’t think of many priorities more important than protecting the health of America’s firefighters. The Firefighter Cancer Registry will bring together information on firefighters’ history to help doctors and researchers find any connections between firefighters’ work and increased risk for cancer,” Rep. Pascrell said.

"This will strengthen the safety of the brave men and women who put their lives on the line every single day. This legislation has long enjoyed bipartisan support because having the backs of those protecting our families is a cause we all support.

"I want to thank Representatives Chris Collins and Frank Pallone, and Senators Robert Menendez and Lisa Murkowski for all their efforts to get this bill through Congress. After the legislation is signed, I look forward to working with the CDC and members of the firefighting community to see that the new registry is implemented to its fullest use.”

“Our firefighters are brave men and women, who put themselves in harm’s way day after day. This registry has the potential to improve the quality of life for these real-life heroes,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR-02) and Health Subcommittee Chairman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX-26). “From a house fire to the wildfires that ravage the west, these men and women don’t think twice before heading into dangerous situations of fire and smoke to protect others. This national registry is one way we can help protect them.”

A 2015 study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found that firefighters had a greater number of cancer diagnoses and cancer-related deaths for certain types of cancer when compared to the general U.S. population, specifically digestive, oral, respiratory and urinary cancers, and malignant mesothelioma.

The study confirmed that firefighters have an increased risk of cancer because of occupational exposure. To bolster the efforts led by researchers at NIOSH, the firefighter cancer registry will improve collection capabilities and activities related to the nationwide monitoring of cancer incidence among all firefighters – career and volunteer.

Specifically, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act will authorize $2 million in federal funds to the CDC from FY2018 to FY2022. Additionally, the legislation will:

  • Develop a firefighter registry of available cancer incidence data collected by existing State Cancer Registries and a strategy to maximize participation;
  • Create a registry that will contain relevant histories, such as other occupational information, years of service, number of fire incidents responded to, and additional risk factors;
  • Make de-identified data available to public health researchers to provide them with robust and comprehensive datasets to expand groundbreaking research; and
  • Improve our understanding of cancer incidences by requiring administrators to consult regularly with public health experts, clinicians, and firefighters.

The legislation has support from several major fire organizations, including the National Volunteer Fire Council, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the International Association of Fire Fighters, the Congressional Fire Services Institute, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, New Jersey Firefighters’ Mutual Benevolent Association and the International Fire Services Training Association.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Fire Fighter Steering Committee said “The AFGE, AFL-CIO supports the Fire Fighter Cancer Registry bill because it will help improve the health and safety of our federal firefighters and municipal and volunteer firefighters who protect and serve the American public at the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"We look forward to collecting this important data in the federal registry and sharing it with our civilian counterparts.”

“I would like to thank Congress for passing this critical legislation, as well as Representative Collins for his leadership in introducing and championing it,” said National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) Chair Kevin D. Quinn.

"Too many firefighters are contracting and dying from cancer caused by duty-related exposures. This registry will improve our understanding of why firefighter cancer is occurring at such a high rate, and will make it easier to prevent, detect, and treat.”

“Firefighters are routinely exposed to numerous carcinogens over the course of their careers and deserve the best protection and prevention tools available," said International Association of Fire Fighters, AFL-CIO General President Harold Schaitberger.

"The Firefighter Cancer Registry Act will provide yet another means to study the deadly relationship between cancer and firefighting. I thank Representative Collins for his leadership on this important issue and applaud the Congress for sending the bill to the President to be signed into law.”

June 22, 2018 - 10:55am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Nate McMurray, chris collins, NY-27.

Press release:

Representative Collins came out of hiding last week to tell diary framers he was going to help them. You know what he did? He wrote a letter.

His opponent in the Nov. 6th election, Nate McMurray, had more to say.
 
“Christopher wants to blame everybody else. But what has he done to get the farm bill passed? What has he done to help with visa reform for workers? What has he done to open foreign markets so that farmers can sell their products?”
 
The answer is nothing. In fact, Rep. Collins is only blaming Canada for interfering with free trade. Collins said, “Trump, rightfully, has called [Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau and Canada out for their long-standing, non-free-market protection of their dairy.”
 
McMurray countered “He’s confused. Canada has its issues. Why has it taken so long for Christopher to speak up? Beyond that, there are far more places for our farmers to sell milk than Canada. I know China. I did business there. We should have Western New York cheese and milk products stacked on every shelf in Shanghai. And we should have soybeans going out by the shipload. Instead, what do we have? More excuses.”
 
Elect a guy who can fight, who believes in WNY, and who won’t wait until an election year to act.

NOTE: The quote in the fourth paragraph comes from The Batavian's story: Collins visits Stein Farms to talk about what he's doing for the dairy industry

June 20, 2018 - 3:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in immigration, chris collins, NY-27, news, notify.

This afternoon, The Batavian contacted the office of Congressman Chris Collins and asked for a statement on the current controversy over reports of children being separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Statement from Rep. Chris Collins:

“Last night, House Republicans had a very productive meeting with President Trump. I am pleased to hear he signed an executive order and is supportive of also fixing this crisis legislatively by closing the loopholes in our immigration laws and significantly increasing our border security.

It is very sad to see children without their parents at our borders, and as a compassionate country we are taking action to keep families together while making sure we won’t be faced with a similar crisis in the future.”

June 18, 2018 - 12:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Nate McMurray, chris collins, NY-27.

Press release:

With outrage continuing to grow across the country regarding the treatment of children at the border, it is troubling that Representative Chris Collins remains silent. His opponent for the November 6th election, Nate McMurray, has been outspoken on this issue, demanding a response from Representative Collins for weeks.

McMurray states “On this, and so many issues, Christopher is silent and out of sight. To not have an opinion on a matter of such national debate, when even the First Lady has spoken, is negligent.”

McMurray continued, “This is also a local issue. Whether we care to admit it or not, local farms have used foreign works for years. Christopher has been in office during a period of population collapse in NY27. To help out local agricultural businesses he should have been in the forefront of immigration reform, not waiting for someone else to lead. Instead, he’s done what he always does -- blame the other side and scapegoat the weakest among us.”

McMurray pledges to protect our borders as a U.S. Representative but says he will do it with dignity and goodness.

“I’ll do it in a way that makes us safe, but keeps us proud.”

NOTE: Yesterday, The Batavian published Collins visits Stein Farms to talk about what he's doing for the dairy industry, which discusses, among other things, the congressman's efforts to support immigration reform.

Local dairy farmer Dale Stein said, "What he has done has forced votes on immigration. He's working with other Republicans and working bipartisan with Democrats. Now he's forced votes on immigration so that we can maybe get immigration settled and fix for farmers and everybody else. It's been left in limbo for too long. Congressman Collins, working with others, including the Democrats, is pushing to get this settled. I support him 100 percent on that."

June 17, 2018 - 6:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in dairy farmers, agriculture, chris collins, NY-27, notify.

collinssteinfarmsjune2018.jpg

Rep. Chris Collins and dairy farmer Dale Stein.

Americans should be encouraged to buy more milk, Rep. Chris Collins told a group of dairy farmers gathered at Stein Farms in Le Roy yesterday to hear about the congressman's plan to encourage the USDA to promote milk consumption, along with his thoughts on immigration and trade policy.

"Whether it's health or otherwise, just think 'drink milk' because right now our biggest issue in Western New York is a supply-and-demand issue," Collins said. "You know we had some of the yogurt plants shut down. We've all faced issues within the school lunch program and certainly, we'd love to be selling milk up into Canada. Their recent move on ultra-filtered milk and Class 6 milk just made it even worse."

Collins is among a dozen members of Congress who signed a letter to Agriculture Secretary George Ervin "Sonny" Perdue III asking the USDA to implement a marketing program similar to the "Got Milk" campaign of the 1990s and 2000s.

“Years ago, messages that resonated with all Americans included ‘Got Milk?’ and ‘Drink Milk, Love Life,’ and we saw some of our favorite celebrities with milk mustaches,” Collins said in a press release the coincided with yesterday's event. “The fact is, this type of marketing works.

"In recent years, we’ve seen an overall decline in milk consumption, which has created tough economic times for our dairy farmers and we are hoping Secretary Perdue can provide some additional help.”

Whether the "Got Milk" campaign was successful is disputed by marketing experts. The campaign, created in 1993 at the behest of California Milk Processor Board, an agency created by the State of California to assist dairy farmers, reportedly increased milk consumption in California during its first year but that data was based on consumer surveys. 

In 1995, Milk Processor Education Program, a dairy-industry-funded nonprofit, licensed the "Got Milk" campaign and rolled it out nationally.

While consumer surveys indicated similar results as reported in California, actual milk consumption data gathered by the USDA tells a different story. Per-capita consumption of fluid milk has declined across the nation from 210 pounds in 1993 to 159 pounds in 2014, when the campaign was discontinued.

Dale Stein said he supports any effort to get more Americans buying more milk or that expands the market for milk.

"I'm hoping that we can increase consumer usage of dairy, and it is increasing, but increase it more so that it brings the supply closer to being in balance," Stein said. "It doesn't have to be in balance with demand. If gets closer, the price comes up."

At the beginning of the year, milk was selling at $14 per hundred pounds. That's not a sustainable price, Stein said. At that price, Stein Farms can't stay in business and pass the multigeneration farm onto the next generation. Right now, the price is $17. That is sustainable.

"If we can get the $17 milk we can do well here," Stein said. "I don't need $20 milk. I'm not asking for high milk prices, I just need the consumer to use a little more dairy and if everybody did that, that would make the difference."

It's not like Americans aren't buying more milk products, as Stein said. When accounting for all milk products, including the categories with the most growth -- cheese and butter (it used to be yogurt, but that has receded a bit) -- then Americans are consuming more milk. Through 2016, per-capita dairy product consumption increased from 613 pounds in 2006 to 646 pounds.

One reason for the current oversupply of milk, Stein said, is that a few years ago, for a few short months, milk did hit $20, and even $25. Dairy farmers across the country thought they struck gold and invested in increased production. Now they're stuck with that production.

Stein said he can't reduce production. Low prices means he has to increase it -- makeup on volume what is being lost per unit -- so he can meet his high fixed costs. He pointed to a couple of giant tractors that he bought used. 

"You're looking at $650,000 standing there," Stein said.

"I have to have cash flow," Stein added.  "If the price isn't there, the only thing I can do to is sell more milk. That means readjust what I'm feeding the cows to make more milk. We do a lot of cost cutting, too, but there's only so far we can cut costs. So you, as an individual farmer -- if everybody agreed to make a cut -- we could do it, but you can't get an agreement across the country."

Collins also said he is looking to help dairy farmers through the new five-year Farm Bill, which is expected to come up for a vote in the coming week.

The Market Protection Program, part of the previous Farm Bill, hasn't worked for dairy farmers, Collins acknowledged. 

"Most dairies have not signed onto the basic insurance program," Collins said. "On the crop side, the insurance program, the margin programs have worked. When we get into a supply and demand where there is oversupply, it just does not work. The formulas don't work. I've been told, and I think some folks here who have looked at it would say, the dairy margin program in the new farm bill will provide an option, an insurance option, that in a day like today could provide economic support on the downside."

Another long-standing problem for dairy farmers is labor and Collins said he understands that in order to address dairy's labor shortage, there needs to be immigration reform.

Collins is a member of a Republican group in the House called the Freedom Caucus. The members refused to vote on the Farm Bill unless they could get a bill on the floor dealing with immigrant labor. He also acknowledged that while the bill would fix many of the problems faced by dairy farmers, it also isn't likely to pass.

"We are putting up a compromise immigration bill," Collins said. "The bad news is, there's no dairy in it."

However, he said the Freedom Caucus has been promised a vote in July that would address the year-round visa issue that has made it so hard for dairy farmers to hire and retain qualified dairy employees.

"We've talked about the undocumented workers having a three-year visa that would be continued and renewable on a two-year basis," Collins said.

This is all good news, said Dale Stein after the event was over. He's grateful to Collins going to bat for dairy farmers. Even if the immigration bill expected to go to the floor for a vote next week doesn't pass, just getting the bill to the floor is an accomplishment after years of a congressional stalemate on immigration.

"What he has done has forced votes on immigration," Stein said. "He's working with other Republicans and working bipartisan with Democrats. Now he's forced votes on immigration so that we can maybe get immigration settled and fix for farmers and everybody else.

"It's been left in limbo for too long. Congressman Collins, working with others, including the Democrats, is pushing to get this settled. I support him 100 percent on that."

The issue making farmers across the nation nervous is the talk of trade wars.

In his remarks to local farmers yesterday, Collins didn't back down on the tough talk and praised Trump for taking on allies and rivals alike on trade policy.

"Trump rightfully has called out Trudeau in Canada for their long-standing, non-free-market protection of their (dairy industry)," Collins said. "We can't get any dairy into Canada where we were selling ultra-filtered milk. They shut down about a year ago, Class Six. Now they're dumping powdered milk around the world. I mean it's just awful. My comment to the press was, 'we caught Canada and we caught Trudeau cheating.' It's not fair trade; it's not free trade."

He said nobody can win a trade war with the United States.

"I'm not sure what Canada will ultimately do, but I think Trudeau should realize he doesn't win a trade war with the United States," Collins said. "China doesn't win a trade war with the United States. Europe does not win a trade war with the United States. Trump is the first president to stand up and say we've been in a trade war 20 years and we're losing.

He said China's plan to retaliate against Trump's planned 25-percent tariff won't work.

"The problem is we don't export that much to China," Collins said. "They're talking about putting tariffs on goods that don't even get sold in China. Well, have a nice day. It's simply rhetoric on their part."

Many of the tariffs China is planning, however, will hit agriculture directly.

U.S. dairy farmers exported $577 million in dairy products to China last year, up 49 percent from the year before. Though Collins said "we can't get any dairy into Canada," but in 2017, Canada imported $636 million in dairy from the United States. And while Trump and his trade representatives continue to threaten to pull out of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), the largest international market for U.S. dairy is Mexico, which imported $1.3 billion in dairy from the United States, up 9 percent from the year before.

As a percentage of U.S. dairy production, the percentage of dairy going overseas has grown from 8 percent in 2010 to more than 14 percent today.

Soybeans, another important crop in Genesee County, is a product targeted for retaliation by China but rather than answer merely with tariffs, China is planning to buy from Brazil, which has the capacity to grow soybean production. Some U.S. trade experts fear the United States won't get that market back even if tariffs are lifted.

The USDA considers China a potentially huge market for U.S. farmers. Last year, China imported $26 billion in U.S. farm products. 

The ultra-filtered milk dispute with Canada is a fairly recent issue. The class of product, called Class Six, was created a couple of years ago, and it's not governed by NAFTA. The price of the product is set by global supply and demand and isn't regulated. This has depressed the price below what Canada considers acceptable for its highly regulated dairy market. It won't allow Class Six imports from the United States. Meanwhile, U.S. dairy farmers are looking to expand the market for its oversupply of milk.

After Collins finished his speech, Collins and the other visitors were invited to a table filled with WNY dairy products, including Perry's Ice Cream. After Shelly Stein finished filling bowls and cones for everyone, Collins talked with Dale and Shelly Stein and other farmers.

Shelly Stein brought up the trade issue. She said she's concerned about commodities being used in a trade war.

"That's us," she said.

At this point, The Batavian jumped in with some questions for Collins about trade.

We asked about his statement that the United States could win a trade war with China when it's a large market for dairy, soybeans, sorghum, beef, and other agriculture products.

We asked, "Is this really the right approach, to get into a trade war with trading partners that agriculture depends on?"

Collins said, "We've been in a trade war 20 years. This isn't new. We've been losing the trade war for 20 years. There's just never been a president to acknowledge it. It's been death by a thousand cuts. Look at the manufacturing that's not done here and here we have been in a war for 20 years. This isn't a new war. But Trump is addressing the war that we've been losing, battle after battle after battle. The rest of the world's been taking advantage of us, all but laughing at us behind our back, as they have taken advantage of us. Trump was elected to say, 'it's done.' They are going to attempt to flex their muscles. The retaliation tends to be on the ag side, unfortunately."

Later in his reply, he said, "Right now it's noisy and there are consequences and others are gonna flex their muscles in hopes of getting Trump to cave in and say, 'No, no, no, it's OK that you cheat.' He's saying, it's not OK that they cheat. But I will tell you, as I said, they depend on us at the end of the day, whether it's Europe, whether it's Mexico, whether it's China, or whether it's Canada, if they don't trade with the U.S., they suffer. We can make any products made in China. We have huge deficits there. We may pay a little more. You know, whether it's your dinnerware or your underwear, you may pay a little more if it's made here."

Trump often Tweets about the state of the economy, how well it is doing. Low unemployment, rising wages, and if you look over the past 20 years, the Gross Domestic Product has increased every year except for 2008 and 2009. In the past 20 years, U.S. goods and services exports have grown from $500 billion to $1.4 trillion.

So if the economy is doing well and growing, we asked Collins for evidence that we're losing a trade war.

"Well, we're losing the trade war because we're not making the products here," Collins said. "We have 6.3 million people that are unemployed that don't have the skills to be a software engineer or a welder or a machinist. The assembly line jobs have disappeared."

(NOTE: Some economists blame manufacturing job loss on automation. A Federal Reserve report says 800,000 jobs were lost to China but were replaced by jobs in other sectors, primarily service, construction, wholesale and retail.)

Collins said, "There's a whole lot of folks who have given up even looking for work." He added, "Our labor participation in the adult workforce is at an all time low."

(NOTE: The Trump Administration says workforce participation has grown during his term.)

For our next question, we pointed out the iPhone recording the conversation includes inputs from U.S. companies, including the glass face, which is made in New York. Some economists estimate a trade war will cost 400,000 Americans their jobs because they make things used in products manufactured overseas or rely on inputs, such as steel, that Trump plans to tax.

The Batavian asked, "We depend greatly on trade with China. China, rightly or wrongly, is part of the WTO (World Trade Organization). Isn't using the rules that have been created a better approach to deal with these trade issues than starting trade wars?"

"No, not when they pay $3 an hour (for labor) in China," Collins said. "If they're paying $3 an hour, we'll never get our manufacturing jobs back. And what you just said is some of the raw materials are made here. Why don't we make the whole phone here?"

Adam Smith and David Ricardo addressed that question 200 years ago. Countries benefit by trade because each can specialize and therefore create the best possible products at the lowest possible costs, raising everybody's standard of living. Ricardo called it "comparative advantage."

That's a little more detail than we provided Collins (we just mentioned Smith and Ricardo in broad terms), but Collins responded, "There's some 40 percent of the world's population, 2.8 billion people, living in China and living in India. We've got 320 million, and they're paying $2 and $3 an hour. If we're going to make something in the United States, we've got to deal with that unfair, untenable differential."

We pointed out, Chinese wages, as happens in all developing countries, have been rising, creating a bigger middle class, creating a bigger market for U.S. products, particularly farm products.

"Yeah, they go from $3 to $4, from $4 to $5," Collins said. "We still lose that piece of it. We've got to level the playing field or there is no future for our children and grandchildren and we need inflation."

At which point, Collins began to discuss why we need inflation to help retire the national debt.

"Inflation is something we desperately need in this country," Collins said. "The $20 trillion of debt against a $20 trillion economy that our children and grandchildren and the 10th generation that is with us here (referring to the Stein family) deserve better. What they deserve is paying off this $20 trillion of debt in cheaper dollars, which means inflation.

"We need 4 percent per-year inflation for the next 18 years. Compound it annually so that the $20 trillion of debt is the equivalent of $10 trillion. In 18 years, and as our economy grows and doubles in 18 years from $20 trillion to $40 trillion, our debt can actually go from $20 trillion to $30 trillion. So we have a green light of 75-percent debt to GDP. We have to have inflation at 4 percent a year or our kids don't have a future."

So we asked, "So you're arguing for a hidden tax on consumers instead of reducing spending?"

"We can't ever reduce spending to cut our debt," Collins said. "Anyone who thinks so is living in la-la land. We have to grow our way to success. We have to grow our economy and inflation is part of it.

"Anyone who thinks that with our deficits today that we can pay down our $20 trillion of debt is in la-la land," Collins added. "It can never happen. We have to grow to success, grow for our kids to have a future.

"Part of that growth is inflation, and what you saw under eight years of Obama with a fake economy of no inflation, the $20 trillion of debt is truly troubling. It's $20 trillion and it's growing and without inflation, our kids are going to be living in cardboard boxes under the bridge."

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May 24, 2018 - 10:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today voted for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY19. This legislation is consistent with President Trump’s commitment to rebuild and reform our nation’s military.
 
“The men and women of the United States military and their families make honorable sacrifices for our nation and we must make sure they are supported,” Collins said. “Whether it is the need for appropriate equipment on the battlefield or a bigger paycheck to take care of ever-increasing living expenses, I’m proud to support this year’s NDAA because our brave service members deserve more.”
 
The FY19 NDAA gives troops a pay raise of 2.6 percent, the largest in nine years. Additionally, the legislation expands recruiting efforts and authorizes increases in the size of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Naval and Air Reserve, and Air Guard to address the increasing threats facing the United States.
 
The FY19 NDAA also includes funding for advanced education, experience and training to help the military compete with the private sector in recruiting talent with specialized skills.
 
Collins added: “In a world of increasing threats and serious neglect in recent years, we have to continue to modernize the military and make critical investments for our nation’s defense. This important legislation passed today will lay the groundwork for the United States to continue to build and maintain the most powerful military on the planet.”

May 18, 2018 - 10:27am
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, opioid epidemic.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27), member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, applauded the advancement of 40 bills out of the Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committees to help combat the opioid crisis. Collins worked with his colleagues to address two specific problems related to the opioid epidemic, the over-prescription of opioids and fraud.

Collins worked with Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) and Congressman Peter Welch (VT-At Large) to author an amendment that passed the Energy and Commerce Committee that improves the quality of care Medicaid patients receive.

Their bipartisan work will require states to identify and address inappropriate prescribing and billing practices under Medicaid to decrease the likelihood that an excess of these drugs will make their way into communities.

“We’ve seen the devastating impacts of the opioid epidemic in every community across our nation,” Collins said. “These harmful drugs can fundamentally change who you are and rob you of your ambition, dreams, and dignity. It is our responsibility to do everything we can to prevent addiction from happening in the first place, which is why we need more reporting and accountability from the state level.”

“The opioid crisis is devastating families in San Diego and across the country. We need to do more to address the root causes of the epidemic,” Rep. Peters said “This amendment, led by Rep. Collins, Rep. Welch and me, will help identify patterns of overprescribing and inappropriate billing through Medicaid by using data already collected by states. Most important, it will direct states to remedy any practices that indicate abuse and help reduce the likelihood that opioids reach our communities.”

“Families and communities in Vermont are struggling with the scourge of opioid addiction,” Welch said. “To contain this epidemic, the federal government must have a multi-prong strategy that includes attacking the root cause of overprescribing. Our bipartisan legislation requires state Medicaid programs identify and educate outlier providers writing an excessive number of opioid prescriptions.”

Additionally, Collins co-authored a bipartisan piece of legislation that stops payments from Medicare prescription drug programs if a pharmacy is being investigated for fraud by the Inspector General. This bill, The SENIOR Communities Protection Act, was reported favorably from the Ways and Means Committee.

Collins added: “If there is any suspicion of a person fraudulently prescribing opioids, we must quickly take action and get to the bottom of the situation before providing any compensation. There are so many factors that have contributed to the opioid epidemic, and I’m proud of the meticulous work that we have done to address all of these issues in order to prevent over-prescription and fraud.”

For more information on yesterday’s Energy and Commerce Committee hearing and to read a copy of the amendment by Reps. Collins, Peters and Welch, click here. For more information on H.R. 5676, The SENIOR Communities Protection Act, click here.

May 11, 2018 - 10:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, veterans.

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Hal Mitchell, a Vietnam Veteran who served in the Air Force, receives a certificate and service pin from Rep. Chris Collins in a ceremony at Batavia City Hall today.

Here's a press release about the event:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today hosted a Vietnam War Commemoration Event in Batavia honoring more than 50 Vietnam Era veterans and distributed commemorative lapel pins from The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration. This event was part of a national effort to recognize and thank Vietnam Veterans during the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.

“As we commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War, the memory is vivid in the minds of these outstanding individuals,” Collins said. “What our nation experienced during that time is unlike any other war, and we hold these Veterans in a very special regard.

"This was an extraordinarily humbling evening and these Veterans have my deepest gratitude for their selfless service.”

In addition to the Vietnam War Commemoration, President Donald Trump officially designated each March 29th as National Vietnam War Veterans Day to honor and thank U.S. Vietnam Veterans and their families for their service and sacrifices.

Approximately 9 million Americans, 7 million living today, served in the military from Nov. 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975. More than 58,000 Americans died while serving during the Vietnam War era.

Collins added: “I was honored to meet so many remarkable men and women this evening and plan to host similar events around my district in the future.”

The Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pin is available to any veteran who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces during the period of Nov. 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975, regardless of location.

Veterans interested in attending future ceremonies should contact Congressman Collins district office at 716-634-2324 or visit chriscollins.house.gov.

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Michael Jones

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Alfred Rosemark

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Robert Gerke

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Gordon Crosby

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Wayne Eisenhauer

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Allen McFollins

May 11, 2018 - 11:34am
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) announced that a bill he authored with Congressman Bill Pascrell (NJ-09), the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act, passed the United States Senate. This bill unanimously passed the House on Sept. 12, 2017 and now has unanimously passed the Senate with one amendment offered by Lamar Alexander (R-TN) on May 10.

A 2015 study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that firefighters had a greater number of cancer diagnoses and related deaths than the general population.

This revealed an enormous gap in research, which led Collins and Pascrell to author the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act, which will require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop and maintain a registry to collect data regarding the incidence of cancer in firefighters.

“This is a huge win for firefighters across the United States, now that we are so close to getting this bill on President Trump’s desk,” Collins said. “When this bill becomes law, we will have a succinct and voluntary registry of cancer incidence in firefighters so we know what causes cancer in these individuals and how we can better prevent it.

"These brave men and women put their lives in danger to keep their communities and neighbors safe, and we have a commitment to do everything we can to keep them safe and healthy in return.”

“Passage of the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act in the Senate moves us one step closer to implementing this critical legislation," said Rep. Pascrell, co-chair of the House Fire Services Caucus. "Improving the well-being of firefighters who risk their lives every day to keep our communities safe is an important goal.

"Better understanding any connections between their work and an increased risk for cancer will help mitigate those risks to keep our firefighters healthy. I am hopeful that the House will act swiftly so that we can get a final bill to the White House as soon as possible and we can get the program started.”

When signed into law, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act would authorize federal funding to gather data about potential risk factors in order to better improve equipment and procedures.

Participation in the registry would be completely voluntary and data collected would include status of the firefighter (volunteer, paid-on-call, or career), number of years on the job, the number of incidents attended, and the type of incidence.

The Firefighter Cancer Registry Act is expected to be passed in the House as amended in the coming weeks before heading to President Trump’s desk.

May 10, 2018 - 2:51pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, chris collins, opioid epidemic.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27), member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, applauded yesterday’s advancement of 25 bills out of the Committee to help combat the opioid crisis. Collins championed three of these pieces of legislation that will head to the House floor.

“The opioid epidemic is impacting every community across America and we have to take action in order to save lives,” Collins said. “We have seen far too many innocent lives lost and families torn apart because of addiction. I’m hopeful that this package of bills will help individuals get the treatment they need and give communities the resources required to stop this epidemic in its tracks.”

Collins joined fellow New Yorker, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries in introducing the Synthetic Drug Awareness Act of 2017 that would require the Surgeon General to report to Congress the public health effects of the rise of synthetic drug use by 12 to 18-year-olds. Currently, Congress does not have sufficient information to craft the unique types of public health and law enforcement approaches that could save our nation’s children from these dangerous substances. 

Collins also introduced the Eliminating Opioid Related Infectious Diseases Act of 2018 with Congressman Leonard Lance, Congressman Joseph Kennedy, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, Congressman Joe Barton, and Congresswoman Doris Matsui that focuses specifically on how the opioid epidemic has contributed to an increase in infectious diseases like Hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS. Increased monitoring and education will lead to a better understanding of the impacts that this crisis is having on public health.

Finally, Collins introduced legislation with Congressman Eric Paulson, Congressman Ron Kind, and Congressman Connor Lamb that would require Medicare to send an annual notice to Part D patients about the adverse effects associated with prolonged opioid use. By improving awareness and education, the Medicare Clear Health Options in Care for Enrollees (CHOICE) Act will help patients be more inclined to watch for the warning signs of addiction and be more informed to talk with their doctors on their options for pain management.

The additional bills focus on helping patients receive treatment and making sure these drugs do not get into the wrong hands. The Committee has identified issues with enforcement, prevention, and coverage within Medicare, and the additional legislation provides solutions that will address these areas.

A background memo, electronic copies of the legislation, and live stream of the markup can be found online here. The Committee plans to hold a second markup on opioid legislation on Thursday, May 17.

May 2, 2018 - 10:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Nate McMurray, chris collins, NY-27.

Press release:

Last week, Chris Collins took the long-overdue step of resigning from the board of Innate Immunotherapeutics, a medical biotechnology company in which he holds significant interests. It is too little, too late.

As a House member, he has repeatedly voted for legislation that would benefit the company, drafting or sponsoring no less than four bills over the last five years that would add to the company's bottom line. As an elected official, his job is to represent the interests of his constituents, not the interests of corporate shareholders.

However, there is evidence that his resignation does not come from a change of heart but from corporate restructuring. Despite the Office of Congressional Ethics stating last October that there was "substantial reason to believe" that Rep. Collins violated Federal laws on insider trading, corporate documents imply that Collins is resigning due to the company's sale to Amplia Therapeutics.

"We have to spread public awareness. Holding our elected officials accountable is the cornerstone of democracy," Nate McMurray said.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, among others, has called for Collins to recuse himself from any legislation affecting pharmaceutical companies. This is the only correct course of action.

My opponent's many entanglements mean that he cannot have the interests of his constituents at heart while working to boost company profits. Nobody can serve two masters.

The people of Western New York deserve better. We are dealing with a healthcare crisis on multiple fronts, from the opioid epidemic to funding rural hospitals. Rep. Collins has shown, time and time again, that he is willing to vote for his bank account not for the people he serves.

"If the public better understood what Chris Collins has done, there wouldn't even be a race," McMurray said. "The problem is when you have so much money, you think you're untouchable. You think you can put a sign in every yard and call it a day."

April 24, 2018 - 4:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today announced that the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act was reported favorably from the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Collins and Congressman Bill Pascrell (NJ-09) co-authored the House version of this bill that unanimously passed the House on Sept. 12.

The Firefighter Cancer Registry Act would require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop and maintain a registry to collect data regarding the incidence of cancer in firefighters. A 2015 study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that firefighters had a greater number of cancer diagnoses and related deaths than the general population, revealing an enormous gap in research.

“In communities across the United States, firefighters so bravely run toward emergency situations and put their lives in danger to help their neighbors,” Collins said. “I thank my Senate colleagues for their work in advancing this important legislation through committee and for their commitment to the safety of our nation’s firefighters.

"We need more information to determine how to better improve equipment and protocols to keep these men and women safe, and this was a huge step in the right direction.”

“I am thankful for the efforts of senators Bob Menendez, Lisa Murkowski, Patty Murray and Lamar Alexander in advancing companion legislation establishing a national firefighter cancer registry through committee,” Pascrell said. “The passage of this bipartisan, bicameral bill by voice vote speaks volumes to our collective commitment to the brave men and women in the fire services.

"We are now a step closer to better understanding firefighters’ risks for developing cancer. Our legislation will ensure firefighters who enter smoke-filled rooms and hazardous environments in service to their communities get the support they need. While the House has already passed legislation which would create this registry, I look forward to the Senate legislation moving through its chamber so we can get a bill on the President’s desk this year.”

If signed into law, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act would authorize federal funds to gather data that would study a number of potential risk factors, including but not limited to the status of the firefighter (volunteer, paid-on-call, or career), number of years on the job, the number of incidents attended, and the type of incidence. The collection of this data would allow for improved equipment, enhanced safety protocols and preventative techniques for our firefighters.

April 19, 2018 - 11:50am
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27.

Press release:

The State of New York knows better than most the importance of 9-1-1. When disaster strikes, New Yorkers depend on a fully functional, responsive 9-1-1 emergency communications system. And, after the September 11, 2001 attack, it was the New York firefighters and police officers who called on Congress to provide dedicated spectrum to public safety and additional funds to migrate these systems to next generation 9-1-1, which will allow public safety officials to receive real time location information, live video feeds, and much more.
 
Ironically, the very funding that New York and many others fought for in Congress as part of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act is not available to New York. That is because a provision in the law prevents states that divert 9-1-1 fees collected from consumers on their phone bills for other purposes from receiving these federal funds. The thought being, if the state is not prioritizing its 9-1-1 system, the federal government should not contribute its scarce funding that would allow for more diversion.
 
Unfortunately, New York has been found by the Federal Communications Commission to be a diverter of 9-1-1 fees every year since the Commission began collecting this information in 2009. Each state is responsible for its own 9-1-1 system, which typically includes public service answering points (PSAPs), otherwise known as the 9-1-1 call center, and personnel.
 
States fund these services through a fee on consumers’ phone bills. According to data provided to the Commission, the average 9-1-1 fee from wireline services is $1 per line per month and the average 9-1-1 fee on wireless phone bills is $0.92 per line per month. In New York, the state collects $1.20 for each mobile device – one of the highest in the nation.
 
Each year the Commission submits information on state 9-1-1 fee diversion practices to Congress. The goal being that this name and shame role of the federal government will pressure states to prioritize 9-1-1 funding and ensure that money they collect from their consumers is going where it should be going. This approach appears to have led to recent successes in states like Rhode Island and New Jersey – both of which are considering legislation to end their fee diversion practices.
 
Perhaps New York did not like this notoriety because this year the state refused to even submit data to the FCC. Despite this, the Commission found in its Report to Congress that based on sufficient public record information and the state’s previous history, it still could conclude that New York diverts funds for non-public safety uses. In fact, under state law, New York diverts approximately 41 percent to its General Fund. And, according to state tax records, in 2016, New York collected more than $185 million from the state’s 9-1-1 fee, but only dedicated $10 million in support of the state’s PSAPs.
 
Unfortunately, this practice has real world consequences for the citizens of New York. The Associated Press recently reported that New York is the only Northeastern state with serious service gaps in rural areas, which is of particular concern for many parts of Western New York. This article also estimated that the state needed $2.2 billion to fully upgrade the state’s 9-1-1 system. With a shortfall like this, one must wonder why the state would risk falling further behind by prioritizing funding for the General Fund rather than 9-1-1 services.
 
On Friday, we will travel to the Niagara County Emergency Management Office to see firsthand the great work that they do to respond to the emergency needs of Western New Yorkers and how New York’s 9-1-1 fee diversion practices are affecting PSAPs in rural areas. Our message will be clear: New York’s diversionary tactics must stop. If the state doesn’t act, we will have to explore ideas at the federal level to bring an end to this practice once and for all.

April 14, 2018 - 7:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, arts, NY-27, news, notify, batavia.

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Students from more than a dozen high schools in the NY-27 Congressional District entered the annual Congressional Art Show and when the top four winners were announced at GCC this morning, all four students came from Batavia High School.

Kiara Cherry won top honors and her work, "Out from Underneath," will be displayed in the Capitol Building for 12 months and she will travel to Washington, D.C., for the show's opening.

Rep. Chris Collins was on hand for the awards presentations after visiting with the students in the Roz Steiner Gallery and viewing their work.

Runner-up was Tara Clattenburg and honorable mentions went to Stephanie Hoy and Sophia Dinehart.

The art show judges see only the pictures. They don't know the artists' names or what schools they go to.

Kiara said her work is meant to reveal how people are different and everyone has a story.

The work didn't come together easily. First, she spent nearly three months working on it and as she neared completion she spilled "a ton" of India ink on it. Rather than give up on the project, she reimagined it, using pages from an old dictionary to help frame the painting of the two girls in the picture.

"I had completely different plans," Kiara said. "It was just unbelievable how everything changed, and so quickly, but it actually ended up better than my original conception."

Ask what lesson she learned from that process, she said, "Not to be cheesy or anything, but it’s like the Bob Ross quote, 'we don’t make mistakes, just happy accidents.' That was a happy accident because it paid off in the end."

Kiara wasn't surprised BHS swept the awards.

"At Batavia, everyone there is so amazing and they work so hard for what they do," she said. "We all encourage each other and Mrs. A (Mandi Antonucci) is an amazing art teacher."

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Sophia Dinehart tells Collins about her painting, which is a portrait with bees and a honeycomb. She is showing, she said, how we all have ideas and thoughts always buzzing around in our heads.

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Stephanie Hoy

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Eva Jensen, Perry High School, with a painting of a national park in Utah, where she once lived.

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Tara Clattenburg

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