Representing the Council for Justice, Equality and Peace (COJEP International), Ambassador Hugues Sanon presented the Global Distinguished Leadership Award, Key to Sustainability, and Medal of Honor to New York State Senator George Borrello for his service and dedication to the residents of the 57th District.
“Senator Borrello has devoted more than a decade to improving the quality of life in our community and our region through public service roles at both the local and state levels of government,” said Ambassador Sanon.
“He has raised awareness of issues and problems that are impacting families, small businesses, and farmers. He has been a champion of tax relief to ease residents’ financial burdens and make our region more competitive. As a lifelong Western New Yorker, he is unwavering in his dedication to securing the future of the region and that is inspiring and an example that deserves to be recognized,” Ambassador Sanon said. “That is the intent behind this award.”
The VIP dinner was hosted by Ambassador Sanon at his residence on the North Side of Jamestown. In attendance was Mayor Randall G. Holcomb of Lakewood NY, the Blue Star Mothers NY4's Vice President Kathy Collver, Vietnam Veteran Stanley Collver, Pastor Mark Hinman and Mrs. Hinman from Hillcrest Church, Dave Anderson and his wife Holly Anderson, Mr. Jon Elder and Emmanuella Sanon, wife of Ambassador Sanon and COJEP representative at the United Nations.
COJEP International, headquartered in Strasbourg, France, promotes humanitarian values and works in support of peace, justice, freedom and democracy. The organization has consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations, UNESCO (NGO Liaison Committee), the Council of Europe (Conference of NGOs), the OECD and is accredited by the European Parliament and the OSCE.
Ambassador Sanon praised Senator Borrello for “his commitment to making our community and the world at large a better place where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. Your tireless efforts have had an impact and brought hope to many. Continue to shine your light, demonstrate compassion and empathy, and transform lives through your important work. The world needs more people like you.”
Senator Borrello expressed his appreciation for the award and extended his thanks to Ambassador Sanon for his work in the City of Jamestown and Chautauqua County.
"I am humbled by this honor and your kind words. I am also grateful for your contributions to Jamestown and Chautauqua County. In the relatively brief time you’ve lived here, you’ve invested yourself deeply in our community. You’ve worked in partnership with local officials, law enforcement, clergy, and non-profit organizations to reach common goals and help those in need. You’ve shown great leadership and have built bridges between people and groups that will make our region and this world a better place,” Senator Borrello said.
“We all recognize that achieving greater justice, equality, and peace are critically important goals. You bring that vision to your efforts, which benefits us all,” he added.
Ambassador Hugues Sanon has presented the Medal of Honor to a number of international and national dignitaries as well as several local leaders including the City of Dunkirk Mayor Willie Rosas, Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel, County Sheriff James Quattrone, Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist and Rev. Mark Hinman of Hillcrest Baptist Church.
Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R, C -Batavia) recently criticized the Clean Slate Act, a proposal that would seal the criminal records of recently released convicts. This week, the measure was signed into law by Gov. Hochul. Supporters of the bill argue this will help incarcerated individuals get jobs after they’ve served their time and combat racial bias in the state’s criminal justice system. Critics, however, have said this will make it virtually impossible for employers, landlords and other business owners to fully vet their incoming employees and tenants. Hawley is frustrated because reckless policies like the Clean Slate Act are giving criminals a free pass and making communities less safe.
“This is yet another example of the Majority in Albany imposing their radical ideology on everyday New Yorkers,” said Hawley. “We live in a country where criminals are treated like victims, and the people who are hurt by these crimes are put to the side. Public safety is not something we can afford to mess around with. We need to return to a system where we respect the rule of law and hold criminals accountable for their actions.”
Press release from Sen. George Borrello:
“Governor Hochul’s signing today of the Clean Slate Act is more confirmation that catering to criminals and the radical wing of her party is more important than the safety and concerns of New Yorkers who have repeatedly cited rising crime as the state’s number one problem.
This misguided law will allow criminals – even serial offenders -- to have their records automatically sealed after a specified time period. Serious crimes like manslaughter, armed robbery, domestic violence, and arson are among the crimes that will be hidden from employers and landlords, placing countless unsuspecting individuals in harm’s way.
There already exists a process for sealing criminal records that has reasonable safeguards to assure that the individuals in question don’t pose a public safety risk. Yet, like with all the criminal justice reforms passed in recent years by Albany Democrats, reasonable policies and reforms have been rejected and replaced with reckless versions.
This law is another slap in the face to New Yorkers who are watching their safety and quality of life rapidly erode.”
It was obvious on Friday that Bill Joyce is a man surrounded by a family that loves him, and he loves his wife, daughters, and grandchildren.
But he also loves the veterans he serves.
"I can remember the Christmas parties and some of the fondest memories of my sparkly little dress with my sparkly little shoes," said his daughter Jacqueline Joyce. "Watching my dad's troops laugh and joke with him. And the random memory I have of him holding a newborn baby and sitting next to him and watching him look down in awe. It was in that moment I understood. This was his second family. That was what resonated with me. This is my dad's second family, his veterans."
Joyce served in the US Army on active and reserve duty for 40 years. He is a retired New York State Police mechanic and quartermaster. Since 2012, he has been Genesee County's Veterans Services Officer and, by all accounts, performing his duties above and beyond the call of duty.
Both because of his service to his community and to veterans, on Friday, United States Army Command Sergeant Major William Joyce (Ret.) of Pembroke was inducted into the New York State Senate Veterans Hall of Fame Friday by New York State Sen. George M. Borrello during a ceremony at the Botts Fiorito American Legion Post No. 576 in Le Roy.
Joyce's three daughters, Verna Cromwell, Jacqueline, and Amanda Werner, with their mother, Susan, and children in the audience, gave speeches at the ceremony honoring him as a father and a man committed to service.
"His transition to VSO only seemed like the next move for him to continue taking care of his boys, his soldiers and his veterans," said Jacqueline, who herself served in the military, the U.S. Air Force and is currently a member of the Air Force reserve. "As a VSO dad has helped countless veterans in any part of the world. In his time, as VSO, he has taken pride in making Memorial Day and Veterans Day more memorable. He takes pride in securing Batavia PD to block off traffic at the Upton Monument and having flags placed for the fallen when their names are read (at the War Memorial at (Jerome Center) improving the experience for the families observing. Most importantly for me, I get to spend half the day with my hero, laughing, joking, sweating, freezing, and getting soaked, similar to last Veterans Day, where my boots had to be disposed of because they were so soggy."
In his opening remarks, Borrello noted the sacrifices Joyce and his family made because of his commitment to serve his country.
After training at Fort Dix in 1972, Joyce entered an Army that was winding down involvement in Vietnam. He was stationed as a Specialist Fourth Class in Germany to guard the Eastern Border when Czechoslovakia was still communist and a Cold War threat to Western democracy.
"After his active tour ended in 1975, he returned home and began a 40-year civilian career with the New York State Police," Borello said. "He also resumed his military service by enlisting in the Army Reserve to continue defending his home and country. In the reserves. He rose through the ranks to become a Command Sergeant Major. He had several deployments overseas to Bosnia, to Iraq twice, and to Afghanistan. The deployments in the Middle East carried particular risks and often involved breaking down the doors of suspected terrorists and going into the mountains to find their training sites. These deployments were also long, 15 months or more, requiring them to be away from his wife and daughters for long stretches of time. He missed birthdays, holidays, school concerts, and much more."
As a soldier, Joyce has been awarded a Bronze Star, the Iraq Campaign Medal with two campaign stars, and two NATO medals, among many other honors from the U.S. Army.
Joyce's daughters recalled those deployments as times of concern and absence but also of love.
"In the late 90s, things started to get more serious," Cromwell recalled. "I can remember my parents listening to the conflict of Kosovo and Bosnia on the radio while we were getting ready for my school Christmas concert. It would only be a few months later that Dad would leave us to go to Bosnia for nine months -- the longest time he'd ever been away to my memory. I still have the letters he wrote and emails I printed. He may have been half a world away, but he was still very much a part of our everyday lives. This would continue to be the case for his tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. But this time, it was daily phone calls before school and before bed."
Cromwell said her dad was never bothered by being the father of three daughters.
"Sure, I witnessed people asking him about wanting a son, but it's a core memory for me of him replying, 'There's nothing you can do with three boys that you can't do with three girls.' And he was right," Cromwell said. "There were many mornings driving to school listening to Army cadences. I still sing these from time to time and was absolutely thrilled on Christmas when my mom dubbed the cassettes on a CD for us. There's truly nothing like hiking through a state park and belting out, 'Don't let your dog tags dangle in the dirt.'"
Both Cromwell and Jacqueline recalled most fondly their father's assignment to Colorado Springs. The weekends were filled with trips to Pike's Peak, Garden of the Gods, the Great Sand Dunes, Denver, and other points of interest in the area.
But Joyce wasn't inducted into the Hall of Fame just because he's a good family man. He was inducted because of the tireless work he has done for veterans.
"It is his policy to never refuse help to a veteran no matter their circumstances or where they live," Borrello said. "In fact, he has assisted veterans from as far away as California, Texas, Germany and even the Philippines."
Joyce has a reputation in the veterans' community for getting things done that few other VSOs can accomplish.
"Among his many achievements are two cases where he was able to secure 100 percent disability ratings for terminally ill veterans in record time, one within 24 hours and another within 18 hours to make government work that fast. God bless you. That's amazing. Those veterans died with peace of mind knowing that their spouses would receive critically needed survivor benefits."
Kathleen Ryan, a retired VA social worker, said she regularly gets calls from veterans throughout the region looking for help dealing with the Veterans Administration. As a result, she still speaks to Bill Joyce at least once a week.
Ryan is the person who nominated Joyce for the Hall of Fame.
"He never says no," Ryan said. "I don't know, anybody, and I've been in the business for a long time -- I'm a veteran -- I don't know anybody who has worked as hard in the daily grind of veteran work. We're talking about the daily grind of things that come in the door. And Bill has never said no."
She recalled a recent example of Joyce's dedication to serving veterans. She got a phone call from the wife of a veteran who couldn't get the help he needed from another VSO, so Ryan called Joyce.
"I call in the county service officer, and he says, 'I don't do home visits,'" Ryan said. "I say, 'this guy who is going to die is Vietnam Vet One Bravo, which is an infantry unit. He's got his house set up, the living room was set up with a hospital bed. His wife is there, and this man is going to pass any moment. He can't get in the car and go to Livingston County. It was a Thursday. I called up Bill. He says. 'I've got it. I'm going to Albany. I got to be in Albany on Friday, meet me -- because I live in Rochester -- meet me on the Thruway.' I said, 'Okay.' We met at the Cracker Barrel in the parking lot. I got the paperwork. I've got the medical. I got everything. It's a Friday, Bill took it Saturday ... and he did all the work. By Monday, this guy was 100 certified and he had never even been seen in the VA. Never. And his wife now has spousal benefits and has all the things that she needs. And this man was able to pass away knowing his wife was going to be taken care of."
Assemblyman Steve Hawley noted that Joyce has never traveled to Washington D.C. with other veterans on Hawley's annual Patriot Trip, which is a testament to Joyce's commitment to veterans.
"It's four days and three nights," Hawley said. "He really just doesn't want to travel any more. He's traveled around the world serving our country. But he wants to stay right here every single day, helping our veterans, and for that, I respect him."
County Manager Matt Landers, with his oversight over county finances, noted that some might object to Joyce helping veterans who are not residents of Genesee County.
"Some could argue because Mr. Bill Joyce is paid for with Genesee County resources, that were helping veterans from outside of the county," Landers. "That's not even a discussion that I could have with Mr. Joyce, because there is no border for veterans. So Mr. Bill Joyce attracts them from far and away, and we support his efforts to support any veteran that is in need, whether they come across our boundary or border or he goes to them to wherever they are."
Then turning to Joyce with a smile, said, "Just please, limit the number of countries you visit."
Verna, Jacqueline, and Amanda, all expressed how proud they are of their father.
"I could think of no one more deserving of this recognition than my dad, from the love he has given his family and the dedication and care he has given to the community of veterans, he has shown," Verna said. "He can do many different roles and excelled greatly at them. He is the prime example of 'Army - Be All You Can Be' because he has been in every way possible."
Jacqueline said, "Dad held many titles -- son, brother, husband, father, friend and soldier, and, specifically to me, my hero."
Amanda said she's inherited a title from her father, "Bill Joyce's Daughter."
"I'm Bill's youngest daughter," Amanda said. "'Bill Joyce's Daughter' is an alternative name I've gone by my whole life, even more commonly than my actual name, because he's a person that everybody knows. No matter where I am, I'm recognized by that title at least once. That's a testimony of how many lives he's touched throughout his many phases of life.
She concluded, "This award presented to him today comes with no surprise to the many that know him. He's passionate about the work he does, always sees any given task through and gets the job done like no other. On any given day, but especially today, I continue to proudly carry the title of Bill Joyce's Daughter."
In conjunction with the nation’s celebration of Veterans Day, Sen. George Borrello announced that Governor Hochul has signed into law a measure renaming Route 63 in the town of Pavilion as the “SP4 George Harold Fry Memorial Highway.”
Legislation marking the designation was sponsored by Senator Borrello and Assemblyman Stephen Hawley.
U.S. Army Specialist 4 George Harold Fry, a native of Pavilion, was killed in action on July 11, 1969, along with 20 other members of the 506th Infantry during combat on Hill 996 in the Shau Valley of Vietnam. Specialist Fry’s actions that day are credited with saving the lives of many other members of his unit.
He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and the Bronze Star.
“Specialist Fry gave his life defending his brothers in arms,” Sen. Borrello said. “He is a decorated war hero who served his country with honor and distinction. Dedicating this highway in his name is one small way we can honor the courage, dedication and ultimate sacrifice of this American hero.”
Assemblyman Hawley said for generations to come, the SP4 George Harold Fry Memorial Highway will stand as a testament to Specialist Fry’s heroism and commitment to his country and freedom.
“As an Army veteran and member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, I was honored to sponsor this proposal recognizing one of Western New York’s most valiant, Specialist George Harold Fry. It's fitting that this highway is being memorialized at the same time we're remembering those who served on Veteran's Day,” Assemblyman Hawley said.
Specialist Fry served with D Company, 1st Battalion, 506th infantry, 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army. As an RTO (Radio-Telephone Operator), it was his duty to maintain radio contact between his unit, other platoons and Battalion Command. After two fellow RTO’s were killed early in the assault on July 11, Specialist Fry left the safety of cover to re-establish communication between platoons during the battle, placing himself in jeopardy.
Specialist Fry’s actions enabled his commanding officer to call in artillery support, coordinate the U.S. counter assault and evacuate the wounded. Continuously under fire, Specialist Fry kept transmitting until he too was shot and killed. His company suffered more than 50 percent casualties. Survivors said were it not for Specialist Fry, many more U.S. troops would have been killed or wounded.
For gallantry in action on July 11, 1969, Specialist Fry received the Silver Star Medal. He also received the Bronze Star Medal for outstanding meritorious service in connection with ground operations against a hostile force during the period of October 22, 1968 to July 11, 1969.
Additionally, he received the Presidential Unit Citation for Operation Snow for the period of May 10 through May 21, 1969, in the Shau Valley.
“For generations, many of our region’s finest and bravest young men and women have found their calling in military service and safeguarding the liberties we cherish,” Sen. Borrello said. “Specialist Fry was one of those patriots. Naming this highway in his honor commemorates his courageous service to our country and reminds us of the immense contributions America’s veterans have made for us all.
“I want to thank Assemblyman Hawley for sponsoring this legislation in the Assembly and Governor Hochul for signing the bill to honor Specialist Fry who gave his life for our freedom.”
Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C-Batavia) and State Sen. George Borrello (R,C) recently spearheaded an initiative to designate a portion of the state highway system in the county of Genesee as the “SP4 George Harold Fry Memorial Highway.” George Harold Fry, a native of Genesee County, was a Specialist-4 in the Army during the Vietnam War. On July 11, 1969, SP4 Fry gave his life to restore the company’s radio network during an assault by the North Vietnam Army. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his bravery and sacrifice in the battle. As the proposal has been signed by the governor, Hawley is proud to see this local hero get the recognition that he deserves.
“As an Army veteran and member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I was honored to sponsor this proposal recognizing one of Western New York’s most valiant, Specialist George Harold Fry,” said Hawley. “I want to thank Sen. Borrello for carrying this bill in the Senate, and I want to extend my congratulations to the Fry family for this prestigious honor. For generations to come, the SP4 George Harold Fry Memorial Highway will stand as a testament to Specialist Fry’s heroism and commitment to his country and our freedom.”
Assemblyman Steve Hawley represents the 139th Assembly District, which includes parts of Erie, Genesee, Monroe, and Orleans counties. For more information, please visit his official website.
Sen. George Borrello renewed his call for Gov. Kathy Hochul to meet with Seneca Nation of Indians President Rickey Armstrong Sr. as soon as possible to negotiate a new gaming compact before the current agreement expires on Dec. 9.
Borrello noted that he sent a letter to the Governor on Sept. 20, urging her to start negotiations before time ran out. Since then, another month has passed with no action.
“The clock is ticking on the expiration of the current compact with just 52 days left. As the only New York State official who can approve a gaming compact between the state and the Seneca Nation, it’s imperative that Hochul agree to a meeting with President Armstrong,” Borrello said. “President Armstrong has repeatedly asked the governor to sit down with him and negotiate an agreement in good faith that is fair and addresses the needs of all parties, yet she continues to avoid the bargaining table.”
Borrello noted that any agreement would need to be approved by the state Legislature and the people of the Seneca Nation before it can be sent to the Federal Department of Interior for review and final approval.
“This agreement is essential for the economic well-being of Western New York. The Seneca Nation’s casinos have a $1 billion annual impact on our economy. The livelihoods of tens of thousands of individuals, businesses, and families across Western New York depend upon a new compact. The future of those New Yorkers is hanging in the balance,” Borrello said.
Hochul had recused herself from the negotiations, arguing her husband’s business ties with Delaware North could lead to a conflict of interest. William Hochul left Delaware North on Aug.15, and Hochul issued a statement saying she was no longer barred from the gaming compact negotiations.
“Now that the governor is no longer recused, there is no reason for her to delay meeting with President Armstrong,” Borrello said. “Time is running out. We need to get this done.”
Borrello’s district encompasses both the Allegany and Cattaraugus territories of the Seneca Nation of Indians.
“The Seneca Nation territories and its residents are within the 57th Senate District, so this issue is a priority for me. Seneca Nation members and businesses are a significant part of our lives and culture, and I am proud to represent them in the State Senate,” Borrello said. “Their world-class gaming facilities and resorts are an important part of the hospitality and tourism economy of Western New York. The people of the Seneca Nation deserve a fair and equitable compact.”
The original Seneca Nation Compact was authorized in 2002. The agreement cleared the way for the development of three Seneca casinos in Western New York.
Terms of the compact included the Seneca Nation paying 25 percent, approximately $100 million per year, of the slot and video lottery machine revenue from the casinos to the state, with a portion of that money directed to each casino’s host city. In return, the compact granted the Seneca Nation exclusive rights to operate Class III casinos in Western New York.
“I am disappointed that a longstanding news service like the Associated Press (AP) has abandoned its responsibility to accurate and unbiased reporting as evidenced by today’s article, “New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is not trying to create ‘quarantine camps.’
Their so-called ‘fact check’ of the basis for Borrello et. al. v. Hochul is nothing but a political cover for the administration’s blatant separation of powers violation, a breach which was confirmed in a State Supreme Court decision in July 2022.
While the term ‘quarantine camp’ isn’t used in Rule 2.13 per se, the language in the regulation is very clear when it says the Commissioner of Health or local health department can issue an isolation or quarantine order, at whim, without proof of infection, and can force someone to remain in their home, or send them to ‘other residential or temporary housing… or other locations as the public health authority issuing the order deems appropriate.’
Call it whatever you like – quarantine camp, detention facility, field hospital, etc. – the bottom line is that Rule 2.13 authorizes the government to take such an action, which would be a gross abuse of due process and New Yorkers’ civil rights.
The article incorrectly states that the rule only clarifies powers the state already has. As Judge Ronald Ploetz cited, the rule, as written, ‘actually contravenes the [isolation and quarantine] procedures set forth in PHL 2120’ which was established by the New York State Legislature in 1953. The governor and the Department of Health cannot unilaterally change that law. Only the legislature possesses that power.
During the pandemic we saw governments around the world, and our own, overreach in ways we never could have imagined prior to March 2020. Those actions set a terrible precedent that will require us to remain constantly vigilant against constitutional abuses. That was the premise at the core of this court challenge. By focusing on sensational semantics, the AP’s article did a disservice to their readers and missed an opportunity to educate New Yorkers about what is at stake in this case.”
Senator George Borrello has joined a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of New York State’s newly implemented ammunition registration law which requires that purchasers submit to and pay for a background check for ammunition transactions.
“My office has been flooded with calls from law-abiding gun owners, sporting goods dealers, and gun clubs who are upset about this latest assault on our Second Amendment rights,” said Senator Borrello. “Requiring a background check and fees for each ammunition purchase is unconstitutional and has already proven to be a technological and administrative failure.”
“Since the system launched on Wednesday, retailers who sell firearms and ammunition across the state have reported that attempts to use New York’s new online system either failed completely or took so long to complete, the potential purchasers had already left their stores,” said Borrello. “The end result is that the state is blatantly denying New Yorkers the ability to exercise their Second Amendment rights. That represents a violation of the U.S. Constitution, which is the basis for our lawsuit.”
Along with Senator Borrello, plaintiffs in the lawsuit include the New York State Firearms Association, Assemblyman David DiPietro, William Ortman and Aaron Dorr. The defendant is Steven A. Nigrelli, Acting Superintendent of the New York State Police.
The new requirements are part of Executive Law 228 and include the following:
Shifts New York State from a jurisdiction in which the FBI conducts firearms-related National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) background checks, to one in which the New York State Police (NYSP) are the “point of contact” for background checks;
Requires the NYSP to conduct background checks on all firearm and ammunition purchases in the state;
Authorizes NYSP to charge fees for each background check on purchases and transfers. Those fees have been set at $9 for firearms and $2.50 for ammunition; and
Requires the NYSP to create and maintain a statewide firearms license and records database to be used for ammunition sales as well as for the certification and recertification of permits and assault weapon registration.
While the establishment of an ammunition database and background check requirements were part of the 2013 SAFE Act, implementation was put on hold because of legal and operational concerns.
“The governor and her allies in the Legislature are pushing the false narrative that public safety will be achieved by making it harder for law-abiding gun owners to purchase firearms and ammunition. Meanwhile, they are tripping over themselves in their rush to pass laws that keep dangerous criminals -- including criminals caught with illegally possessed firearms -- on the streets instead of behind bars where they belong,” said Senator Borrello.
“Law-abiding gun owners shouldn’t be punished for New York’s crime problems by having their Second Amendment rights taken away. These latest restrictions won’t accomplish anything other than driving more residents out of the state and diverting the hard-earned tax dollars of New Yorkers to our courts as the state is forced to try to defend its indefensible actions,” said Senator Borrello. “New Yorkers deserve better.”
Senator George Borrello has introduced legislation mandating that New York City, the largest consumer of energy in the state and the most fossil fuel dependent, accept turbine installations at a rate equal to that of upstate New York.
“New York State’s leadership has expressed a commitment to making the state the most progressive in the country in its energy policy and conversion to renewables. To clear the path for their agenda, they have trampled on the state’s constitutional home rule doctrine, forcing upstate localities to accept industrial wind turbine installations even when local officials and residents are fiercely opposed,” said Sen. Borrello.
“The special interests and legislators pushing this conversion to all-renewables are largely from New York City. As upstate New York’s beautiful landscapes and Long Island’s shoreline are destroyed to make way for industrial turbine installations, the city has not had to make any comparable sacrifices, despite the fact that most of the energy produced will be diverted to the five boroughs,” said Sen. Borrello.
Specifically, the legislation would prohibit the New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment from granting a certificate for the construction of an industrial wind turbine within New York State unless a certificate for a wind turbine within New York City was also issued.
“As it stands now, the loss of green space as well as the wildlife and ecosystem damage that turbines cause will be solely borne by upstate and Long Island communities, which is not only unfair, but contradicts the ‘urgency of the climate crisis’ narrative that we hear often from New York leaders,” Sen. Borrello said. “If climate change is truly an ‘existential threat to humanity’ then the cost and logistical challenges of placing wind turbines in New York City should be tackled with the same urgency of those efforts that are ongoing in other parts of the state.”
Senator Borrello also noted that upstate New York’s energy generation is already more than 90 percent emission-free, thanks to hydropower and nuclear resources. In contrast, New York City’s energy production is largely dependent on fossil fuels.
“New York’s transition to renewable energy is going to require great sacrifices and higher costs. Those burdens shouldn’t fall disproportionately on the shoulders of upstate and Long Island residents. This measure is aimed at ensuring all regions of the state bear their fair share of the difficulties that will accompany this transition.”
State Senator George Borrello has introduced legislation that would prohibit the smoking and consumption of marijuana in public places unless specifically authorized by the locality.
“Since the enactment of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) in 2021, I’ve received many complaints from concerned constituents about the increase in public pot consumption,” said Sen. Borrello. “State residents, including children, are now regularly assailed with the pungent odor of marijuana on public sidewalks, in parking lots and other public spaces. Many New Yorkers don’t want to be exposed to either the effects of marijuana smoke or its smell and don’t want their children subjected to it.”
Under Senate Bill 7604, public marijuana use would be prohibited, although cities and towns would be able to enact ordinances regarding whether and where marijuana could be publicly consumed. This is a significant departure from current state law which authorizes public marijuana use anywhere tobacco smoking is permitted. The measure would also establish a $125 fine for violations of the law. Current violations of the public consumption provisions of the law are subject to a $25 fine.
Sen. Borrello noted that equating tobacco smoking with marijuana use is a false comparison.
“There is a world of difference between tobacco consumption and marijuana use, which is why it is inappropriate to apply the same public usage rules. Marijuana has THC, a potent psychoactive drug that causes a ‘high’ and can result in cognitive and motor impairment, similar to alcohol. Individuals in this condition, on sidewalks or other public places, represent a potential hazard to themselves or others. That is why the same public consumption restrictions that apply to alcohol should apply to marijuana,” said Sen. Borrello.
“It is important to emphasize that nearly all of the states that have legalized recreational marijuana have limited its usage to private property – one’s home or another private residence or a licensed, designated consumption establishment. That is the more responsible policy,” said Sen. Borrello. “However, in recent years, when given a choice between ‘responsible’ or ‘reckless’, New York leaders have typically chosen the latter, as they did with the recreational marijuana law.”
“There is no question that the exponential growth in public marijuana consumption since the passage of the MRTA has resulted in a significant quality of life problem in cities and communities across the state. It is our duty to address this issue and this proposal is an important first step,” Sen. Borrello said.
The Assembly version of the legislation is sponsored by Assemblyman Michael Novakhov.
“As legislators, our job is to represent the interests of the New Yorkers we serve. What have New Yorkers repeatedly asked the Democrat-controlled Legislature and Governor to address? Affordability and crime. What did they get in return?
A massive $229 billion state budget laden with unsustainable spending and certain to produce budget gaps in the near future.
A state money grab of federal Medicaid funding from the counties, which will force localities to raise property taxes between 7 and 14 percent to cover these state-mandated costs.
A ban on natural gas and other fossil fuels in new construction beginning in 2025, which will drive up utility bills, raise housing costs and decrease energy reliability.
A $1 billion-plus bill for New York taxpayers to address the migrant crisis, driven by New York’s self-designated ‘sanctuary’ status.
A lack of any meaningful improvements to the bail ‘reform’ disaster that continues to wreak havoc with public safety.
A continuing, unfair and costly burden on small businesses of repaying the state’s COVID-era unemployment insurance debt.
A continuation of the attacks on agriculture through misguided policies like the Birds and Bees Act and approval of the 40-hour farm worker overtime threshold.
Unconstitutional election ‘reforms’ like no-excuses absentee voting that New Yorkers already rejected at the polls in 2021 and moving local elections to even-numbered years. These election bills aren’t about boosting participation; their true goal is to make it easier to elect more Democrats.
None of these ‘achievements’ or any of the other 500-plus measures Democrats passed this session are what hard-working, taxpaying New Yorkers asked for. They are the result of the relentless push by radical special interests to enact socialist-leaning laws that will continue to weaken our economy, punish success and erode law and order.
New Yorkers should be especially outraged about the passage of additional pro-criminal measures that will only further hurt public safety in our cities and communities.
The so-called ‘Clean Slate’ bill will seal criminal misdemeanor and most felony conviction records, leaving potential employers, landlords, lenders, and others in the dark about the past of an individual they are considering entrusting with a job, apartment, loan, or other arrangements.
This will leave innocent, unsuspecting New Yorkers, including children, vulnerable. It is apparent that our majority of colleagues are unfazed by the increases in crime resulting from their disastrous bail and parole changes.
New Yorkers can be relieved that we were able to defeat some of the reckless proposals by the majorities and the Governor. At the top of the list are the governor’s proposed affordable housing mandates and growth targets, which would have overridden local zoning and changed the character of our communities.
We also won a reprieve on some of the gas ban mandates in the governor’s budget. My advocacy urging agricultural buildings to be added to the list of ‘exempt’ facilities was thankfully effective, providing some relief and certainty to our farmers. The final budget also removed the gas ban mandates on existing homes and businesses — for now.
Other key achievements include a conceptual agreement between the Seneca Nation and the state on a fair gaming compact. Our advocacy brought needed focus to this issue, which is critically important to the future of Western New York.
We were also able to win passage of legislation to fix the funding problems the Department of Health created for our Nourish NY program. Getting this done was a priority for all of us who led the effort to make this valuable program permanent.
Ultimately, this session has ended without taking any significant steps to make New York a state where people want to live, rather than leave.
Democrats’ iron grip on power means they own the failures of the 2023 Session as well as the loss of each family and business who decide they’ve had enough of high taxes, rising crime, and tone-deaf political leaders and leave for greener pastures.
I remain hopeful that when my Democratic colleagues return to their home districts and hear directly from their constituents, they may return to Albany in January, ready to tackle our challenges. In the meantime, my advocacy for the hardworking, law-abiding people in our region will continue.”
Following the Senate’s passage of S.1856, “The Birds and Bees Protection Act,” Senator George Borrello issued the following statement:
“I am deeply disappointed at the Senate’s passage of this bill which will ban neonicotinoids (“neonics”), which are seed treatments that contain extremely small amounts of pesticides.
The use of this innovative technology has helped farmers optimize crop yield and quality and allowed them to greatly reduce the large-scale spraying of older, more toxic, and environmentally harmful pesticides. Pesticide application rates will increase by an estimated 375 percent per acre.
Neonic safety for bees and other pollinators has been confirmed by studies and the product has been registered for use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
This attempt by legislators to override the DEC’s regulatory authority and expertise in this area is reckless and sets a dangerous precedent. Ultimately, if this misguided bill is signed into law, it will be another blow to New York State farmers whose livelihoods have been under attack by this Legislature over the past three years.
Multi-generational family farmers are finding it increasingly difficult to compete with other states because of the continuing and unreasonable mandates, costs, and regulations that are being heaped on them. I strongly urge my colleagues in the Assembly to reject this harmful and unjustified measure.”
Sen. George Borrello issued a statement regarding his sponsorship of critical legislation that will fix a problem that has emerged regarding the distribution of Nourish NY funds to regional food banks due to a misguided administrative action by the Department of Health.
Senator Borrello helped spearhead the effort to make Nourish NY a permanent state program, through his advocacy and sponsorship of legislation in 2021 codifying the program into law.
The statement reads:
“The effort to establish the COVID-era farm-to-food bank program Nourish NY as a recurring state program was driven by a desire to help food insecure New Yorkers and struggling farmers. This innovative effort established a process for our state’s regional food banks to purchase healthy and fresh New York State-sourced dairy, meats and produce for families in need with state funding.
I was proud to be one of the champions of this effort. Both the funding and operational processes were working well until September 2022 when the Department of Health unexpectedly merged the Nourish NY funding with the funding for the Hunger Prevention Nutrition Assistance Program (HPNAP), without any explanation or warning.
The resulting Request for Funding (RFA) process was terribly flawed and did not account for the vastly different purpose, guidelines, and eligibility of each program. This led to steep funding cuts for some regional food banks, which is unacceptable. Nourish NY is one of those rare policy initiatives that was a ‘win’ for everyone. We cannot let a botched administrative action undermine its ability to help food-insecure New Yorkers and our farmers.
That is why I am co-sponsoring Senate Bill 7533, which would fix this error by clarifying that all Nourish NY funds are to be allocated to regional food banks, as originally intended. I urge my colleagues to vote in support of this critically needed legislation before we adjourn.”
As negotiations on a new gaming compact continue between New York State and the Seneca Nation, Sen. George Borrello has introduced legislation that would enhance the integrity of the process by authorizing the New York State Comptroller to review any tribal-state compact and recommend approval or needed changes.
Senator Borrello cited the need for this change by pointing to current negotiations between the Seneca Nation and the Hochul administration. He noted that although the Governor has recused herself from compact negotiations because of the conflict of interest presented by her husband’s position with a company in competition with the Seneca Nation, she is still the only official that can approve the contract.
“The partnership between the Seneca Nation and New York’s executive branch has been strained for several years, largely over disagreements concerning revenue from Seneca casinos. Those tensions, combined with the Governor’s institutional role in the process which makes full recusal difficult, underscore the importance of a full and impartial review by the State Comptroller,” said Senator Borrello. “There is too much at stake, not only for the Senecas but for the state, to allow the process to be compromised by politics and conflict. This is a common-sense proposal that would improve the process and help ensure a fair outcome.”
The original Seneca Nation Compact was authorized in 2002. The agreement cleared the way for the development of three Seneca casinos in Western New York. The Seneca Niagara Casino opened in 2002, followed by the Salamanca location in 2004 and the Buffalo location in 2007. Terms of the compact included the Seneca Nation paying 25 percent, which is approximately $100 million a year, of the slot and video lottery machine revenues to the state, with a portion of that directed to each casino’s host city. In return, the compact grants the Nation exclusive rights to operate Class III casinos in Western New York.
The casinos and their related businesses have an estimated $1 billion annual economic impact on Western New York and provide more than 6,000 jobs.
“The Seneca Nation territories and residents are within the 57th District which makes this issue a priority for me. They are friends and neighbors to me and other district residents, so the delays and challenges they are encountering in the negotiating process are a significant concern,” said Senator Borrello. “Their world-class gaming facilities have transformed the economy of Western New York and they have been good partners to the state. They deserve a fair and equitable compact and my bill would help advance that goal.”
Senator George Borrello sent Governor Kathy Hochul a letter of concern pertaining to her recent plans to move migrants to SUNY campuses.
Dear Governor Hochul,
In light of the news that upstate SUNY campuses are being considered as temporary migrant housing, I am writing to urge you to suspend this plan immediately out of concern for the strains on security and resources that such an influx would have on these campuses and the surrounding communities.
I am especially opposed to SUNY Fredonia being chosen as a migrant housing location. Our community does not have the resources that would be required to underwrite the costs of housing, feeding and meeting the many needs that immigrants will require. Our rural upstate social service network is already overburdened by the services required by our own community members.
New York City, a self-designated ‘sanctuary city’, does not have the right or the authority to send economic migrants to other counties in the state without the proper funding, coordination and approval of those counties. Additionally, these migrants have not been properly vetted by U.S. immigration authorities and pose a risk to public safety.
It is important for our state and federal governments to acknowledge their role in creating this crisis and take responsibility for this disastrous outcome.
New York’s immigration crisis is the result of its ‘sanctuary state’ status and policies like the 2020 Green Light Law granting non-citizen, undocumented migrants the ability to get a driver's license. New York’s Green Light law bars federal authorities from accessing New York’s motor vehicle database to enforce U.S. immigration policies and laws. The Green Light Law and its sanctuary status have made New York State the perfect place for undocumented immigrants to settle and avoid deportation.
At a time when New Yorkers face an affordability crisis, and we lead the nation in outmigration, the last thing we should do is add to the burden of hardworking taxpayers and business owners by handing them the bill for resettling migrants who came here illegally.
My constituents do not support New York’s sanctuary status designation or policies and should not be punished by Washington’s unwillingness to protect our nation’s borders or bad policies adopted by Albany or New York City.
Thank you for your consideration. I would be happy to discuss this issue with you in more detail.
Sincerely, George M. Borrello Senator, 57th District
“Our state budget has finally passed, only a month later than it should have. Not only were there numerous empty seats on the side of the Majority as we trudged through the debate and voting process, but this budget is prepared to spend $229 billion worth of taxpayer dollars. That’s double the budget of Florida and Texas, despite New York having fewer residents than either of those states. Spending indiscriminately and passing the costs over to taxpayers almost unilaterally is not the way to attract or retain people or business to this state, and I fear it will continue the downward trend of New York’s economic strength.”
Statement from State Sen. George Borrello:
“New Yorkers have heard repeatedly over this last month that ‘the right budget is more important than an on-time budget.’
“Yet, the sad truth is all the extra time did not produce ‘the right budget.’ It produced another bad budget that, once again, ignores New Yorkers’ top concerns – affordability and public safety – and spends us into a fiscal death spiral. At $229 billion, this budget means we will be spending $627 million in taxpayer dollars every single day.
“Government watchdogs have decried the reckless spending which will explode next year’s projected budget gap and set us up for a long-term structural deficit of over $15 billion. New Yorkers, who already pay the highest taxes in the nation, will not find any relief in this budget and may very well see increases in the not-too-distant future because of the excessive spending. Property taxpayers are also at risk of higher taxes in the next few years as the state begins withholding federal Medicaid funds that were designed to help counties with these costs.
“Throughout the process, the narrative we’ve heard is that the governor was fighting for changes to the bail law to strengthen public safety. Many people had high hopes that we would finally get a significant tightening of the disastrous changes that have transformed our criminal justice system into a dangerous revolving door. Disappointingly, the promised changes are nothing but a shell game that will do nothing to reverse the tide of rising crime. Ninety percent of crimes are still not eligible for bail. Judges still do not have the discretion they need to hold dangerous individuals, despite the rewording of the ‘least restrictive’ standard.
“With a budget process conducted behind closed doors, it is easy to slide in controversial items in the last minute to prevent opposition from having time to organize. We saw that happen with the addition of a provision to dismantle the existing board and governance structure of the Western Regional OTB. This blatant power grab will undermine the voices of the rural counties that are part of the OTB board and put at risk the successful operation of Batavia Downs, the only profitable Western Regional OTB location.
“While elected officials love to proclaim their support for small businesses, ‘actions speak louder than words,’ as they say. Small businesses’ requests for the state to help pay down the crushing COVID-era unemployment insurance debt that was unfairly dumped in their laps were ignored once again. Adding insult to injury, small businesses, farms and employers of every size will have to find a way to finance the higher minimum wage mandates in this budget, even as the last increase is less than six months old.
“There were a few positive outcomes worth noting. The advocacy of myself and my colleagues was effective in removing the Executive Budget’s harmful housing mandates that would have steamrolled over localities’ home rule rights with regard to zoning and right sizing communities.
“It is also encouraging that the fierce opposition of myself and the members of our Conference on the governor’s all-electric mandates helped remove her proposed requirements on existing homes from this budget. However, the mandates for new construction remain and are set to begin in 2025, which will have a devastating impact on the construction sector and related industries. That is just one of many fights that remain on this critically important issue.
“New Yorkers deserve ‘the right budget’ and an on-time budget. This year, they received neither.”
Local New York State politicians are speaking out against a report that Democratic legislators and Gov. Kathy Hochul are considering changes to the structure of the board of directors of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp.
Congresswoman Claudia Tenney, Sen. George Borrello and Assemblyman Stephen Hawley, all Republicans, issued statements Thursday and today, indicating their opposition to what they believe is a proposal to eliminate individual counties’ authority to select WROTB directors.
Press release from Tenney:
“For 50 years, Western Regional Off Track Betting has shared operational control between 15 county governments and the Cities of Rochester and Buffalo. Under this established system, Western Regional OTB has brought jobs, tax revenue, and entertainment to Western New York. Over the past two years, Western OTB returned over $13.9 million to offset local county taxes across Western New York,
“County leaders throughout New York’s 24th district have reached out concerned about efforts to dismantle, politicize, and disadvantage rural communities within Western Regional OTB. When ‘Home Rule’ created the ownership of Western Regional OTB, member counties were given equal representation. NYS Senate Bill 7855 would strip rural counties of their 50-year established authority of this public-private sector partnership in favor of Governor Hochul and left-wing legislators in Albany.
“I stand with local leaders across the district in calling on Kathy Hochul to drop this misguided plan. It should be dead on arrival during budget negotiations in the Albany sewer. With a budget that is nearly four weeks late, a crime surge, and historic mass outmigration, Albany Democrats should leave Western OTB alone and focus on the real problems facing New Yorkers.”
Press release from Borrello:
“Although they already control the major levers of power in Albany, that hasn’t stopped Democrat One-Party Rule for brazenly and continually hunting for more opportunities to conquer and silence those outside their control. Their latest power grab targets Western Regional Off-Track Betting which has operated for five decades under a model of shared operational control between 15 county governments and the Cities of Rochester and Buffalo.
"However, changes under consideration right now would eliminate this cooperative structure of the past 50 years and replace it with a politicized board that would do Albany’s bidding. The voices of our rural counties would be silenced and the jobs and revenue they depend on put at risk.
"I am fiercely opposed to this last-minute attempt to slide this controversial proposal into the budget as the final details come together. It is another shameful attempt at rigging the system for political purposes and should be rejected.”
Statement from Hawley:
Hawley called the proposal "a power grab trying to diminish the influence of smaller, less populated counties."
"It's called Western New York OTB, not Erie County OTB," he said, responding to a text message from The Batavian. "This is similar to what Western New York complains about in the State Legislature. Excessive control by New York City. Shameful and wrong."
WROTB President/Chief Executive Officer Henry Wojtaszek, contacted today, said he and Board Chair Richard Bianchi are monitoring the situation.
“We are waiting to find out what the actual language of the proposed legislation is before making an official statement,” Wojtaszek said.
Currently, the individuals serving on WROTB’s 17-member board, which represents its 17-member municipalities, are appointed by their county or city (Buffalo and Rochester) legislative bodies.
“With the Senate Majority’s confirmation of Justice Rowan Wilson for Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, they have won their months-long campaign to transform the state’s highest court with their brand of progressivism.
They rejected Judge Hector LaSalle, a brilliant and independent jurist with the administrative experience the role demands, in favor of an activist judge. Judge Wilson will be more likely to legislate from the bench and willing to ‘interpret’ the law and State Constitution however necessary to advance a liberal agenda.
With the state budget now 18 days late, chiefly because of the Legislature’s resistance to amending disastrous criminal justice reforms that have made our streets more dangerous and victims more numerous, today’s judicial confirmation makes it clear that they are as committed as ever to their radical agenda. Everyday New Yorkers’ concerns over public safety and the direction of our state have been ignored yet again.
Upstate opposition to downstate policies is showing some small signs of success, State Sen. George Borrello told a group of residents at Batavia City Hall on Tuesday.
The residents gathered in Council Chambers for a 'Town Hall Meeting' hosted by Borrello, who represents the reconstituted 57th Senate District, which now includes Genesee County.
On the progress front, Borrello pointed to bail reform. Gov. Kathy Hochul is backing some changes to the current bail laws in the current proposed budget, Borrello said.
"I can tell you that it's broken, and we're fighting an uphill battle," Borrello said. "We're into the wind every day, but we are making progress. The bottom line is it's up to the people of New York when the majority of people -- three out of four people in New York state, including New York City -- feel that bail reform needs to change. The governor right now she's backpedaling like crazy. She's trying to back herself out of all the promises she made when she was running, when she was down in New York City, abandoning her Western New York values to get re-elected or to get elected for the first time. But when she won by only 1,000 votes, she realized that something's got to change. So I don't have a whole lot of faith in her in many ways, but I think she's at least realizing that she's gonna have to figure out a way to right this ship. Otherwise, she's not going to be around much longer as our governor."
There's also growing opposition to proposals for solar panels and windmills all over the state, Borrello said.
He called the push for solar in the state "nothing but crony capitalism" that is doing more to enrich China than fight climate change.
"Let me tell you something, the proliferation of solar and wind in Upstate New York, this is not about climate change," Borrello said. "This is not about clean energy. It's about money. This is about a bunch of former used car salesmen inundating everybody with these contracts."
Borrello said he is also fighting to protect farms on other fronts, such as opposing changes to the overtime threshold for farm workers.
It's another area where upstate interests are making small progress. Hochul, he said, is proposing a tax credit for farmers who do wind up paying overtime under the rule changes.
He also said a program that helps direct food from local farms to food banks has been made permanent.
"(Now) farmers can plan for it, and food banks can budget for it," Borrello said.
Upstate opposition to Hochul's housing plans, which reportedly could have forced municipalities to abandon their own zoning ordinance, has led to small changes. The goal of building more affordable housing will be achieved through incentives rather than penalties, he said.
"I'm still not convinced," Borrello said. "There's still a backdoor way for the state to, essentially, bypass local zoning, local control. It's a bad idea. If you want to make housing more affordable in New York State, make New York State more affordable. That's the best way to do it."
Borrello said most of his colleagues in Albany lack the business experience (he and his wife own multiple small businesses, employing more than 200 people) necessary to help them understand the impact of their decisions on the people of New York. They're insulated from the effects of those decisions, he said. And while he's aware of reports of people fleeing the state because of high taxes and overregulation, he plans to stick around and try to make things better for New Yorkers.
"I'm here to stay and fight," he said. "Because this is a great place to be. It's a great place to live. I don't want to leave here. I don't want anyone else to leave here any more. So we're going to continue to fight back. We're gonna continue to push back and be that voice of common sense in Albany."
New York State Senator George Borrello announced that the New York Conference of Italian-American State Legislators is accepting applications for four $4,000 scholarships, two academic and two athletic.
Scholarships are available to residents of the 57th Senate District who are current college students or high school seniors entering college. Students can access and complete the application by visiting: https://www.nyiacsl.org/apply-for-scholarship-form.
The application deadline is Monday, March 27.
“This is an excellent scholarship opportunity for high school seniors and college students in the 57th Senate District who have worked hard, distinguished themselves from their peers and intend to pursue higher education,” Senator Borrello said. “With college costs continually rising, this is a chance to lessen the financial burden that is a concern for so many young people and their families. I encourage eligible students in my district to apply.”
Applicants should have a grade point average of 85 or higher; be active in community service and extracurricular activities and demonstrate financial need. In addition to these qualifications, students applying for an athletic scholarship must also be involved in an organized sport(s). Applicants need not be of Italian-American heritage to apply.
Scholarship recipients will be announced in May, and the winners will be honored at a ceremony in Albany.
The New York Conference of Italian-American State Legislators is a bipartisan organization of state Assembly and Senate members who actively promote and celebrate the state’s Italian-American community.
Earlier this year, Senator Borrello was chosen by his Senate and Assembly colleagues to serve as president of the New York Conference of Italian-American State Legislators.