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Ranzenhofer: Rare July session is an opportunity to help families and small businesses

By Billie Owens

From Senator Michael Ranzenhoffer:

It goes without saying that 2020 has been one of the most unpredictable and challenging years of our lifetime. The fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic will be felt for years to come.

As the Legislature prepares to return for a rare July session, many important questions remain unanswered.

In a recent Buffalo News article, it was stated that legislative leaders anticipated a “robust agenda” for the upcoming July session. It is my hope that we will not squander the opportunity and will start providing much needed clarity and assistance to families and businesses.

For years, I have advocated for increasing assistance to working families through an expansion of the Child Care Credit. This assistance is even more critical now as many families are struggling to find adequate childcare, while continuing to work from home.

In addition, it is critical that we develop plans to ensure that children and teachers can return to school safely and as soon as possible.

While I acknowledge that the current fiscal crisis could not have been predicted, it is still troubling that we have yet to be presented with the Governor’s suggested budget revisions.

Furthermore, it is impossible to ignore the fact that prior to COVID-19 the state was already experiencing an over $6 billion deficit. As part of my 2020 Legislative Questionnaire, over 51 percent of respondents said the state should address deficits by reducing spending and cutting outdated regulations.

Conversely, only 28 percent of residents advocated for tax increases or cost shifts.

Right-sizing New York State government is more critical than ever to ensure the quickest, most sustainable, economic recovery possible.

I strongly believe we need to examine how we utilize our economic development dollars. With so many small businesses struggling to survive we need to do all we can to assist them.

The Governor controls billions of dollars for economic development incentives to attract new businesses to the state. I can think of no better time redistribute these resources to support locally owned businesses.

In my previously mentioned questionnaire, nearly 53 percent of respondents said the state should not be in the business of picking winners and losers. Instead, they supported broad-based tax relief for businesses or not incentivizing private corporations at all. Only 13 percent of respondents believed that incentives were extremely important to help businesses.

Great challenges face government leaders as Legislative Session resumes. I hope the Governor and Senate and Assembly leaders will take real steps to assist hardworking families and struggling small businesses.



State Senator – 61st District

Ranzenhofer endorses Jacobs for Congress

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

New York State Senator Mike Ranzenhofer (SD-61) endorsed Chris Jacobs for Congress (NY-27) today.

“I have had the honor of serving with Chris Jacobs as a State Senator for four years now, and I can say with all sincerity he has always put the needs of Western New York at the forefront of his agenda," Senator Ranzenhofer said. "Chris has served our state and our region with integrity and dedication, and he cares deeply about the men, women, and families of Western New York.

"I can think of no one more qualified or more prepared to fight for us as our next Congressman, especially at a time when we are in dire need of conservative leadership in Washington. I am proud to endorse Chris Jacobs for New York’s 27th Congressional District.”

“I am deeply grateful to be endorsed by Senator Ranzenhofer," Jacobs said. "It has been a pleasure serving in the Senate and representing Erie County with him; he has always been a strong, dedicated advocate for our region, and for our conservative values.

"I have been honored to serve Western New York in the Senate and I look forward to fighting for our region in Congress in June and ensuring that we restore strong conservative leadership to this seat. Senator Ranzenhofer’s support makes me confident we can develop a strong coalition of local leaders to ensure a bright and prosperous future for Western New York.”

Jacobs is also the only candidate to receive the endorsement of United States President Donald Trump, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), Congresswomen Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Former Congressman Jack Quinn (R- NY), NYS Senator Patrick Gallivan, NYS Assemblyman Angelo Morinello, NYS Assemblyman Mike Norris, and Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard.

Local lawmakers call for energy development hearing postponement during COVID-19 crisis

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Because of the COVID-19 crisis, Assemblyman Steve Hawley recently partnered with Sen. Robert G. Ortt and Sen. Michael H. Razenholfer to request a postponement of hearing dates for the development of new energy initiatives as part of the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act.

The goal is to ensure that the district, which is incredibly involved in siting policy at the local level, is allowed to participate in the public forums mandated by the act.

“This pause in daily life has not been without its struggles, and the people of Western New York have been performing admirably during this time,” Hawley said. “It’s why I want to ensure their right to assembly, especially during matters that concern them.”

Ranzenhofer calls for 'fresh start' in criminal justice reform law

By Billie Owens

Senator Michael Ranzenhofer issued the following statement this morning:

“The Governor has indicated that he intends to make changes to correct the flawed criminal justice reform as part of the NYS budget. I strongly believe that the law needs to be repealed and a fresh start is needed, with input from law enforcement, district attorneys and local government.

"I am very much opposed to something this important being tucked into the $178 billion budget. The NYS budget is already made more complicated this year by the $6.1 billion deficit. Bail reform has been a highly contested and debated topic and it should be considered on its own merit.”

Ranzenhofer says governor must accept consequences of 'Green Light Law'

By Howard B. Owens

Statement from State Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer:

As you may know, the federal government recently announced that it will no longer process new NEXUS applications from New York State. While this is extremely disappointing, it is not a surprise. Many senators, including myself, raised concerns with provisions of New York State’s Green Light Law, which ban the federal government from accessing DMV records.   

Despite warnings from the federal government when Green Light was being advanced, the Democrat majorities in the Senate and Assembly passed the bill. Meanwhile, the Governor dismissed warnings as nothing more than divisive, fearmongering. While the Governor continues to claim bias and point to a limited number of states that issue licenses to illegal immigrants, he fails to mention that these states do not prohibit law enforcement from accessing DMV data. Even California has agreements in place to share data with federal law enforcement. 

The federal government has sole authority and enforcement power over immigration and border security policies. If New York State decides to withhold information that federal agencies deem necessary for entry into the United States, the federal government has every right to deny travel privileges. In the end, NEXUS is a federal program and the federal government can decide who is eligible and what guidelines must be meant. If New York State chooses to pass policies that go against such guidelines, the state must accept the consequences.  

It is important to note that if you currently have NEXUS, you may not be effected immediately. However, you will not be able to renew when your current card expires. 

I am hopeful that New York State will take appropriate steps to ensure that residents again have access to NEXUS.

Senator Ranzenhofer seeks constituents' input on 2020 Legislative Questionnaire

By Billie Owens

From Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer:

As your State Senator, I value your concerns and opinions. Many new issues are being discussed and there is sure to be extensive debate throughout the 2020 session.

From a $6.1 billion deficit to criminal justice reforms and vaccination requirements, your opinions on issues facing New York State are very important to me. That is why I have launched a 2020 Legislative Questionnaire.

It is only 14 questions and takes just a couple of minutes to complete. Click here to complete the questionnaire.

I will be listening to residents– all across the 61st Senate District– as this year’s legislative session progresses. 

Thank you in advance for taking the time to participate. I look forward to hearing your feedback.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of assistance to you or your family.

Senator Ranzenhofer announces his retirement

By Billie Owens


State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer issued the following statement this afternoon (Dec. 6):

“Today I am announcing that I will not seek reelection and will retire from the NYS Senate at the end of next year," Ranzenhofer said. "It has been the highest privilege to represent the many communities of WNY and I am proud of what we have accomplished together on behalf of residents.

Despite my decision to retire, I will continue to fight for the residents of the 61st Senate District throughout the remainder of my term. After many years of serving the community, I look forward to spending more time with my family.”

In addition to being a legislator, the senator is a partner with the law firm Friedman and Ranzenhofer.

Submitted file photo of Honorable Janet DiFiore, chief judge of the State of New York, administering the oath of office to Ranzenhofer on the floor of the State Senate for the 2017-18 term.

UPDATED: Cuomo scraps plans for charging fees to replace old license plates; Hawley and Ranzenhofer are happy

By Billie Owens

A statement from Assemblyman Steve Hawley:

“I am proud to have fought against this unnecessary cash grab, and New Yorkers should be proud their voices and objections to this theft disguised as a necessity were heard. 

“This victory against tyranny and manipulation shows the governor and his Downstate puppets that if it’s your money they want, they better have good reason for it. The wallets of hard-working taxpayers have been bled dry for long enough.

“Gov. Cuomo’s decision to scrap his latest tax grab is a resounding triumph for taxpayers. The decision to instigate a $25 fee for new license plates, that cost no more than a few dollars to make, was an unfair and greedy money grab to fund the state’s lavish spending.

“The tax burden the people of New York are subject to already is preposterous. A state with $175 billion in tax revenue can easily afford to replace these plates without taking the hard-earned money from your pockets.

“I will continue to fight to keep your hard-earned money where it belongs. I devote myself to protecting the middle class against any unfair cash grabs, taxes or fees.”

UPDATE -- Late this afternoon, Senator Michael Ranzenhofer issued a statement about the issue:

The governor's license plate replacement plan hit a roadblock; facing a backlash, Cuomo put the brakes on his license plate replacement plan.

After weeks of defending his proposal to require the replacement of license plates over 10 years old, the Governor has decided not to move forward with the plan. The Governor and DMV had proposed requiring the replacement of all license plates over 10 years old.

As part of his mandatory replacement program, residents would be required to pay $25 for the new license plate and an additional $20 if they wished to keep their same plate number.

I voted against the legislation to allow for this charge when it passed in 2009 and I oppose the Governor’s most recent plan. In fact, I cosponsor legislation to prohibit charging additional fees for license plate replacements.

Perhaps most frustrating was the implication by the Governor that these charges were required when the law clearly gives authority to the Executive to charge less or waive the fee completely as has been done the last 10 years.

Facing tremendous backlash from myself and other representatives and overwhelming public opposition, the Governor announced that he would no longer require replacement. However, it remains unclear if he still plans to keep the proposed fee structure in place.  I assure you that I will continue to monitor this situation closely.

As I have stated many times before, New York State is simply too expensive and nickel-and-dime fees such as the Governor’s License Plate Tax only make matters worse. We should be advancing proposals that make New York more affordable – not increasing costs to support unsustainable spending.

See The Batavian's previous post about the license plate replacement fees here.

For the proposal as announced last month by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, click here.

Senator Ranzenhofer laments NY's expensiveness, calls for support of his 'Affordability Agenda'

By Billie Owens

From Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer, 61st Senate District:

A recent report confirmed what far too many Western New York families already know; New York State is one of the most expensive states for childcare in the nation. According to the report, childcare costs the average family in New York State over $14,000 annually for a single child.  

Unfortunately, childcare is only one example of New York’s affordability crisis. In addition to childcare, NY is one of the most expensive states to retire in and has some of the highest property taxes, income tax rates, and energy costs.

Equally troubling is that despite paying tremendous costs, our services and infrastructure regularly scores in the middle or bottom of the pack nationally.

Regrettably, the 2019 legislative session only made matters worse.

New and higher taxes, cuts to cost-saving programs and new mandates that will increase food and energy prices will not help Western New York families. If you own a home, have a child, are retired, use electricity, or eat, it will now be more expensive to live in New York.

Making New York State more affordable is one of my top priorities and now more than ever we need to embrace my Affordability Agenda.

The Affordability Agenda lowers taxes for the middle class, cuts energy taxes, and provides for real mandate and regulatory reforms to ensure that these measures are sustainable.

In addition, I am sponsoring legislation to make child care more affordable (S4458) and to cap property taxes for seniors (S4579). Seniors should not be forced out of the homes they own due to annual property tax increases. It is critical to accomplish this by reforming our government, not simply shifting the tax burden.

I will continue to do all I can to support policies that help hard working Western New Yorkers. We will never reach our full economic potential if we continue to have some of the highest taxes and most burdensome regulations in the nation.

Ranzenhofer knocks Legislature for 'misplaced priorities' at end of session

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer has issued the following statement:

“This session was full of missed opportunities and misplaced priorities. From the convening of the session in January, through yesterday, we saw bill after bill filled with items that voters did not want and that hurt Western New York.

“The budget, filled with billions of dollars in new taxes for this year alone, is set to increase taxes by $4.5 billion next year. To make matters worse, Democrats gave less funding to our Western New York roads and bridges. Our schools also saw less aid proportionally.

“We saw, just this week alone, numerous times when Downstate members negatively spoke about Upstate residents. Despite the calls to be one unified state and the promise that Upstate would not be overlooked, this session had a disproportionately negative affect on Upstate’s economy and way of life.

"Late term abortion, driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, billions in new taxes and mandates on farmers are just some of the examples. Instead of passing the 'Victims’ Justice Agenda', the Majority was focused on delivering for criminals, with the 'Criminals’ Bill of Rights'. All of this while our taxpayers were left behind.”

Ranzenhofer votes against budget because of new taxes

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer (R-C-I, Amherst) voted against the newly enacted 2019-2020 New York State Budget. Senator Ranzenhofer has issued the following statement:

“The new fiscal plan makes New York State even more expensive. The new budget raises taxes by $1.4 billion this year and another $4.6 billion next year. It imposes new taxes on almost everything and anything, including internet purchases, shopping bags, prescription drugs, rental cars, real estate transactions and energy bills. All of these taxes will make it more expensive to live, work and retire in our state.

“The new plan also fails to invest in Western New York’s highways, roads and bridges. In fact, it cuts tens of millions of dollars in state funding for infrastructure improvements. Now, local highway crews will have even fewer resources to repair our crumbling roads and bridges.

“Simply put, this is a bad budget for hardworking Western New Yorkers. Under this misguided budget, New York State will continue to experience the steepest population loss in the United States. This irresponsible plan will exacerbate Upstate’s economic challenges and force even more Upstate residents to leave for more affordable states.”

Ranzenhofer votes against proposed state budget

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

Senate Democrats advanced their one-house budget resolution today. State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer (R-C-I, Amherst) voted against it. 

Senator Ranzenhofer has issued the following statement:

“Today’s budget resolution takes more hard-earned dollars from taxpayers. It hikes taxes by $2 billion in the first year alone. It also imposes many new and increased taxes, including on Internet purchases, paper bags, prescription drugs, driving, and real estate purchases. 

“Under this misguided budget proposal, New York State will continue to experience the steepest population loss in the United States. This irresponsible plan will exacerbate Upstate’s economic challenges and force even more Upstate residents to leave for more affordable states.

“All of these taxes will make it more expensive to live, work and retire in our state. Simply put, this plan doesn’t work for the residents of our community.”

Ranzenhofer presses for NYS to 're-open for business'

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer is advocating for a new set of common-sense solutions to address New York’s ailing business climate so that more hard-working families can live, work and thrive in Western New York.

The Re-Open New York for Business Plan is in response to Senate Democrats outright rejection of the Amazon HQ2 project, costing New Yorkers 25,000 new jobs and $27.5 billion in revenue.

The new plan would help reinvigorate the state economy and establish countless job opportunities for middle-class workers while beginning to undo some of the damage Senate Democrats have done by stopping the Amazon HQ2 project.

“When Senate Democrats turned down 25,000 new jobs, they sent a clear message to job-creators across the nation that New York is closed for business,” said Ranzenhofer. “That is why I am fighting to reopen New York for business by enacting each one of these sensible tax and economic development reforms.”

The comprehensive jobs plan includes: 
• Fighting for Meaningful Tax Cuts for Small Businesses, including a $495 million income tax exemption for Small Businesses & Farmers, as well as a STAR program for Small Businesses, achieving another $275 million in savings;
• Fighting to Cut Burdensome Energy Taxes, including the elimination of the 18-A Regulatory Assessment, and building upon the successful elimination of the Senate Democrats’ 18-A surcharge;
• Making the Property Tax Cap Permanent, currently, a temporary measure which has saved taxpayers $37 billion since its inception;
• Opposing any new taxes to balance the budget, including the Governor’s plan to impose new taxes on internet purchases and prescription drugs, among other fees in the Executive Budget proposal;
• Pushing for much-needed needed reform of the Public Authorities Control Board, so one person can never again misuse their vote to impede job growth and progress for New York; and
• Calling upon the Governor and Legislature to enact comprehensive regulatory reform for small businesses across the state this year.

Ranzenhofer shares concerns about farm labor bill

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer has shared his concerns with recently reintroduced legislation, the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act (S2837), in a letter to the bill’s Senate sponsor, Senator Jessica Ramos.

Senator Ranzenhofer is requesting that the bill’s sponsor garner feedback from the agriculture industry.

“For years, many local farmers have shared their fears regarding serious unintended consequences of this legislation,” said Ranzenhofer in the letter. “Agriculture is the largest industry in the state, and I believe it is critically important that local farmer concerns and the concerns of the greater agriculture community be heard.”

Senator Ranzenhofer believes that the proposal could have a devastating impact on local jobs and family farms.

“Simply put, the stakes have never been higher for farmers across New York State and additional employer mandates could have catastrophic consequences for many rural Upstate communities and consumers,” Ranzenhofer said.

Youth bureaus to receive $30K in state grants

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

New York State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer has secured $20,000 for the Genesee County Youth Bureau and $10,000 for the City of Batavia Youth Bureau.

“Our youth have unlimited potential to succeed, and this state investment will turn that potential into reality,” Ranzenhofer said. “As your State Senator, my commitment to the future of our children is unwavering. I’m proud to deliver on that commitment.”

The state funding will help support a safe afterschool environment and structured educational programs that provide youth with homework help, tutoring, skill building, and recreational activities.

“Our programs are making a difference by motivating young people to develop a sense of responsibility and contribute to their communities. This funding will be a major boost for our initiatives. I applaud Senator Ranzenhofer for being such a strong supporter of our youth in Genesee County,” said Executive Director for Genesee County & City of Batavia Youth Bureaus Jocelyn Sikorski. 

The funding is part of the 2018-19 State Budget. The funding is administered by the New York State Education Department.

Ranzenhofer announces $72,000 for local libraries

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

New York State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer has secured $72,000 in state funding for public libraries throughout Genesee County.

“Our local libraries enrich our communities with invaluable services, and this critical funding will assist libraries across Genesee County with providing more programming to their patrons,” Ranzenhofer said. "As your State Senator, I am proud to be a strong supporter of Genesee County’s libraries."

The total funding will be distributed among Genesee County’s six public libraries:

• Byron-Bergen Library, $12,000;

• Corfu Free Library, $12,000;

• Haxton Memorial Library; $12,000;

• Hollwedel Memorial Library, $12,000;

• Richmond Memorial Library, $12,000; and

• Woodward Memorial Library, $12,000.

The funding can be used for a variety of purposes, including capital improvements, new books, learning materials, software, programming and computers. The funding is part of the 2018-19 State Budget. The funding is administered by the New York State Education Department.

Ranzenhofer withdraws from effort to replace Collins on R ballot line

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

"After a great deal of reflection, and consultation with my family, friends, and community over the last several days, I am removing myself from consideration in the search to find a replacement candidate for the 27th Congressional District. I’m not giving up this opportunity lightly, but the decision is easier because there are so many other qualified candidates. These last few weeks have been a whirlwind. It has been an honor to have been asked by so many to consider a run for Congress.

"The chairmen and chairwomen who will make this very important decision have been thrust into unchartered waters and a very difficult situation. They have taken their responsibilities seriously and have been very thoughtful and deliberative. No other group of individuals is better able to handle this challenge. I want to commend those who have answered the call. Many are my friends, some are my colleagues, and each would make an exceptional member of Congress. Each has strengths and weaknesses which have to be carefully weighed by the chairs charged with finding a solution.

"These last few weeks have been quite an experience for which I am grateful and will always remember. I wish the eight chairs Godspeed as they work their way through this process. All candidates seeking to become the next Congressional Representative are to be commended for accepting this challenge. I wish them good luck and will wholeheartedly support whoever is chosen.

"It was an honor to have been asked by so many to consider this opportunity. I am blessed with the opportunity to serve the residents of Erie, Genesee and Monroe counties and look forward to continuing to represent them in the New York State Senate." 

Ranzenhofer announces summer reading program

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer is encouraging students to continue growing, learning and developing – even though school is out of session until September – by participating in his Summer Reading Program.

“As the school year comes to an end, students are turning their thoughts away from books to vacation," Ranzenhofer said. "This program is a great way to promote literacy and keep children’s minds active when they are not in a classroom. I encourage students to read all summer long by participating in the Summer Reading Program."

The theme of this year’s program is Libraries Rock! Students and parents can participate by visiting Senator Ranzenhofer’s website,

Evidence shows that children who stop reading over the summer often fall behind when they return to class in September. More than 2.2 million students participated in summer reading at New York libraries last year.

Ranzenhofer bill to expand child tax credit passes State Senate

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

On Thursday, June 14th, the New York State Senate passed legislation (S7815), sponsored by Senator Michael Ranzenhofer (R-C-I-REF, Amherst), to expand New York’s Child and Dependent Tax Credit by doubling the current cap on child care expenses across the board. 

“Child care is one of the largest costs facing parents," Ranzenhofer said. "As more households rely on dual incomes to support their family, childcare is an increasingly necessary part of life in today’s economy. This legislation would be a step in the right direction and make childcare more affordable in New York State.

"I urge the Assembly to bring this important legislation to a vote this session. The proposed expanded tax credit is estimated to provide $225 million in new relief for middle-class families. Most families are estimated to receive a new average credit of $750, an increase of $375 from last year."

Under existing law, taxpayers are eligible to claim the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit to help offset the costs of caring for a child under the age of 13, a disabled spouse or a disabled dependent. The expense amount allowed toward the credit is limited at various levels depending on the number of children.

Identical legislation in the Assembly, A10265, is currently in the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.

If enacted, taxpayers would be able to take advantage of the increased limits starting in 2019.

Senate passes bill to lower tax rate for Batavia Downs

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

The New York State Senate passed Senate bill S7397-A, establishing a more equitable tax rate for Batavia Downs Gaming.  Senator Michael Ranzenhofer, the sponsor of the legislation, issued the following statement:

“Today the Senate passed legislation to help level the playing field for Batavia Downs. Lowering the tax rate not only protects the future viability of Batavia Downs but returns more revenue to taxpayers across Western New York. I am hopeful that the Assembly will take action on this important legislation.”

Batavia Downs Gaming, operated by Western Region OTB (WROTB), is a standardbred racetrack and gaming facility. WROTB is a public benefit corporation – owned by 15 Western New York counties, including Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans, Oswego, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne, and Wyoming, as well as the cities of Rochester and Buffalo.

Since its inception, WROTB has generated hundreds of millions of dollars in operating and surcharge revenues to the residents of those participating municipalities.

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