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New York State Senate

February 2, 2012 - 3:23pm
posted by Geoff Redick in Mike Ranzenhofer, New York State Senate.

Calling it “the fingerprint of the 21st Century,” Senator Mike Ranzenhofer and local law enforcement leaders met today to endorse the “All Crimes DNA Bill,” which has just passed the New York State Senate and is now before the Assembly.

The bill (S5560A) would require anyone convicted of any felony or misdemeanor crime in New York State to submit their DNA to the state’s DNA databank, by way of a mouth swab. The move is expected to add more than 46,000 DNA samples to the state database every year.

“This is very helpful in solving crimes; and on the other hand, it’s also very helpful to exonerate the innocent,” said Ranzenhofer, who voted in favor of the bill just three days ago.

Currently, the state’s criminal DNA submittal bill applies to all felonies, but only to 36 misdemeanors – what can be described in layman’s terms as the more violent, harmful, or prohibitive misdemeanor crimes on the books. Crimes on the current list include third-degree assault, criminal obstruction of breathing, third-degree sexual abuse, and petit larceny, to name only a few.

Under the proposed new law, all convicted misdemeanors would require the DNA contribution – including such crimes as fortune-telling, false advertising, and jostling.

But when asked if he perceived the proposed new law as an infringement upon personal rights, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman was steadfast.

“We’ve been taking people’s fingerprints upon arrest forever,” Friedman said. “This is really, I would suggest, no different…there’s no evidence of any real ‘violation’ that’s ever come up.”

“The person only submits the DNA sample upon conviction,” added Genesee County Sheriff Gary Maha, “…so even if you’re arrested, you’re not going to submit a DNA sample.”

Friedman recalled a recent residential burglary case in Genesee County (he did not name the defendant) in which the only evidence left behind was some spots of blood. Through DNA collected after previous convictions, lawmen were able to track down and arrest the suspect. The defendant later pleaded guilty, and is currently imprisoned.

“As far as we’re concerned, there is no downside to this,” Friedman said. “It’s a great system.”

Ranzenhofer, Maha and Friedman each publicly called for the Assembly to pass the bill immediately.

June 15, 2009 - 8:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in taxes, New York State Senate, gensee county.

While it's pleasant to think that a broken state Senate means no state-damaging legislation can get passed, some of the bills pending while the Senate argues over leadership roles are important to the operation of local governments.

One of those bills, if not passed, could cost Genesee County as well of all the local towns, villages and the City of Batavia up to $8 million in annual revenue. The funds are used by the county to fund capital projects as well as pay down debt; for the city, towns and villages, the tax is part of operational revenue.

"That's going to cause a significant amount as havoc as we're trying to finish out our fiscal year," said County Manager Jay Gsell.

Every two years, the legislature must reauthorize authority for an a local-option additional 1 percent sales tax in Genesee County, as well as 36 other counties. The 1 percent is added to the permanent three percent levied by the county, plus the state's four percent makes for the 8 percent paid by county residents on local purchases.

It's only that 1 percent that must be reauthorized every two years.  And so has been the case since 1996.

To make up that revenue, Gsell said, the county would need to raise property taxes by $1.80 per assessed $1,000 value of a property.

If the bill isn't signed into law by September, the tax revenue could be lost and it could impact regional revenue for this year and the 2010-2011 budget.

"There is nobody even now who will even say we have a quote unquote quorum and we're going to official going to conduct business," Gsell noted. "My sense is there is so much back and forth and posturing going on that these, what should really be just ministerial functions, are not going to occur."

Audio: Jay Gsell talks about sales tax.

June 5, 2009 - 1:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in New York State Senate, legislation.

The Senate has passed legislation designed to make it easier for people like you and me to get into the packaged food business.

S3594 is supposed to promote small business start ups, such as maybe somebody looking to can an old family sauce recipe or gourmet cookies.

Glich: You or I can't benefit unless there's already a government or non-profit production facility available in your neck of the woods.

Know of any of those in Genesee County?

It's nice that the Senate wants to throw some money in the direction of start-up businesses, but would lowering taxes have the same stimulating, and maybe more, effect?  Or how about a state program to off-set the inescapable self-employment tax that makes starting a small business so difficult and risky?

We need more small businesses, more entrepreneurs getting a start in New York. It's the best long-term solution for economic growth, but maybe Malcolm Smith could start at the taking end rather than the giving end.

May 9, 2009 - 8:48am
posted by Howard B. Owens in New York State Senate.

nysenate_home.jpg

When I heard earlier this week that the New York State Senate had launched a new Web site, I was skeptical that it would really matter much.

Given the dysfunction and high level of partisanship in Albany, my expectations where that new site would serve as nothing more than a promotional brochure for the new Democratic majority.

But, taking a page from the quality and openness that the Obama Administration brought to WhiteHouse.gov, the new Senate site is truly a Web platform that is open and hits the target of serving the public good.  The site is not perfect -- for example, users can't comment on news or blog items -- but it is impressive.

First, there's no attempt -- yet, at least, -- to use the site to favor Democratic legislators. Every Senator who has content to display, whether a press release, blog post or video, is treated equally (based on timestamp).

And every Senator has a full range of tools to communicate with the public.

Let's tour, by way of example, our senator's home page, Mike Ranzenhofer.

From this page, you can not only get his latest press releases, but an aggregation of YouTube videos related to Ranzenhofer's senate service. These aren't just videos produced by Senate staff, but include, for example, a video produced by The Batavian.

Ranzenhofer also has a blog, but he has yet to post any items.

From this page, you can also sign up for e-mail and/or mobile alerts from Ranzenhofer's office. The sign-up process also allows you to select notifications from each of the Senate committees, so if there is a specific topic of interest, you can follow that issue in the Senate.

Much of the rest of Ranzenhofer's page is standard fair that you find on any legislative Web site, such as a district map, contact info, legislation and a biography.

When Ranzenhofer's office posts news, blog items or video, it could appear on the home page and it get aggregated into general parts of the site along with all the other Senate content. For example, Ranzenhofer's videos are right on the main video home page (at least at the time of this writing).

For the most part, the Senate is using YouTube for video, which is smart not only from a superior distribution standpoint, but the free hosting (which from commercial providers is VERY expensive) saves taxpayers money.

I looked through a few of the Senate blog posts. It's clear, even if some of these guys are writing their own posts, they still don't quite get the whole blogging thing. The writing is often stiff, there are no links out to items of interest or other bloggers, and the posts often lack any real substance, but presumably just in giving these guys the tools, over time more and more of them will get it and the blog as a communication tool for senators will become something that is useful.

But just about every page has RSS feeds attached, for easier updates for users with RSS readers.

And, like I mentioned above, the site still isn't really a two-way communication tool. Users can't comment on items or make any other public communication that would allow citizens to engage in a two-way conversation with their representatives.

Still, the Senate Democrats are to be applauded for creating a site that brings a great deal of more information about the Senate -- from both sides of the aisle -- to citizens in an easy-to-use and follow format. (One usability quibble: It's really not a good idea to serve an irritating little alert box every time a user clicks a link that will take him off the site.)

Speaking of senators and the Internet, here's Ranzenhofer's Facebook profile.

November 4, 2008 - 10:09am

If you had to pick a race statewide that could determine what party has the majority in the New York State Senate, look no further than the 61st Senate District. Democratic candidate Joe Mesi is taking on Republican Mike Ranzenhofer in a very close and hotly contested race.

Tonight, Mesi held a gathering in Batavia. At left it was I encountered when I pulled up to park for the event. What I didn't get on camera was the half-dozen Ranzenhofer supporters that decided they would stand in front of the event's venue - Main Street Cafe - holding Ranzenhofer signs. Apparently they decided that since the Democrats had been doing it for awhile in front of their headquarters, they would do it on the eve of the election.

But inside the event was a great atmosphere. At its peak, the event had 40-50 people. There were people of all ages in attendance for pizza, mingling with Mesi and a nice enjoyable evening before Election Day.

Mesi also addressed the crowd. You can hear the bulk of his remarks in this video:  

I remember first meeting Joe Mesi. That was nearly seven months ago. You could tell then that he was still learning. He was educating himself about the important issues and told the story that led to his candidacy. His brother lost his job at American Axle and that motivated Mesi to run for office.

Since my interview with Mesi, he has evolved into quite a candidate. His Plan for Change is pure genius. I say that because he put his platform into an easy-to-read booklet that was available at his campaign headquarters and handed out tonight at the gathering. Candidates usually use basic talking points on the stump or ramble on about what their policy positions are. Instead of doing that, Mesi decided to put his plans and his positions on paper for the world to see. That way, if there are any questions about where he stands, you can refer to the booklet.

So why should the people of the 61st Senate District elect Joe Mesi their state senator? Mesi is genuine. He truly cares about Western New York. This is where he built his life. This is where he became a heavyweight boxer. This is where he became a local star. And this is where he wants to stay, raise his own family and better the region that has given so much to him. He will be a great state senator for Erie and Genesee counties and he will represent them well.

October 29, 2008 - 1:05pm
posted by Patrick D. Burk in Democrats, New York State Senate.

 

 
You’re Invited
Please Come & Meet
JOE MESI
Candidate for the New York State Senate
 Monday, November 3rd
Election Night Eve
 
5PM to 6PM
 
Pontillo’s Pizzeria
500 East Main Street - Batavia
 
Hosted by:
 
Patrick & E. Jane Burk
Bob & Gail Stevens
Ed & Cathy DeJaneiro
Brian Dieck
Toni & Ron Funke
Sara Jane & Samantha Balbi
Malloryann Burk
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