State reps rip Democrats' agenda
PENN YAN-- This year, for the first time in a decade, both houses of the state legislature are controlled by Democrats with a Democratic governor.
State Senator Tom O'Mara (R-Big Flats) and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R, C, I-Corning) sounded their concerns Friday, March 8 in Penn Yan with some of the issues and said they were alarmed with some other issues now coming from one of the bluest-state legislatures in America.
O'Mara and Palmesano said the Democrats have already sponsored legislation to legalize marijuana, new measures on abortion rights, gun control, aid for undocumented immigrants, new contraceptive coverage mandates and expanded voting opportunities.
Palmesano said about marijuana, "I think it is a terrible idea. It's a gateway drug. We have a terrible heroin and opioid crisis. We don't need to be putting a stamp of approval on legalizing marijuana."
On expanded voting, Palmesano said, "quite frankly, it's not reform to put a new law in place and then just ask the municipalities to create the money to implement the law. That's not reform. That's business as usual. That's not acceptable to us. You know, there should be money to attach to that and they're going to push this thing through there."
Palmesano said, "Believe it or not, they have legislation to legalize prostitution."
"They also want to increase the minimum wage for inmates in our correctional facilities. They actually want to triple the inmates' minimum wage. But no, don't mention our work with the developmentally disabled, our most vulnerable citizens or how about increasing the wages for our corrections officers that get assaulted in our facilities. If you look at the assault statistics, inmate assaults on staff are up over 50 percent in the past five years. It's a dangerous environment."
"They have legislation with the farm labor act that will hurt the family farm in the state. This law would control overtime hours, mandatory day rest and collective bargaining."
Palmesano said, "I mean that would decimate the family farm in New York state. They don't understand some of the challenges that farmers already have. I've said this over and over again. Those percentage of farm labor costs as a percentage of net farm income in the United States is 36 percent. But in New York state that number is 63 percent. That just shows the burden is on our farmers and we need to be looking at providing help to our agricultural community. Our colleagues and friends downstate want our farmers' food on their table and they want our products, but they don't want to take into consideration what it takes to get them there."
Yates County Legislature Chairman Doug Paddock mentioned the state's Aid and Incentives for Municipalities (AIM funding) has been cut in the new budget. Paddock said this amounts to a net loss of $41,000 for Yates County municipalities. O'Mara and Palmesano said they were not pleased with how the governor has handled this item. Even though an internet sales tax may provide a portion of this funding cut, the full amount is not guaranteed.
Yates Legislator Ed Bronson asked about resources for mental health in the area especially with the hospital discontinuing inpatient service at Soldiers and Sailors Hospital. O'Mara said he has received some positive responses from the state mental health office. There is a meeting scheduled for April 22 to discuss more details of the resources that will be available.
O'Mara and Palmesano said this is going to be a different year for the state legislature. O'Mara said the Democrats started one of their Albany presentations with the words, "WE ARE IN CONTROL."
O'Mara said local resolutions from the county government can help counter some of the Democrats' actions and the public can always write letters-to-the-editor to local newspapers. O'Mara said, "You would be surprised--all those things get read."