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Leaders answer questions at forum

FINGER LAKES--The Chemung County, Watkins Glen and Corning Area Chambers of Commerce held a special tri-county Legislative Roundtable, Tuesday, July 26 in Corning. In attendance were Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, Assemblyman Christopher Friend and Senator Tom O'Mara. During the event, they addressed everything from political goals and efforts to predictions on how upcoming elections would go.
"It is very important to host such a forum as it brings together our government representatives for an open discussion with business leaders on the issues that matter to the Finger Lakes Region - which is a wide geographic area," said Nigar Hale, executive director for the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce.
During the forum, Palmesano, Friend and O'Mara took questions from members of the audience, which numbered about 30 people, on a myriad of issues.
When discussing the state's energy needs, Palmesano brought up his concerns that state Democratic leaders, including Gov. Kathy Hochul, are too concerned with implementing a New York version of the Green New Deal.
The plan outlined a number of goals, the chief among them to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by shifting to renewable energy sources.
"Affordability and reliability are not discussed when discussing a Green New Deal," Palmesano said.
He went on to note that as New York continues to implement strict environmental regulations, other regions of the world such as China move forward with developments that do not follow the same standards.
"This is just going to drive more businesses, farmers and families out of the state," Palmesano said.
When discussing some current environmental reforms and regulations, Friend said that many of them aren't just ineffective, they are a waste of money. He highlighted outdated electric car charging stations as an example.
Palmesano also discussed his disapproval of the state's bail reform which he said is directly responsible for increased crime, not only downstate in New York City but upstate in Rochester as well.
O'Mara also touched on the upcoming elections and the changes residents can expect amidst the state redistricting.
"It's going to be extremely confusing to voters and turnout is going to be very very low... and as much as I was not a proponent of early voting or no-excuse absentee ballot voting, let people know... to do their absentee ballot early... or take advantage of those 10 days before the election to go to the early voting sites (available throughout the region)," O'Mara said.
Following the forum, Hale said she was very pleased with how it went.
"The forum was a great opportunity to ask our elected representatives direct questions about issues that impact our local economy right here in Schuyler County. Constituents interacted with Senator O'Mara and Assemblyman Palmesano for a candid discussion. Certainly, in our view, the forum was a success," said Hale.

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