Dear e-News Reader:
February flew by. As our COVID numbers continue to drop, so do the many restrictions that had been put in place and this is positive news. I’m having to spend a lot of time in the Capitol working on the state budget, and will also be there through most of March. I’ve received hundreds of emails and and have met with dozens of local groups with specific advocacy requests. I am doing my best to communicate all of those interests and concerns throughout the process. We expect the state budget will be passed by April 1.
Best wishes to all,
Our Constituent Survey Released
Earlier this week I released my Annual Constituent Survey. The survey asks about controversial issues that are currently being discussed in Albany. Some of the topics involve criminal justice, elections, the environment, and housing. I hear from residents on a regular basis about issues that concern them, but this survey makes it easier to hear from a larger number of people. A physical survey should arrive in the next few weeks, however, if you would like to fill out the survey online you can visit this link.
Office of the Chief Disability Officer Finally Created
Governor Hochul recently announced the appointment of Kimberly T. Hill as the state’s first Chief Disability Officer. I was a sponsor of legislation signed into law on February 4th, which established the Office of the Advocate for People with Disabilities, after many years of effort. The role of the Chief Disability Officer will be to act as an advocate for persons with disabilities and to establish New York as a model for accessibility and inclusivity. To learn more about this office go to: https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-hochul-establishes-office-chief-disability-officer
Tapping a Maple Tree for Maple Month
March is Maple Month and to kick it off, I was invited to Sugar Creek Maple Farm in Vestal to tap a maple tree. Sugar Creek is a small family owned farm that produces over 150 gallons of syrup per year. Owners Mike and Teri are known for welcoming visitors, including many students.
NYS is the #2 maple producer, only behind Vermont, and is home to over 2,000 maple producers. With more effort, we could become number #1 as NYS is home to the largest number of tappable maple trees in the country. As Chair of the Agriculture Committee, I have prioritized this industry by providing support to the NYS Maple Producers Association. To learn more visit: https://nysmaple.com
Battery Research Hub Planned for BU
I attended a press conference at Binghamton University with New Energy New York to discuss their proposal to create a battery innovation and manufacturing hub in Endicott. Theirs was one of three from NYS picked for consideration for a federal grant competition. The work of Nobel Prize winner Stanley Whittingham, whose lab is at BU’s Innovative Technologies Complex, is on the cutting edge of battery storage.
In order to transition to a clean energy future we have to find ways to improve the storage of green energy. If this multi-million dollar plan is approved, this consortium will be able to vastly improve electric vehicles and help create a more reliable and carbon free power grid. I like their chances. To read more: https://www.binghamton.edu/news/story/3495/this-is-a-big-deal-new-energy-new-york-stakeholders-meet-to-discuss-lithium-ion-battery-manufacturing-proposal
| Pandemic Shows Importance of Working Together
I wrote a guest viewpoint that appeared in the Sunday, February 13th edition of the Press and Sun-Bulletin entitled “Working Together.” The last couple of years have not been easy due in part to the stress of COVID. Through it all, I have seen what our community can achieve when we work together. I am optimistic about the future of the Southern Tier and look forward to what lies ahead. To read my guest viewpoint: https://nyassembly.gov/mem/?ad=123&sh=story&story=100950