eNews: June 2021

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1. Legislative Session Wrap-Up
The end of the legislative session tends to be a sprint as many bills are finalized. Each year, I try to strike a balance, providing a critically important Upstate perspective. I often hear from constituents who want to know what I was able to accomplish. What’s often missing from view is the damage that was prevented, or the bill that was changed to reflect constituent’s concerns. This year we received well over a thousand emails on legislative matters. I take all of these into consideration and am still trying to reply to everyone with an update on what happened with their issue.

As a reminder, the budget contained a 20% increase in Upstate infrastructure investments, over $1 billion in direct aid to support small businesses and arts organizations, and historic investments in public education. As the chair of the committee overseeing agriculture and food, there were also historic investments to support our small family farmers and the groups that support them.

Legislation I worked on after the budget passed included bills to allow medical helicopters to carry blood, the creation of a dedicated Opioid Settlement Fund for addiction services, a quicker timeframe for counting absentee ballots, and bills to improve our COVID recovery.

2. Grants Available to help with COVID Recovery:
Recovery from the pandemic is an all hands on deck operation, and there are resources available to help people and businesses get back on their feet. For example, applications are still being accepted for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which can help address unpaid rent and utilities among those who lost income due to COVID-19. For more information, you can call the United Way’s helpline at 211.

There are also grants available for businesses who were impacted by the pandemic such as the COVID-19 Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program, Homeowners Assistance Fund and the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. For more information, please visit the Binghamton Small Business Development Center or visit this link to find programs you may be eligible for. 

3. Bill to Protect Bee Pollinators Signed Into Law:
June 21-27 was National Pollinator Week, and in honor of it, the Security Mutual Building was lit up orange and yellow! Bees are an essential part of our food eco-system, with 1/3 of the food we eat each day dependent on pollinators. That’s why it’s so important that we support research to understand why so many hives have been lost, and to have a way to keep track of where they are located in NY.

Last week, the Governor signed a bill I introduced creating a bee registry so that we can better monitor their health. There are many apiaries in Broome County; I had the pleasure of visiting one recently in Johnson City. Southern Tier Beekeeper’s Association Member Bob Talkiewicz showed us his hives and talked about his experiences as a small beekeeper.

4. Lupardo Named Commander of the CAP Legislative Squadron:

The Civil Air Patrol (CAP) is the Air Force’s official civilian auxiliary, providing emergency services, natural disaster response, aerospace education, and youth development. During the pandemic their members donated thousands of hours of service at vaccine clinics and food distribution sites.

I was recently appointed by the CAP’s New York Wing to command their Legislative Squadron. Each state has a specific squadron made up of state legislators who are committed to advocating for resources and legislation to support the Wing. As the daughter of a WWII Army Air Corps Flight Engineer, I was honored to accept the assignment.

I also sponsored a bill that passed through both houses ensuring that members of the NY Wing, who are public employees, are entitled to paid leave for emergency services during a declared state of emergency.

5. CCE Farmer’s Market Celebrates 5 Year Anniversary:
5 years ago, the Broome County Regional Farmer’s Market at Cornell Cooperative Extension opened its doors. Since then, it has welcomed thousands of visitors, and helped dozens of small businesses and farms get their products into the local market. In honor of the 5th Anniversary, I presented Beth Roberts, the CCE Executive Director, with an Assembly Citation.

The Farmer’s Market is open on Saturdays between 9am & 1pm, year-round. If you have not had the opportunity to visit, please consider stopping by. You can meet the farmers and producers, and purchase locally grown products. While you’re there, the Taste NY store is open on the CCE campus next to the Agricultural Development Center and the beautiful Cutler Gardens.