Senator Jen Metzger Newsletter
These last two weeks have seen the passage of important legislation to protect our coast and fisheries, along with budget hearings on education, health, and transportation, and legislative hearings on sexual harassment in the workplace to help us identify further actions the state can take to combat harassment in the public and private sectors.
We have also begun work to address one of the biggest challenges threatening humanity – climate change. The science is unequivocal: we must take meaningful action now if we are to mitigate the worst-case scenarios for our planet. The Senate’s Committee on Environmental Conservation, which I serve on, held public hearings this past week in Albany, New York City, and on Long Island (the Senate will upload the video of LI's public hearing tomorrow, 2/20, on Youtube) on the Climate & Community Protection Act (CCPA) – legislation to comprehensively address New York's share of the problem and accelerate the reduction of climate-polluting greenhouse gas emissions. If you are not familiar with the legislation, I encourage you to review it here.
I believe it is critical that we have our own hearing here in the Hudson Valley – the birthplace of the environmental movement – and have invited Senator Skoufis to join me in convening one on Friday, March 1, in New Paltz. (You can find more details on the hearing and how you can participate, below.) We need the input of a broad array of stakeholders – community-based organizations, farmers, local businesses, local governments, labor, and of course, our citizens. If you are unable to attend, please feel free to communicate your views to me by email or regular mail.
I hope you find this newsletter informative. As always, please feel free to share your thoughts and concerns with me at [email protected].
All my best,
New York State Senator, 42nd District
In this Newsletter...
- Upcoming Events
- District Office Updates
- Legislative News
- Around the District
- Services that Support Our Community
- News and Resources from your Agriculture Committee Chair
Join Us! Public Hearing in New Paltz on Climate Legislation
On Friday, March 1, Senator James Skoufis and I will host a public hearing at New Paltz Village Hall to get the input of a broad array of stakeholders in our region on the proposed Climate & Community Protection Act (CCPA). This event is free and open to the public.
There are two registration options available to attendees:
- Members of the public, who wish to testify, may reserve a Speaker Admission ticket and will have up to 5 minutes to address the room and speak on CCPA.
- General Admission tickets are available for members of the public who wish to observe the proceeding.
The hearing schedule is as follows:
2:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Friday, March 1, 2019
New Paltz Village Hall
25 Plattekill Ave, New Paltz, NY 12561
Please use this link to register by Thursday, February 28.
For questions, please call 845-344-3311, Monday - Friday 9 am - 5 pm or write to [email protected].
District Office Updates
Upcoming Mobile Office Hours
My district staff will be holding mobile office hours in communities across our district. This is a great opportunity for constituents to visit one-on-one with district staff to voice questions or concerns about state government or ask for assistance in using government services. Walk-ins are always welcome and no appointment is necessary!
If you don’t see your town, village or hamlet on the list below, don’t worry! We’re working on developing more mobile office hours so that every community in our district has an opportunity to meet with district staff. I will continue to announce further dates and locations for mobile office hours through my website, Facebook, Twitter and right here in these newsletters. Stay tuned!
Mobile office hours, for February and March, for residents of the 42nd Senate District is as follows:
WHEN: Wednesday, February 20, 2019, from 3 PM - 5 PM
WHERE: Seward Senior Center, Cohen Circle, Florida, New York 10921
WHEN: Thursday, February 21, 2019, from 2 PM - 5 PM
WHERE: Ellenville Village Office, 2 Elting Ct, Ellenville, NY 12428
WHEN: Friday, February 22, 2019, from 11 AM - 1 PM
WHERE: Colchester Town Hall, 72 Tannery Rd, Downsville, NY 13755
WHEN: Friday, February 22, 2019, from 2 PM - 5 PM
WHERE: Walton Village Hall, 21 North St, Walton, NY 13856
WHEN: Thursday, February 28, 2019, from 2 PM - 5 PM
WHERE: Ethelbert B. Crawford Public Library, 479 Broadway, Monticello, NY 12701.
WHEN: Thursday, March 14, 2019, from 10 AM - 4 PM
WHERE: Delhi Village Hall, 9 Court St, Delhi, NY 13753
(Recurring the second Thursday of every month)
Click here for a full schedule of Delhi Mobile Office Hours
WHEN: Friday, March 15, 2019, from 9 AM - 5 PM
WHERE: New Paltz Village Hall, 25 Plattekill Ave, New Paltz, NY 12561
(Recurring the third Friday of every month)
Click here for a full schedule of New Paltz Mobile Office Hours
If you have any questions about mobile office hours, please call 845-344-3311 Monday - Friday, 9 am - 5 pm.
Accessible Services for Spanish-Speaking Constituents
Ari Mir-Pontier, our Constituent Services Manager, is currently based in our Middletown district office and available to provide assistance in both Spanish and English, from Monday to Friday, 9 am - 5 pm. As the former Director of the Sullivan County Human Rights Commission, Ari is a particularly great resource for fielding the questions and concerns of our Sullivan County residents.
Call 845-344-3311 and ask to speak with Ari Mir-Pontier if you are in need of assistance.
New Legislative Committee Assignments
I'm so pleased to be adding three new legislative committees to my roster! In addition to chairing the Agriculture Committee, and serving on Environmental Conservation, Health, Education, Local Government, and Energy and Telecommunications, I will also serve on:
Pressing for the Continued Clean-up of our Hudson River
Administrator Peter Lopez pressing for the continued cleanup of toxic PCBs from the Hudson River, with sign-to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner and I sent a joint letter Last week, ons by many of our colleagues in the Senate and Assembly. General Electric (GE) has not finished its job, and dangerous PCB's continue to contaminate the Hudson – particularly the lower portion of the river. It's critical that the EPA acknowledge this, deny GE's certificate of completion, and make sure that the clean-up continues. Restoring the health of this great river is essential to the well-being and prosperity of our Hudson Valley communities.
Banning Offshore Drilling in New York's Coastal Areas
Our state Senate has recently passed, S.2316, legislation prohibiting oil and natural gas drilling off of New York’s Coast and protecting our state's coast from dangerous federal offshore drilling expansion efforts. Specifically, this legislation updates New York’s decades-old laws regulating oil and natural gas drilling by preventing conveyances, leases, and acquisitions of land for offshore oil and gas.
Also passed in the Senate was S.2317, legislation curbing the overfishing of the Atlantic menhaden – a species of fish that are vital to the health and natural order of our great Atlantic Ocean. Menhaden feed our tuna, striped bass, bluefish, osprey, whales and many other marine mammals who rely on them as a food source. Ecologists refer to menhaden as ‘keystone species,’ meaning that without their presence, our Atlantic ecosystem would radically change or cease to exist.
I was proud to support both pieces of legislation. As our federal government continues to unravel vital safeguards for clean air and water it is imperative that, at the state level, we provide New Yorkers with fundamental protections that make our communities safe and healthy places to live.
Click the video below to view my session comments on S.2316.
Joint Legislative Budget Hearing on Elementary & Secondary Education
One of the Committees that I serve on in the state Senate is the Education Committee, and last week, at the Joint Legislative Budget Hearing on Elementary & Secondary Education we heard from New York State Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. During this hearing, I raised major issues that our schools are facing in the 42nd district, including burdensome reliance on property taxes to fund education, which makes it hard for some residents to afford their homes while creating unfair regional imbalances in education resources. I will continue to speak out against inherently regressive property taxes and strongly advocate for increased state funding that our rural and small-city districts are owed. Our district is owed $118 million in foundation aid, and I join with education advocates in pressing for foundation aid to be increased in the state budget.
Click the video below to watch and hear my comments at the Elementary & Secondary Education Budget Hearing.
Anti-Sexual Harassment Hearing in Albany
For the first time in nearly three decades, our New York State Legislature held a joint public hearing on sexual harassment in the workplace. This important and long-overdue hearing was an opportunity for our state government to learn from victims, advocates, and experts as we continue to build on critical protections to ensure that all New Yorkers enjoy safe, professional, and respectful work environments. A transparent legislative process and victim-informed laws are crucial ingredients that will help our state government craft policy to prevent future incidents of sexual harassment and assault from occurring and end the culture of silence that enables it.
Click here to watch archived video of the Joint Legislative Budget Hearing on Sexual Harassment
(Navigate to the video by clicking "Committee Hearings" which will bring you to a new window, then, click on "2-13-19 Joint Legislative Public Hearing on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace" in the list.)
Sexual Harassment Training Mandate
To provide additional protections for individuals from sexual harassment in the workplace, New York State has passed a sexual harassment training mandate that became effective on October 9, 2018, requiring employers to provide annual sexual harassment prevention training for their employees and adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy. All New York State employers have until October 9, 2019, to comply with this new law.
Click here to learn more about the minimum standards for sexual harassment prevention policies
Sign up to Receive Bill Status Alerts
If you’re interested in following a specific piece of legislation, you can sign up to receive Bill Status Alerts from the New York State Senate. Subscribers will receive email notifications when an important milestone in a bill’s life-cycle occurs. Notification messages will also include content that helps you understand what each milestone means and how you can lend your voice to the legislative process.
Click here to sign-up or learn more about receiving Bill Status Alerts
Around the District
Aid to Municipalities (AIM) Press Conference
Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther and I hosted joint a press conference with local elected leaders to express our deep concerns over the Governor’s proposed cuts to Aid to Municipalities (AIM). Local Town Supervisors, Village Mayors, and representatives of the business community spoke first-hand about the impacts that these proposed cuts would have on our communities.
AIM funding is vital to our small towns and villages, and without it, local governments will be forced to choose between cutting services, raising taxes, or dipping into reserves. It is important to recognize that local governments operate with lean budgets, especially in rural areas with a limited tax base. They need these funds to provide essential services for our communities.
We streamed the press conference via Facebook livestream but if you weren't able to tune in I've added recordings of the conference below.
CPV Health Impacts Survey
I am very concerned by reports from the community regarding adverse health impacts believed to be caused by the operation of the Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) power plant. In response, my office is collecting information regarding these possible health impacts. Please complete the survey below if you believe your health has been affected by the CPV power plant. If you know others who have complained of health impacts, please share this survey with them.
You can access the survey here and submit it online or in person to my Middletown district office located at 201 Dolson Ave, Suite F, Middletown, NY 10940.
Orange-Ulster BOCES Career & Technical Education Media Day
I had the chance to see presentations by students at Orange-Ulster BOCES Career & Technical Education (CTE) in Goshen, who are learning skills and trades in fields as varied as healthcare, veterinary care, heavy equipment operation, and computer programming. The enthusiasm CTE students have for their programs is infectious, along with the sincere passion and drive they demonstrate for their chosen careers. A highlight of my visit was the amazing breakfast prepared by students at the Culinary Careers Academy – all of the food was made from scratch and it was scrumptious! I had the chance to tour the kitchen and learn more about the different aspects of the culinary arts program, which is serving 140 students this year.
Visiting with Local NYSUT Leaders in Kingston
I had a great time in Kingston a few weeks ago catching up with local leaders from NYSUT (New York State United Teachers), along with my colleagues Congressman Antonio Delgado and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther. I especially enjoyed spending some quality time with NYSUT members from Sullivan and Ulster! All students in New York deserve a high-quality public education and students in our rural and small-city districts are no different. I remain committed to strengthening upstate public education and providing our hard-working teachers with the support they need to uplift our children to achieve success both in the classroom and beyond.
Services that Support Our Community
2019 Delaware County Tourism Advisory Board Accepting Applications for Tourism Promotion Grant
Applications are due by Tuesday, February 26, 2019, by 5:00 pm
Applications for the Tourism Promotion & Development Grant program are now being accepted by the Delaware County Tourism Advisory Board. The program provides funding assistance to eligible applicants for projects that seek to enhance Delaware County's tourism industry. Applicants must hand-deliver their proposal to the Delaware County Department of Economic Development at 1 Courthouse Square Suite 4, Delhi, NY 13753, or have their application postmarked by 5:00 pm on Tuesday, February 2019.
Click here to view program guidelines or download the application
For questions relating to this funding opportunity, or for assistance in completing the application, please contact the Delaware County Department of Economic Development at 607-832-5123.
Webinar on NSTAR Assistance Available to New York Businesses
The Business Council of New York State is offering a series of webinars to highlight technical and business assistance programs supported by New York State. The first webinar will be conducted on Thursday, February 28 from 11:00 am - 12:00 pm. In this first webinar session, participants will receive an introduction to Empire State Development's Division of Science, Technology & Innovation (NYSTAR). Through real-world examples, participants will learn about how NSTAR centers can help private sector businesses become more competitive through the use of innovative technologies that improve their products and performance.
When: Thursday, February 28 from 11:00 am - 12:00 pm.
When: Online Webinar (details provided after registration)
Click here to register for the webinar
March 1st Deadline for the Enhanced STAR Property Tax Exemption is Approaching
The deadline to apply for the Enhanced STAR exemption is March 1, 2019.
The New York State School Tax Relief Program (STAR) is a school property tax benefit that saves most senior homeowners hundreds of dollars each year in taxes on their primary residence properties. Enhanced STAR is a benefit reserved for seniors, age 65 and older, whose income did not exceed $86,300 in the 2017 tax year.
The first step in applying for the Enhanced STAR program is to submit form RP-425-IVP (Enhanced STAR application) with your local Town Assessor.
You can find your Town Assessor here.
Please be advised that there has been an important change in the Enhanced STAR application process. If you are applying or reapplying for the Enhanced STAR exemption, you must enroll in the Income Verification Program (IVP). You only need to enroll once, and you’ll receive the exemption each year, as long as you’re eligible. No action is required if you're already enrolled in the IVP.
For information on how to apply for the Enhanced STAR exemption visit the NYS Department of Tax and Finance.
I've also created a helpful document detailing Frequently Asked Questions on Enhanced STAR that you can download and keep.
Applications Now Open for Empire State Excellence in Teaching Program
Applications are due by March 8, 2019
Applications for the Empire State Excellence in Teaching award program are now open! The program recognizes exemplary teachers across New York State who are instinctively attentive to student needs and who foster creative, inclusive environments where young people are empowered to succeed both in and outside of the classroom. Honorees will receive a $5,000 stipend to support their professional development interests.
New York teachers are invited to submit an application
Click here for more information on the Empire State Excellence in Teaching Program
Online Anti-Sexual Harassment Training Available for Members of the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce
New York State has passed a sexual harassment training mandate requiring employers, statewide, to provide training on sexual harassment prevention for all employees.
If you are a member of the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce (DCCC) please be aware that DCCC is providing its members with an online sexual harassment prevention training workshop that fulfills the New York State mandate and can be taken by employees at a cost of $20 per employee. The online training course is interactive and self-paced.
DCCC Member Fee:$20 per employee
DCCC members can register for the training by using this registration form
For questions about the training contact the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce at 607.746.2281 or email [email protected]
News and Resources from your Agriculture Committee Chair
February 11 Meeting of the Senate Agriculture Committee
We had a great first meeting of the Senate Agriculture Committee, voting to move two bills through committee – one promoting the sale of New York-grown products at holiday markets and sales (think of all the pumpkins and Christmas trees purchased in New York City that could come from our farms!), and another establishing a grant program for small farmers affected by natural disasters, providing funds to help them re-plant. We also heard an informative presentation by the Dean of Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine and the Executive Director of the Animal Health Diagnostic Center, which undertakes invaluable research and assistance to veterinarians and farmers in disease prevention, surveillance and early detection, and control.
Visiting with the Wallkill River / Black Dirt Region Flood Mitigation Steering Committee
Last week, I had an informative meeting with the Wallkill River / Black Dirt Region Flood Mitigation Steering Committee. Kevin Sumner, the District Manager of Orange County Soil & Water, presented the Committee’s detailed plans for flood mitigation in the Black Dirt Region, and local farmers who are members of the committee shared with me the value of the improvements to date and the importance of continuing flood mitigation efforts for the four-mile stretch of the Wallkill beyond the Cheechunk Canal.
The Black Dirt farming region holds some of the most fertile soil in the country and is home to farms – both small and large – that serve our supermarkets, farmers markets and local produce stands.
Joining American Farmland Trust's Farmer Breakfast in Albany
American Farmland Trust is an organization that works to protect family farms and farmland across New York State from being lost to developers. The organization also helps build farm-friendly communities – facilitating opportunities for local farmers to provide fresh local food to New Yorkers.
Earlier this week, I attended American Farmland Trust's Farmer Breakfast to discuss the importance of farmland protection and access to land for new farmers in New York State. New York has deep roots in agriculture and a thriving agricultural economy is vital to our economy, to food security, and to sustainability.
With the average age of farmers increasing (one in three farmers in New York are over 65!), we also need to cultivate the next generation of new and beginning farmers and break down the barriers to entry for the next generation. This means forging a connection between current and future generations by facilitating the transfer of skills, knowledge, and land.
Meeting Students of New York's Future Farmers of America
I saw some friendly faces from the Tri-Valley Central School District who were in Albany representing the New York FFA Association! It’s so important that we encourage young people to explore and pursue opportunities with roots in our agricultural sector – and that’s just what FFA does. FFA is a national youth organization that pairs traditional classroom learning with hands-on experiential learning and encourages students to discover different facets of the industry such as food science, veterinary medicine, agricultural communications, and wildlife management. These young leaders brought so much enthusiasm to Albany today and made Tri-Valley proud!
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