Senator Jen Metzger Newsletter

Senator Jen Metzger Newsletter

March has been consumed with work on the $175 billion state budget, which affects just about every issue you can think of – education, health, environment, transportation, taxes, criminal justice, libraries, the opioid crisis, housing, elections, and the list goes on. The process works like this: The Governor issues his proposed Executive Budget, the Senate and Assembly then independently develop separate "one-house" budget proposals containing each house’s budget priorities, and negotiations ensue to produce the final enacted budget by the April 1 statutory deadline. While the negotiations are between the three parties – the Governor, Senate, and Assembly – the reality is that the Governor has significantly more control over the budget as a result of the court's Silver v. Pataki decision. Even if two of the parties are united on a given budget item, there is no guarantee it will end up in the final budget. As I write this, we are now in the homestretch, and will deliver a final budget by tomorrow's deadline. I’ll send out a special newsletter soon that digs into what the budget did and did not include.

While the budget dominated our work this month, the Senate nonetheless passed important legislation in other areas, including campaign finance reforms, a program to help small businesses weather hard times, a change in school food procurement rules to support buying local, and measures to reduce maternal mortality – all of which are discussed in this newsletter!

As always, please feel free to share your thoughts and concerns with me at Metzger@nysenate.gov.

All my best,

Jen Metzger
New York State Senator, 42nd District


In this Newsletter...


Upcoming Events 



Join us for a Public Hearing on the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act at SUNY Sullivan

On Thursday, May 2, the Senate Agriculture and Labor Committees will hold a joint public hearing at SUNY Sullivan to hear from members of the farming community on the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act (S2837), sponsored by Senate Labor Committee Chair Jessica Ramos. As Chair of the Agriculture Committee, I recognize that this legislation will have a major impact on farming in New York, and I invited Senator Ramos to hold three public hearings so that we can hear from as many stakeholders as possible. It is important to craft legislation that protects both farmworkers and farms, which in New York are primarily small and family-owned.
The hearing schedule is as follows:

April 25, 2019
11:00 AM - 3:00 PM
SUNY Morrisville
9 Skyline Dr, Morrisville, NY  13408
Those who would like to attend and/or testify at the Morrisville hearings are asked to register at bumpus@nysenate.gov or by calling 315-478-8745

April 26, 2019
2:30 PM - 5:30 PM
Suffolk County Legislature
William J. Lindsay County Complex, William H. Rogers Building, 725 Veterans Memorial Highway, Smithtown, NY 11787
Please address any questions about the Smithtown hearings to 631-360-3356

May 2, 2019
1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
SUNY Sullivan
112 College Rd, Loch Sheldrake, NY 12759
Those who would like to attend and/or testify at the Loch Sheldrake hearings are asked to register at metzger@nysenate.gov or by calling 845-344-3311


CPV Update

As you may know, my office has created a CPV Health Impacts Survey to collect information from community members regarding adverse health impacts believed to be caused by CPV. The purpose of undertaking this survey is to make sure regulatory authorities do whatever it takes to protect public health.

My office has sent the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and NYS Department of Health the results of our survey and has called for independent continuous monitoring as the next step. 

  • On Monday, April 1, my Chief of Staff will provide a CPV briefing for activists, survey respondents and concerned members of the public, on where things currently stand with CPV. The 15-minute briefing will begin at 1:00 pm.
  • To listen to the briefing, please call (515) 739-1030 and dial access code 467-478-413 followed by #.
  • Email berliant@nysenate.gov with any questions you may have about CPV and we will do our best to answer them during the briefing.

District Office Updates


Mondays in Middletown: Extended Office Hours at our Middletown District Office 

Every Monday, our Middletown District Office operates on extended hours (from 9 am - 7 pm) to accommodate constituents who are in need of assistance and cannot make our regular working hours. During extended office hours, one of my constituent services specialists will be available to meet with you in person or jump on the phone if you can’t make it down to the office! No appointment is necessary.
Call 845-344-3311 to speak with a member of staff or, visit us at:

201 Dolson Ave, Suite F, Middletown, NY 10940

  • Monday | 9 am - 7 pm
  • Tuesday - Friday | 9 am - 5 pm

Upcoming Mobile Office Hours

Constituent services specialists from my office have been traveling to towns and villages across our district to host mobile office hours for constituents in need of assistance. During our mobile office hours, constituents can meet, one-on-one, with a member of staff to ask questions, discuss concerns, and seek help in using state government services. No appointment is necessary to meet with a member of staff!

Mobile office hours - for the month of April - for residents of the 42nd Senate District are as follows:

  • Ellenville
    WHEN:
    Tuesday, April 2, 2019 | 12 pm - 5 pm
    WHERE: Ellenville Public Library & Museum | 40 Center Street Ellenville, NY 12428
    MORE INFORMATION
  • Liberty
    WHEN: Friday, April 5, 2019 | 2 pm - 4 pm
    WHERE: The Left Bank Art Gallery | 59 N. Main Street Liberty, NY 12754
    MORE INFORMATION
    * A bilingual member of staff will host Liberty Liberty Mobile Office Hours on April 5th to accommodate both Spanish & English-speaking constituents.
  • Wallkill
    WHEN: Wednesday, April 10, 2019 | 9 am - 1 pm
    WHERE: Wallkill Town Hall | 14 Central Ave, Wallkill, NY 12589
    MORE INFORMATION
  • Gardiner
    WHEN: Wednesday, April 10, 2019 | 2 pm - 6 pm
    WHERE: Gardiner Library | 133 Farmer's Turnpike Gardiner, New York 12525
    MORE INFORMATION
  • Delhi
    WHEN: Thursday, April 11, 2019 | 10 am - 4 pm  
    WHERE: Canon Free Library | 40 Elm Street, Delhi, NY 13753
    MORE INFORMATION
  • Eldred
    WHEN: Friday, April 12, 2019 | 4 pm - 7 pm  
    WHERE: Sunshine Hall Free Library | 14 Proctor Rd. Eldred, NY 12732
    MORE INFORMATION
  • New Paltz
    WHEN: Friday, April 19, 2019 | 9 am - 5 pm
    WHERE: New Paltz Village Hall
    MORE INFORMATION
  • Port Jervis
    WHEN: Thursday, April 25, 2019 | 12 pm - 5 pm
    WHERE: Port Jervis City Hall | 20 Hammond St. Port Jervis, NY 12771
    MORE INFORMATION

Legislative News


Fostering Strong Farm-to-School Connections

I was thrilled to co-sponsor and help pass S252 in the Senate recently. This bill would make it easier for public schools to purchase fresh, locally-grown produce by eliminating the cap on local purchasing and allowing public schools to specify a regional preference in their bid and procurement requests. We have a wonderful opportunity here in New York to provide healthy, nutritious foods to our students while supporting our family farms and a thriving agricultural economy.

Farm-to-school is personally very important to me: As a parent, I worked to bring fresh local produce into my own children's elementary school cafeteria when they were young. I am looking to greatly expand these programs, and address obstacles to implementation at the school district level.

My Bill to Establish a Rural Suicide Prevention Council

Our country and our state is witnessing an alarming increase in rural suicides. In New York, there are ten counties that have suicide rates higher than the national average - and all of them are rural. Delaware County, parts of which I represent, has the third highest suicide rate in the state with more than 20 suicides a year per 100,000 residents. And nearby Hamilton County has more than double the national average and more than triple the average of the rest of the state.

It is imperative that we respond to this growing crisis. This month I introduced legislation (S2070) to create a 12-person Rural Suicide Prevention Council tasked with examining the causes and conditions of rural suicide, as well as disparities in access to mental health care. The council will create a plan to identify persons at risk for suicide, particularly within certain professions - including farming and agriculture work - and to increase access to and delivery of suicide prevention care. The legislation passed the Senate unanimously and awaits action by the Assembly.

Protecting Mothers' Lives S1819

Our State Senate recently passed S1819, legislation to establish the Maternal Mortality Review Board and Morbidity Advisory Council, which will examine the causes and circumstances surrounding the deaths of pregnant women and new mothers in New York and develop actionable recommendations for the prevention of future deaths.

A diverse group of clinical experts will convene to facilitate a comprehensive, confidential review, based on the alarmingly high rate at which New York women are dying during pregnancy and childbirth. Black women are disproportionately affected: They are nearly four times more likely to die during pregnancy and childbirth compared to white women. This bill, which has passed both the Senate and Assembly, is a critical step in helping us protect the lives of all mothers in New York.

Helping our Small Businesses Save for a Rainy Day

I was proud to co-sponsor and help pass S3163, a bill to help our small businesses plan for future investments and weather difficult economic times by enabling them to set up tax-deferred savings accounts. Small businesses (including our local farm businesses) are the backbone of our rural economies, and this legislation will help them thrive for the long term. You can watch my comments on the session floor in the video above! 

Passing the New York Call Center Jobs Act

New York has lost tens of thousands of call center jobs as companies have relocated call centers out of state and out of the country rather than pay their workers a fair wage. This month, we passed the New York Call Center Jobs Act  (S1826C) to protect working families and end the fiscally irresponsible practice of using taxpayer dollars to support companies that move jobs out of state. The legislation prohibits call centers (that move out of state) from receiving grants, state-backed loans, or other tax benefits, and would require a company to return the value of any of the above should they move their operation. The legislation also requires that any call center contracts with the State be performed by New York-based call centers. I was proud to co-sponsor this bill, which was carried by my colleague, Senator Tim Kennedy. Watch my comments on the Senate floor in the video above! 

Curbing Albany’s Pay-to-Play Culture

In our continuing work to rid New York of pay-to-play politics, we recently passed legislation in the Senate (S3167) to ban campaign contributions from companies seeking state contracts (both before and after the contracts are awarded). I'm proud to co-sponsor this bill, which was carried in the Senate by Senator Zellnor Myrie and in the Assembly by Assemblymember David Buchwald. Our work is not done, and I hope that by the end of session we will pass my bill (S1013) to eliminate all corporate donations to candidates.


Around the District


Our Community Budget Forum in Middletown

As a new Senator who has spent years working at the local level, I want to make sure our state budget is responsive to the needs and priorities of our communities. That means working with, and listening to, our local leaders and community members. In a first for our district, my colleague, Senator James Skoufis, and I held a public hearing on the budget at the Thrall Library in Middletown, where we heard from a diverse group that included members of our business community, local elected officials, residents, librarians, educators, and public health and community-based organizations.

Our goal was to hear directly from those who provide essential programs and services to our communities and to strongly advocate for the budget priorities that will ensure our communities receive these critical supports and services.

The Budget Forum was live-streamed on Senator Skoufis’s Facebook page. Follow the links below to view the proceedings.

Engaging Regional Input on the Climate and Community Protection Act

Earlier this month, Senator Skoufis and I held a public hearing in New Paltz on the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA) S2992 –proposed legislation to comprehensively address climate change in New York. Over 75 members of our community, including researchers, farmers, and scientists, came to give us their perspective on the CCPA and solutions for addressing accelerating climate change.

There was a strong consensus in the room that we cannot afford to delay any longer in making the shift to a clean energy economy. Passing comprehensive legislation to address climate change and create thousands of good-paying green jobs is a major priority of mine. The CCPA is expected to come before the legislature for a vote this session.

The event was live-streamed on my Facebook page, which you can view by visiting the links below.

Hosting My First Constituent Coffee Hour in Delhi

Earlier this month, I traveled to Delhi to host my very first constituent coffee hour, or #CoffeeWithJen, event! At Delhi Village Hall, Mayor Richard Maxey and I discussed a range of topics and legislation with local residents, including the Climate & Community Protection Act, the opportunities for hemp production in New York, the importance of Lyme awareness and prevention, and funding priorities for critical programs and services put forward in the Senate's proposed budget.

I truly value the opportunity to create a space like this–an informal gathering where residents can come out to discuss topics and local issues that are most important to them. I very much look forward to continuing my travels across our district to host gatherings in every town and village!

 

Attending My First Naturalization Ceremony in Ulster

It was a true honor to attend my first naturalization ceremony as a State Senator at the Ulster County Courthouse, where 41 men and women from 25 countries took their Oath of Allegiance and became American citizens. Witnessing the joy of this moment for our new citizens and their friends and families was incredibly moving. Our country’s strength is founded in our diversity and I’m grateful to have witnessed another chapter in that story. Congratulations to the Hudson Valley’s newest American citizens!


Services that Support Our Community


The Hudson Valley Veterans Job Fair is Coming Up!

The Second Annual Hudson Valley Veterans Job Fair will take place on Wednesday, May 8 from 11 AM - 3 PM at the SUNY New Paltz Paltz Athletic and Wellness Center. The job fair is open to all Hudson Valley Veterans and their families from every branch of service (including National Guard and Reserves). A range of businesses will be at the fair to present job opportunities to service men, women, and their family members.

Registration is required to attend. 
For more information including directions, parking information, and job-seeker registration visit: https://bit.ly/2uBasDJ

WHEN: Wednesday, May 8, 2019, from 11 AM - 3 PM
WHERE: SUNY New Paltz Athletic and Wellness Center
1 Hawk Dr, New Paltz, NY 12561

New York's Trout and Salmon Fishing Season Begins Monday, April 1st

Fishing season in New York is a tradition cherished by so many in our communities – from angling veterans to families and children. This season, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and fishery crews are set to deliver over 135,000 trout to creeks, rivers, and ponds across the 42nd Senate District alone. In total, DEC officials plan to stock 2.33 millionbrook, brown and rainbow trout in 311 lakes across the state. The DEC will also stock more than one million yearling lake trout, steelhead, landlocked salmon, splake and coho salmon this spring.

Fishing season is an important economic driver that boosts our rural economy while keeping our ecological system in balance and ensuring the continued success and preservation of our most treasured recreational areas for future generations. New York’ssportfishing industry generates an estimated $1.8 billion in economic activity annually and is continuing to grow.

We are incredibly fortunate to call this beautiful region our home and I encourage all to get outside to take advantage of this season’s diverse angling opportunities!

For a listing of stocked waters across Sullivan, Delaware, Orange, and Ulster counties:

Anglers and those interested in participating in New York’s fishing season can visit the DEC’s website to view a full list of this spring's planned trout stocking: http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/30465.html


News and Resources from your Agriculture Committee Chair


My First Maple Tapping of the Season with Delaware Academy FFA!

I joined students from Delaware Academy's Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter on the school's front lawn to tap maple trees! The maple program run by Delaware Academy FFA is quite impressive–students operate 1,400 taps and have been making maple syrup in their own sugarhouse for the past 10 years. Working in teams, students collect sap, boil it down, and create maple products that are sold at the school. I was also lucky enough to tour Delaware Academy’s “Sap Room” where all of the maple-making magic happens!

Encouraging young people to explore the many different facets of our agricultural sector is so important and Delaware Academy’s FFA students are doing just that.

My visit to Delaware Academy included meeting with some very friendly faces in the Kindergarten classroom! I was able to sit in on an “Ag in the Classroom” lesson in which we taste-tested different grades of delicious maple syrup produced on-site by Delaware Academy's FFA students.

Presenting Rondout Valley High School’s New FFA Chapter with their Charter

I joined NYS Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball at Rondout Valley High School (where my boys go to school!) to present the school’s new Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter with its official charter. (My visit included a tour of the school’s impressive greenhouse--sprouting potatoes pictured below!) I am so pleased to see the FFA program coming to Rondout Valley, with its rich agricultural heritage. Integrating agriculture into education provides valuable hands-on learning and is so important for engaging the next generation of farmers and agricultural producers.

Celebrating Maple Season with Warwick Valley High School FFA at Finding Home Farms!

To celebrate this year’s maple harvest, I visited Finding Home Farms in Greenville (Orange County) for a tree-tapping event, along with NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball and Warwick Valley High School Future Farmers of America (FFA) members. My maple-tree-tapping skills are getting stronger with all the practice this season! (I did have a little advantage over the Commissioner when it came to drilling the hole for the tap.)

Scholarship Opportunity for Delaware County High-School Seniors Pursuing a Career in Agriculture
DEADLINE: April 15, 2019

An exciting scholarship opportunity for high school students graduating in 2019 from a Delaware County high school! The 2019 Livestock Foundation Agriculture Scholarship will award $1,000 to a Delaware County student who has been accepted to a college or university to pursue a career in agriculture. Application materials include a 500-word essay and a copy of your college acceptance. Materials are due by April 15 and will be announced by May 15.

Climate Resilient Farming Grant Program Currently Accepting Applications
DEADLINE: May 13, 2019

NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets is currently accepting grant applications through round four of the Climate Resilient Farming grant program. $2.3 million in funding is available to help New York farmers implement projects that can help improve their operations’ environmental footprint and enhance their readiness and recovery to extreme weather events.

Sullivan County Accepting Agricultural District Applications
DEADLINE: April 1 - April 30, 2019

From April 1 to April 30, the Sullivan County Legislature will be accepting applications from property owners seeking to be included in New York State Agricultural Districts 1 and 4. During this 30-day window, property owners may request the addition of their land into an Agricultural District (geographic areas that consist of viable agricultural land.)

  • Agricultural District 1: Covers towns in northern and western Sullivan County
  • Agricultural District 4: Covers towns in eastern and southern Sullivan County

Lands within Agricultural Districts yield certain benefits and protections to promote farming and farmland preservation. Benefits include:

  • Protection of farm operations from unreasonably restrictive local laws
  • Limitations on assessments for newly formed benefit districts
  • Notification to local governments of projects that could adversely affect farmland

TO APPLY: Call Melinda Meddaugh at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Sullivan County at 845-292-6180, or by emailing her at mm2592@cornell.edu

PROCESS:

  • Step 1: Applications will be reviewed by the Sullivan County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board, who will then make recommendations to the County Legislature.
  • Step 2: The County Legislature will hold a public hearing, which will result in a vote. Recommendations will be sent to the State Department of Agriculture and Markets for approval.
  • Step 3: Upon approval by Ag and Markets, each property owner will be notified by mail in the fall.

Disaster Declaration Funds Available for Eligible New York Farms
DEADLINE: October 4, 2019

Recently, the federal government declared twelve counties across New York State as natural disaster areas based on last summer's extreme rainfall and wet weather conditions, which caused severe losses to farm businesses. Farmers in these impacted areas may be eligible for federal assistance to help their operations recover and will have eight months from the date of disaster declaration (March 20) to apply for emergency loans through their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office.


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Albany Office:
817 Legislative Office Bldg
Albany, NY 12247
518-455-2400

District Office:
201 Dolson Ave, Suite F
Middletown, NY 10940
845-344-3311

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