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New York state lawmakers readying for legislative session beginning Wednesday

Dave Lucas

Lawmakers are preparing for New York's legislative session, which begins Wednesday.

Republican Senator Jim Tedisco of the 44th district says lawmakers need to address outmigration after 319,000 people left New York last year and the state lost a Congressional representative. He says steps must be taken to keep residents here.

"Deal with public security and safety, cash bail, I have the bill to repeal what they've done with the so called criminal justice reform, and actually give judges what we give the judges and 49 other states, the ability to decide if an individual before them who's committed a violent crime is a danger to themselves or others," said Tedisco. "I think that's very important. I don't think you can hide these statistics anymore. I think across the state people are seeing this as a revolving door. They're not quarantined now, so much because of COVID. They're afraid to come out into the street because of the criminal element."

Tedisco also criticized reimposition of the gasoline tax, which had been temporarily suspended to help New Yorkers cope with inflation.

Democratic Assemblymember Phil Steck of the 110th district says the fervor over public safety and crime is "a little bit deceptive."

"Crime increased all across the United States, even in Republican controlled jurisdictions that certainly didn't enact bail reform," Steck said. "And the Democrats, as you know, nationwide, did rather well or better than expected in the last election. And that's because the effort to tag them with the crime message didn't really work. In New York, it worked because of bail reform. But a lot of what was said about bail reform just honestly was not true. There's no need, for example, to change the law concerning violent crimes, because violent crimes already have allowed the courts to set bail in those circumstances. So there are some changes that could be made that I would certainly support with respect to misdemeanor gun violations, I think those should be bailable offenses."

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Democratic Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara represents the 111th district. He says the past two years have been challenging, and his focus will remain on families.

"Delivering real results to help make our community safer, stronger and more affordable," Santabarbara said. "I believe together we have moved towards those goals in the past term, but 2023 will be no different. I'll continue to work to pass legislation like I've done in the past common sense legislation like suspending the gas tax, passing my emergency home heating bill, small grid business grant program, supporting our communities, job creators and the families who live here and upstate, who are the heart and soul of New York State."

Anil Beephan of Hopewell Junction, elected in November in the 105th Assembly District, is the first minority representative for Dutchess County in the state legislature and the first Republican of Indian descent to serve in the Assembly. He believes the challenges for the new session and the challenges of New Yorkers are one and the same.

"New York is becoming far more expensive to live, to raise families here," Beephan said. "And I think one of our main goals for this year is to find ways as making New York more affordable for people that live here, work here, and then, you know, hope to retire here. Also, you know, as we spoke about a lot in the past, public safety has been a top issue in mind for a lot of my residents, especially closer to the New York City metropolitan area and for those that work in and live near those areas, they definitely want to be able to feel safe, whether they're there in the city areas or the outskirts. And these are things I think that we should really address this coming session. That said, I'm here with an open mind. I look forward to working with all members of the State Assembly and members of conference and hopefully we can get through some really good bipartisan legislation."

Senator Michelle Hinchey represents the 41st district. The Democrat sees the housing crisis and affordable housing as a key issue facing upstate New Yorkers. She says there are other challenges as well:

"You know, we're not going to be getting the influx of money that we've seen from the federal government based on COVID support," said Hinchey. "And so that's something that we have to contend with, of course, we've, you know, thought about that and all of our funding up to date, in our current budget, but moving forward, how are we, how are we moving forward? And two, especially for Hudson Valley, and more upstate communities, how do we strike that balance and making sure that we're being incredibly aggressive against the climate crisis and saving our planet for the future, while also making sure that we are protecting our farmland and really, our family farmland, keeping those farm businesses in business, so that we can have locally sourced healthy foods, because of the climate crisis, there's a major constraint on food production across the country."

Governor Kathy Hochul’s State of the State is scheduled for January 10th.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.