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Friday, April 11, 2014 at 6:44 pm

Collins votes to protect Medicare Advantage from future cuts

post by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, Health Care, Medicare, NY-27

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins voted today in support of the House Republican Budget, including a provision that he secured to protect Medicare Advantage from future cuts.

“I was proud to vote for a budget that makes necessary reforms and structural changes to Medicare in 2024 to strengthen the current program and sustain it for future generations,” said Congressman Collins. “To protect Medicare Advantage, I personally fought for a provision to prevent cuts to this program so many WNY seniors rely on.”

The Republican House Budget balances in 10 years, saves taxpayers $5 trillion by shrinking big government and cutting wasteful spending, and reduces the country’s historic debt.

"The House Republican Budget does what so few Washington budget proposals do – it actually balances,” Congressman Collins said. “The American people understand we cannot keep borrowing money from China to pay our bills, bankrupting our children and grandchildren’s future in the process.”

In an effort to get the economy moving and leave taxpayers with more of their hard-earned money, the House Republican Budget also includes significant tax reform, including lowering the top individual and corporate tax rates to 25 percent, and eliminating special-interest tax loopholes and the Alternative Minimum Tax. The Budget also protects Americans who have been hurt by ObamaCare.

“The GOP Budget includes tax reform to bring down rates and level the playing field for small businesses and hard working families,” Congressman Collins said. “And it relieves the burdens of ObamaCare for the countless Americans who have seen their premiums skyrocket, their coverage dropped, or their hours cut.”

“Those opposed to the GOP Budget will demonize it and suggest Congress continue to kick the can down the road. The American people want Washington to get its head out of the sand and deal with our out-of-control spending and staggering debt. The House Republican Budget does just that," continued Collins.

The House Republican Budget was passed by a vote of 219 to 205.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 3:51 pm

Chris Collins statement on the passing of Ralph Wilson

post by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27

Press release:

"The people of Buffalo and Western New York have lost a true gentleman and friend. While not a local resident, Ralph Wilson keenly understood what it meant to be a Western New Yorker and how much the team he built means to our community. It was my great honor as a Member of Congress and as the former Erie County Executive to work with him, and I am deeply saddened by his loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and the entire Buffalo Bills organization during this time."

Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Hawley and Collins knock Cuomo's proposal to fund college for criminals

post by Howard B. Owens in Andrew Cuomo, chris collins, NY-27, steve hawley

Press release from Assemblyman Steve Hawley:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) today announced his opposition to Gov. Cuomo’s plan to give free college degrees to people in prison. The governor’s plan reflects the misplaced priorities of Downstaters who continue to ignore the needs of hard-working Western New York families. Instead of rewarding criminals, Hawley says the state should help the families who are taking on overwhelming debt to put their kids through college.

“The governor’s plan to give free college to convicts is one of the worst ideas I’ve heard during my tenure as an assemblyman. It’s insulting to middle-class Western New Yorkers who are taking on debts over $50,000 to go to college,” Hawley said. “This plan punishes law-abiding citizens while rewarding criminals. Not only is this idea wrong in principle, but it may cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. We should never ask taxpayers to pay for the college education of convicts while they are taking on debt to pay for their own.”

Press release Congressman Chris Collins:

“The Governor’s latest plan to fund college educations for convicted criminals with New Yorkers’ tax dollars is an insult to law-abiding citizens all across our state who are struggling to pay for higher education or find employment in this stagnant economy. This plan is just the latest sign that for a state that is the highest taxed and ranks among the worst in job creation, Albany has its priorities all screwed up.”

The Wall Street Journal: New Gov. Cuomo Initiative Will Fund College Classes in Prisons

UPDATE -- from Chris Collins:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) will introduce legislation to prohibit the use of federal taxpayer dollars to provide a college education to convicted criminals. The pending legislation is in response to Governor Cuomo’s announced plan to use taxpayer dollars to fund college degree programs for convicted criminals in New York State prisons.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons provides states with funding for educational and other programs at state prisons and correctional facilities. Collins’ legislation would ban states from using the federal taxpayer dollars to fund college degree programs for convicted criminals.

“We hear over and over again from politicians concerned about the growing cost of higher education and the amount of student debt our young people are sacked with after earning their degree," Collins said. "Strangely, many of these same politicians think tax dollars should be spent to give convicted criminals a free college degree.”

According to The Project on Student Debt, 60 percent of college graduates in New York State carry student debt. The average amount of student debt for New Yorkers is $25,537.  

Congressman Collins will formally introduce the legislation in the coming days. As the House moves forward with the Appropriations process later this year, Collins will also introduce a limiting rider to ensure no appropriated funds in a particular bill are used to fund college courses for convicted criminals. Collins’ bill would not ban states from using federal dollars to support GED or work training programs in prisons and correctional facilities.

Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Rep. Collins issues statement on CBO report on Obamacare

post by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) released the following statement regarding today’s report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that determines ObamaCare will reduce the number of full-time workers by approximately 2.3 million people through 2021.

“This report confirms what I have long believed, that ObamaCare is a flawed law and a drag on our economy. Americans have already begun to experience the devastating economic impact of ObamaCare. In New York’s 27th Congressional District constituents have shared with me stories of reduced hours and small business owners have told me they are afraid to grow and expand because of the uncertainty ObamaCare brings.

Already faced with increased premiums and higher deductibles, this report shows that ObamaCare is doing nothing to help our nation’s already struggling middle class. We cannot allow ObamaCare to slow economic growth and cost 2.3 million American jobs, as the Congressional Budget Office report predicts. This report makes it clear that our nation must address ObamaCare, and place a priority on reining in federal spending, so that we can empower our middle class and get Americans back to work.”

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 10:25 pm

Collins would eliminate wasteful and burdensome U.S. Department of Education if he could

post by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, education, NY-27

It's one of the lost gems of GOP talking points -- eliminate the federal Department of Education.

There was a time it was a common theme on the GOP campaign trail, but it hasn't been heard much in recent years.

Until today.

Rep. Chris Collins made that very point during a telephone press conference with local and regional media (per capita, Genesee County had the best representation with the Daily News, WBTA and The Batavian all on the line).

"I would wipe out the Department of Education tomorrow," Collins said. "That's money that's being squandered and washed away in Washington, D.C. That money should be moved back to the states, where the 10th Amendment says it should be."

What has Collins particularly riled about the Department of Education are the federal mandates flowing from the bureaucracy and piling up on local school districts, particularly Common Core.

Collins offered some advise to President Obama while making his point about the burdensome federal agency.

"I'd like to hear the president admit that Common Core is an abject failure," Collins said. "It's causing stress, strain and angst with our third- and fourth-graders. It's time to admit that the federal government should not have a role to play in the education of our kids under the 10th Amendment. That should be at the local level, letting parents and teachers decide how we educate our kids."

UPDATE: Here's a video response from Collins to the president's State of the Union speech.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 10:11 pm

Collins said he will vote for farm bill that ends farm subsidies, reforms food stamps

post by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, business, chris collins, farm bill, NY-27

It's a compromise that many thought a contemporary version of Congress could never pass, but Rep. Chris Collins said that even if he wishes some things were different, he plans to vote on a new farm bill that's ready for consideration by the full House.

The compromise bill was announced today and Collins held a telephone press conference to discuss his support of the measure.

"It's a very good bill, but there's something in it that pretty much everyone doesn't like," said Collins, who sits on the Agriculture Committee.

The 1,000-page bill ends decades of direct subsidies to farmers that paid out roughly $5 billion annually and replaces it with a crop insurance program designed to provide the same measure of financial management against disastrous weather or substantial price fluctuations. 

Several "outdated and ineffective dairy programs," according to an ag committee statement, are eliminated. Dairy producers will be able to voluntarily enter into a margin protection program that will not have government mandated supply controls.

Speaker John Boehner opposed the former programs as "Soviet-style" market manipulation.

The other major reforms in the farm bill deal with SNAP, better known as food stamps. The reforms are expected to eliminate $9 billion in fraud and abuse.

In all, supporters of the bill are claiming it will save taxpayers $23 billion.

Collins said it will particularly provide local dairy farmers a range of certainty around which they can plan production.

"Now they can plan farm activity around a new crop insurance program and they know what it's going to look like for the next five years," Collins said. "It's a big relief to have this move forward and come to a vote."

Those who wanted the regulation of catfish to be handled by the FDA instead of the USDA won't be happy with the bill, Collins said, which is an example of how the legislation won't make everybody happy.

There were some provisions that dairy farmer associations initially opposed.

But even the industry groups eventually came around and supported the bill.

A statement from Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation:

"That process is now complete. Despite its limitations, we believe the revised program will help address the volatility in farmers’ milk prices, as well as feed costs, and provide appropriate signals to help address supply and demand.

"The program that we have worked to develop establishes a reasonable and responsible national risk management tool that will give farmers the opportunity to insure against catastrophic economic conditions, when milk prices drop, feed prices soar, or the combination. By limiting how much future milk production growth can be insured, the measure creates a disincentive to produce excess milk. The mechanism used is not what we would have preferred, but it will be better than just a stand-alone margin insurance program that lacks any means to disincentivize more milk production during periods of over-supply.

Also unhappy, Collins said, will be those who think food stamps should never be touched.

"Let's be clear, no one who deserves food stamps is getting cuts," Collins said.

As an example, Collins noted that under the old regime anybody who received federal heating assistance, even if it was just $1 per month, was eligible to receive food stamps, even without any income or asset test. That ends with the new program, Collins said.

"It was a backdoor way for people to get food stamps who didn't deserve them," Collins said. "It's good government in this day of deficit spending that the money is going to go to the people who truly deserve it."

Asked if Democrats might to used the changes to SNAP as a campaign issue against those "heartless Republicans," Collins said, his message to them is go ahead and try.

"One thing for sure is that distortion of truth is what politics and commercials are all about more than substance," Collins said. "I'm sure there are those who will try to claim that this is a cut in food stamps for those who deserve it and if they do make that claim, it's a lie.

"Anyone who is opposed to this bill is somebody who is very partisan in nature and not interested in saving taxpayers money," Collins added. "I'd turn that back on anyone who wanted that debate and I'd turn it back in about two seconds."

Friday, January 17, 2014 at 5:34 pm

Collins named to house subcommittee on space

post by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) has been named to the House Subcommittee on Space, his sixth subcommittee assignment.

“It’s an honor to join the Subcommittee on Space and I am grateful for the opportunity to work to develop policies that advance our nation’s space program,” Congressman Collins said. “Western New York is home to a growing number of companies that support our space program, and I look forward to using this assignment to champion that sector."

Under the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, the Subcommittee on Space has legislative jurisdiction, general oversight and investigative authority on all matters relating to astronautical and aeronautical research and development.

Congressman Collins is currently a member of the House Agriculture and Small Business committees and serves as Chairman of the Small Business Subcommittee on Health and Technology.

In addition, under the House Committee on Agriculture Congressman, Collins serves on the Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management and the Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture; under the House Committee on Small Business, the Subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight and Regulations; and under the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, the Subcommittee on Research and Technology.

Friday, January 10, 2014 at 5:57 pm

IRS informs Collins that volunteer fire departments won't be forced to comply with Obamacare

post by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27

Press release:

After pressing for answers for months, Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) says the IRS will not force volunteer fire departments to comply with ObamaCare’s expensive employer mandate.

The Department of Treasury sent a letter to Congressman Collins this afternoon clarifying its policy.

For months, the IRS and Obama Administration refused to answer if volunteer fire departments would be subject to ObamaCare regulations, as volunteers are classified as employees by the IRS for tax purposes.

“The uncertainty of this classification left me seriously concerned about the potential impact ObamaCare would have on volunteer fire companies across the country,” Congressman Collins said. “Today I am glad to share that our nation’s volunteer fire departments will not be crippled by unnecessary costs brought on by ObamaCare, so they can focus on the important work of protecting our communities.”

In November of last year, Congressman Collins wrote a letter to the Acting Commissioner of the IRS seeking a specific exemption for volunteer responders. Earlier this week he spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives in support of legislation (H.R. 3685) that would ensure volunteer service responders would not classified as full-time employees under ObamaCare.

Thursday, January 9, 2014 at 7:09 pm

Collins backs bill to exempt volunteer fire departments from Obamacare mandate

post by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives in an effort to protect local volunteer fire departments from ObamaCare’s expensive and burdensome mandates. Collins is a cosponsor of legislation (H.R. 3685, the Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act), which will ensure volunteer service responders are not classified as full-time employees under ObamaCare.

“In November of last year, I wrote a letter to the Acting Commissioner of the IRS seeking a specific exemption for volunteer responders, but my office has yet to receive a reply,” Congressman Collins said. “Since the Administration will not correct this disservice to America’s volunteer EMTs and firefighters, we must act legislatively.”

For tax purposes the IRS classifies volunteer emergency responders as employees. With this employee designation, large volunteer fire departments will be subject to the ObamaCare Employer Mandate, forcing them to provide health insurance to their volunteers or pay a significant penalty.

“These unnecessary costs will cripple the strong volunteer fire community that protects Western New York and the rest of the country,” Congressman Collins said.

H.R. 3685 is sponsored by Rep. Lou Barletta (PA-11) and is currently in front of the Ways and Means Committee for consideration.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Collins faults Cuomo for fracking delays

post by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, environment, fracking, NY-27

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) criticized Governor Andrew Cuomo today on the House floor for continually delaying hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in New York.

Congressman Collins was speaking in support of legislation to limit the ability of the Obama Administration to regulate fracking. The Protecting States’ Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act (H.R. 2728), which Congressman Collins voted for, prevents the federal government from imposing new and burdensome fracking regulations on states.

“In New York we are already facing significant challenges in regards to fracking at the state level. We do not need additional, burdensome federal regulations like those proposed by the Obama Administration, which are over-the-top and step all over the state’s authority to regulate this type of activity,” Congressman Collins said. “Federal ‘one size fits all’ regulations are designed to wrap fracking efforts in endless red tape which will do nothing but slow job creation, decrease domestic energy production and increase the cost of business. “

“States should control their own destiny when it comes to fracking,” continued Collins. “In New York, I remain baffled as to why Governor Cuomo continues to cater to the state’s fringe anti-business interests by upholding the moratorium on fracking. Across the border in Pennsylvania, the economy is growing leaps and bounds because they are taking full advantage of their strategic location along the Marcellus Shale. It is sad that New York is squandering this same opportunity.”

It is estimated that, if finalized, the new regulations being proposed by the Obama Administration will cost $345 million annually or $96,913 per fracking well.

The Protecting States’ Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act also places parameters on a current Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study related to fracking and potential impact on drinking water resources. The bill’s provisions will help ensure the EPA study produces an objective evaluation.

“There is a real and legitimate fear that the bloated bureaucracy at the EPA will once again produce an open-ended, biased and non-transparent study,” Collins said. “For any study to be helpful to both decision-makers and scientists, it needs to contain an objective risk assessment.”

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