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Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Hochul reflects on year and a half in office as term winds down

post by Howard B. Owens in kathy hochul, NY-26

Press release:

During her year and a half in Congress, Representative Kathy Hochul (NY-26) worked with members of both parties on behalf of Western New York’s small businesses, middle class families, veterans, students and seniors.

“It has been an honor and privilege to represent and fight for the people of Western New York,” Hochul said.

Thanks to Hochul’s efforts, the temporary guest worker program has been streamlined and is now available electronically, saving farmers across the country time and money.

Under Hochul’s Clothe a Homeless Hero Act, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will partner with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and local charities to distribute unclaimed clothing left at airport security checkpoints to homeless and needy veterans and their families. This bill passed House and Senate and is expected to be signed into law by the President.

Rep. Hochul is known for working closely with constituents to answer questions, solve problems, or cut through bureaucratic red tape. Hochul secured over $1.3 million dollars for her constituents.

Hochul made it a top priority to ensure the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station (NFARS) would remain in Western New York for the foreseeable future. At Hochul's invitation, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta visited the air base in August and promised to preserve the base.

Additionally, Hochul worked to ensure that American manufacturers continue to grow, create jobs at home, and outperform foreign competition. In her manufacturing jobs plan, she advocated for investing in American workers by closing the skills gap, bringing jobs home from overseas, cracking down on unfair Chinese trade practices, spurring production of America-made energy and resources, and keeping tax dollars in America. Rep Hochul introduced a bill to create incentives for local companies to partner with colleges and universities to match education and job training with the needs of our local businesses.

Please click here to see accompanying document for further information on Rep. Hochul’s accomplishments.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Hochul's bill to donate lost clothing from TSA to veterans passes house

post by Howard B. Owens in kathy hochul, NY-26

Press release:

Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 6328, The Clothe a Homeless Hero Act, which was introduced by Rep. Kathy Hochul (NY-26). The legislation will require the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to partner with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and local charities to distribute unclaimed clothing left at airport security checkpoints to homeless and needy veterans and veterans’ families. The bill passed by voice vote with strong support from members of both parties.

“As cold weather approaches across much of the country, this legislation will be a greatly needed help for homeless veterans while we work to end homelessness for good. It is unconscionable that so many of our veterans are homeless, and we must support our returning heroes. I am proud that my legislation to assist veterans passed with the bipartisan support of my colleagues,” Rep. Hochul said.

“Since joining the Committee, Rep. Hochul has worked tirelessly to identify bipartisan solutions to our nation’s problems, and thanks to her thoughtful leadership, the House took a small, but important, step in support of our veterans in passing H.R. 6328. We owe it to our veterans to do all that we can to ensure they get the helping hand needed to get back on their feet when they return from the battlefield.”

According to the VA, approximately 75,000 veterans are homeless on any given night, and about 20,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been homeless within the last five years.

Hochul has consistently supported the needs of veterans throughout her time in Congress. She introduced the Vocational Employment and Technical Skills Act (VETS Act), which would make it easier for veterans to receive professional certification in skills they performed while members of the armed services. Rep. Hochul cosponsored additional legislation to encourage the hiring of veterans, including the Hiring Heroes Act that modernizes and improves programs to assist our veterans with the transition from service member to civilian life.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Hochul votes to extend middle-class tax cuts, says wealth should pay 'fair share'

post by Howard B. Owens in kathy hochul, NY-26

Press release:

Today, Representative Kathy Hochul (NY-26) voted to preserve and extend middle-class tax cuts to all Americans on the first $250,000 of earned income. This bill would provide tax relief and prevent a tax increase of about $2,200 on working families and small businesses in Western New York.

“At a time when our national debt is approaching $16 trillion, the House leadership has insisted on passing an irresponsible plan to add $1 trillion to the debt to pay for additional tax cuts for millionaires. This extra trillion puts us in even greater debt to the Chinese. Instead, I supported an alternative that would provide tax relief to middle-class families and small businesses, while requiring the wealthiest top 2 percent to pay the same tax rates they paid during the economic boom of the 1990s,” Rep. Hochul said.

“If we are going to effectively address our nation's fiscal challenges, we need a balanced approach that requires meaningful cuts to government spending and the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share. That is why I have worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support a balanced budget amendment and to cut $2.4 trillion in deficit spending. It’s also why I supported cuts to wasteful spending, such as aid to Pakistan. There is still work to be done to protect middle-class families and reduce the deficit, and I will continue to work with both Democrats and Republicans to find ways to accomplish that goal.”

Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 8:49 pm

Hochul issues statements on healthcare decision and Holder contempt vote

post by Howard B. Owens in kathy hochul, NY-26

Rep. Kathy Hochul's statement on the Supreme Court's decision on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act:

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling provides much needed clarity in an important national debate on the appropriate role of the federal government in the delivery of healthcare. While I was not in Congress to vote on the Affordable Care Act, I have always believed, and continue to believe, that the law is far from perfect, and I remain concerned about the high cost of implementing the law. That is why I have worked to roll back many of its most troubling provisions, including the financially unsustainable CLASS Act, the Medical Device Tax, and the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which could result in the rationing of Medicare.

“I am hopeful that today’s ruling will help to focus our country on the need for more effective policies that drive down the cost of care and ensure that all Americans — especially children, seniors and veterans — have access to quality and affordable health care. I stand ready to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to continue to improve the law and find appropriate solutions to the rising cost of health care in this country.”

Kathy Hochul's statement on the contempt of Congress vote for Eric Holder:

“We can all agree that the Fast and Furious operation was ill-conceived and the death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was an avoidable tragedy. Now, our objective must be to evaluate the facts and work to prevent such an event from ever happening again,” Hochul said.

“At a time when our country is facing significant economic challenges, it’s disappointing that both parties have, yet again, become distracted by Washington politics. The people of Western New York deserve a transparent government, regardless of which party is in control. Congress has a constitutional responsibility to exercise appropriate oversight, and I believe Attorney General Eric Holder should fully disclose the documents requested and allow this issue to be resolved.”

Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 6:55 pm

Hochul, after one year in office, says she takes her job title seriously: Representative

post by Howard B. Owens in kathy hochul, NY-26

Last week, Rep. Kathy Hochul marked her first year in office, and it's been a busy year for the freshman Democrat who won a special election over Republican Jane Corwin.

Genesee County political observers estimate that Hochul has spent more time locally than her predecessors, Tom Reynolds and Chris Lee, combined.

"That's where the people are," Hochul said, explaining why she makes so many public appearances in the district. "That's where I can listen, find out their concerns. My title is U.S. Representative and the best way I can execute my duties is to listen to people.

"Every time I’m out out in the community I learn something new and I find another way I can serve my district," she added.

Upon taking office, Hochul said she found a backlog of constituent issues and immediately hired staff that would focus on constituent issues.

So far, she said, her staff has helped constituents garner $800,000 in benefits owed to them by the federal government for one reason or another but had been held up by red tape.

Listening to constituents, she said, is why she continues to oppose the Ryan budget plan and its cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.

Genesee County, already with a heavy Medicaid burden, would see it increase under the Ryan plan, Hochul said.

"The Ryan budget plan would convert Medicaid into a block grant program, and that's one of the many reasons I'm against it," Hochul said. "It would make for higher costs for county taxpayers and taxpayers across Western New York. It would limit how much counties get and the localities would have to pick up the cost."

But listening to constituents, she said, is also why she was one of only 24 Democrats, and the only one from New York, to support the balanced budget amendment.

Democrats in Washington, she said, haven't put pressure on her to conform with their agenda.

"My title is representative and I represent a Republican, conservative-leaning district," Hochul said. "I am free to look at every issue that comes before me and vote in the best way to represent my district."

In Washington, Hochul said, Republicans have shown a willingness to work with her. On the Homeland Security Committee, she was the only Democrat during the session to get unanimous bipartisan support for her amendments to bills. That included an amendment to ensure Transportation Security Administration uniforms are made in the United States and that unclaimed clothing from airport screenings are donated to homeless veterans.

Representing the people of WNY in Congress is an amazing honor, Hochul said.

"I come back to the district often because what occurs here is very much more meaningful and where the decisions we make effect lives directly," Hochul said.

Top Photo: File photo, Hochul at the parade in Bergen on Memorial Day this year.

Monday, June 4, 2012 at 8:26 pm

Alice Kryzan, former congressional candidate, succumbs to cancer

post by Howard B. Owens in Alice Kryzan, NY-26

Alice Kryzan, an environmental attorney from Amherst who campaigned hard in 2008 in an attempt to become Genesee County's representative in Congress, died Saturday.

She was 63.

Kryzan lost a battle with cancer and according to friends, died peacefully at her home.

A native of Youngstown, Ohio, Kryzan lost in a three-way race with Jack Davis and Chris Lee in 2008. 

Kryzan's full obituary after the jump (click on the headline):

Tuesday, March 6, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Judge releases draft plan for congressional redistricting

post by Howard B. Owens in NY-26, NY-27, redistricting

U.S. Magistrate Judge Roanne Mann released a draft plan for new congressional districts in New York and set a deadline of 9 a.m. Wednesday for public comment on her plan.

Mann released the plan after receiving and reviewing proposals from both houses of the New York Legislature, Common Cause and others.

The draft puts Genesee County in the middle of a redrawn NY-27 district, moving the NY-26 to cover just Buffalo. 

The largely rural district includes parts of Erie County, most of Niagara and just a bit of Monroe County and stretches into Ontario County. All of Orleans and Wyoming counties are included in the plan.

Presumably, Rep. Kathy Hochul would be the Democratic candidate for the NY-27 and Rep. Brian Higgins would run in the new NY-26.

For all of the releated documents, click here.

Thursday, March 1, 2012 at 11:39 am

Genesee County's congressional fate very different in competing redistricting plans

post by Howard B. Owens in NY-26, politics, redistricting

Redistricting plans unveiled last night by a New York court reviewing the proposals indicate Republicans and Democrats in Albany have very different views of how Genesee County should be represented in Congress.

One plan splits the county in two and another plan keeps Genesee County whole.

One plan would seemingly make it easier for Rep. Kathy Hochul to retain her seat in November's general election. The other plan would seem to make an election fight tougher.

Both plans presented by the legislature -- the Democratic majority in the Assembly and the Republican majority in the Senate -- say that one of the aims  is to protect incumbent seats.

"Preserving the cores of existing districts — sometimes also referred to as incumbency protection — is a well-established, traditional districting principle in New York," reads a legal brief prepared by Republicans in the Senate.

The Senate memo cites several legal precedents saying that preserving relationships between legislators and constituents is a legitimate legal concern, and that for congressional seats, protecting seniority of house members is important to maintaining the state's influence in the lower chamber.

Democrats in the Assembly prepared a similar memo.

The Democrats also said they put a high value on protecting minority representation (as required by prior legal cases), so for the NY-26, the district includes all of urban Buffalo and Niagara County. It also includes other portions of Erie County and all of Orleans County, but in Genesee County the towns of Le Roy, Stafford, Byron, Bergen and Pavilion are in Rep. Tom Reed's NY-24 district.

The Republicans plan -- which is somewhat similar for WNY to a plan presented by Common Cause -- keeps Genesee contiguous and keeps the entire GLOW region as part of the same district.

In that plan, all of Niagara County and a portion of Erie County are part of the NY-24, making the district almost entirely rural.

The court could make a decision on a redistricting plan by some time Friday.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Bellavia seeks support to help him mount new campaign for congress

post by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, NY-26

Batavia resident and Iraq War veteran David Bellavia says he wants to run for congress but "liberal New York politicians" are holding up the process of drawing new district lines, making it hard for him to start his campaign.

Bellavia made a plea for financial support from supporters to help get a possible campaign going in an open letter posted today to his website.

... here's why I can't jump in this race just yet: liberal New York politicians are creating new Congressional Districts. They've been holding back for months, dragging their feet and drawing secret lines to help Democrat incumbents like Rep. Hochul.

It's hard to believe - we simply don't know what district we live in yet!

But the courts have forced the politicians to announce those new districts in the next few weeks, and I need your donation if I am to get in this race as a strong competitor.

Bellavia blames Hochul for high gas prices and criticizes her for a "rubber stamp" of President Obama's policies.

The United States House of Representatives is working hard to fight President Obama's flawed policies. But in the conservative Republican district of Western New York where I live, we are represented by a liberal Democrat who believes in just about everything President Obama says or does!

Monday, October 24, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Hochul calls on congress to pass jobs bill to help with area bridge repair

post by Howard B. Owens in kathy hochul, NY-26

Press release:

After a report stating nearly 1,100 bridges in New York State were deemed "fracture-critical," a high percentage of which exist in New York’s 26th Congressional District, Congresswoman Kathy Hochul today called on Congress to immediately pass the American Jobs Act.

"Let's finally pass a comprehensive jobs bill that will not only get Americans back to work, but fix the bridges millions of commuters rely on each year," Congresswoman Hochul said. "These 'fracture-critical' bridges are a threat to the safety of New York residents, especially the residents of New York's 26th District, which had scores of bridges on the list. This report only underscores the need for quick passage of the Job Act.”

New York State currently has double the number of fracture-critical bridges on the list than reported nationwide, while Orleans County, in the center of the 26th District, was reported to have nearly seven times the national average. Over 20 percent of Orleans County's 138 bridges were found to be fracture-critical. Bridges from all other six counties in the 26th District – Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, and Wyoming counties – were also on the list.

Fracture-critical bridges lack redundant supporting elements, which means if one key support function of the bridge fails, the safety and use of the entire bridge could fail, potentially causing a collapse.

Hochul added, "While structurally sound under normal circumstances, there is no reason why these bridges cannot get the necessary repairs to ensure the safety of the driving public. As the former county clerk responsible for putting vehicles on the road, I feel compelled to fight for the money we need from Washington to bring our bridges and roads up to par. Once again, I call for the House leadership to bring forward the American Jobs Act and allow us to vote on infrastructure funding for our districts, while creating much needed job opportunities for our workers."

All seven of the counties Representative Hochul represents have vulnerable bridges that could benefit from passage of the American Jobs Act.

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