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Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at 1:23 pm

Hawley pushes for term limits in wake of Silver arrest

post by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley

Press release:

With the recent arrest of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on alleged federal corruption charges, the culture of deceit, lies and bribery in Albany has been brought further into the public spotlight. It is unfortunate that a few members of the legislature refuse to follow the rules and fall victim to money and power. Scandals such as these bring a pejorative perception to the already tainted Albany culture and make it difficult for the rest of us who truly want to do what is best for all New Yorkers.

If the recent news regarding Speaker Silver has demonstrated anything, it is that we need ethics reforms in Albany now more than ever. It goes against the very function of our government to have a single person hold as much power as Sheldon Silver. Silver has omnipotent control over which bills come before the Assembly for a vote and how taxpayer funds are used. The length of time Silver has been in office, more than 20 years, has allowed him to accumulate significant wealth and power. Now we have discovered that much of his wealth and power allegedly was either illegally obtained or used to promote his own private interests.  

If we are to truly reform Albany’s culture of corruption, we need to pass the Public Officers Accountability Act. I sponsored this legislation last legislative term, along with almost all of my Assembly Minority colleagues, because I know that abuses of power such as these should be handled proactively. This legislation: limits the time a member of the legislature can serve as a committee chair or legislative leader to eight years; bans elected officials from future employment for certain felony convictions; and requires the return of campaign funds to donors or charities upon certain felony convictions. Furthermore, I sponsored Assembly Bill 4935 of 2014 that proposes stripping pension and retirement benefits from public officials convicted of certain felonies.  

Until these bills are taken up for a vote, we are leaving the door open for further abuses of power and theft from the public coffers. The last thing we need is career politicians who have lost interest in benefiting their constituencies in exchange for padding their own pockets and ensuring their own reelection. The only way to handle serious ethics violations is with a serious ethics reform bill, and the Public Officers Accountability Act provides a plethora of reforms that will prevent these abuses before they happen again.

Monday, January 26, 2015 at 11:22 am

Moreland Commission reviewed Hawley's records and found no issues

post by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley

The now-defunct Moreland Commission took three months to review Assemblyman Steve Hawley's financial and business records and found nothing amiss, Hawley told a luncheon in Orleans County on Friday.

“There’s an old adage: ‘If you have nothing to hide, comply,’ ” Hawley said.

Orleans Hub reports that Hawley turned over a list of clients, employees, family members, advertisements, political materials, income taxes and property taxes. It was an exhaustive collection of documents.

Besides sitting in the Assembly, Hawley owns an insurance business based in Batavia.

The three-month review to see if Hawley was making money in kickbacks or abusing his public office for financial gain found Hawley was not misusing his office. Everything was clear.

Hawley's remarks came shortly after Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was arrested on federal charges for allegedly taking kickbacks. Silver has temporarily stepped down from his leadership position.

The Moreland Commission was disbanded by Gov. Andrew Cuomo before its work was seemingly complete, a decision that was controversial at the time and has been reexamined in light of the charges against Silver.

For more on the story, visit Orleans Hub.

Thursday, January 22, 2015 at 2:41 pm

Hawley: Sheldon Silver must go

post by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) today called for the resignation and removal of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Hawley said Silver’s resignation is necessary to preserve the integrity of the office and keep focus on the importance of the upcoming budget negotiations.  

“Speaker Silver owes it to his legislative colleagues, the State of New York and his tens of thousands of constituents to step down as speaker,” Hawley said. “Speaker Silver owes the public an explanation for his actions, and it would be outrageous and irresponsible to allow him to continue his Assembly duties while he faces a possible indictment for corruption charges. It is time for members of the Assembly Majority to do the right thing and elect new leadership that will serve our state with a greater sense of honor and dignity. We have important business to conduct as public representatives, and the upcoming budget negotiations deserve our utmost attention. Silver’s resignation would allow us to continue the people’s business.”

Hawley’s comments come after Silver turned himself in to the FBI this morning following an investigation about incomplete financial disclosures required by state law.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 at 11:13 pm

Hawley, Ranzenhofer issue statements on Cuomo's State of the State Speech

post by Howard B. Owens in micheal ranzenhofer, steve hawley

From Assemblyman Steve Hawley:

“A plan to expand broadband Internet access will be beneficial to the more rural parts of my district, and I look forward to hearing more about the proposal. I am concerned that Gov. Cuomo’s small-business tax cut plan is not structured in a manner that allows business owners to expand and hire more employees. The proposed cut is less than one-10th of what the legislature gave to Hollywood film executives to entice them to produce movies in New York State. We need to get our priorities straight and protect family-owned businesses that have been in New York for generations. Furthermore, I am concerned that the governor’s plan does not properly fund agriculture in a way that will protect our farmers and allow their businesses to stay in New York and be passed down from generation to generation.”

From State Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer:

State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer has issued the following statement in response to Governor Cuomo’s State of the State Address and Executive budget proposal:

“In the coming days and weeks, I will be going over the Executive budget proposal with a fine-tooth comb. I am pleased that the Governor has proposed major investments in infrastructure, a new property tax relief program and expanding broadband access in rural communities.” 

“For four years, State budgets have passed on time that closed billions of dollars in deficits by controlling spending and reduced taxes for small businesses and middle-class families.  Our priorities should be to build on this progress, including strengthening our economy, ensuring our children receive a first-rate education and repealing burdensome regulations.”

“The 2015-16 Legislative Session presents us with an unprecedented opportunity to keep New York State moving forward. We cannot afford to allow it to be squandered.”

If you missed the speech, here's coverage from The New York Times.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 11:28 am

Hawley announces availability of interest-free loans for muncipal wastewater projects

post by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) announced that interest-free loans have become available for certain municipalities to make improvements to their wastewater infrastructure systems. The availability of this cheaper funding for up to 30 years means smaller governments and towns in the district may now have the financial means to upgrade their infrastructure.

“I am excited about the availability of these new zero-percent loans,” Hawley said. “This is a case where a decision has the potential to positively impact communities and residents at the local level. Many local governments in my district struggle to keep taxes low and finance community projects due to costly state mandates and rising healthcare costs.  These interest-free loans will hopefully absorb some of the financial stress placed on our local governments and allow them to finance long-term design and construction of more efficient wastewater infrastructure systems. In doing so, we can employ local construction groups, protect the environment and allow for more efficient removal and purification of our residents' wastewater.”

Hawley’s comments come after The Environmental Facilities Corporation Board of Directors approved $288 million worth of zero-percent interest loans for wastewater infrastructure improvements Thursday. The City of Olean and Village of Malone were the first to take advantage of the new loan funding.

Friday, January 16, 2015 at 2:17 pm

Hawley critical of Cuomo's property tax plan

post by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) today criticized Gov. Cuomo’s proposed property-tax relief plan as having little concrete backing and not addressing the root cause of unfunded mandates. Hawley also said that the plan is simply a temporary fix and does not address the oppressive tax structure in New York State.  

“Gov. Cuomo’s proposal is a convenient way to avoid addressing the root cause of high property and school taxes: unfunded mandates,” Hawley said. “I agree that tax cuts should be a focus during this year’s budgetary process, but Gov. Cuomo’s proposal does not address the rigorous and oppressive tax structure in New York State. Furthermore, this proposal is based on a surplus that does not yet exist and apparently could only exist if the legislature made several billion in cuts over the next few years. A better solution for tax relief would be broad-based tax cuts for all New Yorkers and not just select groups, as Gov. Cuomo has done.”

Hawley’s comments come after Gov. Cuomo released a $1.7 billion property-tax credit proposal that will be included in his budget presentation next week. Hawley has fought for lower taxes and more fiscal responsibility in Albany during his tenure in the legislature.

Thursday, January 15, 2015 at 11:44 am

Hawley calls for reform reform state aid to school districts

post by Howard B. Owens in education, schools, steve hawley

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) announced today that he is sponsoring legislation to end the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA). Assembly Bill 8720 of 2014 seeks to end the education cuts that took place in 2009 and 2010. Hawley, along with many members of the Assembly Minority Conference, has been outspoken about restoring the GEA for several years. “School districts in New York State deserve to have these cuts restored,” Hawley said. 

“The legislature has had the financial means to restore this education aid for years now, and the apparent surplus this year should go directly to fund our schools. It is unfortunate to see good teachers being laid off and students being placed at a disadvantage because Albany couldn’t balance its budget. These cuts were never intended to be permanent, but the legislature is hesitant to repay them each budget cycle.”

Hawley’s comments come after members of the legislature made clear their plan to reintroduce Assembly Bill 8720 for the current legislative term. The new bill number is not known yet.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 at 3:07 pm

Hawley calls for floor vote on Women's Equality bills

post by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) today called for members of the Assembly Majority to bring the Women’s Equality Agenda to the floor for a vote as separate bills.  Hawley said the Assembly Minority intends to again introduce the package as separate pieces of legislation. 

“The women of New York have waited far too long for these bills to be passed by the Assembly,” Hawley said.  “We are re-introducing this legislation because women’s equality reforms cannot wait another year.  These bills will protect women from matters such as domestic violence, sexual harassment, human trafficking and wage discrimination.  It is time for the Assembly Majority to quit using this issue for political gain and join us in a bi-partisan collaboration that will be an early legislative victory for constituents.”

Hawley’s comments come after Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,C-Canandaigua) held a press conference Tuesday morning to call for passage of the Women’s Equality Agenda legislation.  The State Senate passed eight separate bills on Monday. 

Monday, January 12, 2015 at 8:46 am

Hawley retains posts in Assembly leadership

post by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) was reappointed as Assistant Minority Leader as well as Minority Ranker of the Assembly’s Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Hawley also announced that he was reappointed to the Agriculture, Insurance, and Ways and Means committees.

“I am honored to serve in our conference’s leadership once again,” Hawley said. “Our members and leadership are tremendously devoted to crafting the best public policy possible and I am motivated to get back to work. Furthermore, as a veteran, I am proud to serve as Ranking Member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. I have always sought to protect the rights of veterans and advocate for them in Albany. My years in the military have given me the knowledge and experience to meaningfully contribute to the policy process. I look forward to heading back to Albany to continue working for veterans during this year’s session.”

Hawley, a veteran of the Army National Guard and Army Reserves, has served in the legislature since 2006 and as Assistant Minority Leader since 2013. The 2015 Legislative Session opened on Wednesday, Jan. 7, when members took their oaths of office in the Assembly Chamber and Assemblymen Sheldon Silver and Brian Kolb were elected to the positions of Speaker and Minority Leader, respectively.    

Wednesday, January 7, 2015 at 10:34 am

Hawley calls on AG to investigate disparity in gas prices

post by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) wrote Attorney General Eric Schneiderman again urging him to investigate the disparity in gas prices from county to county.  Hawley, whose district is comprised of Genesee County and parts of Monroe and Orleans counties, mentioned the noticeably higher price of gas in his hometown of Batavia as compared to prices paid in surrounding counties.  Hawley has written Schneiderman several times on this issue, urging him to investigate and take action on the fluctuation of gas prices in his district.

“In most instances Genesee and Orleans county gas prices range much higher than the surrounding counties,” wrote Hawley.  “I have seen firsthand the pricing of gas stations in Batavia costing $.15-$.25 more per gallon than the various stations located in the surrounding contiguous counties: Erie and Monroe.  I know there are many variables which determine the price per gallon of gas but it seems to me that the price should not differ significantly from county to county.” 

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