Positive Change For Western New York

Hawley reports on 2006 legislative session
June 23, 2006

Throughout this legislative session, I strived to be a voice for change and new ideas as we move to make state government more efficient and better equipped to do what is in the best interest of the people of this great State.

During my campaign for the state Assembly, I heard your calls for lower property taxes and gas prices as well the need for good-paying jobs in our region. I did my best to address each of those concerns while also taking on other important legislation to make our communities better.

We scored important victories for tax relief this year starting with the passage of the School Property Tax credit that will equal 30% of homeowners’ STAR exemption. We were also successful in capping the state sales tax on gasoline that will save motorists up to ten cents per gallon. While the savings are modest, it is a good start towards long-term relief.

As we move forward, I will fight for the implementation of the Alternative Fuel Incentive Fund which is designed to accelerate the development and use of alternative fuels which will give regional farmers new markets to sell their crop, create new jobs, and stimulate the Western New York economy. Furthermore, I was proud to join Governor Pataki this spring in Shelby for the announcement of a new ethanol refinery to be built in our community that will create new jobs and set the standard for ethanol production for the rest of the state to follow.

In order for the state to bring real savings to taxpayers, it needs to become a more efficient lawmaking body that takes steps towards ending wasted tax money. That is why I voted for the creation of the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General. $4.5 billion of taxpayer money is lost every year because of the fraud, waste and abuse within the program.

I am optimistic that this office will use its authority to reign in the waste that saps you of your hard-earned dollars. By eliminating massive fraud within the Medicaid system, we can begin the process of returning your money to you, which is where it belongs.

Important laws were passed this year to make our communities safer. Among them, tougher DWI laws and the expansion of the DNA database which will require all convicted felons as well as certain misdemeanor offenders to submit a DNA sample. This measure will give law enforcement a much-needed tool for identifying and capturing wanted criminals.

We also eliminated the statute of limitations on all Class B violent felony sex offenses so that as the years go by, perpetrator’s will avoid getting a free pass for the violent acts they commit. Additionally, “Megan’s Law” was strengthened to increase the length of registration for sex offenders so that communities may identify who poses the greatest risk to do harm to our children.

Throughout this year’s session, I have heard from many of you who contacted my office, attended Town Hall meetings, and wrote letters and emails. I want you to know that I take your ideas and concerns very seriously and encourage you to continue to be vocal citizens so that we may work together and make Western New York the best it can be.