News from Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb
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Assembly Majority Rejects Proposals To Reduce Costs For Veterans To Use State Parks

Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,C-Canandaigua) and members of the Assembly Minority Conference today criticized Majority members on the Assembly Committee on Veterans’ Affairs after they rejected a series of bills that would provide financial relief for veterans’ groups and families using state recreational facilities.

The four bills offered by the Assembly Minority would waive usage fees for many veteran groups, disabled veterans and the families of military personnel who died in the line of duty. All were unanimously voted down by Majority members on the Committee.

“While veterans have been ignored, liberals have had no problem spending money when they want to. The billionaire Hollywood elite have gotten nearly $4 billion in tax breaks since 2010. Amazon and Jeff Bezos were offered a $3 billion incentive package to come to New York. But somehow, we can’t find a way to give our courageous military veterans a free day at the park? It’s disgraceful,” Leader Kolb said.

The bills blocked by the Assembly Majority include:

  • A.858, Kolb – directs the state to waive pavilion rental fees in state parks for recognized veterans’ organizations.
  • A.3307, Norris – directs the state to waive fees for the use of cabins and cottages for up to 14 days per year for veterans who are blind, non‑ambulatory, an amputee or for any veteran who has been awarded, or is eligible for, an allowance by the federal government toward the purchase of an automobile.
  • A.4904, M. L. Miller – provides that any veteran who holds a federal Golden Access Passport or federal Access Pass issued upon a determination of permanent disability may use state campsites, parks and other public places of recreation free of charge.
  • A.4993, Morinello – permits family members of service members who died on active duty during wartime to utilize all state parks free of charge.

The Committee unanimously approved the “Outdoor Rx Act” (A.8094), which directs multiple state agencies to conduct a coordinated review of policies, fees and usage opportunities of public recreational facilities by veterans and their families. The bill requires the Division of Veterans Services to submit a report to the governor and all legislative leaders by January 1, 2021.

“It’s encouraging that steps are being taken, but what is there to think about? We don’t need five state agencies and 18 months to realize that helping veterans is the right thing to do,” added Kolb. “This isn’t about dollars and cents. This is simple a gesture of gratitude to the courageous veterans who have earned our appreciation through their service to our country.”

“The Assembly Majority’s decision to advance a measure to study making recreational activities for veterans more accessible is well intentioned, but also a waste of time,” said Assemblyman Mike Norris (R,I,C,Ref-Lockport). “We have a number of proposals that make access to state-run parks and other recreational activities free. Launching a working group to assess the benefits of making it easier for our heroes to enjoy the land they protect is unnecessary. Ultimately, it would be much quicker and easier to enact proposals already on the books and give our veterans the treatment they deserve.”

“Instead of just offering free access to state recreational facilities for disabled veterans, the Assembly Majority is proposing we commission a feasibility study on the issue. This is simply wrong. We should not have to conduct a cost-benefit analysis on taking care of our disabled veterans when they have fought so hard and endured so much to take care of us,” said Assemblywoman Melissa “Missy” Miller (R,C,I-Atlantic Beach).

“Our Conference has stood up for veterans time and time again. We recognize the tremendous sacrifice they have made and the subsequent challenges they face reintegrating into life back home after serving abroad,” said Assemblyman Angelo Morinello (R,C,I,Ref-Niagara Falls). “The Assembly Majority’s round-about plan to study the benefits of giving veterans free access to much-deserved recreational opportunities is more façade than substance. Let’s get done what our veterans have more than earned.”