With New Session, a New Urgency To Fight for Western New York

A Legislative Column by Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,I,C-Batavia)

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” You don’t have to be a Renaissance man to appreciate Leonardo da Vinci’s advice. Whether presented with an artist’s blank canvas or the complexities of engineering the future out of 15th century technology, his attitude was to dare greatly without delay. In this new legislative session, the New York State Assembly must heed da Vinci’s words and act with the sense of urgency our state’s current crisis demands.

In 2010, Albany’s legendary dysfunction reached levels of gridlock and infighting not seen since the Articles of Confederation. (This might be overstated – but only slightly.) My colleagues and I must, therefore, renew our mission to serve our constituents, to earn the seats they have given us. I am committed to continuing my agenda from last year’s legislative session, including bringing jobs back to western New York, reining in out-of-control taxes, and supporting economic growth through farming and other agricultural endeavors. Costly unfunded mandates – essentially deferred taxes to pay for current, reckless spending – also demand Albany’s immediate attention in order to cut property taxes on working families.

Western New York’s rural communities occupy a special place in our state’s cultural and economic ecosystems. Our family farms are the sturdy backbone of the Empire State’s economy and our vast open spaces continue to draw visitors seeking peaceful, natural surroundings. It’s a way of life strengthened by a commitment to tradition and freedom for the individual. But now, Albany bureaucrats want to change this culture of self-reliance and begin to dictate individual behavior. The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is attempting to place new restrictions on property owners, including prohibiting them from burning materials or refuse in any open area. The state agency is undertaking this measure despite our lack of larger waste-management facilities found in suburban or urban areas - the very reason why some residents of the 139th Assembly District have safely and responsibly burned discarded material on their properties for generations.

A bill to prevent this power grab by the DEC was introduced in the Legislature in January 2010. Since that time, the measure has been held for further consideration in an Assembly committee. I am the prime sponsor of this vitally important legislative reform as the new session begins and will work with my colleagues to bring it to the Assembly Floor for a vote as soon as possible. Landowners in rural communities must have the property rights protections that they deserve with the urgency required to prevent future arbitrary rulings from unelected, unaccountable government pencil pushers.

Winter can sometimes make laggards of us, but now is no time to take it easy. As your assemblyman, I am renewing my focus and channeling my energies on the legislative priorities interrupted by last year’s chaotic session. There is no time to waste. Each day that passes is a missed opportunity to correct our course away from the fiscal cliff. As we work together to create more private sector jobs, reduce spending, and eliminate deficits, I also will continue to fight for your interests and our way of life here in Western New York. As a small-business owner, I know what it takes to balance a budget. As a neighbor and friend of our region, I understand Albany’s actions can stifle economic growth and threaten individual freedoms in Western New York. This is our home, and here is my mandate: to act with urgency for your interests in 2011. “Being willing is not enough; we must do.”