Stec introduces bill requiring weekly vaccination update

ALBANY — Last week, State Sen. Dan Stec (R-Queensbury) and Sue Serino (R-Dutchess County) introduced a bill that would require the state Department of Health to provide a comprehensive vaccination report made available to the public on a weekly basis.

The report would have to be in an easily accessible and downloadable format on the DOH website, and include the total number of vaccines allocated to the state by the federal government, the number of doses requested and received, the number administered to those eligible and the number of vaccines declined, a press release said.

Additionally, the data would be organized by county, date and facility as well as age, race and ethnicity of vaccine recipients. The information would be required from DOH retroactive to Dec. 14.

Stec contended the state's mass vaccination plan has been a mass confusion.

“My constituents are very frustrated, disappointed and angry. We have senior citizens driving across the Adirondack Park in the dead of winter to get a shot three hours from home at a state-run site. It doesn’t make sense."

He questioned why the expertise of county health departments, who train and conduct mass vaccination exercises, have been overlooked.

"The state of New York has to do better. A mechanism that assures accountability is needed.”

Gillibrand cosponsors diaper bills

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) has cosponsored two bills to help struggling families secure diapers.

According to a press release, the COVID-19 Diaper Assistance Act would provide $200 million in emergency funds through the Social Services Block Grant program for diaper assistance in Fiscal Year 2022.

The End Diaper Need Act of 2021 would allocate $200 million to that program for fiscal years 2022 to 2025 in order to provide low- and-middle-income families access to diapers.

“All across the country, families are struggling to keep a roof over their heads, their families safe from COVID-19 and their infant children clean, dry and healthy," Gillibrand said in a statement.

"In the best of times, this is already challenging for low- and middle-income families. That’s why I’m proud to co-sponsor the End Diaper Need Act, which will help ensure that families don’t have to choose between feeding their families and buying diapers."

Jones supports direct relief

ALBANY — Last week, State Assemblyman D. Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay Lake) said he was encouraged to see critical relief funding for local governments included in the federal American Rescue Act.

"Between steep declines in tax revenue and extensive pandemic expenses, North Country localities are experiencing dire financial stress and this relief will go a long way," he continued.

“Financially-strained local governments pose a significant barrier to the North Country’s COVID recovery and our continued efforts to combat this deadly virus. The proposed influx of federal funding will enable our communities to continue safely reopening our economy, create jobs and bolster vaccine distribution.

"I want to thank New York’s federal partners for ensuring our communities’ needs were addressed in this critical legislation.”

Gillibrand supports funding for older adults

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) recently cosigned a letter to Senate committee leadership calling for the inclusion of $1.4 billion in funding for Older Americans Act (OAA) programs in the next coronavirus relief package.

According to a press release, that would include $750 million in funding for OAA Nutrition Services and $480 million to support providers’ efforts to vaccinate older adults,  

“As Congress considers additional relief in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we urge you to prioritize nutrition programs and vaccine support for homebound and socially isolated older adults,” the senators wrote.

Gillibrand supports Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Last week, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) announced her support of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021, which includes 12 bills to comprehensively address the drivers of the maternal health crisis and its disproportionate impact on Black women, according to a press release.

The package includes the Moms Matter Act, a bill led by Gillibrand that would invest in community-based programs that provide treatment to moms with maternal mental health conditions or substance use disorders as well as the Maternal Health Pandemic Response Act.

Gillibrand originally cosponsored the latter legislation, which would improve data collection on COVID-19's impact on pregnant and postpartum women, earlier this year.

She and fellow Senators additionally sent a letter urging Senate and House leadership to include provisions that would dedicate greater resources to safeguarding pregnant and postpartum individuals' health, and combat maternal mortality and morbidity in the next coronavirus relief package.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to exacerbate health inequities for Black women and communities of color, we must develop a pandemic response with care and attention to maternal health," Gillibrand said in a statement.

"Together, the Maternal Health Pandemic Response Act, the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act and the Moms Matter Act create the roadmap we need to uplift the voices of Black mothers in Washington, and help put an end to racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health care.”

Stec supports middle class tax cut

ALBANY — On Tuesday, State Sen. Dan Stec (R-Queensbury) said keeping in place a tax cut for middle-income New Yorkers this year should come ahead of a taxpayer subsidy for film and television productions in New York State.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed Fiscal Year 2022 budget — formulated based on $6 billion in relief coming down from the federal government, which Cuomo has said would be inadequate — delays a middle-class tax cut adopted in 2017 by one year but leaves in place the $420 million Empire State Film Production credit and the Empire State Film Post Production credit.

In a statement, Stec said that, given the state's finances, difficult choices need to be made, "but we should do our best to avoid bad ones. This is a bad one as far as I can tell.”

The income tax cut would reduce state income tax rates by 20 percent when fully implemented in 2025, resulting in $4.2 billion in savings annually, according to a press release. This year's slice of that would be $394 million.

“So many people through no fault of their own have lost their jobs, they have lost income and have lost their businesses due to the COVID shutdown," Stec continued.

"The $420 million production tax this year isn’t going to benefit most New Yorkers. Instead, we should choose the middle-class for the tax relief they’ve been promised and so clearly need.”

Stefanik announces grant for housing assistance

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville) announced that the Housing Assistance Program of Essex County, Inc. will receive a $170,000 grant from NeighborWorks America.

According to a press release, NeighborWorks America is a public, non-profit organization established by Congress in 1978 to support and enhance communities across the country.

"As many North Country residents face the economic challenges wrought by COVID-19, it's more important than ever to invest in our rural communities to keep housing costs low, sustain neighborhoods, and preserve jobs," Stefanik said in a statement.

"This federal funding will do just that for our rural communities in Essex County and beyond."

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