Stec pushes for end to OPWDD mandate

ALBANY — On Monday, State Sen. Dan Stec (R-Queensbury) announced his cosponsorship of legislation that would immediately end an executive order that, since last April, has directed Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) facilities to admit or readmit COVID-19-positive residents.

According to a press release, the policy is similar to the nursing home mandate that directed facilities to readmit sick residents last spring.

“Nearly a year later, given all we’ve learned about at-risk populations, the fact that this directive remains in effect is troubling,” Stec said in a statement.

“Personal protective equipment and other preventative measures only go so far. It would be much safer for residents and staff to have a negative test result before someone known to have been sick is admitted or readmitted.”

OPWDD has reported that 548 residents died of COVID since the start of the pandemic and that, of about 34,500 residents, more than 6,900 have tested positive.

The release said all communications between OPWDD, the state Department of Health and the governor’s office regarding the readmission directive has been requested of but not provided by OPWDD.

“The lack of transparency leaves open lots of questions and concerns,” Stec said. “I have pushed for a complete end to the governor’s emergency powers and this is another example why.”

Stefanik announces PBG funding

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville) announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation will award Plattsburgh International Airport with $765,000 in federal grants for rehabilitation and construction.

That includes $135,000 to rehabilitate the apron, $315,000 to rehabilitate the taxiway and $315,000 to construct a deicing pad with associated facilities for a runway and terminal, according to a press release.

“Plattsburgh International Airport allows North Country residents the ability to conveniently travel, and I have long advocated for additional funding and resources to continue its essential flight services," Stefanik said in a statement.


Gillibrand announces Emergency Broadband Connections Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) recently announced the Emergency Broadband Connections Act, which would invest $6 billion for the Emergency Broadband Benefit program to help close the homework gap and ensure families across New York can access essential online services.

According to a press release, the program provides $50 per month to workers who have been laid off or furloughed during the pandemic and $75 per month on Tribal lands, along with a range of other assistance.

The bill would facilitate the approval of benefits by providing funding to help states participate in the National Lifeline Eligibility verifier and require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to coordinate with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to set up automated connections between the verifier and the National Accuracy Clearinghouse for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“We must fight to close the digital divide in our country and ensure that every American has access to essential technological resources, no matter their zip code or socioeconomic status," Gillibrand said in a statement.

"Rural and native families cannot wait any longer, and I’m going to fight to deliver emergency broadband funding to the communities that need it the most".

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