Category Archives: View from the Assembly

View from the Assembly, by Assemblyman Will Barclay

This past week, Gov. Cuomo presented his 2014 State of the State address.

For the first 30 minutes of the approximately one-and-a-half hour speech, the Governor reviewed what he saw as successes during his first three years in office.  During this part of his speech, his main point was that state government, which has often been labeled by the media as dysfunctional, is now working again thanks namely to his leadership.

In some cases, he has a point.  For example, we have passed several on-time budgets which were a rarity under previous administrations.  In addition, over the past three years, state spending has been held in check (although it might be argued that spending was held in check due to economic realities and not because of strong political leadership. Nevertheless, increases have been kept under 2 percent).  Cuomo also stated while great strides have been made to improve the Upstate economy, more needs to be done.  As far as “more needs to be done,” I strongly agree with the Governor.

It was at this point in his speech that the Governor pivoted away from what he labels as his successes to what he wants to accomplish this year.  I was pleased that providing tax relief was his number one priority.  If we are ever going to revive the Upstate economy, the first order of business needs to be to lower the state’s tax burden on its citizens.  In his address, the Governor proposes to:

** Eliminate the Corporate franchise tax for Upstate manufacturers;

** Speed up the phase-out of 18-A, a surcharge on utilities that is passed on to consumers; and,

** Freeze property taxes for two years by having the state provide a personal income tax credit to homeowners if localities stay within the 2 percent property tax cap and take steps to share or consolidate services.

These proposals are a good start in helping New York shed its reputation as the highest-taxed state in the nation.  Indeed, I would like to go further and address why our state taxes–primarily, our property taxes–are so high.  To provide long-term property tax relief we need to address the problem of state mandates on school districts and localities, our Medicaid system, and equitable state funding for schools.

Following his call to lower taxes, the Governor then stated that there is no greater economic development program for our state than our education system.  In many respects, he is right.  A raise in socioeconomic status begins with a quality education.  In order to improve our state’s education system, the Governor proposes a $2 billion bond referendum to provide capital for the state to improve technology in the classroom.  In his speech, he also proposed bonuses of for teachers who are deemed “highly effective.”  I think both of these proposals have merit and look forward to seeing more information regarding them.

The Governor concluded his speech by saying generally that we need to restore public trust in state government.  It would be hard for anyone to argue with this proposition in light of the rash of legislators who have been accused of public corruption as of late.  To combat this problem, Cuomo calls for, among other things, public financing of campaigns. Unfortunately, it seems lost on the Governor that the large majority of legislators who have been accused of corruption are from NYC–a place where they have public financed campaign (albeit not for state offices).  Indeed, some of the alleged corruption actually arose from NYC’s system of public financing of campaigns.  Simply put, public financing of campaigns will not help restore the public’s trust on government.

Obviously, there were several more proposal set forth in his State of the State address and I look forward to hearing more details about them over the next few weeks.  I remain optimistic that 2014 can be a very successful legislative year for New York state.

Correction: In the column dated Dec. 30, 2013, there was an error.  It stated there were roughly 1.6 billion people that have enrolled in Obamacare when it should have read 1.6 million enrollees.  I apologize for the mistake.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office.  My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or by calling 598-5185.  You can also friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.

 

View from the Assembly, by Assemblyman Will Barclay

The governor recently signed a number of bills into law.

I wanted to take some time this week to make you aware of a few new ones that will or have recently become effective.

Military Tax Exemption

A6223 exempts members of the military upon returning to New York from having to pay New York sales tax on vehicles that they purchased while stationed in another state — provided they paid sales tax in the other state. The law became effective immediately. I was pleased to co-sponsor this measure in the Assembly.

New York residents who purchase a vehicle outside of New York state are required to pay sales tax upon registering the vehicle. For those who served in the military, this proved problematic.

Military service members often keep their residency and driver’s license in their home state while serving because they intend to someday return to their home state.

Unfortunately, in doing so, if a service member kept their New York residency and purchased a vehicle while stationed in another state, they would be obligated to pay New York’s sales tax on that vehicle upon their return to New York – even if they paid sales tax in another state.

This meant a veteran returning to New York State may have had to pay sales tax on their vehicle twice. The new law prevents this.

NY Farm Produce at State-run Facilities

I was pleased to support A5102 in the Assembly, which supports local agriculture.

This law requires hospitals, prisons and other state agencies to buy more local produce. It requires the state to put in place better purchasing and tracking systems to make this possible.

The law already favored that state agencies purchase locally produced food, but this new law gets more specific in terms of purchasing systems and reporting those purchases.

It authorizes the commissioners of general services and agriculture and markets to develop regulations to “establish guidelines to increase purchases of New York food products; publish the guidelines on the Office of General Services website; and provide for monitoring and implementation…”

It also requires annual reports be made to the legislature and the governor so the public can better track these purchases.

Food Establishment Inspection

Results to be Posted Online

A2116-C requires the state Department of Health to make available on its website all public food service establishment inspection results for the most recent three years.

The law also requires local health departments that maintain a website to post a link to the state Department of Health website where inspection results are available. This will become effective next year.

Animal Cruelty

A5113-A gives district attorneys the ability to seek a reasonable cost for the care of seized animals from individuals convicted of certain animal cruelty crimes on behalf of impounding organizations.

According to the law, “animal cruelty and animal fighting are serious crimes in New York state.

“Because crimes against animals often involve the seizure of the victimized animals, these cases … involve arranging for the housing and care of the animals while the criminal case is pending.

Private organizations, such as shelters, humane societies and societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals have traditionally assisted law enforcement agencies by providing care for these animals with little or no reimbursement.”

I was pleased to support this in the Assembly.

If you have any questions, comments or would like to be added to my mailing list, send a letter to 200 N. Second St., Fulton, New York 13069, or an e-mail to barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or call 598-5185.

You can also friend me, Assembly Barclay, on Facebook.

View from the Assembly, by Assemblyman Will Barclay

The Tax Relief Commission issued its final report this month.

The commission was established by the governor and was charged with providing recommendations to cut $2 billion in state taxes during a three-year period.

Included in its final report were property tax relief recommendations the governor will consider.

Three property tax relief recommendations were outlined. They include a property tax freeze, a circuit breaker and a tax credit for manufacturers.

The commission recommends freezing residential property taxes for two years but only for jurisdictions within the property tax cap; property tax relief will only continue into a second year if the local government adopts reforms that reduce costs — such as sharing services or consolidating.

The circuit breaker would establish a personal income tax credit for taxpayers whose real property taxes exceeds a certain percentage of their household gross income.

Manufacturers would receive a tax credit and specifically, Upstate manufacturers would benefit.

While I’m pleased to see this conversation taking place, I’m disappointed by the lack of recommended budget cuts or long-term cost-savings measures included for localities or school districts.

The reason we have such high taxes is New York has a spending problem. For example, last year we spent 42 percent of our total budget on Medicaid, yet we continue to offer several coverage options within the framework of Medicaid that other states do not offer, such as dental care.

Medicaid costs are expected to grow only because last year, the state predicted 400,000 additional people would qualify for Medicaid due to changes caused by Obamacare — the giant federal mandate that requires people purchase health insurance.

In fact, according to news articles published recently, out of the roughly 1.6 billion who have enrolled in Obamacare, 1.46 million actually signed up for Medicaid.

The latest report contains only temporary fixes and does not fully consider that the state needs to cut spending. Tax freezes, tax credits and tax rebates are temporarily helpful but we need more permanent fixes — ones that will reduce the property tax load for New Yorkers for years to come.

We also need to stop passing state mandates onto localities. I sponsor legislation that would prohibit new unfunded mandates from passing the State Legislature (A1570).

Also, the report encourages consolidation, but we’ve budgeted for consolidation and shared services in the past. This year’s state budget provided $79 million in grants for local governments to fully explore and utilize shared services and consolidations.

Those resources have been largely underused and many times, the voting public rejects consolidations. We need to provide more direct tax relief to small businesses, but this latest list does not make recommendations for small business tax relief either.

If you have any questions, comments or would like to be added to my mailing list, send a letter to 200 N. Second St., Fulton, New York 13069, or an email to barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or call 598-5185. You can also friend me, Assembly Barclay, on Facebook.

Views from the Assembly, by Will Barclay

On any given week, tens of thousands of unsolicited checks end up in New York residents’ mailboxes — making these checks easy targets for criminals looking to capitalize on someone else’s line of credit.

Last month, the governor signed a bill into law that will put the onus on those issuing checks if they are lost or get into the wrong hands.

I was pleased to support this in the Assembly. Hopefully, this measure will reduce the volume of checks like this and better protect consumers from fraud.

The bill, A3601, which became effective last month, aims to protect consumers from liability for unauthorized use of unsolicited convenience checks. These checks are mailed by credit card companies to account holders in the hopes that consumers take out more credit.

Many of people throw them out. It’s best to shred or destroy them somehow if you do not intend to use them.

The problem with the checks is consumers do not know when they are mailed. A few things can happen and do: the mail gets into the wrong hands and then, the check is cashed, or they are stolen if consumers simply place them in the recycle bin.

In the past, unless a consumer acted quickly and was able to convince the credit card company the checks were not cashed by the cardholder, the consumer is held liable.

With this new law, companies would be held responsible, not the consumer. It amends the general business law and adds a section, clearly stating that consumers sent such convenience checks by credit or debit card issuers shall not be liable for the use of such checks unless the consumer has accepted the check.

Hopefully those convenience checks will be reduced with this measure.

There are a number of ways scammers can infiltrate our finances. It’s important to remain vigilant and help loved ones to do the same.

Good guidance and tips, as well as scam alerts can be found on the State’s Division of Consumer Affair’s website at https://www.dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection/.

The site also contains good information on preventing identity theft. Unfortunately, seniors are unwitting targets of many types of scams.

A good number to keep handy is the Division of Consumer Affair’s phone number, (518) 474-8583 for guidance or assistance on consumer matters. Residents may also file a complaint there as well, and be placed on the Do Not Call list.

If you have any questions, comments or would like to be added to my mailing list, please sent a letter to 200 N. Second St., Fulton, 13069, or an e-mail to barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or call 598-5185.  You can also friend me, Assembly Barclay, on Facebook.

View from the Assembly — let’s fix the tax code

It is widely understood that New York state is a high-tax state.

New York state citizens are acutely aware of this fact. It is hardly surprising then that the governor, being the politician that he is, has appointed not one, but two, commissions to examine how to reform New York’s tax system.

The first commission he appointed, with the Orwellian name, “New York State Tax Reform and Fairness Commission,” released its report last month. Notwithstanding its name, the report contains some good ideas on how New York should reform its tax structure.

The report begins by acknowledging we are a high-tax state.  In the 2012-13 fiscal year, state and local governments levied about $146 billion in taxes.

Of that $146 billion, $64 billion is attributable to state taxes and the remaining $82 billion came from local tax collections.

Of the $82 billion raised in local taxes, $49 billion was raised through property taxes.

Although the report raises the issue of local taxes, the majority of its suggested changes deal with reforming our state’s tax system, not our local tax systems.

First, the report acknowledges the state’s use and sales tax system is antiquated and needs to be modernized. I agree with this conclusion.

At the very least, we need to simplify the system. I have heard from many small businesses about how difficult it is for them to understand exactly on what they need to collect sales tax.

For example, if you sell bagels, you do not charge sales tax on plain bagels, but if you toast it, slice it and put butter on it, then you must charge sales tax.

There are all sorts of inane examples along these lines that businesses encounter on a regular basis. The report states the structure is “unduly complex” and makes “voluntary compliance more difficult, increasing the cost of doing business in the state and creates financial risk for vendors who ‘get it wrong’ and adds to the government’s tax administration costs.”

If nothing else, in the upcoming legislative session, we should make revenue neutral changes to our sales tax system to take out much of the complexity that has arisen over the years.

Second, the report also acknowledges our state’s estate tax has not kept pace with changes made to federal estate tax laws.

As characteristic of our high-tax reputation, New York is one of only 17 states that has an estate tax. Moreover, there are only two states that have estate tax exemption amounts lower than New York’s $1 million amount.

I was pleased the report notes New York’s estate tax may be a factor in taxpayer migration from New York to states without an estate tax.

In Central New York, we have seen many change their residency to Florida (a state without an estate tax) in effort to avoid NY’s estate tax.

It is hard enough competing with Florida on the basis of the weather. We shouldn’t also be giving people an economic incentive to move there.

To try to alleviate this problem, the commission recommends in its report to raise New York’s exemption from $1 million to $3 million.

This is a start.  However, I would rather see us eliminate our estate tax entirely or, at the very least, match the exemption amount to the federal amount which is $5.25 million.

Third, the commission recommends an accelerated phase out of the 18-a surcharge. This surcharge is a 2 percent assessment on electric, gas, water and steam utilities.

Like all taxes on businesses, they are passed on to the consumers. This assessment is no different. It places an additional burden on New York families and businesses because we already pay high utility bills notwithstanding our taxes.

In last year’s budget, the legislature and governor agreed to phase out this charge over a three-and-a-half-year period. As mentioned, the commission recommends phasing this out more quickly because it has such a detrimental effect, particularly on businesses.

I agree and indeed sponsor legislation to fully repeal this surcharge.

The commission also recommends many other changes to our state’s tax code. Some of its other recommendations I agree with, some I do not.

However, I am pleased at least there is some focus being brought to what is a primary economic problem in our state.

As mentioned above, the governor also has appointed a second commission to look at our state’s tax system.

Apparently, this second commission is supposed to focus on coming up with proposals to relieve New Yorkers from our high property tax burden.

I look forward to seeing its proposals and hope that they will be broad based.

Solutions will have to get at the reasons why we have high property taxes in this state and not simply shift the burden of our taxes from one group of citizens to another.

I will provide an update once their report becomes available.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office.

My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, 13069, by email at barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or by calling 598-5185.

You can also friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.

View from the Assembly, by Will Barclay

Common Core — the new academic standards adopted by 46 states intended to make students ready for college and careers—was put into motion for grades K-12 this school year.

The State Board of Regents adopted Common Core in 2010 in part to secure more federal aid for education. State assessments are now aligned with Common Core.

Beginning this September, teachers in most public school districts across New York were required to teach this brand new curriculum known as the Common Core.

According to the mission statement of CommonCore.org, its aim is to “provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them.

The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.”

The mission is well intended but, as with many federal mandates tied to federal dollars, there are troubling aspects of Common Core.

Some critics are calling it ObamaCore — a one-size-fits-all model for education. Others are in support of Common Core and want to see it work.

Whether for or against, the consensus is the State of New York could have done a better job implementing these sweeping curriculum changes that affect all grade levels and build on the previous year’s knowledge.

Last week, I hosted a forum in Baldwinsville with some of my Assembly colleagues from throughout the state. We wanted to give the public a chance to submit testimony and provide us with their thoughts on this program. I attended not only as a Legislator, but also as a parent of a fifth- and eighth-grader.

For me, the forum was an opportunity to learn of the concerns of  other parents, teachers, administrators and even a young student. I appreciate all who attended and took time from their schedules to speak and/or submit testimony.

There was a variety of testimony. I’d be hard-pressed to summarize all sentiments in this space but there were many concerns. One thing is clear though: The State Education Department has put the burden on localities to make this work this year, with no phase-in period.

Though New York adopted Common Core in 2010, it wasn’t until late this summer that curriculum became available for teachers through the form of teaching modules. Many at the forum said they received the modules too late to adequately prepare lessons from them. Administrators said they had little time for staff development on the curriculum overhaul.  Also, staff development is expensive and districts say they are strapped for cash and not getting the federal or state aid to cover expenses associated with all of the mandates and teacher evaluations. The public can view the curriculum at http://www.engageny.org/

Parents who testified said their children are struggling and suffering with low grades and low self-esteem. Other teachers and parents are concerned with having scripted lessons and measuring a student’s ability based on tests. Some worry about students falling behind and the overall graduation rates.

There seemed to be variations too at the district level. Some districts are adhering strictly to the teaching modules while other teachers and school districts are more loosely following the teaching modules or, in some cases, are preparing their own teaching modules.

Regardless of teaching methods, students will be tested on the same material with the same exams, and their understanding of Common Core.  And teachers are being evaluated based on their ability to teach the brand new curriculum and student test scores.

As you can see, this is complicated. Further dialogue is needed so that either the Legislature or the State Education Department can respond with helpful solutions. Most people agree with having higher standards, however, I too am concerned about the way in which these standards are being implemented. Clearly, we need to slow down. Perhaps we need to delay testing, to give all grades a better chance of learning the material until 2015. Maybe we need to reduce the amount of testing or at least the stakes involved for the students and teachers—so that exam scores are not the sole judge of students’ knowledge and teachers’ ability. As we know, and science has supported with multiple studies, not all students learn the same way.

I invite you to watch some of the testimony recorded at the forum. There are videos from five different panels available to view.

Here are the links. I would invite you to also participate in this dialogue and encourage you to submit letters or emails to my office on this so I can share them with leaders in Albany and the State Education Department.

** Opening Remarks and Superintendents –http://youtu.be/MJUH0xUaoW0

** Administrators/SUNY/Chamber – http://youtu.be/Mu9QCP4TDs8

** Teachers (Part 1) – http://youtu.be/T79OyasE-9k

** Teachers (Part 2) – http://youtu.be/DLJgGQwznr4

** Parents and Student – http://youtu.be/GuMy254Za9U

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, contact my office by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, 13069, by e-mail at barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or by calling 598-5185. You can also friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.

Barclay discusses referendum on casino gambling

Often issues arise in the state legislature where there are meritorious arguments on either side of the legislation.  This holds true for the state-wide referendum championed by Governor Cuomo that, if passed, would change our State Constitution to allow, among other things, the siting of four commercial casinos in Upstate New York.  Opponents of the measure argue that an expansion of casino gambling should not be part of any state economic development plan and that any expansion will also increase crime and gambling addiction.  Proponents of the expansion, including the Governor, claim that gambling is already all around us and they question why New York should miss out on the development of an industry that is attracting tourism and visitors to other states such as Nevada and New Jersey.

Currently, the New York Constitution prohibits all forms of gambling in the state other than pari-mutuel betting on horse races, bingo and lottery.  However, because of creative interpretations of the law and federal legislation, namely the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, we have three Indian run casinos in New York and a number of privately run facilities that operate video lottery gaming.  Further, gambling has expanded rapidly throughout the United States. Twenty three states have commercial casinos.  Casinos also exist north of the border in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

In order to amend the State Constitution to allow the expansion of commercial gambling in New York, legislation to do so has to be passed by two successive legislatures and then put to a statewide referendum.  The state legislature passed legislation to do so in 2012 and this year.  The decision will now be in front of the public in November. Voters will decide in a referendum.

If this referendum was simply about legalizing certain gambling in New York State, the argument for or against the referendum would be clear.  However, the gambling legislation gets into much more detail.  In effort to resolve various disputes between the state and certain Indian tribes, the legislation, if approved by referendum, would only allow the development of casinos in certain areas of upstate New York.  In essence, zones are created where the expansion of gambling would not be allowed so as not to compete with the already existing Indian owned casinos.  Onondaga, Oswego and Jefferson Counties all fall within exclusivity zones so any expansion of gambling could not take place within these counties’ borders due to reached agreements.

In addition, the gambling legislation sets out the taxes the state shall receive from each of the new casinos.  All taxes and fees assessed would be paid into the commercial gaming revenue fund.  The moneys of the fund would be distributed so that 80% of the revenues would be appropriated for elementary and secondary education, 10% of the revenues would be appropriated equally between the host municipality and the host county, and the final 10% of the revenues would be appropriated among the other counties in the region where the casino is located for the purpose of real property relief and education assistance.

During the last two legislative sessions, I voted against the gambling legislation and plan on voting against the referendum when it comes to a vote in November.  In general, I do not believe we should be using gambling as an economic development tool.  In addition, for the region I represent, the expansion of gambling will provide limited benefit and, in return, our area  would still be subject to the negative impacts that come with increased gambling.  However, if you believe gambling is here to stay, it is already all around, and that the state needs to settle its issues with various Indian tribes in the state, you should consider supporting the referendum.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office.  My office can be reached by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or by calling (315) 598-5185.  You can also friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.

 

 

View from the Assembly, by Will Barclay

Veterans’ Day is a time we honor our veterans and thank them for their service.

We pause to reflect on their lives and appreciate how their sacrifices keep us safe and protect our country and our freedoms. I’ve always believed that New York state should do more for our veterans. We can’t rely solely on the federal government’s benefit structure to honor our state veterans’ service.

This year, the state Legislature enacted a number of bills. Many seek to provide better access to services, education and jobs. I wanted to highlight a few that recently became effective or were signed into law that I supported in the Assembly.

 Hire a Vet Tax Credit

This year’s budget created a tax credit for employers who hire veterans. Beginning in 2015, those who hire a veteran who has been discharged on or after Sept. 11, 2001 will receive a tax credit equal to 10 percent of each veteran’s salary or $5,000, whichever is less. The credit increases to 15 percent for the employer if the veteran is disabled.

A Veteran’s Employment Portal was added last year. This offers a one-stop career priority service to veterans and their eligible spouses, which can be accessed at http://www.veterans.ny.gov/.

 Driver ID Mark

The Department of Motor Vehicles now provides a special mark on a driver’s license or non-driver identification card indicating that the holder is a veteran of the U.S. armed forces, as long as veterans provide proof, such as Form DD-214. This law came about because it is sometimes difficult for veterans to carry original paperwork to obtain health services, or discounts that businesses offer to veterans, for example.

With this mark, if the veteran has their license, they can easily receive a discount at a restaurant or through a service provider.  I was pleased to support this during our last session. It passed unanimously in the Assembly and I’m glad it went into effect last month.

 Mental Health Portal

Earlier this year, the state Legislature passed a bill requiring the state Division of Veterans’ Affairs to provide better access to services concerning suicide prevention, peer outreach, and other support services.

This bill was signed into law in June and created portals along every page within the state Veteran’s Affairs website.

This builds on last year’s legislation which created an “interagency plan” to address the needs of returning veterans. I was pleased to support both in the Assembly.

On every Division of Veteran’s Affairs webpage, there is a crisis hotline number to call. I recognize that this is a small step in helping veterans, but having the ability to find help at someone’s hour of need can save lives and pain for families.

Combat-related mental illness has been and still is a critical issue for American war veterans. According to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, at least one in three Iraq veterans and one in nine Afghanistan veterans will face mental health issues like depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. Multiple tours have increased the stress of combat. Having quick access at a critical time can help save a life.

 Veterans Speakers in Classrooms

This year the Legislature passed a bill (A1601-A) that would coordinate efforts to get veterans into classrooms to talk about their military experiences.

The Division of Veterans’ Affairs has been directed to distribute information to school districts listing available speakers willing to discuss their experiences. This is designed to teach school-aged children about what military life is like and to bring a living history to the classrooms.

Many schools already invite veterans in for education, but this would formalize such a program and enable schools to, hopefully, have access to more veterans willing to speak to classes. This was signed by the governor in July.

More information on any of these services can be found at the New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs at http://www.veterans.ny.gov/

While legislative changes and state programs can assist veterans, so can individuals by showing appreciation. Veterans deserve our respect and admiration for all they have done.

Whether it’s just saying “thank you” to one that you know or meet, or joining a more organized effort, all helps the sacrifices seem more worthwhile.

Locally, a group called Thank a Service Member was created to do just that. Since its inception in 2006, it has held a number of locally based events and has grown to a national organization. To learn more, visit http://www.thankaservicemember.org/.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, contact my office by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or by calling 598-5185.  You can also friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.