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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara

"A week of victories & close finishes"

ALBANY, June 17 -- We’re coming down the homestretch of this year’s regular legislative
session, which is scheduled to finish on Thursday, June 20, and so, sticking with the horse racing analogy, it’s a week when individual legislators try to bring their legislation across the wire and into the winner’s circle.

So I’ll be doing just that. For example, there are a number of bills that I’m either sponsoring or co-sponsoring that have been overwhelmingly approved by the Senate, with strong bipartisan support, but still need the OK from the Democratic leadership of the state Assembly before they can be delivered to the governor to be signed into law. Here’s just a few I’ll be pushing Assembly leaders to act on:

-- Senate Bill Numbers 3639 and 4652 would further outlaw and seek to deter the operation of clandestine methamphetamine labs. There were three meth lab discoveries in Chemung County alone last week. It’s alarming. Meth labs put police officers, first responders and local residents in harm’s way. Seven years ago, a state investigative report singled out the Southern Tier as a hotbed of meth-related criminal activity. The report also warned that unless New York adopted tougher new laws to combat the drug’s proliferation, meth would become a “dire public health and safety threat.” We better pay attention. Our laws need to keep pace with the goal of putting meth manufacturers out of business in New York State.

S.3639 would further outlaw the operation of meth labs by increasing the criminal penalties for the possession of meth manufacturing material and the unlawful manufacture of meth, implementing a series of increasingly severe felony offenses. S.4652 would strengthen state law to enhance the ability of local police and district attorneys to track and prosecute violations of restrictions on over-the-counter sales of cold medications that are key ingredients used to cook meth.

We need to send a strong message that we’re not going to tolerate the operation of meth labs. These Senate-approved measures aren’t the sole answer to meth’s resurgence across our region -- not by any means -- but they’re part of the needed response;

-- Senate Bill Number 1294 would put an end to the unfunded state mandates that impose unfair and unreasonable fiscal burdens on counties, cities, towns, villages and school districts. The legislation would ban the imposition of any future state mandates on local governments and school districts that are not accompanied by state funding to localities to pay for delivering the required programs and services. Mandate relief has to remain a state priority. Localities, school districts and local property
taxpayers facing tough fiscal challenges still have their hands tied by too many unfunded state mandates In short, this legislation delivers a clear, common-sense message: If the state mandates it, the state should pay for it; and

-- Senate Bill Number 2617 would enhance the incentive for counties to identify and prosecute Medicaid fraud. Current state law limits reimbursements to local governments for successfully prosecuting Medicaid fraud cases. Under this legislation, local governments would keep 100% of the local share of any successful Medicaid fraud prosecution or settlement, or 10% of the total recovery, whichever amount is greater. We keep reading story after story that Medicaid fraud still costs taxpayers millions upon millions of dollars. It’s a mismanaged system. Something needs to change. Huge amounts of upstate tax dollars go to support vast Medicaid spending statewide, especially in New York City, and we can’t keep footing the bill for mismanagement, misspending, fraud and waste.

The final week of the legislative session -- such as the days ahead -- usually produces some high drama on many key and prominent issues. It inevitably leads to a few victories. But more often than not it’s a week of close finishes that leaves you waiting for – and working toward -- the next opportunity.

Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara

Schuyler County Officials

Legislature Members:

Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Thomas Gifford, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison

Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field


Legislature Chairman

Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687

Legislature Members:

Michael A. Yuhasz, 535-4967

Doris L. Karius, 546-5544

Barbara Halpin, 594-3683

Glenn R. Larison, 594-3385

Thomas M. Gifford, 535-9517

Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen 481-0482

Stewart Field, Watkins Glen 535-2335

County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133

Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222

Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222

County Treasurer: Margaret Starbuck, 535-8181

District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383


State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County

Sen. Charles E. Schumer

United States Senate
313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3201
DC Phone: 202-224-6542
DC Fax: 202-228-3027
Email Address:

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand

United States Senate
478 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
DC Phone: 202-224-4451

State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)

Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Phone: (518) 455-2091
Fax: (518) 426-6976

Assemblyman Christopher Friend -- Chemung, Schuyler, Tioga
Room 720, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
Phone: (518) 455-4538


© The Odessa File 2011
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869