State Assemblyman John Ceretto, R-I-Lewiston, was quite active this past week.
Making the Case for Small Business Mandate Relief
Earlier this week, the Niagara USA Chamber held a forum at the Power Vista at the Niagara Power Project in Lewiston to discuss ways to reduce costs for local businesses and make New York a more competitive place to own and operate a company.
"Mandate relief is an important issue to me, because unfunded mandates are the cost-drivers that have resulted in New York homeowners paying some of the highest property taxes in the nation," Ceretto said. "Unfunded state mandates have a severe impact on our small businesses, school districts and local governments.
"All across the state our communities are being hit with unfunded mandates that put pressure on property taxpayers and local job creators. These mandates not only suck up diminishing local resources, they also place additional burdens on job creators. These unnecessary Albany rules and burdensome requirements are burying us under 49,000 pages of fiscally irresponsible state mandates.
"That's why I've joined my fellow lawmakers in Albany in supporting legislation to repeal the Wage Theft Prevention Act's notice requirement, eliminate the unemployment surcharge and end other business-crushing mandates to help promote job growth.
"I applaud the efforts of the Niagara USA Chamber and all the panelists at the event for shedding more light on this issue. I urge my colleagues to work together in this final week of session to pass unfunded mandate relief for small businesses and send the message that New York state is, indeed, open for business."
Animal Advocacy Day in Albany
Ceretto attended Animal Advocacy Day at the state Capitol. He was joined by a group of bipartisan lawmakers as well as pet and animal owners from across New York to call for the enactment of tougher animal-cruelty laws.
"Today's event highlighted the need to enact greater protections for New York pets and to enhance the state's ability to crack down on animal abuse," Ceretto said. "Our pets are members of the family in addition to serving as companion animals to those with disabilities. These furry friends need to be protected from abuse, and policies must be enacted, which will require psychological evaluations for those who harm animals."
Among the bipartisan legislation supported by Ceretto and others are measures to require anyone convicted of Buster's Law to undergo a psychiatric evaluation (A.1580/S.5084 and A.1567/S.3805) and be placed on a registry of animal abusers (A.1506/S.3804) as well as bills to increase penalties for animal fighting (S.3806 and A.4407/S.3237).
The event's timing was significant for the region, thanks to the recent announcement that Niagara County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will become a no-kill shelter for at least a day and have redoubled their efforts to increase pet adoptions at the shelter.
Earlier this year, Ceretto, State Sen. George Maziarz and other local officials called for an investigation into allegations of mistreatment of animals at the SPCA of Niagara. As a result of the investigation, a new board of directors was installed at the society, which has led to several policy changes at the SPCA of Niagara.
"I am excited that the Niagara County SPCA is taking steps to, hopefully, become a no-kill shelter and is working to expand their adoption program," Ceretto said. "I believe all efforts should be made to ensure the adoption of abandoned animals and the new board's actions should be commended."
Marijuana Not the Prescription for New York
Ceretto released a statement explaining his vote against Assembly bill 7347-B, which would legalize medical marijuana.
"The medical benefits of marijuana are not immediately clear, and the vague nature of this bill presents the possibility of abuse, placing our state's children at greater risk," he said. "There are several alternative medications that already provide the relief those with chronic illnesses need and deserve. The approval of this bill only opens up our society to unnecessary risk and is not the right solution for helping the seriously ill."
Expands Protections for Region's Youth
Finally, Ceretto helped pass legislation prohibiting children 16 years of age and under from using ultraviolet tanning beds and requiring 17-year-olds to have parental consent before using the beds. The purpose of the bill is to help reduce rates of skin cancer, the most common form of cancer in the U.S.
"Indoor tanning beds pose a greater risk for children and teens by boosting overall lifetime exposure to harmful UV rays, which over time make people more susceptible to melanoma and other skin cancers," Ceretto said. "By prohibiting tanning for those under 16, we are helping to reduce exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays and sending a clear message that indoor tanning poses real health consequences."