Higgins Speaks On House Floor In Support Of West Valley Amendment

Brian Higgins

Congressman Brian Higgins spoke on the House floor in support of an amendment to restore funding for West Valley Clean-Up.  The video is available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olOoViGwDbc

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Congressmen Reed & Higgins Offer Amendment to Restore Funding for West Valley Clean-Up

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WNY Members Say Investments Now Save In the Long-Term

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U.S. Representatives Tom Reed (NY-29) and Brian Higgins (NY-27) have together introduced an amendment to increase funding designated for clean-up efforts at the West Valley site, a move aimed at protecting the greater Western New York community and saving money over the long-term.  The Reed-Higgins Amendment would restore $41 million to the non-defense environmental cleanup fund in H.R. 2354, the FY 2012 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill… 

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“Our amendment makes good sense from both a governmental and a financial stand point,” Reed commented. “In the midst of a debt-driven crisis, we must carefully prioritize every dollar we spend. Public safety facilities, especially those containing radioactive waste, must be at the top of the priority list.”

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“The Department of Energy has an obligation to clean up this nuclear waste and to protect local communities and Congress has an obligation to fund the program at levels sufficient to clean these sites thoroughly and expeditiously,” said Higgins, a member of the Great Lakes Task Force. 

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“The consequences would be environmentally and economically dire if this radioactive waste makes its way into the Great Lakes, the largest source of fresh water in the world.”

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The Reed-Higgins Amendment would take money for clean-up from two administrative accounts. “Instead of allowing this $41 million to disappear into the D.C. bureaucracy, our amendment shifts these tax dollars directly to the local sites where it is needed most,” Reed observed.

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“At the same time it responsibly addresses the environmental legacy of previous generations before it becomes a bigger problem for future generations,” added Higgins.

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Without the amendment, the appropriation will extend the first phase of the cleanup from 10 to 14 years.  With maintenance costs at $30 million per year, an additional 4 years means $120 million in additional necessary funding. That money would be saved by the passage of the Reed-Higgins Amendment. 

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The West Valley site was established in the 1960s in response to a federal call for efforts to commercialize the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel from power reactors.  While the site was in operation, approximately 640 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel was reprocessed. Reprocessing operations were halted between 1972 and 1976 to support facility modifications, but operations never resumed. The U.S. Department of Energy became responsible for the site through the West Valley Demonstration Project Act of 1980, legislation requiring the Department to solidify the high-level waste and dispose of it.

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Message From Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

A distracted driver is a bad driver.

Driver inattention and distraction has been the number one cause of motor vehicle crashes in New York State.

This week, Governor Cuomo signed a new law to strengthen enforcement against texting while driving.

Click here to see a video of Governor Cuomo discussing this important issue and signing the new law.  With this law and new regulations, drivers will face a fine of up to $150 and three points on their license for using handheld electronic devices while a vehicle is in motion.

Texting while driving can cause damage, injuries, and even death — and it’s all preventable.

Now we can help put a stop to this dangerous activity and make our roads safer for all New Yorkers.

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Poloncarz Announces Sales Tax Revenues Up Through May

Latest Data Shows Sales Tax Growth of More Than 5% Over Same Period Last Year

ERIE COUNTY, NY—Today Erie County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz reported that based on data and receipts transmitted by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance the County’s sales tax revenue through May 2011 is 5.31% greater (accrual basis) than the same period in 2010.

For the year-to-date through May 2011, the County share of sales tax is $161.97 million compared to $153.8 million for the same period in 2010, which translates to an $8.17 million increase in revenues over last year.  Importantly, this shows that for 2011 the County is presently on-budget for sales tax revenue. 

The 2011 Erie County Budget assumes $356.94 million in sales tax revenues over the course of the year, a 0.8% increase over the actual sales tax revenues in 2010 ($354.12 million).

“As we approach the mid-point of the year, Erie County’s sales tax receipts are more than 5% higher than the same period last year, reflecting a positive trend so far in 2011,” said Poloncarz.  “Considering this year’s budget counts on a nearly 1% increase over our actual sales tax revenues for 2010, through May 2011 we are on-budget.  And if this trend continues, we will exceed the budgetary projection.”

Poloncarz added, “Considering the County Executive set the tax levy $8 million higher than it should have been, based on the Legislature’s adjusted budget, the County is trending towards ending 2011 with a significant budgetary surplus.”

In Erie County, sales tax revenues comprise the single-highest revenue stream to the County and as such, are under constant scrutiny by the Comptroller’s Office. 

Recent factors such as substantial increases in wholesale fuel prices, consumer energy prices and the stronger Canadian dollars, which motivates Canadian shoppers to purchase goods in Erie County, have contributed to increased sales tax revenues in 2011.

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Congressman Higgins Pushes for Termination of National Flood Insurance Program

Brian Higgins

Miller-Higgins Amendment Would Remove Mandatory Federal Flood “Tax”

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) joined fellow House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee member Candice Miller (MI-10) in introducing an amendment to H.R. 1309, the Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2011, which would terminate the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). 

“The Flood Insurance Program is fundamentally flawed and economically broken,” said Higgins.  “In Western New York and other communities across the nation it levies a mandatory flood tax on homeowners who are at virtually no risk of flooding and see absolutely no benefit.  It hinders small business growth, negatively impacts property values and is driving up our national debt.  We need to lead with common sense and eliminate, rather than extend, this unfair program.”

A recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) lists the National Flood Insurance Program’s outstanding debt at $17.8 billion as of June 2011.

The bipartisan Miller-Higgins amendment would take the federal government out of the flood insurance business effective January 2012 and allow states to form regional insurance compacts to spread risk.  It continues to allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assist in their efforts in producing high quality flood maps, as well as assist states and the private sector to insure against flood loss.

Congressman Higgins has been vocal in his opposition to the flood insurance program.  Of the 34 billion which has been paid into the National Flood Insurance Program over the past thirty years, $15 billion has gone to Louisiana, despite the fact that Louisiana has paid less than $3 billion into the program.  Over the same time period, homeowners and businesses in Congressman Higgins’ district in Erie County, New York have paid $35 million into the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and received only $8 million back.  

Congressman Higgins has a long history of contesting flood maps in Western New York which mandate homeowners acquire expensive flood insurance.   A timeline of Higgins’ fight, which includes successfully removing several thousands of homes from designated flood zones, is available at: http://higgins.house.gov/flood_zone_timeline.pdf.

The U.S. Congress established the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) with the passage of the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968.  The program is administered by Federal Emergency Management Agency under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  H.R. 1309, the Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2011 reauthorizes the program for 5 years.

(To access video of Higgins remarks on the House floor today go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XJOtXmEJI4&feature=youtu.be or http://www.youtube.com/user/CongressmanHiggins)

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California Counties Talk of Cutting Ties to State

The proposed state of South California stretches inland.

So long, farewell, auf weidersehen, good-bye.  South California, hello.  Some officials in our 31st state are beginning to ask about the possibility of splitting off about 13 counties to create a new state, South California.

Natives here have long called this area the Inland Empire, a grand title for a stretch of cities about 50 miles east of Los Angeles. Now, a few political leaders are hoping this empire will lead a movement to break off from the State of California.

Frustrated by a state government he calls “completely dysfunctional” and “totally unresponsive,” a conservative Republican county supervisor is pushing a proposal for roughly a dozen counties in the eastern and southern parts of the nation’s third-largest state — conspicuously not including the heavily Democratic city of Los Angeles — to form a new state to be called South California.
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Studies Show AIDS Drugs Can Prevent iInfection

Two new studies done in three African countries have shown for the first time that AIDS drugs taken daily can cut by more than half a person’s chance of becoming infected with HIV through heterosexual intercourse.

The results, announced early Wednesday, provide more evidence that the drugs responsible for saving the lives of millions of HIV-infected people over the last 15 years may also be the most useful tool for preventing new infections.

In the last 12 months, other research has shown that antiretroviral drugs in either pills or vaginal gels can help prevent infection in specific groups — women and male homosexuals. The new studies show the strategy also works in the broad population of heterosexual men and women in Africa, the group by far most affected by the 30-year-old pandemic.
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Higgins Calls for Stop to Plan that Siphons Water from Great Lakes

NY Congressman Asks Ohio Governor to Veto Legislation

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27), a member of the Congressional Great Lakes Task Force, sent a letter urging Ohio Governor John Kasich to veto legislation in his state that would allow businesses to remove 5 million gallons of water a day from Lake Erie. 

Higgins, whose district borders Lake Erie, warned tapping into the Great Lakes would be devastating environmentally and economically, “The Great Lakes remain one of the most vital natural resources to not just our region but our nation.  The Lakes represent the largest surface source of fresh water on this planet and must not be taken for granted.  Furthermore, we are seeing, with the transformation of Western New York’s waterfront, the great economic opportunities made possible for regions bordering the Lakes.”

Higgins further questioned the action from an ethical and legal standpoint as the effort may violate the Great Lakes Compact approved by Congress in 2008.  The Compact is an agreement between the Governors of New York, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and the Premiers of Ontario and Quebec which ban new diversions of water from the Great Lakes basin and provide for coordinated conservation, use and data collection efforts.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 30 million people live in the Great Lakes basin.  The Great Lakes contain 95% of the America’s fresh water and supply drinking water to more than 30 million people in North America.  The Brookings Institute found that Buffalo would see economic gains between $600 million to $1.1 billion if the Great Lakes are restored.

Below is a copy of Congressman Higgins’ letter to Governor Kasich:

July 13, 2011

The Honorable John Kasich
Governor, State of Ohio
Riffe Center, 30th Floor
77 South High Street
Columbus, OH 43215-6117

Dear Governor Kasich:

It is with great concern that I read in the Buffalo News this morning of legislation that has been approved by the Ohio state legislature to permit businesses to remove 5 million gallons of water a day from Lake Erie. 

Western New York shares Lake Erie with your state, and the consequences of such large scale removal of water from the Great Lakes Basin could have devastating environmental and economic effects in my community.  Water levels in Lake Erie are already on the decline, and the additional large scale removal of water will lead to algae blooms and reduced water quality, negatively impact aquatic wildlife and the associated fishing industry, and reduce recreational boating and commercial shipping activity. Moreover, it will threaten the progress we are making in Buffalo toward reclaiming our waterfront as an engine of recreational and economic activity.

In New York we are about to adopt a far more reasonable limit by requiting a permit for the withdrawal of 100,000 gallons per day.  The Ohio bill, if adopted, would violate the spirit of the historic Great Lakes Compact and force a race to the bottom among the eight signatory states, which will result in an accelerated level of diversions and further reduce the water level in Lake Erie beyond the impact of Ohio businesses.  Such an outcome is unacceptable.

I urge you to conclude, as have your predecessors Governors Bob Taft and George Voinovich, that this proposal poses a danger to the health of our greatest regional asset, the Great Lakes, and I urge you to veto this dangerous legislation.

                                                                                Brian Higgins
                                                                                Member of Congress

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Congresswoman Hochul Reiterates Call To Cut Spending, While Protecting Medicare

 Washington, DC – Today, joined by fellow Congresswomen, Kathy Hochul reiterated her pledge to preserve and protect the long-term solvency of Medicare, while still looking for common sense solutions to cut our national debt.

 “The message that I take back from [my] district is we need to cut our spending,” said Congresswoman Hochul.  But “we [need to] look out for the American people.  We [need to] look out for our seniors.  We [need to] look out for our families.  I come from an area that [has] many Republicans, many Democrats, many independents, but I like to think that they’re reasonable people.  And I am not finding a whole lot of that here in Washington.”

 Congresswoman Hochul recognizes the strong need to cut national spending and has said everything must be on the table when it comes to reducing our national debt, including defense spending under the recommendations of the Pentagon, entitlement reforms, and revenue.  Just last Thursday, Hochul cut over $7 billion from the Department of Defense Appropriations Bill.  However, she has pledged not to transform Medicare into a voucher program.  Instead, she supports cutting the underlying costs of health care; ensuring the long-term solvency of the program that millions of American seniors have come to rely on.

 In order to reduce the costs of Medicare, Congresswoman Hochul supports leveraging the purchasing power of prescription drugs; removing waste, fraud and abuse; and implementing tele-health services to save time and costs.

 Congresswoman Hochul’s remarks are available for viewing at: http://www.youtube.com/user/RepKathyHochul

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Restaurant Bans Kids Under 6. Discrimination Or Smart Move?

At a PA restaurant it's no shirt, no shoes, no kids, no dice. (ThinkStock Photos)

At a PA restaurant it’s no shirt, no shoes, no kids, no dice.

Would you support a restaurant that did not welcome children under the age of 6?  What do you think: are kid-free restaurants a great idea or flat-out wrong?

At McDain’s Restaurant, in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, kids don’t eat free. And starting next week, they don’t get to eat at all.   Mike Vuick, owner of the Pittsburgh area eatery has just announced a ban on children under 6 at his casual dining establishment. 

After receiving noise complaints from customers about crying kids at neighboring tables, Vuick decided to institute the policy, which will go into effect July 16.
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Old Home Days Begin Today

Take advantage of the park and ride trolley!

It’s mid-July and  here in the Village of Williamsville we are once again celebrating Old Home Days. 

Click on the links below to see 2011

July 12, 2011
July 13, 2011
July 14, 2011
July 15, 2011
July 16, 2011

Where to Park ??
   * The dates for Old Home Days 2012 are set for
July 10th through the 13th

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