Written by the Press-Republican on May 29, 2020

Gillibrand supports funding of prevention, support programs

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) announced that she had co-signed a letter to Senate leadership to include funding for gun violence prevention and support services in the next COVID-19 relief package.

A press release from her office pointed to recent reports that show gun sales have increased and emergency health services have been strained since the pandemic began, and said school closures, unemployment, and housing and food insecurity had exacerbated community gun violence.

“During these challenging times, safety in our homes and communities is more important than ever,” Gillibrand said in a statement.

“The coronavirus outbreak has only amplified the gun violence epidemic in our country and it’s time we implement commonsense solutions to a problem that affects communities across the country.”

Gillibrand and Senate colleagues specifically requested $100 million in emergency Byrne-Justice Assistance Grant Program (Byrne-JAG) Funds to support community-based violence intervention programs in cities most impacted by gun violence as well as $150 million for a Community-Based Violence Intervention Fund.

Jones: Church reopening guidelines too restrictive

CHATEAUGAY LAKE — On Wednesday, Assemblyman D. Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay Lake) announced that he supports reopening churches beyond the 10-person limitation with strict social distancing guidelines.

In a statement, he said places of worship are often designed for large capacities and can easily socially distance more than 10 people.

“I have heard from many religious organizations regarding proposals they have to safely reopen their doors to their congregations, who desperately are searching for spiritual guidance in these difficult times,” Jones continued.

“Specifically, the Diocese of Ogdensburg has proposed having a percentage of the allowed full capacity of the building, requiring church attendees to wear masks and socially distance, and several other precautionary guidelines, instead of having a blanket 10-person policy.

“I believe approaches like these are more reasonable and effective than limiting services to 10 people or less.”

Stefanik votes for two bills in support of law enforcement

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Wednesday night, North Country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville) voted for the Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection Act and the Public Safety Officer Pandemic Response Act.

The former, which Stefanik cosponsored, would require the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to establish a program that would collect data on current and former law enforcement officer suicides at the local, state and federal level.

The Bureau of Justice Assistance currently pays $250,000 in death or disability benefits to injured public safety officers or their surviving beneficiaries if the officer is killed or disabled in the line of duty, according to a press release.

The Public Safety Officer Pandemic Response Act “would create a new presumption of eligibility for a public safety officer who contracted COVID-19 between January 20, 2020 and January 20, 2022.”

Both bills passed the House.

In a statement, Stefanik said law enforcement members work tirelessly to keep communities safe, and have not wavered throughout the public health crisis.

“These men and women have put their lives on the line and deserve our utmost support, and I will continue to advocate on their behalf in Congress.”

Jones: Thank seniors during Older Americans Month

CHATEAUGAY LAKE — On Thursday, Assemblyman D. Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay Lake) acknowledged Older Americans Appreciation Month and said he would continue to advocate for older New Yorkers.

“The seniors in our community have helped build and shape the North Country into a perfect place to live and raise a family,” Jones said in a statement.

“May is Older Americans Month, which gives us the opportunity to thank the older folks in our communities and recognize them for all that they’ve done.

“As we keep battling the ongoing public health crisis, it’s especially important that we do all that we can to support seniors, and I’ll continue to fight to ensure these New Yorkers can access the programs and services they rely on day in and day out.”

Jones sits on the Assembly Committee on Aging and, earlier this year, secured $200,000 in the Fiscal year 2021 budget to fund the Older Adults Technology Services’ Senior Planet North Country which offers computer literacy programs, free services and internet access to people aged 60 and older.

Stefanik votes for PPP Flexibility Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, North Country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville) voted for the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, which she cosponsored.

The legislation, which passed the House, would provide flexibility for small businesses who have utilized PPP loans by extending the period they can utilize the funds and receive forgiveness to 24 weeks, allowing more of the loan to be utilized for non-payroll expenses, ensuring access to payroll tax deferment for businesses who take the loans and providing flexibility on employment level requirements and loan maturity.

“I have worked with the SBA (U.S. Small Business Administration) and U.S. Treasury directly to provide clarity and make changes to this program, and I am fully supportive of the new flexibilities that this bill will provide,” Stefanik said in a statement.

“Our small businesses are the backbone of the North Country economy, and I will continue to advocate for solutions and support for them as they look to reopen and recover from this public health crisis.”

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