A roundup of news and initiatives from area state and federal lawmakers.
Kuhl cool to helping out illegal aliens
A New York state plan to provide driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants with valid foreign passports got a cool reception from Rep. Randy Kuhl, R-Hammondsport.
State officials say the plan will enhance security by creating records of immigrants' identities. But critics, including Kuhl, say those records could compromise security instead.
"This policy undermines the preventive measures that protect our country from national security threats," said Kuhl, whose district includes all of Ontario County except Geneva, and parts of Monroe County. "The Sept. 11, 2001 hijackers had at least 35 licenses, which helped them to rent cars and open bank accounts.”
Further, said Kuhl, the plan "encourages people to flood New York state and wreck havoc on our social services, schools and hospitals."
He urged New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer to reconsider the policy.
Clinton: FDA bill a positive step
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., lauded the Senate's passage last week of the Food and Drug Administration Reauthorization Act, which provides increased safety protections and reauthorizes the drug-user fees that help fund FDA activities.
"I am pleased that this legislation implements further mechanisms to ensure the safety of the prescription drugs for American consumers, because over the past few years I have raised concerns about the ways in which ideology, rather than science, influences the actions of this agency," Clinton said in a prepared statement. "With Senate passage, we are making progress toward restoring the FDA’s reputation as the gold standard for unbiased consumer protection."
Two provisos: Clinton opposes a sunset stipulation for certain pediatric drug assessments and the bill's exclusion of legislation that would allow competition in the biotech drug market to make generic drugs more widely available.
Winner: Spitzer not cleared yet
State Sen. George H. Winner, R-Elmira, isn't placated by Albany County District Attorney David Soares' report clearing Gov. Eliot Spitzer of wrongdoing in an alleged effort to discredit the Senate majority leader.
“The district attorney’s cautious and limited inquiry is far from the last word on misconduct within the Spitzer administration," said Winner, chairman of the Senate Investigations Committee. He said his committee would continue its probe of the case.
At issue are allegations that two Spitzer aides used state police to compile records — later released to a reporter — of Majority Leader Joseph Bruno’s use of state aircraft and police drivers on days he mixed public and political business.
"The public believes it’s important to know if Governor Spitzer has lied about his involvement," said Winner, whose district includes Yates County. "The Senate Investigations Committee will continue to pursue its investigation ... We have a constitutional obligation to be a check and a balance against a governor’s abuse of power."
Walsh lauded for college efforts
Rep. James Walsh, R-Syrcause, has received the William H. Natcher Award from the national Committee for Education Funding for his work to make college more affordable.
According to a statement from his office, Walsh’s role as ranking member of the House Labor – HHS Education Appropriations Subcommittee resulted in increased funding for college in his 25th Congressional District, which includes Wayne County and parts of Monroe County.
The Committee for Education Funding is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that works to obtain federal support for both public and private education.
Natcher, a Kentucky congressman from 1953-94, was a strong proponent of literacy.