WILLIAMSVILLE, NY – Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Michael O’Rielly today called on New York State to stop diverting fees collected for 9-1-1 services during a tour of the Niagara County 9-1-1 facilities. The FCC has found that New York diverts approximately 41% of fees that are collected from consumers on their phone bills, which are meant to be used to improve 9-1-1 emergency communications systems, to its General Fund.
In 2012, Congress passed the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, which allocated funding for states to upgrade emergency systems to next generation 9-1-1, although New York State is not eligible to receive these funds. Federal funds are not available to states that divert the fees collected on phone bills, leaving New York with an outdated and unreliable emergency system, especially in rural areas.
“It is no surprise that New York’s corrupt Governor is diverting important funds meant to improve 9-1-1 services into a taxpayer funded slush fund,” said Collins. “Governor Cuomo is putting the lives of New Yorkers in danger, specifically in rural areas, and we are calling him out on his shady tactics. We must prioritize the safety of our communities and improving these services is absolutely essential to keeping our residents safe.”
“It is always impressive to get to see dedicated public safety officials in action, especially down the street from where I grew up,” said O’Reilly. “But, it is also a stark reminder that these officials and the people in need of emergency services deserve better. Next generation 9-1-1 will provide sophisticated features that will help save lives. Getting there will take the appropriate level of funding, by some estimates upwards of $2.2 billion. Yet, the state effectively steals 41% out of its 9-1-1 coffers for other purposes. We have to demand answers to the question: what could be more important than this life saving technology? State leaders should know that my engagement with New York on this issue is just beginning.”
“The diversion of 9-1-1 fees away from Niagara County by the State of New York is a blatant misuse of funds generated from emergency service calls,” said New York State Senator Ortt. “These, funds should be going toward the upgrading of current emergency service systems, not toward subsidizing Albany’s spending habits. This is why I am a proud co-sponsor of legislation requiring the state to provide local governments with an increased percentage of the fees collected from emergency service calls. Funds generated from the use of local utilities should immediately be put back into those localities.”
“Between the years of 2013 and 2017, New York State has collected more than $10.2 million dollars in wireless phone surcharges from Niagara County residents,” said Niagara County Sheriff Jim Voutour. “A total of only $2.2 million dollars has been returned to Niagara County 911 in those five years to improve operations.”
“It is appalling to think our Governor is misappropriating desperately needed monies from our 911 call centers that our citizens depend upon during life-threatening emergencies,” said David Godfrey, Chairman Niagara County Public Safety Committee. “Our 911 public safety communications specialists respond with services and resources that save lives and property of citizens in desperate need of help. The work of these unseen and often unrecognized first responders is invaluable to the citizens of Niagara County in emergency situations. We place our trust in these individuals each and every day to provide assistance under the most stressful of situations. The dispatchers of the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office handled 317,320 calls in 2017. This breaks down to 26,443 calls per month and 869 calls per day. Of these 317,320 calls in 2017, 102,727 were emergency (911) phone calls. Although our dispatchers are highly trained in the job that they do, without up-to-date technologies to assist them, our taxpayers are left with a substandard response to their call for help. As elected officials and caring human beings, we find this totally unacceptable, and call upon Governor Cuomo to correct this injustice by using the 911 funds 100% for the purpose the tax was intended…the safety of our citizens.”
During the tour, Collins, O’Rielly and local elected officials saw firsthand the work that is done to respond to the emergency needs of Western New Yorkers and how fee diversion is impacting services. If New York does not stop diverting fees, Collins and O’Rielly committed to exploring ideas at a federal level to bring these practices to an end.
WILLIAMSVILLE, NY – Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Michael O’Rielly today met with local elected officials to discuss the lack of high-speed internet in rural communities across New York’s 27th Congressional District.
“I thank Commissioner Mike O’Rielly, a Lockport native, for coming to my district to discuss the FCC initiatives that will help provide our communities with increased broadband capabilities,” said Collins. “This day in age, the lack of access to broadband we see in Western New York is astonishing. We must make sure our rural communities have the resources they need to run a business, complete an education, or simply shop online. Government officials and the private sector must work collaboratively in order to remove the regulatory barriers that are standing in the way of increased access.”
“I appreciated hearing directly from New York lawmakers about the need for broadband throughout the state of New York,” said O’Rielly. “Last year, New York received up to $170.4 million from the FCC Universal Service Fund to ensure the entire state was connected. I will be monitoring how this buildout process advances and expect state leaders are able to deliver on the promises it made when it took this funding.”
Collins’ district is 65% underserved by high-speed internet, with 3% completely unserved. This is largely due to burdensome regulations on internet service providers that deter them from expanding service to rural areas.
Throughout his time in Congress, Collins has worked to correct discrepancies in current law to make sure companies who build the groundwork to provide everyday Americans with internet service are able to continue expansion. O’Rielly will continue to provide the necessary oversight to make sure state lawmakers are properly utilizing funding and taking action to expand broadband access.
“In March of 2012, the Niagara-Orleans Regional Alliance (NORA) initiated a project to bring high-speed, reliable, and affordable Internet to every home across our two counties,” said Lynne M. Johnson, Chairman Orleans County Legislature and David E. Godfrey, Chairman Niagara County Public Safety Committee. “By the end of 2017, the Governor’s New York State Broadband Program office distributed ½ billion dollars to qualified Internet vendors, with the promise to deliver that service to nearly 99% of the residents across both counties. NORA will continue to stand guard to ensure the vendors keep their commitment to cover our most rural areas. Through the vigilant efforts of Congressman Collins and Commissioner O’Rielly, and the additional federal funding they have work so diligently to secure, our taxpayers will finally cross the threshold into the 21st century. Our fight will not be over until the last house with the last child gets the Internet service they not only need but deserve.”
“The GLOW counties appreciate the outreach and efforts by our partners in the federal government , Congressman Collins and Commissioner O’Rielly, to help us achieve a close to 98% rural broadband reality that leverages public and private resources to deliver reliable and 21st century internet speed to some of our hardest to serve areas,” said Jay Gsell, Genesee County Manager. “While said ‘Last Mile’ residents and businesses are ready and waiting for the extension of high speed internet to their ‘Front Door,’ getting there has been an ongoing struggle. Hopefully the combined efforts of our local governments, federal partners, state government and the private sector internet providers will get us to the finish line.”
"Rural broadband expansion is a big issue for our residents,” said Ian M. Coyle, County Administrator. The notion that the state, and this county, is 100% covered is a misnomer and we need additional deployments and resource expansion into our persistently underserved and unserved areas."
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today released the following statement condemning Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive order to restore voting rights to more than 35,000 New York felons on parole. Current New York State election laws bar convicted felons the right to vote until they have completed their parole.
“I am appalled by Governor Cuomo’s actions today in what is so clearly a political maneuver to score him some more votes in a tough primary. Governor Cuomo’s corrupt tactics are on full display, as is his desperation to win over the liberal left. I strongly condemn the Governor’s unjust and undemocratic executive order, which undermines the law-abiding voters of New York State.”
WILLIAMSVILLE, NY - Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today released the following statement announcing the winner, runner up, and honorable mentions of the 2018 Congressional Art Competition.
Congressman Collins joined participating high school students and their families at the Roz Steiner Art Gallery, located on the Genesee Community College campus, for a brief reception before announcing this year's winner.
“Each year I look forward to recognizing all the talented student artists throughout New York’s 27th Congressional District,” Collins said. “This is a longstanding tradition that’s been in place since 1982, celebrating the creative talents of high school students across the nation. While each of the 44 artwork submissions were impressive, our competition judges had a tough decision to make, but ultimately selected Kiara Cherry, from Batavia High School, as this year's winner. I look forward to welcoming Kiara and her family to Washington D.C. to join high school artists from throughout the nation.”
This year's Congressional Art Competition displayed the artwork of 44 high school students from twelve high schools within New York's 27th Congressional District. The 2018 winner, Kiara Cherry, will receive a round trip flight to Washington, D.C., where she will join hundreds of high school artists nationwide to see their artwork displayed in the U.S. Capitol for one year.
2018 Congressional Art Competition Winners
Kiara Cherry, Batavia High School
Tara Clattenburg, Batavia High School
Stephanie Hoy, Batavia High School
Sophia Dinehart, Batavia High School
Congressman Chris Collins would like to extend a special thanks to Genesee Community College and President James Sunser, the art competition judges, Roz Steiner Art Gallery Director Mary Jo Whitman and Associate Professor of Fine Arts Heather Jones, and all of the teachers, parents and students who participated in this year's Congressional Art Competition for making this event a success.
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today signed a letter that will be sent next week to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer urging him to put an end to Canada’s Class 7 pricing program and dairy tariff walls during ongoing NAFTA negotiations. Canada’s pricing program has created an unfair playing field and has essentially eliminated U.S. exports of certain dairy products.
Collins also voiced support for provisions in the draft of the 2018 Farm Bill released on Thursday, which makes the voluntarily Margin Protection Program (MPP) more effective and more affordable. This program was passed into law in the 2014 Farm Bill and has provided milk producers and processers with critical protections as milk and feed prices fluctuate.
“It is an unfortunate reality that our dairy industry has taken a hard hit in recent years due to unfair trade practices with Canada,” said Collins. “Dairy has always been a vital industry in Western New York and I’ve been a staunch supporter of programs that will help our nation’s farmers get by during tough times. We must continue to make reforms that benefit the agriculture industry, in turn strengthening and growing our nation’s economy.”
In the letter to Lighthizer, Collins stresses the urgency of tackling issues with Canada’s unfair trade practices. While the Trump Administration has condemned Canada’s actions on dairy trade over the past year, Collins emphasized the millions of workers with jobs tied to agriculture and the importance of the dairy industry in Western New York.
The proposed changes to the MPP include higher coverage levels, lower premiums, and providing more flexibility to farmers when it comes to the length of their coverage. Additionally, the draft proposes changing the name of the program to Dairy Risk Management Program (DRMP) for Dairy Producers and authorizes it through 2023.
Collins added: “Holding Canada accountable and demanding fair treatment needs to be top of mind as NAFTA negotiations continue. And as we work in Congress to pass a Farm Bill, we will make sure dairy farmers have the protections they need as we continue to survive in this unfair market.”
The House Agriculture Committee expects to begin holding hearings on the Farm Bill as soon as next week. For more information on the draft legislation, click here.
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) and Congressman Matt Cartwright (PA-17) today introduced The Fairness to Pet Owners Act. This legislation would save pet owners money by allowing them the freedom to choose where they buy prescription pet medications.
Currently, pet owners must ask for a written prescription from their veterinarian for medications. Most consumers do not realize they have the right to request a written prescription in order to shop around and find the prescription at a lower cost. This bill ensures that pet owners receive a written script, either on paper or electronically, which gives more power to the consumer to choose where to purchase their pet’s prescription.
“When it comes to eyeglasses or contacts, consumers receive a copy of their prescription and are able to do the research to find the lowest price,” said Collins. “As a pet owner myself, I know that most owners will do anything to keep their pets happy and healthy, although these expenses do add up. There is no reason that pet owners shouldn’t have the flexibility to shop around to see if they can save some money.”
“As a dog owner, I know how much of an investment it is to have a pet,” said Cartwright. “This bipartisan legislation is a simple, yet important step in giving pet owners the flexibility they need to save money and keep their animals healthy.”
“PetSmart is pleased Congressman Chris Collins and Congressman Matt Cartwright have reintroduced the Fairness to Pet Owners Act,” said Kathy Mitchell, Senior Director, Government Affairs at PetSmart. “We believe the benefits of pet ownership should be accessible to all Americans. Helping to lower the cost of caring for a pet is a fundamental part of ensuring everyone can experience the joys of pet ownership. Giving pet owners the ability to take prescriptions to their preferred pharmacy will help achieve this goal.”
“Just as the Contact Lens Prescription Release Act gave contact lens wearers the right to receive a copy of their prescription so they had the choice as to where to purchase their lens, the Fairness to Pet Owners Act will give pet owners the right to choose where to purchase pet medication,” said Robert D. Atkinson, President, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. “This legislation is pro-consumer and pro-competition.”
This issue impacts most American families, 65% of households in the United States own at least one pet spending a total of approximately $10 billion on pet medications each year. Pet medications are a significant and frequent expense, with 77% of all dogs taking some sort of medication.
This legislation has the potential to create competition in the marketplace leading to lower costs for consumers. Additionally, consumers will have more flexibility to purchase generic medications or have them filled online or at big box pharmacies, which are oftentimes cheaper. For example, a common heartworm tablet given once a month to dogs is sold for about $61 at a veterinary clinic but a generic version retails for only $42, saving a pet owner more than $200 per year.
For a copy of The Fairness to Pet Owners Act, click here.
WILLIAMSVILLE, NY – Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today commemorated the first National Vietnam War Veterans Day to recognize the brave individuals who served in our nation’s military during the Vietnam War years.
“Today is a very special day as we give our deepest thanks and recognize the admirable service of all Vietnam War veterans and their families,” said Collins. “These heroes hold a special place in our nation’s history and we are forever grateful to those who answered the call of duty. This is a long overdue honor as Americans unite to remember those who never came home and support those who did.”
During his first year in office, President Trump last year signed into law the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act that establishes each March 29 as a day to honor those veterans and their families for their service and sacrifices. Approximately 9 million Americans, 7 million living today, served in the military from November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975.
Congressman Collins’ office is distributing pins to Vietnam War veterans from The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration. Any veteran who served in Vietnam is eligible for one and should contact Alex Gould in the Congressman’s office at (716)634-2324 for more information on obtaining a pin.
Collins added: “There is no single action that gives Vietnam War Veterans the recognition and gratitude they deserve, but as we gather in our communities today I am thankful to know that Vietnam War Veterans Day will be an ongoing tradition to honor some of America’s bravest.”
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today introduced a bill to rename a post office in Dansville, NY to honor the legacy and service of Staff Sergeant Alexandria Gleason-Morrow. SSgt Gleason-Morrow, a Dansville native, enlisted in the Air Force after graduating high school, and was assigned to the 366th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. While deployed in Jordan, SSgt Gleason-Morrow tragically died in a non-combat drill at the age of 25.
“SSgt Gleason-Morrow was a true American hero who gave her life while serving our nation,” said Collins. “It is absolutely devastating that two beautiful young girls are left without a mother who was a remarkable example of service and bravery. It is my hope that her memory will live on in the Dansville community and that SSgt Gleason-Morrow’s family and friends will find a piece of solace in this honor.”
“Alexandria Mae Gleason Morrow was a great American that loved her country and put her life on the line to defend us all, ultimately she lost her life while serving our beautiful country,” said Stephanie Gleason, mother of SSgt Gleason-Morrow. “She was a top notch Airmen that gave her all and never accepted anything but perfection from those around her, but was willing to teach anyone to become the best they could possibly be.”
Collins introduced this bill on March 22, 2018, which marked the one year anniversary of SSgt Gleason-Morrow’s death. Friends and colleagues described Gleason-Morrow as a kind-hearted person who had a passion for serving her county.
Gleason added: “Alex was an amazing soul. Alex first and foremost was a beautiful person inside and out, she was the best daughter, granddaughter, sister, mother, wife and friend to us all, she radiated light where ever she was. I am a grateful American for all of our men and women in uniform past, present and future, I would also like to thank Congressman Chris Collins and his entire staff for working so tirelessly to make this happen.”
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today voted for legislation that funds all federal government discretionary programs for the 2018 fiscal year. The legislation includes providing the nation’s troops their biggest pay raise in eight years as a part of the biggest increase in defense spending in the past 15 years.
“This bill makes historic investments in the brave men and women who protect our nation by correcting the mistakes of the Obama administration by providing the military with the resources they need,” said Collins. “Hardworking Americans can be assured that Congress is spending taxpayer dollars wisely to make sure our children can feel safe in their schools, our towns and cities have sound infrastructure, and we are closing gaps in security at our borders.”
The legislation includes funding for President Trump’s opioid campaign to combat drug abuse and the Fix NCIS bill to close loopholes in background checks for gun purchases. A total of $1.6 billion was allocated to begin building a wall along the southern border over the next six months.
The funding package includes a provision echoing Collins’ legislation to create a federal database of broadband infrastructure that would make it easier for carriers to build out in rural areas.
Congressman Collins has been an advocate for the University of Rochester’s Laboratory of Laser Energetics, which was given $75 million in the funding package to continue its groundbreaking research. The legislation also extends the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through September 2018, while keeping in place pilot training requirements enacted after the 2009 Colgan Air Flight 3407 crash in Clarence.
Additionally, this bill gives the Trump administration the ability to increase the number of H-2B visas available for temporary farm workers based on the needs of the nation. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) received full funding to protect the lakes from environmental threats.
Collins added: “While this legislation is good for Western New York, it also sets the United States on a path toward a safer, stronger America. Key priorities of Congressional Republicans and the Trump Administration are represented in this package and I applaud its passage as we work to get America back on track.”
The legislation adheres to the previously enacted budget “caps” agreement and contains the full legislation and funding for all of the 12 annual Appropriations bills. For more information on the TARGET Act [Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018], click here.
WASHINGTON, DC – Three members of New York’s upstate Congressional delegation whose districts border on Lake Ontario are asking the State Department to issue a report on the International Joint Commission’s (IJC) Plan 2014 and damages to the lake shoreline last Spring. Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27), Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (NY-22), and Congressman John Katko (NY-24) have requested that House of Representative Speaker Paul Ryan and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen require this report in the upcoming legislation that will fund the State Department for the current fiscal year.
Their request comes as a result of unprecedented flooding which caused damage to shoreline homes, businesses and municipalities which many believe where due to the implementation of Plan 2014 by the IJC. The report would require an assessment of damages and options for compensation to those impacted by the flooding.
“My constituents deserve more answers about the significant flooding along the Lake Ontario shoreline that took place last year,” said Collins. “It’s important to understand the true impacts of Plan 2014 so we can find a workable solution moving forward. I’m confident that the Trump Administration is close to replacing the commissioners on the IJC with individuals that will get rid of this disastrous plan.”
“Last year’s flooding of Lake Ontario caused significant damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure across the region,” said Tenney. “Plan 2014, approved by the Obama Administration, has been one of the major contributors to the damage the Lake Ontario region has experienced. If Plan 2014 remains unaddressed, the high water levels will continue to cause severe damage. It is imperative that language is included in the remaining FY18 Budget to require the State Department to report on the damages to the shoreline of Lake Ontario caused by the 2017 flooding.”
“Together with Reps. Collins and Tenney, I am committed to ensuring shoreline property owners, municipalities, farmers, and businesses are able recover from the severe flooding our region faced in 2017,” said Katko. “As part of this effort, is critical that we take steps to assess the detrimental impact of Plan 2014 on communities along Lake Ontario. Doing so will help our local officials take action to mitigate future damages and increase preparedness.”
In July of last year, Representative Hal Rogers, Chairman of the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee, included this report in their spending bill although it was never signed into law. The House is expected to vote on funding for the remainder of FY18 before March 23, 2018.
To read a copy of the letter, click here.
1117 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Congressman Chris Collins represents New York’s 27th Congressional District in the House of Representatives. The 27th District of New York includes 105 towns spread out over eight counties in Western New York and the Finger Lakes. The residents of NY-27 elected Mr. Collins to Congress in November of 2012.
Congressman Collins serves as a member of the House Small Business, Agriculture and Science, Space and Technology committees. He is also the Chair of the Small Business Subcommittee on Health and Technology, which is charged with examining how the cost of healthcare is impacting American small businesses.
Congressman Collins comes to Capitol Hill with both private and public sector experience. Before being elected to Congress, Chris served as Erie County Executive and built a career as a business owner and entrepreneur, creating and saving hundreds of American jobs in Western New York.
A mechanical engineer, the Congressman began his professional career with Westinghouse Electric in 1972. Chris lives in Clarence, NY with his wife Mary. He has three children and three grandchildren and remains active with the Greater Niagara Frontier Council Boy Scouts of America.
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Collins and FCC Commissioner O’Rielly Call on New York to Stop Diverting 9-1-1 Fees - https://t.co/vdI6B8yEld
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Collins and FCC Commissioner O’Rielly Host Rural Broadband Roundtable - https://t.co/mL9NLd6aHV
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