Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today announced $82,667 in federal funding for the Hemlock Volunteer Fire Department. The grant was awarded through the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program, which is designed to help first responders improve their capability to respond to fires and emergencies of all types.
“As residents of New York’s 27th Congressional District, we’re fortunate enough to have thousands of firefighters who are willing to volunteer their time and put their lives on the line to protect their fellow neighbors,” said Congressman Chris Collins. “If a volunteer fire department is unable to fund the purchase of new equipment, their members instead will use outdated equipment that puts their overall health and safety in jeopardy. The AFG program is a great resource for volunteer fire departments, and I am glad the Hemlock Volunteer Fire Department will utilize this $82,667 in funding to protect their members and the communities they serve.”
The Hemlock Volunteer Fire Department will use this $82,667 federal grant to purchase 14 Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) air packs. This will provide the Hemlock Volunteer Firefighters with breathable air when responding to an emergency situation.
“The AFG program is important for local volunteer fire departments, as it helps us purchase safety equipment that we would otherwise not be able to afford,” said Chad Fraser, Acting Chief of the Hemlock Volunteer Fire Department. “We will be using $82,667 in AFG funding to purchase 14 SCBAs. We greatly appreciate Congressman Collins’ efforts on behalf of the Hemlock Volunteer Fire Department and look forward to working with him in the future.”
The AFG Grant Program provides direct funding assistance to fire departments, State Fire Training Academies, and non-affiliated EMS organizations to enhance their response capabilities and to more effectively protect the health and safety of both the public and emergency response personnel with respect to fire and all other hazards.
Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today released the following statement in response to today’s shooting in Alexandria, Virginia:
“Today’s attack on Whip Steve Scalise, Members of Congress, the Capitol Police, and congressional aides is absolutely devastating. For those injured, we all send our prayers for a speedy recovery. If it weren’t for the brave men and women of the Capitol Police, this attack would have resulted in an even greater tragedy and I, along with my colleagues, are thankful for their service.
“While it is apparent that the shooter was a zealot with an intention to cause harm, it is important that we all be cognizant that our words have strong meaning. It’s time for all of us, including myself, to tone down our rhetoric and recognize that we are all of one country and all proud Americans.”
Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today supported legislation that allows the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) the ability to take disciplinary action against an underperforming employee that is not fulfilling their duties. This legislation comes as a result of numerous instances where VA’s arcane civil service rules have hampered the department’s ability to discipline or dismiss an underperforming employee.
“You hear stories of a VA nurse that participated in surgery while drunk, an employee who committed an armed robbery, a psychiatrist that was watching inappropriate videos on the job, and it is shocking that these individuals may still be on the job,” said Congressman Chris Collins. “I proudly supported this bill because I know there are committed and trustworthy employees at VA and these situations have cast a shadow on the important work they are doing to improve the lives of veterans. The Secretary of VA should have the power to make sure only the most qualified individuals are serving those who have served us, and this bill will provide the flexibility to do just that.”
The legislation voted on today creates a streamlined and efficient process to remove, demote, or suspend a VA employee for poor performance or misconduct, while still protecting their due process rights. Additionally, the bill provides expanded protections for whistleblowers, specifically barring the VA from removing an employee that has an open whistleblower compliant with the Office of Special Counsel.
“Whistleblowers have been key to revealing incompetence and wrongdoing at VA facilities around the nation. This legislation should encourage more individuals to come forward and report malpractice and mismanagement. We owe it to our nation’s veterans to make sure they are taken care of, and I am hopeful that measures like this will get VA back on track.”
The House passed H.R. 1259, VA Accountability First Act of 2017 on March 16, 2017. The Senate passed S. 1094, the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 on June 6, 2017. The House today passed the Senate version of the bill and it will now head to the President.
U.S. Representatives Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and Chris Collins (R-NY), today wrote to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue requesting the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) conduct a full disease and pest management risk analysis (PRA) for apples imported from Poland, which has not previously met phytosanitary requirements for U.S. market access.
The Members wrote:
“As you know, the introduction of a single invasive plant, pest, or disease can have a devastating impact on our domestic tree fruit industry. We feel APHIS’ systems approach proposal does not fully address key concerns raised by domestic apple growers about the potential risk from the importation of plant pests and diseases from Poland.”
The Members continued in the letter:
“Since Poland has not previously met phytosanitary requirements for U.S. market access, unlike the other seven EU countries under consideration, we still request that APHIS conduct a thorough PRA for Poland prior to determining whether it is appropriate to allow access to Polish imports under this petition.”
June 13, 2017
The Honorable Sonny Perdue
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC 20250
Dear Secretary Perdue:
Last year, we along with a number of our colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) Administrator Kevin Shea regarding a proposal to change the U.S. market import requirements for apples from certain countries in the European Union (EU) [Docket No. APHIS-2015-0073]. While we appreciate Administrator Shea’s willingness to respond to this issue, our concerns remain over the impact and risk associated with APHIS not conducting a full disease and pest management risk analysis (PRA) for Poland.
As you know, the introduction of a single invasive plant, pest, or disease can have a devastating impact on our domestic tree fruit industry. We feel APHIS’ systems approach proposal does not fully address key concerns raised by domestic apple growers about the potential risk from the importation of plant pests and diseases from Poland.
Since Poland has not previously met phytosanitary requirements for U.S. market access, unlike the other seven EU countries under consideration, we still request that APHIS conduct a thorough PRA for Poland prior to determining whether it is appropriate to allow access to Polish imports under this petition.
In addition, on May 11, 2017, you announced intentions to focus your tenure as Secretary on agricultural trade with the reorganization and establishment of the Undersecretary for Trade at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. We believe this is a prime opportunity for the new undersecretary to ensure our trading partners that we will continue to honor our commitments and treat our trade partners with the proper and appropriate access.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions.
Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today reacted to news of anticipated steep increases in the price of BlueCross BlueShield plans available to New Yorker’s through the New York State Insurance marketplace.
“Not only has Obamacare been a failure for most of America, it is now failing the people of Western New York by making basic healthcare completely unaffordable and inaccessible,” said Congressman Collins. “I am absolutely appalled a BlueCross BlueShield plan in Western New York would increase by almost fifty percent in the marketplace.”
BlueCross BlueShield pointed to the failed Obamacare policies that have cost insurance companies millions of dollars, driving up costs for Americans. Regulations put in place under Obamacare have made the insurance marketplace less competitive, thus increasing costs for consumers.
While President Obama promised that premiums under his plan would decrease during these last few years, a May 23, 2017 report from the Department of Health and Human Services showed that Obamacare increased premiums across the country by 105% between 2013 and 2017.
“Obamacare’s chief cheerleader in our state, Governor Andrew Cuomo, owes our community an apology,” added Congressman Collins. “Cuomo is part and parcel to Obama’s promises that ‘you can keep your plan’ and premiums will be lower. Those have turned out to be lies.”
Collins said there was help on the way. The American Health Care Act (AHCA), which passed the House of Representatives on May 4, 2017, repeals and replaces Obamacare and removes more than $800 billion in onerous taxes and fees that have been stifling the economy and eliminating job growth.
“I am working with my colleagues in Congress to implement policies that allow the people of Western New York the opportunity to make their own choice when it comes to healthcare and provide lower premiums. Americans deserve to be able to pick which plan works best for their family, and I’m urging the senate to take up the American Health Care Act so we can get ourselves out of this mess.”
The American Health Care Act:
· Eliminates the individual and employer mandate, which forced millions of workers, families, and job creators into government mandated plans that did not work for their needs.
· For Western New Yorkers, the bill also includes the largest property tax reduction ever to be enacted. The legislation includes an amendment Congressman Collins introduced that would bar federal reimbursements for New York State Medicaid funds raised from local governments.
· Guarantees protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions by prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage on the basis of a pre-existing condition, banning insurers from rescinding coverage based on a pre-existing condition, and preventing insurers from raising premiums on individuals with pre-existing conditions who maintain continuous coverage. Additionally, New York state law fully protects individuals with pre-existing conditions.
· Modernizes and strengthens Medicaid by implementing a “per capita allotment” which provides more flexibility for states and results in the largest entitlement reform in decades.
· Provides Americans access to affordable care that works for their needs by delivering monthly tax credits of $2,000-$14,000 a year, which individuals and families can use to purchase private insurance of their choice.
· A provision within the American Health Care Act (AHCA), The Patient and State Stability Fund, would provide solutions to help lower costs and repair insurance markets damaged by Obamacare. CBO estimates this would significantly reduce premiums in the nongroup market and encourage participation by insurers.
The American Health Care Act is with the Senate where it will need to be approved before heading to President Trump’s desk to be signed into law.
Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today released the following statement after hosting his office’s annual Service Academy Luncheon with the seven appointed candidates from New York’s 27th Congressional District and their families. Hosted each year, the Service Academy Luncheon is an opportunity for Congressman Collins to congratulate the appointed candidates and offer his sincere appreciation to those who helped make the Service Academy cycle a success.
“The seven appointed candidates here today fully understand the obligation and tremendous honor that comes with attending a Service Academy,” said Congressman Chris Collins. “The strong qualities of leadership, integrity, and patriotism these young men and women embody will serve them well throughout their military service. It is a tremendous privilege to represent these candidates and the Western New York military community in Congress. I want to thank the eight members of my Service Academy Review Board for offering their time and guidance throughout this process to ensure the principles of our servicemen and women will be represented in the Class of 2021.”
“Given my 12 years of military experience and multiple deployments to Iraq, I understand the importance of a good leader,” said Brock Cummins, U.S. Army veteran & member of Congressman Collins’ Service Academy Review Board. “I know the type of officer that is needed to win on and off the battlefield. I appreciate the time and effort the Congressmen put into selecting our future military officers. All of the board members have different backgrounds and approach the selecting process from a different angle. For me it's easy. I'm not going to recommend somebody to attend a military academy and become a future officer if I can not see him or her leading my son or daughter into combat! It is a privilege to sit on the academy review board on behalf of our local elected official.”
NY-27 Appointed Candidates for the Class of 2021
United States Military Academy at West Point
Olivia Gervan—Lancaster High School
Anna Orlando—Canterbury School, Graduate of Lancaster High School
Joshua Hunter—Orchard Park High School
Thomas Alvermann—McQuaid Jesuit High School
Brendan Ryan—United States Military Academy Preparatory School, Graduate of Hamburg High School
United States Naval Academy
Jessica Mogavero—Clarence High School
United States Air Force Academy
Campbell Andersen—Batavia High School
Pictures from this year’s Service Academy Luncheon can be viewed on Congressman Collins’ office Flickr album: https://flic.kr/s/aHskXAiVhZ.
Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today is announcing that the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) FY17 Work Plan for Operations & Maintenance includes $725,000 in maintenance dredging funding for the Wilson Harbor.
“Ensuring our harbors are dredged and maintained on a regular basis helps deter safety risks and potential negative impacts to a local economy,” said Congressman Chris Collins. “Aside from the direct impact this $725,000 in funding will have on Wilson Harbor’s dredging efforts, it will also help grow Niagara County’s tourism industry and preserve Wilson’s recreational boating and fishing community. I’m pleased the Army Corps of Engineers will set aside maintenance dredging funding for the Wilson Harbor, as it will go a long way in maintaining the harbor’s current functions and future operations.”
Located on Lake Ontario at the mouth of Twelve Mile Creek in the Town of Wilson, Wilson Harbor is home to 476 slips, 2 boat launch lanes, and 15 charter boats. The Harbor has an estimated economic impact totaling $4,720,298 and also supports 69 jobs. Typically harbors are to be dredged every 3-5 years, but the full Wilson Harbor was last dredged in 2000. In effect, sections of the West Pier are have become deteriorated and now require repairs to restore proper function of the structure. Given that the Wilson Harbor is a Harbor of Refuge, dredging this harbor will eliminate any potential functional loss and ensure safety issues are addressed and corrected.
“This is terrific news and will go a long way towards the cleaning up of the Wilson Harbor,” said Doyle Phillips, Wilson Town Supervisor. “We met with the Army Corps of Engineers on Thursday morning, and the federal pier is being breeched by water and is in desperate need of repairs. With the high lake water, the harbor is also in desperate need of dredging, so this will come as welcome news to all citizens of Wilson.”
“Even as the devastation of record high water levels has incurred millions of dollars in damage through destruction of docks and supporting infrastructure, this funding will play a part in maintaining the necessary harbor depth in the future,” said David Godfrey, Niagara County’s 10th District Legislator. “The record high water brings with it record levels of silt, both of which will need to be planned for and removed. On behalf of the citizens of Wilson and all of Niagara County, I would like to thank Congressman Collins for his strong support in helping to keep our harbor ‘open for business.’ In light of the recent devastation of not only our lakeshore, but also our harbors, Congressman Collins truly recognizes the economic value our harbors bring to the entire area. Residents and visitors to our wonderful lakeside areas will continue to enjoy its beauty thanks to Congressman Collins.”
For a full breakdown of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers FY17 Civil Work Plan for Fiscal Year 2017, click here.
Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today is announcing that the Air Force Reserve Command’s (AFRC) Military Construction Program FY18 budget estimates includes a plan to allocate $14 million for the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station (NFARS) during FY19. The ARFC’s plan to set aside $14 million in FY19 military construction program spending will assist NFARS in building a state-of-the-art fitness facility for the men and women serving within the 914th Airlift Wing and the Air National Guard 107th Airlift Wing.
“I am thrilled to see the Air Force has moved up their timeline for funding for a new fitness facility at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station,” said Congressman Chris Collins. “The men and women at the base deserve access to quality facilities to make sure they are as prepared as possible when called upon to serve. The current facilities at the base are outdated and do not meet the standard we expect for our service members. This is yet another positive step to enhance the base and protect its future here in Western New York.”
The ARFC originally intended to submit a request to fund a new NFARS’ fitness facility in its FY21 budget plans, but Congressman Collins had concerns that the current NFARS’ fitness facility had grown outdated and would no longer able to support the needs of the base. In a letter sent to the ARFC on February 1st, 2017, Congressman Collins outlined his concerns and formally requested a budget request for a new fitness facility to be prioritized far sooner than FY21. Read the full letter here.
One concern Congressman Collins had was the current facility does not have an indoor track. Oftentimes, inclement weather conditions during Western New York’s winter months would force service members to delay portions of their physical fitness tests for up to six months. Congressman Collins felt this “has a direct effect on readiness, training requirements, and time.” In addition, he believed the current facility had become physically dangerous due to a lack of safe clearances. In effect, the facility’s “space for equipment is inadequate to maintain effective safety protocols and NFARS is forced to close base roads for the use of fitness testing during the summer months.”
For a full breakdown of the Air Force Reserve’s FY18 Military Construction Program Budget Estimates, click here.
Earlier this week, Congressman Chris Collins highlighted his sponsored legislation, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act (H.R. 931), during a Subcommittee on Health hearing entitled, “Examining Initiatives to Advance Public Health.”
“This thoroughly bipartisan effort takes the first step toward addressing the detrimental health effects of fighting fires,” said Congressman Chris Collins. “While common sense tells us that firefighters frequently inhale smoke and other harmful substances, we must know more about the link between specific chemicals and diseases in order to reduce prevalence. I’d like to thank Kevin O’Connor for offering his testimony and stressing how crucial H.R. 931 will be in preventing deadly health consequences for our first responders.”
The hearing on “Examining Initiatives to Advance Public Health”, which took place on May 17th, gave both Congressman Collins and Subcommittee witness Kevin O’Connor, from the International Association of Firefighters, an opportunity to stress the importance of H.R. 931 as it pertains to preserving the health of firefighters. Mr. O’Connor’s testimony to the Subcommittee on Health covered a wide range of topics related to a national firefighter cancer registry, including his insight on various ways fire organizations could partner with the CDC to collect data from throughout the United States. In addition, Mr. O’Connor informed Subcommittee on Health’s members about the current equipment and technology available to firefighters and how efficient they are in protecting firefighters from various types of cancer.
Click here to watch Congressman Collins introductory remarks (11:20-12:30) and his 5 minutes of questioning to Kevin O’Connor (1:20:45-1:25:42).
The Firefighter Cancer Registry Act would authorize $2,500,000 in federal funds from FY2018 through FY2022 to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC would utilize these funds to create a national voluntary cancer registry to collect data on cancer incidence among firefighters. The improved data records would include the status of the firefighter (volunteer, paid-on-call, or career), number of years on the job, the number of fire incidents attended, the type of fire incidence, and a number of other risk factors. The culmination of this data will be used to develop better protective equipment and prevention techniques for our firefighters.
Representatives Chris Collins (NY-27), John Katko (NY-24), Claudia Tenney (NY-22) and Elise Stefanik (NY-21) are urging Governor Cuomo to take swift action in requesting the assistance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to deliver relief to Lake Ontario shoreline and St. Lawrence River property owners.
In a letter to the Governor released today, the Representatives who all represent shore areas, called on Cuomo to comply with the federal Stafford Act and make the initial request for federal assistance. Federal law requires the initial request to come from the governor in order for President Trump to declare a federal state of emergency for the Ontario lakeshore areas.
“While we commend Governor Cuomo’s efforts thus far to address the concerns of Lake Ontario homeowners, our letter respectfully urges him to request the assistance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA),” said Congressman Collins. “In making a formal request to President Trump to declare a federal state of emergency, impacted residents will be able to access the wide ranging disaster assistance that FEMA has to offer. Our Lake Ontario constituents have remained patient as water levels continue to rise each day, but it’s now time to act and provide them with the relief they deserve.”
Representatives Katko, Tenney, and Stefanik signed onto the letter sent to Governor Cuomo, as they too represent communities along Lake Ontario impacted by recent record high water levels.
“With rising lake levels gravely impacting communities along the southern shore of Lake Ontario, I’ve spent time visiting with property owners and local officials in Fair Haven, Sodus, and Oswego. Homeowners, businesses, and farmers are suffering substantial and costly damage,” said Congressman Katko (NY-24). “I applaud Governor Cuomo for his attention to this critical and unprecedented situation. Still, current water levels pose a significant burden and, left unaddressed, will continue to cause damage to shoreline communities across New York State. That’s why I’ve joined my colleagues to urge the Governor to elevate these concerns by requesting federal assistance from FEMA so that our communities may have access to the assistance they desperately need.”
“Our constituents in the Lake Ontario region continue to see water levels rise, damaging their property, their homes and local businesses,” said Congresswoman Tenney (NY-22). “As our delegation and state officials work to provide relief to families devastated by the flooding, it is imperative that Governor Cuomo begin the process of requesting federal assistance to give our constituents the help they deserve and desperately need.”
“Heavy rainfall in recent months has caused near historic levels of flooding along the St. Lawrence River,” said Congresswoman Stefanik (NY-21). “As water levels continue to rise, so do concerns about damage to homes, businesses, marinas and docks. My office has been working closely with officials at the state level to address this issue, and I have been in continued conversations with FEMA officials and regional representatives for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who are monitoring the situation closely. We must act now to protect our shoreline property owners and I urge Governor Cuomo to expedite a request for federal relief.”
According to the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), current water levels in Lake Ontario are measuring in 31 inches higher than average and are expected to rise another 5 inches over the next 30 days.
Shoreline property owners continue to invest in break-walls and other erosion protection resources; however, a significant number of homes have been condemned and impacted property owners anticipate tens of thousands of dollars in damage.
The letter details that while both the National Guard and USACE have helped provide counties along the shoreline with hundreds of thousands of sandbags, unfortunately “they are no match for waves measured between 5-7 feet tall that are crashing against private property, housing structures, and docks causing irreparable damage to the shoreline.”
Full text of the letter along with signatories can be seen here and full text can be read below.
May 18, 2017
The Honorable Andrew Cuomo
State of New York
Albany, New York 12224
Dear Governor Cuomo,
We are writing you today regarding the recent flooding along the shoreline of Lake Ontario. Lake Ontario water levels have recently surpassed record high levels, currently sitting 31 inches higher than normal levels with an expected increase of 5 inches over the next 30 days.
It has come to our attention that your office has not yet requested the assistance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in getting damage assessments. This is a crucial first step in the process of declaring a federal state of emergency through the Stafford Act. As you know, a declaration by the president of a major disaster must originate from the Governor of the affected State.
Erosion along the shoreline is a serious issue; nearly all of the shoreline in New York State erodes at a rate of one foot per year, some parts erode at a rate of more than two feet per year. This recent flooding has exacerbated erosion, some property owners who once had 80 feet of land standing between their home and the lake, are currently looking at 40 feet or less.
Numerous shoreline property owners have invested in break-walls surrounding their property that are now sitting far into the lake. Homeowners and shoreline property owners are experiencing tens of thousands of dollars in damage, homes have been condemned, and there is no relief in sight.
The National Guard and Army Corps of Engineers have helped counties along the shoreline to fill and place hundreds of thousands of sandbags. Unfortunately, they are no match for waves measured between 5-7 feet tall that are crashing against private property, housing structures, and docks causing irreparable damage to the shoreline.
While we commend you for ordering the New York Department of Environmental Conservation to speed up permit processing for the construction of protective structures, we respectfully request that you swiftly begin the process for requesting federal assistance. We must act now to protect our shoreline property owners.
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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