John Katko

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Local progressive leaders, including a candidate for Congress, are putting pressure on Rep.  John Katko (R-Camillus) to support the SAVE Benefits Act, that would provide a one year bump in Social Security benefits.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A Democratic senator and Republican congressman in central New York stood at the same podium this week, pushing a bi-partisan effort to help create more manufacturing jobs.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Two Democratic candidates running for New York's 24th Congressional District seat earned a joint endorsement Wednesday night from the Democratic parties in Cayuga, Oswego and Wayne counties. 

The counties are supporting Syracuse lawyer Steve Williams and Colleen Deacon, a former staffer for U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Syracuse University professor Eric Kingson, who is also running for the Democratic nomination, was not endorsed.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

In a tie vote, the Democratic parties in Oswego, Cayuga and Wayne counties decided to endorse two of the three Democratic candidates in the race for New York's 24th Congressional district. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

If campaign fundraising totals are any indication of the status of the Democratic race for New York's 24th Congressional district, it's a dead heat.

The 24th congressional district, a seat currently held by first-term Republican John Katko, promises to provide a lively and competitive race this coming November.  Three Democratic challengers have emerged, each emphasizing different strengths of background and expertise. 

Office of Assemblyman Brindisi

Congressional races for New York's 22nd and 24th Districts are beginning to take shape. 

Utica-area Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi announced Thursday that he will not run to replace retiring Rep. Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld). The Democratic Assemblyman said in a statement that he can do more for the Mohawk Valley region by staying in the New York Legislature.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Onondaga County held a heroin and opioid forum to provide information on the drug epidemic and how users can get help. Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta said people who are addicted to prescription opioids are 40 times more likely to become addicted to heroin.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News File Photo

In his response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, central New York Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) said Obama is disconnected from Congress and reality. Despite those differences, there were some proposals the president mentioned that Katko plans to support.

Katko agrees with some items on the president's wish list, like tackling sentencing reform and rolling back some of the regulations on businesses. Obama's calls to address the heroin epidemic and reduce poverty also gained Katko's support.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

The race for the Democratic nomination in the 24th Congressional District is ramping up. The three hopefuls met voters at a forum in Manlius last night, as they look for party support.

A mostly older crowd that packed a room at the Manlius Library applauded when party officials noted there will be a choice for Democrats when it comes to deciding who should face freshman GOP Rep. John Katko in November. 

And while the trio agreed on decidedly Democratic issues like income inequality, they offered differences in style and background.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News File Photo

As 2016 gets underway, Rep. John Katko (R-Camilius) is embarking on his second year in Washington, representing the 24th Congressional District. The former federal prosecutor had never held political office before winning the seat in 2014.

While Katko said he went to Washington with his eyes open to the dysfunction and the partisan politics of the Capitol,  things weren’t as bad as he expected.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) has only been in Congress for a year, but says he’s seen a lot of changes in what many Americans view as a dysfunctional arm of government. 

After Katko took his oath of office last January, and started learning the ropes in Washington, he says the atmosphere was highly politically charged. A push to defund the Department of Homeland Security over immigration policy was just one of those very partisan issues that lawmakers faced.

"It was divisive. And some of those early votes, I was pulling my hair out, what the heck’s going on here.”

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) thinks a major overhaul of the Affordable Care Act could be on the horizon. 

Katko says recent developments in Washington are not good news for the federal health insurance program. For example, the two-year moratorium on some of the taxes in place in conjunction with the program, like the Medical Device Tax. Katko says that along with failing state exchanges, and not enough younger people signing on to pay for the coverage older people use, all add up to change.

The 24th Congressional District, currently held by Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus), is already attracting a lot of Democratic hopefuls, with nearly a year to go before the 2016 election. One of those hopefuls is Colleen Deacon, a former aide for U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). Before that, she served as press secretary for former Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll. 

Syracuse University

The issue of intellectual property has become more complicated for businesses that find themselves in  global marketplaces in a digital world.  Patents, copyrights and trademarks are coming under fire from many fronts, and it’s affecting innovation, creativity and job growth in central New York.

Air Innovations is a Syracuse company that designs and manufactures specialty air conditioning for niche industries.  President and CEO Michael Wetzel says they’ve had run-ins, regarding intellectual property, in one of the countries they do business with.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Manufacturers of synthetic marijuana have been able to skirt around U.S. laws by slightly altering the chemical makeup of their product. While synthetic drugs are still showing up legally on retail store shelves, Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) introduced legislation this week that would make it easier to prosecute the distributors.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Passage of the transportation bill in Congress last week includes some good news for central New York as it gets ready to rebuild a major transportation artery through the city of Syracuse.

The legislation is the first long-term highway bill passed by Congress in over a decade. The $305 billion bill will provide funds for fixing roads and bridges and for the upkeep of mass transit. But for Syracuse-area Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus), one of the high points is the designation of I-81 as a “high priority corridor.”

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Updated at 11:50 a.m. Tuesday 

According to federal lawmakers, mass transit funding for northeast states has been restored in the transportation funding bill. More than $94 million was earmarked for New York in 2014 for mass transit services, under the High Density States program. Centro in the Syracuse-area received more than $2 million. That funding was cut from the House version of the transportation bill. But U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced Tuesday that not only was the funding restored, and additional $18.5 million over the next 5 years.

Payne Horning, Leah Landry / WRVO News

Oswego officials commemorated the completion of its $19 million breakwater wall renovation Wednesday. The Oswego Harbor's wall stops incoming waves, but the magnitude of 2012's Superstorm Sandy devastated the structure.

"Just three years ago, Superstorm Sandy ravaged the northeast," said Lt. Col. Karl Jansen, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo district. "A lot of that attention goes to the Atlantic coast, but it impacted the great lakes, Lake Ontario and Lake Erie to a degree as well."

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A report out of the House Task Force on Foreign Fighters is getting more attention following the Paris Terror attacks.  Central New York Rep. John Katko, who’s a co-chair of the group, hopes it means Washington will take some of their advice about how best stop the flow of foreign fighters between Syria and their home countries.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

A group of volunteers in Oswego are working with state officials to elevate Fort Ontario and its Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Museum to a national, and even possibly global, status.

First constructed in 1759, Fort Ontario has undergone many changes in its history. It was defended and destroyed by both the British and the United States. Then during World War II, Fort Ontario became a refugee camp for European Jews and in 1953, it opened as a state historic site. Now, a grassroots campaign hopes to see the fort transform once again. 

Chris Kreussling / via Flickr

A couple of upstate members of Congress are leading the charge to push back against proposed cuts to mass transit funding in the Northeast as part the transportation bill.

SU professional and technical writing / via Flickr

A six-year highway funding bill passed by the House of Representatives last week would remove $564 million from New York's current federal transportation funding.

A last-minute amendment to the House bill would move $1.6 billion in funding from seven Northeastern states to a general discretionary fund for use by the entire nation. Current law allows these high density areas to receive the extra funding because they account for half of all transit in the country. Sen. Charles Schumer said the loss of funding for New York is a travesty for the state's transit system.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Making sure airports are as secure as possible was the focus of a congressional subcommittee hearing held at the federal building in Syracuse Monday. Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus), who chairs the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee's Subcommittee on Transportation Security, said one goal of the session was to find ways to beef up security at the nation’s airports.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

The decision on the future of the Fitzpatrick Nuclear Plant in Oswego County is expected this week. In the meantime, elected leaders at the local, state and federal level are engaged in talks with the plant's owner Entergy on how to keep the doors open. It's currently battling falling energy prices.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The wars may have been decades ago, but Central New Yorkers who served in the Vietnam War and World War II got some long-awaited recognition this month. For decades, Gary Janis of Auburn didn’t talk about his tour of duty in Vietnam.  But, he says in the last five or six years, he’s been able to open up about the experience. Janis was part of a five- or six-man group that would gather information from behind enemy lines. "We would be dropped off by helicopter, infiltrate in, get our information," Janis said. Hopefully, we wouldn’t be compromised.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Rep. John Katko (R-NY) spoke at a rally to save the Fitzpatrick Nuclear Power Plant on Monday. The owners of the plant said they may have to close it next year because it is no longer profitable with the low price of electricity. Katko said nuclear energy is clean energy and with new federal carbon emission standards, New York state can't afford to lose nuclear power plants.

Congressman John Katko has tried to position himself as a moderate within the Congressional Republican Party.  One local Democrat who’s not convinced about this is Eric Kingson, the Syracuse University professor recently announced his candidacy for Katko's 24th district seat.  This week on the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher talks with the Democratic challenger, and explores his views about Katko’s voting record, and Kingson’s own plans for expanding the Social Security program. 

Note: This conversation took place before House Speaker John Boehner announced his intention to resign from Congress at the end of October.

When the House of Representatives voted recently to defund Planned Parenthood, central New York Republican Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) said he voted to stop funding the organization temporarily while the House investigated a series of videos allegedly showing Planned Parenthood executives discussing the sale of fetal body parts for research -- which is illegal.

This week on the Campbell Conversations host Grant Reeher is joined by first-term Congressman John Katko, who represents central New York’s 24th district.  The wide-ranging discussion covers the funding for Planned Parenthood, poverty in Syracuse, Katko’s effort to be moderate and bi-partisan, his campaign support from the Republican Party’s Patriot Program, and the Republican presidential field.

Note: This interview was recorded before Speaker of the House John Boehner announced that he would retire from Congress at the end of October.

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