legislation

Bernt Rostad / Flickr

Upstate New York lawmakers are asking you to put them back in office, but how effective have they been?  

You probably will not be surprised to hear this Congress is the least active in the nation’s history. In the past two years, they have passed 181 bills that were signed into law by the president. Norm Ornstein, a congressional scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, does not rate it very highly.

“This is an embarrassing and miserable Congress. Really one of the worst I've ever seen,” Ornstein says.  

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Republican congressional hopeful John Katko is criticizing Democratic incumbent Rep. Dan Maffei’s legislative record from his two terms in Congress as part of the latest salvo in a race that is getting tighter, according to some national political pundits.

During a news conference this week, Katko, a former prosecutor, pointed to a list of legislation Maffei has introduced in the 113th Congress.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) wants to give New Yorkers a way to fight back if their Social Security number is stolen. Schumer says he is pushing for a so-called "Bill of Rights" that would provide victims of identity theft with a way to minimize the damage of losing their Social Security number.

If passed, it would allow victims of identity theft to pursue civil damages for up to three times the amount stolen. It would also provide Social Security beneficiaries with a single point of contact if their number is stolen.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Temperatures may still be in the 80s, but Syracuse's common councilors are looking beyond shorts and sandal weather. The issues of people not shoveling snow from their sidewalks is once again on the agenda.

Last year, Councilor Bob Dougherty couldn’t get the votes to pass a law that would have ticketed property owners who didn’t clear snow off their sidewalks. So he’s spent the summer looking at what went wrong and devising a way to encourage homeowners to keep sidewalks clear when the inevitable Syracuse snow begins to fall.

Office of Sen. Patty Ritchie

State Sen. Patty Ritchie wants to lift some of the restrictions on the use of utility task vehicles in New York state. Right now, UTVs can only be used legally on private property and cannot be registered in the state of New York. Smaller ATVs weighing up to 1,000 pounds can be widely used and registered with the state.

Joanna Richards / WRVO

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) says in the next few months she is going to revive her military sexual assault bill, which changes how those types of crimes are prosecuted by the military. The legislation failed last month following a filibuster.

Gillibrand says her bill, which would allow military prosecutors to handle sexual assault cases instead of officers in the regular chain of command, still has the support of 55 senators, including Republicans.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

The Oswego County Legislature is joining several other counties across New York to oppose Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed property tax freeze plan. They voted to support another option proposed by the New York State Association of Counties, to eliminate the cost of state funded mandates instead. The final vote was 16 to 8, with 1 absentee.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is on a personal crusade to change the military culture that’s allowed sexual assaults to go unpunished, and is attempting to push a bill through the Senate.

Gillibrand remembers when the issue of sexual assaults in the military really got on her radar. It was while watching a 2012 documentary called The Invisible War.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO file photo

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli says last fiscal year, less than a quarter of the state's dedicated highway and bridge trust fund was used to pay for infrastructure maintenance. He says the rest of the money was spent on state debt payments and other operating costs.

Republican Sen. Joe Griffo, who represents Utica, Rome and Massena, is one of several state lawmakers supporting the BRIDGE Act, which would require that funds added to the account are used only for infrastructure projects.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO file photo

Syracuse lawmakers have made it easier for police to get involved with problem properties. Common Councilors agreed to revise the old disorderly houses ordinance into a modern day tool for police.

Common councilor Khalid Bey says he’s heard frustration from constituents who don’t see action when they complain about problem properties.

“I had a constituent who had an ongoing problem with a gambling house," Bey said. "Six months of complaints with no real recourse. Now police have an adequate tool to deal with such a compliant.”

Members of the Syracuse Common Council are considering beefing up fines for residents accused of disturbing the peace.

These are the kinds of complaints lawmakers hear a lot, according to northside Syracuse councilor Jake Barrett. He says these types of complaints affect the quality of life of city residents, and can be big or small.