Written by the Press-Republican on May 20, 2020

Jones, Stec call for action on unemployment

ALBANY — Assemblyman D. Billy Jones (D-Plattsburgh) and Dan Stec (R-Queensbury) have called on the state Department of Labor to addressing mounting unemployment insurance claims.

Both have received several hundred calls from their constituents expressing concerns regarding unprocessed claims.

“It is heartbreaking to hear their stories: single parents who aren’t sure how they will feed their children this week because they are out of money, residents who aren’t sure how they will pay for their prescriptions, and small business owners who have drained their savings and are afraid their doors will be shuttered forever,” Jones said in a statement.

“It is simply unacceptable that these individuals cannot even receive a simple call back to finish processing their claims. We must do better.”

Jones joined Assembly colleagues to call on the DOL commissioner to process older claims, and for weeks has notified Gov. Andrew Cuomo of claims reported to his office that are more than 30 days old.

Stec has also been in contact with Cuomo’s office about that issue.

“One of the most pressing and most frustrating failures of state government’s response to the coronavirus has been the Department of Labor’s inability to process the volume of unemployment claims,” Stec said in a statement.

“While certainly the volume is unprecedented, it is absolutely unacceptable for so many people to be waiting up to seven or eight weeks for their benefits, or to go weeks without contact from the department on the status of their applications.”

“We are calling on the Department of Labor to fix these inadequacies and get these individuals the benefits that they are entitled to,” Jones said.

“We must put an end to their financial struggle.”

Stefanik advocates for mental health resources

SARATOGA — North Country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville) recently signed on to two letters to House leadership asking for support for mental health resources and suicide prevention in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The first letter requested provisions related to suicide prevention in a future COVID-19 relief package, including $61 million for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a press release said.

The second letter calls for prioritization of health care workers’ mental health needs.

“The COVID-19 outbreak has presented numerous challenges not only for our essential health care workers, but for many people struggling with mental health issues,” Stefanik said in a statement.

“It is imperative that we provide adequate resources and funding in any forthcoming legislative packages to support suicide prevention and help our communities address this crisis on all fronts.”

Stefanik requests hospital loan forgiveness

SARATOGA — Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville) recently co-signed a letter that urged House leadership to include loan forgiveness for the Medicare accelerated/advanced payment program in the next COVID-19 stimulus package.

The program allows hospitals to access their payments upfront in order to help with the surge of coronavirus, but many are unable to pay back these loans under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act timeline, according to a press release.

In a statement, Stefanik noted serious financial hardship faced by North Country hospitals, and that many of their CEOs “have had to take funding advances and loans, delay accounts payables, furlough thousands of staff and postpone much-needed capital projects in order to survive financially.”

“It is absolutely critical that we continue to support our hospitals at the federal level, especially those in New York who have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Stefanik requests COVID-19 testing for federal inmates

WASHINGTON, D.C – Last week, North Country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik co-signed a letter sent to the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and U.S. Marshall Service (USMS) requesting that all inmates be tested for COVID-19 and confirmed negative before being transferred to any Bureau of Prison quarantine location, including FCI Ray Brook.

According to a press release, the BOP is currently only symptom screening and is moving asymptomatic inmates, “despite their ability transmit the virus to BOP staff.”

In a statement, Stefanik noted her advocacy for local corrections officers and prison staff throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

“Now I am calling on the Bureau of Prisons and U.S. Marshall Service to implement inmate testing to ensure that inmates and corrections officers are both protected from coronavirus.

I will continue to work with my colleagues to protect those who work within the prisons system, and their surrounding communities, from COVID-19.”

Report: Stefanik 14th most bipartisan House member

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Last week, The Lugar Center, an independent nonprofit, released its bipartisan index rankings for the 116th Congress’s first year which ranked Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville) as the 14th most bipartisan member of the House of Representatives, out of 435 members.

She ranked 19th in the last index.

“I work diligently in Congress and in my district with members and elected officials on both sides of the aisle in order to secure real results for our region,” Stefanik said in a statement.

“During the COVID-19 crisis in particular, the ability to work effectively in a bipartisan manner is critical, as so many are suffering both financially and health-wise.

I will continue to work tirelessly on issues important to the North Country to ensure my constituents have a seat at the table on the federal level.”

Stefanik cosponsors Farmers MILK Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. — North Country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville) announced last week that she is cosponsoring the Farmers MILK Act, which would expand the existing U.S. Department of Agriculture Milk Donation program to get milk to those who need it.

According to a press release, the bill authorizes the USDA to match dairy producers with excess milk with food banks, and allocates an additional $4 million a year for the program.

In a statement, Stefanik noted the crisis facing dairy farmers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and how some have had to dump milk, as well as food banks who have seen an increase in the number of families they serve.

“This bill helps to bridge that gap and get our farmers’ valuable product back into our communities in need.

I will continue to advocate at the federal level for direct relief for our farmers and agriculture businesses who have worked tirelessly to feed their communities, even during this crisis.”

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