February 16, 2023

By Maury Thompson

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, is an original co-sponsor of legislation that supporters say would protect the Second Amendment rights of veterans.

HR 705, which Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., introduced Feb. 11, would prohibit the Department of Veterans Affairs from sharing information with the Department of Justice criminal background check system.

Under the VA interpretation of current law, if the VA appoints a fiduciary to help a veteran or beneficiary manage benefits, the VA is required to send the name of the veteran to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, according to a House Veterans Affairs Committee explanation of the legislation.

“As a result, they may be prohibited from legally purchasing or owning a firearm, despite there being no evidence that those who need a fiduciary are more prone to violence than others.”

“No VA bureaucrat should be able to instantly strip a veteran of their Second Amendment rights simply because they need help managing their benefits,” said Bost, the principle sponsor, in a news release. “This ludicrous policy is stopping veterans from going to VA for the care they need, and it must end now.”

In other regional political news:


State Sen. James Tedisco, R-Glenville, at a legislative state budget hearing on education on Feb. 8, called for a state law to require that parents of students involved be notified if a school district reports a case of bullying to the state Education Department.

State Education Commissioner Betty Rosa responded that notification is just one aspect of addressing bullying.

“It’s not just being notified about it. It’s really about how do schools create the kind of culture where these things are addressed,” she said, in an excerpt of a video recording of the hearing.

“Everybody would want to know and take part in that process,” Tedisco responded. “I understand you want to make a better setting, you want to stop the bullying that takes place, but to make that happen, I think parents and the school systems have to be a part of the team that does that.”

Music in schools

U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, co-sponsored legislation that Rep. Nydia Velazguez, D-Brooklyn, introduced Feb. 9 to expand a federal program that supports music and arts programs in schools.

The legislation — HR 969 — had 17 co-sponsors from 10 states, as of Tuesday — all Democrats.

Electric buses

State Sen. Dan Stec, R-Queensbury, said he spoke at a legislative budget hearing on education Feb. 8 in opposition to a proposed requirement that school districts convert to using only electric buses.

“Considering the distance and cost involved in busing in our rural school districts, I believed this proposal is infeasible and will only make it harder for our schools to afford the resources they need to focus on education,” Stec posted on Facebook.

Volunteer tax credit

State Sen. Dan Stec, R-Queensbury, on Feb. 9 introduced bipartisan legislation to establish a state tax credit of up to $300 for volunteer instructors in state Department of Environmental Conservation-certified hunter safety programs.

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, D-Forestburgh, introduced companion legislation in the Assembly.

Farm breweries

State Sen. Jake Ashby, R-Castleton, on Wednesday introduced legislation to update state law to enable more options for farm breweries, cideries, wineries and distilleries to collaborate in cross-promotion and merchandising programs such as wine trails and brewery trails.

“Allowing individual producers to find new ways to work together to promote and sell each other’s products will help each other grow their business and will encourage tourism statewide,” Ashby wrote in the bill justification section.

Read more from the Post-Star here.