Tonawanda News

May 9, 2013

County reps urge SAFE Act repeal

Staff reports
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Niagara County lawmakers were unanimous in their Tuesday call for the state Legislature to repeal the locally reviled NY-SAFE Act.

By a 14-0 vote, legislators approved a resolution urging state passage and enactment of companion bills introduced months ago in the state Senate and Assembly that would largely gut the SAFE Act, which redefined “assault” weapons to include many more firearms including hunting/sporting arms, and imposed new reporting requirements on firearms and ammunition dealers, pistol owners and even mental health professionals.

SAFE was taken up by the state Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Jan. 15, without legislators or citizens having time to review the contents. Normally there’s a waiting period between introduction of legislation and voting on it, but Cuomo waived it, declaring emergency circumstances.

Throughout New York, only six county legislatures— Tompkins, Albany and four Long Island/New York City boroughs — have not condemned SAFE as lousy legislation that undermines citizens’ basic rights, county Legislator John Syracuse, R-Newfane, said.

“Regardless how you feel (about gun control) this act is a stick in the eye to every citizen,” due to the way it was rushed into law without public review first, Legislator Richard Updegrove, R-Lockport, said.

Also Tuesday, county representatives unanimously OK’d a resolution calling on the state Legislature to block construction of the Champlain Hudson Power Express Line, through which the Canadian province Quebec would sell hydropower to New York City.

The express line deal, which was recently approved by the state Public Service Commission, undercuts upstate power producers including the perpetually threatened, coal-fired Somerset Power Station, Syracuse said.

Generally, upstate producers have difficulty meeting downstate power demand because of insufficient transmission infrastructure. Cuomo previously pledged the state would pursue private-public partnership in a New York “Energy Highway” to move more power through the state and, in the process, retain and create new utility jobs upstate.

The Express Line would transmit subsidized, foreign hydropower in lieu.

Meanwhile state and federal energy regulators seem hell-bent on driving generators like Somerset Power Station — employer of 100-plus and one of the largest taxpayers in the county — out of existence, legislators observed.

PSC favoring foreign power “is offensive to every taxpayer,” Updegrove asserted.