ALBANY — Steve McLaughlin will be sworn in January 1 as the new assemblyman for the 108th district, includes the towns of Kinderhook, Chatham, New Lebanon and Stuyvesant as well as portions of Rensselaer, Albany and Greene counties. Mr. McLaughlin, a Republican and a Rensselaer County resident, won election in November over two-term incumbent Tim Gordon, a member of the Independence Party who caucused with Democrats.
In a phone interview with the Columbia Paper, Mr. McLaughlin said that he is moving his district office into space in Castleton on Routes 9 and 20, which was used by Mr. Gordon. As for his office in the capitol, he doesn’t know where that will be yet. He says Assembly staff are currently shuffling everyone around in Albany because of the turnover this election season. The GOP gained seats in the fall election, but Democrats remain firmly in control of the Assembly. In the meantime, Mr. McLaughlin said that he has been hiring staff and going to orientation programs. “I’m busy and excited too,” he said.
Mr. McLaughlin said the issues he hopes to deal with when he gets to the capitol include a property tax cap, mandate relief on private sector, Medicaid fraud and term limits for legislators. Mr. McLaughlin supports Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo’s proposed property tax cap proposal but says he is already getting calls from Columbia County schools superintendents about what it will mean for school funding. “You can’t pass a tax cap without mandate relief,” he said, adding that he is mindful of how a tax cap would affect municipalities and schools.
He plans to propose legislation on Medicaid spending fraud, saying New York only has laws about claims fraud.
On term limits, he said them for legislators, saying too few people have had power for too long.
As for issues in this county, Mr. McLaughlin said that he has asked to be on the agriculture committee as well as committees dealing with the economy.
He said he planned to attend this week’s meeting on the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s wood burning boiler regulations, hosted by the Environmental Review Board. He said the regulations could hurt farmers and he hopes the DEC plans to allow some existing boilers to operate under a grandfather clause. In a press release, Mr. McLaughlin said, “Rural New Yorkers and farmers rely on wood-burning furnaces to help offset costly heating fuels. Sadly, the DEC wishes to regulate these boilers to the extent that families will no longer be able to afford compliant wood-burning units.”
Mr. McLaughlin said he has good working relationships with fellow local Republican assemblymen like Marc Molinaro, 103rd, and Peter Lopez, 127th. He also expects to cross party lines to work with Democratic Senator Neil Breslin, 46th, and Democratic Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari, 106th. Mr. McLaughlin also said that he agrees with many of the policies of the incoming governor, Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat.
“Butting heads all the time doesn’t work,” he said of the state government. He said as long as the new governor and the Assembly want to move the state forward in a fiscally conservative way, he will support them.