Kathy Marchione, new state senator, plans to listen

ALBANY–First term state Senator Kathy Marchione (R-43rd) is on a mission to make life easier and less expensive for local families and businesses.

Ms. Marchione was elected last year to represent the redrawn 43rd District, which includes all of Columbia County, most of Rensselaer County and parts of Washington and Saratoga counties, including the City of Saratoga Springs.

With 33 years in public office, including 14 as county clerk of Saratoga County, she has focused her legislative agenda on reducing taxes and regulation, and her first step is to embark on a “Listening Tour” that includes the Town of Gallatin May 20, where businesses and residents can air their comments. During the campaign, she pledged to visit every town in her district, and she believes her tour will help her identify constituents’ concerns.

As a member of the Senate Administrative Regulations Review Commission (“ARRC”), she also has her sights set on cutting unnecessary regulation. As an example, she cites the Wage Theft Prevention Act , which requires employers to inform employees of salary information that already appears on employees’ W-2 form. Employers object to the time it takes to provide the duplicated information—time that she believes that could be better spent conducting revenue-producing business.

Another example she mentions is a restaurateur required either to resubmit lost paperwork for renewing a liquor license or to pay an expediting fee of $600. She believes these regulations illustrate the challenges businesses face that can make it more difficult for them to compete. She vows to work hard to make New York more business friendly.

In office for just over 90 days, Senator Marchione has been through one budget process and found it disappointing, particularly as it pertained to the state Office for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). Funding through that agency that is directed to local organizations like COARC was initially was slated for a 6% cut, amounting to $120 million statewide. The bipartisan amendment proceedings, of which she was a part, successfully restored $30 million, for an overall cut of 4.5%. And while she is pleased with what lawmakers were able to accomplish, she believes it still was too big a cut for those who need help.

The senator also objects to passage of the SAFE Act gun control law and to the manner in which it was presented to the legislature. “It wasn’t a message of necessity,” she says, referring to the requirement invoked by Governor Cuomo that forced the Senate and Assembly to vote quickly on the measure without extended debate.

As originally drafted, she says, even the police would have been restricted to a maximum of just seven rounds of ammunition, a provision that the governor realized and quickly moved to amend.

Adamant about preserving what she sees as Second Amendment rights, she points to an online petition she posted opposing the legislation and calling for its repeal. The petition attracted more than 128,000 signatures, only 6,000 of them from out-of-state residents.

She also says that both the Mental Health Association of New York City and the New York State Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors, Inc. expressed unease with the aspect of the law pertaining to mental health patients, since some psychologists believe it may prevent patients from seeking treatment out of fear that they would be reported.

Senator Marchione has quickly settled into the fast pace of the Senate when the legislature is in session, but she says there was little orientation or guidance on how to obtain the information necessary to prepare for the budget process that gets rolling. Budget talks start in earnest early in January and face an April 1 deadline for completion. “Even learning that I had to find out how to retrieve the mail, instead of having it delivered to our office, was something new,” she says.

Despite political and technical complexities of state finances, the $135 billion state budget was completed ahead of schedule this year for the third year in a row.

The senator’s early career began as a court reporter. She then married, and with two small children, accepted the offer of a one-afternoon-per-week job assisting the town clerk. That stint soon led to working with the town attorney, followed by a successful run for town clerk in Saratoga. “I knew that being a court reporter was not my calling—I’d be recording the proceedings and say to myself, ‘Why is that attorney not objecting?’”

Asked for her plans for the future, she says, “I want to do the very best job I can do for the people who elected me. I’m concentrating on the job at hand. If anything else is in store, a door will open.”

She also hopes to restore some balance between her work and her personal life. “Being on the campaign trail for a year means I haven’t spent nearly as much time with my family. I need to get my home life back in order now that the budget is behind us. Fortunately, my husband and children are very supportive.”

To contact Senator Marchione email or go to www.nysentante.gov/district/43.

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