Written by The Press-Republican on March 10, 2020

Gillibrand releases agriculture, rural development funding guidebook

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On March 2, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) unveiled a guidebook to assist agriculture and rural development organizations with accessing federal and state grant money.

According to a press release, the book provides information to help them navigate the grant application process: what the programs are, who is eligible, the terms and how the funds may be used.

“In these tough economic times, we must make sure rural communities get their fair share of federal and state dollars,” Gillibrand said in a statement.

“By giving our agricultural and rural communities the resources they need to access federal and state grants, we’ll strengthen our economic growth efforts, create jobs and provide much-needed infrastructure development.

These federal dollars will support critical services for our families and strengthen our rural communities.”

A copy of Gillibrand’s guidebook can be downloaded from her website,gillibrand.senate.gov.

Stefanik votes for Fair Debt Collection Practices for Servicemembers Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On March 3, North Country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville) and fellow House members unanimously passed the Fair Debt Collection Practices for Servicemembers Act.

The legislation prohibits unethical and unfair debt collection practices targeted at servicemembers, according to a press release.

“The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) reported that servicemembers are subject to a variety of unfair debt collection practices, including contacting the servicemember’s chain of command and threatening punishment through the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ),” the release said.

“It’s unacceptable for debt collectors to target and harass our servicemembers and their families by threatening to contact their chain of command, reduce their rank, revoke their security clearance or prosecute them,” Stefanik said in a statement.

“This bill will support our servicemembers at Fort Drum and across our region by ensuring they are no longer subject to these unethical and unfair debt collection practices.

Our men and women in uniform should be honored and respected, not harassed and targeted because of their great service to our country.

I proudly voted in favor of this legislation and applaud the House for coming together to pass it.”

Stefanik votes for Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On March 3, North Country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville) voted for the Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act, which she had cosponsored Dec. 3.

According to a press release, the World Economic forum ranked Pakistan as the second worst in the world among countries evaluated for gender equality.

The U.S. Agency for International Development Merit and Needs Based Scholarships fund full tuition and stipends to help economically-disadvantaged Pakistani youth complete bachelor’s or master’s degrees at 30 universities across Pakistan.

The legislation directs USAID to issue at least half of those scholarships in Pakistan to women during each year of the 2020-2022 period, the release said, and to brief Congress annually on whether that goal has been achieved.

Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for girls education who survived a direct attack by the Taliban in 2012; in 2014, she became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

“Less than six percent of women 25 and older in Pakistan attain a bachelor’s degree or equivalent degree,” Stefanik said in a statement, adding that she continues to be inspired by Yousafzai.

“I am a staunch advocate for promoting education and opportunity for women and girls across the country and am proud to cosponsor and help pass this bill today in the House.

Ensuring young women have access to the same scholarships and resources that young men do is critical to bringing up our next generation of leaders.”

Stefanik announces grants for Lake Champlain projects

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On March 3, North Country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville) announced $2 million in grants will be awarded from the Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) for Lake Champlain programs and projects.

According to a press release, LCBP supports a number of research and implementation projects each year, and results from these studies often inform policy and “are extended to education programming and training opportunities by partners across the Lake Champlain Watershed.”

“This funding provides critical support for improving water quality, combating invasive species and pollution, supporting healthy ecosystems, promoting tourism and cultural activity in the area, and educating the public about all of these topics,” Stefanik said in a statement.

“I will continue to be a lead advocate in Congress to deliver this funding, and I look forward to seeing the impacts that it has on the area surrounding Lake Champlain again this year.”

Lake Champlain Basin Program Director Dr. Eric Howe said local nongovernmental organizations and municipalities use those funds to complete projects in every region of the lake’s watershed.

“Watershed groups and community partners use education and citizen action at the local level to prevent phosphorus, salt and other pollutants from entering the watershed

“Working together with volunteers, these groups are reducing erosion from river banks and protecting critical habitat by planting trees in riparian areas, identifying and removing invasive species, and creating programs that help students and adults understand, explore, and solve watershed problems.”

Stec advocates for CHIPS funding

ALBANY — On Wednesday, Assemblyman Dan Stec (R-Queensbury) joined fellow legislators, highway superintendents and construction workers from around the state at a rally in Albany to show their support for Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) funding.

Stec and fellow Assembly minority members are calling for a $150 million increase in CHIPS funding and the restoration of $65 million for the Extreme Winter Recovery Fund, which was cut from the governor’s proposed budget this year.

In a statement, Stec said roads and bridges all over upstate New York that are outdated and in need of repair and updating.

“Our local highway superintendents and departments work hard and do what they can with the funding they have, but the funding allocated to them is often not enough.

Investing in our infrastructure is investing in our future, and will not only improve safety, but our economy and quality of life all over the North Country.”

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