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NY-21 Week in Review: Stefanik supports trade deal

The three candidates to represent New York's 21st Congressional District are incumbent U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, a Republican who calls Willsboro home; Lynn Kahn of Schroon Lake, running on the Green Party line; and Tedra Cobb, a Democrat from Canton. (Photos provided)

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, issued a statement Monday expressing support for the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which is replacing NAFTA.

“I have been a strong advocate for modernizing our trade agreement with Canada and Mexico in Congress, and I am pleased that this framework will open up the Canadian dairy markets for our North Country farmers who have been struggling,” she said in a news release. “Canadian trade has supported millions of jobs since NAFTA took effect, and reaching this agreement is critical to the continued success of our region.”

Kahn gets farm backing

Speaking of dairy farming, Green Party candidate Lynn Kahn has received the endorsement of Farm Women United, which is an organization that wants to “restore cultural respect for farmers,” according to the organization’s website.

Kahn has made farm issues a key component of her campaign and has proposed to set a floor price of $20 per hundred pounds for milk used for manufacturing, and has called for congressional hearings on milk pricing.

Kahn has criticized Stefanik for her vote on the 2018 Farm Bill, which Kahn said favors industrial farms over local family farms.

“Congresswoman Stefanik is out of touch with our dairy farmers, and beholden to big business, not real farmers. She has had the power for nearly four years to set a fair price for farm milk and has not done that,” Kahn said in a news release.

Also, Kahn recently received the endorsement of Veterans In Politics International.

Spokesman joins team

Kahn, the Green Party candidate, now has a spokesman. Paul Paterakis, who worked on Patrick Nelson’s unsuccessful bid for the Democratic NY-21 nomination, began work on Sept. 25.

Paterakis said in an email that he met Kahn at forums during the Democratic primary and wanted to work for her campaign because of her support for bills enacting Medicare for all and getting off fossil fuels.

“She is the true progressive in this race,” he said.

Owens endorses Cobb

Tedra Cobb, Democratic candidate for the NY-21 congressional seat, received the endorsement last week of former U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, who was Stefanik’s predecessor representing NY-21.

“As a St. Lawrence County legislator, she earned the respect of her constituents and those with whom she served by being an independent advocate and working to make local government more accountable,” Owens said in a news release.

Cobb thanked Owens, a Democrat, for his support.

“I deeply respect Congressman Owens’ legacy of service and of working to develop the North Country’s workforce and strengthen our rural economy,” she said in a news release.

Cobb picked up the endorsement last week of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which has about 1.6 million members nationwide.

Drug price information

Stefanik recently voted in favor of the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act and the Know the Lowest Price Act.

The bills would ban the practice of a so-called “pharmacy gag clause,” in which a pharmacists may not inform customers whether going through health insurance or paying fully out of pocket would cost less, according to the website www.govtrack.us.

The Know the Lowest Price Act would prohibit Medicare Part D prescription plans from restricting pharmacists from informing people about the prices for certain drugs. This bill is headed to President Donald Trump’s desk.

The Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act, which would lift the restriction on letting people know prices, is awaiting a vote in the Senate.

The gag order causes Americans to overspend an estimated $135 million on prescriptions, according to the summary of one of the bills.

Cobb’s Watertown office

Cobb will hold a rally Tuesday to open her Watertown campaign office.

The event will take place at 4 p.m. at 22 Public Square, according to a news release from the campaign.

The office will serve as the hub for the campaign efforts in Jefferson and Lewis counties.

Helping families save

Stefanik recently voted in favor of two bills to make it easier for families to save and to allow them to deduct start-up business costs.

The Family Savings Act makes it easier for small businesses to provide retirement plans for employees, establishes universal savings account and expands the permitted uses of 529 education savings plans. Small businesses can also band together to allow to make 401(k) plans more affordable.

The American Innovation Act doubles to $20,000 the amount of start-up and organizational costs that can be expensed in the first year of a new business.

‘Guardian of Small Business’

Stefanik last week received the “Guardian of Small Business” Award from the National Federation of Independent Business.

The award is in recognition of Stefanik’s work to support small businesses and promote entrepreneurship, according to a news release.

Funding bills advance

The House last week passed a package of spending bills, supported by Stefanik, including $674 billion for the Department of Defense; $7 billion to address the opioid epidemic; $90 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services; and $178 billion for medical research, education and job training, according to a news release. It contains $8.8 billion for victims of Hurricane Florence and also keeps the government open through Dec. 7.

A bill that reauthorizes funding for the Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Transportation and Essential Air Service for five years also passed.

Odds and ends

The quarterly campaign fundraising cycle closed on Sunday. The deadline to submit reports is Oct. 15.

A date still has not been set for the NY-21 candidates forum to be held at Spectrum studios in Albany. Station officials say they are still working on negotiations.

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