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Political Notebook: Stefanik bill seeks federal standard on farm overtime

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U.S. Reps. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, and Chris Jacobs, R-Orchard Park (Erie County), on Aug. 30 introduced legislation to essentially prohibit New York from implementing a recommendation from the state Farm Laborers Wage Board to reduce the threshold for overtime pay for farm workers from 60 hours to 40 hours in increments over a 10-year period.

“As this decision jeopardizes New York’s agriculture industry, puts thousands of farm laborers out of work, and makes New York less competitive by forcing our workers to neighboring states in the midst of a labor shortage, this bill will set a federal standard to ensure the overtime threshold for agricultural workers cannot be lowered beyond 60 hours a week,” Stefanik said in a news release.

The legislation — H.R. 8756 — would add language to federal law to “preempt” any state regulation with a farm worker overtime threshold of less than 60 hours per week.

Democratic congressional candidate Matt Castelli, who is challenging Stefanik in the 21st Congressional District in November, said the proposed legislation violates state rights.

“I strongly oppose the Farm Laborers Wage Board’s overtime recommendations and urge Governor Hochul to reject them,” said Castelli, a former CIA counterterrorism official who lives in Glens Falls. “Representative Stefanik’s proposed legislation strips away state’s rights, a betrayal of conservatives and voters who don’t want more power handed to the federal government, and is clearly a publicity stunt with no chance of passing through this Congress.”

In other regional political news:

AFL-CIO endorsements

The state AFL-CIO announced endorsements of James Tedisco, R-Glenville, in the 44th Senate District, and Democrat Andrea Smyth in the 43rd Senate District.

Tedisco is running against Democratic challenger Michelle Ostrelich, a Schenectady County legislator.

Smyth, a health care and family issues policy advocate from Troy, is running against state Assemblyman Jake Ashby, R-Castleton, for an open seat.

The coalition of labor unions did not endorse in the 45th Senate District, where Democrat Jean Lapper, a certified public accountant and financial adviser from Queensbury, is challenging incumbent Republican Dan Stec of Queensbury.

In the 113th Assembly District, the state AFL-CIO endorsed incumbent Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, D-Round Lake, who is running against Republican David Catalfamo, an economic development official and writer from Wilton.

Catalfamo on redistricting

Republican state Assembly candidate David Catalfamo continues to criticize the Assembly redistricting plan that moved Glens Falls into the 113th Assembly District, reducing the Republican enrollment advantage in the district.

Catalfamo, an economic development official and writer from Wilton, is challenging Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, D-Round Lake, in the 113th District.

Catalfamo on Sept. 6 announced that he filed a complaint with the state Ethics Board against Woerner, regarding the redistricting process.

Woerner was not a member of the legislative task force that drew the Assembly district maps.

She did vote to enact the overall redistricting plan, but has said she was not involved in preparing the plan.

Catalfamo, in a telephone interview, said state law requires districts to be drawn based on commonality, and that segmenting off one municipality from the rest of Warren County goes against that standard.

Warren County Democratic Chairwoman Lynne Boecher has said that Glens Falls and Saratoga Springs share commonality as small cities, and therefore should be in the same Assembly district.

Stefanik endorsements

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, on Tuesday announced that the New York Law Enforcement Officers Union, Council 82, has enforced her re-election candidacy.

The union of police officers, deputy sheriffs and other public safety employees has about 1,000 members in the 21st Congressional District.

“Not only has Elise been a strong voice for the 21st District’s law enforcement, correction officers, veterans, and military families, Elise has never backed down from taking on the dangerous policies that have affected our entire state,” union President Ronald Walsh, in a news release.

On Thursday, Stefanik announced that the National Border Patrol Council, a union of border patrol agents, endorsed her candidacy.

“Elise opposes policies that have been dangerous for our communities, such as sanctuary cities, licenses for illegal immigrants, and mass amnesty,” said Brandon Judd, the union’s president.

Stefanik is running against Democratic challenger Matt Castelli, a former CIA counterterrorism official who lives in Glens Falls.

Maury Thompson covered local government and politics for The Post-Star for 21 years before he retired in 2017. He continues to follow regional politics as a freelance writer.


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