Local News Headlines

WJTN News Headlines for Feb. 7, 2020

Opponents and supporters of the new Bail Reform law were heard from Thursday afternoon during a hearing by the state Senate Repeal Bail Reform Task Force.  

Some 17 people testified during the first of a statewide series of hearings on the impact of the cashless bail, and other criminal justice reforms that took effect on January 1st.  State Senator George Borrello, who chairs the task force, says the goal is to get testimony from people who he says were ignored in the process of creating the new laws.

Borrello says the new reforms have resulted in a more than 70-percent increase in bench warrants for failure to appear in court in the city of Jamestown.  He says the last count was 119 people who have not shown up for their court dates.  Borrello says Chautauqua County Sheriff Jim Quattrone and District Attorney Patrick Swanson were on hand, along with Jamestown Police Chief Harry Snellings and Dunkirk Police Chief Dave Ortolano.

Also in Buffalo, local Assemblyman Andy Goodell joined other members of the chamber's minority Republicans calling for an immediate repeal of the criminal justice reforms -- namely cashless bail.  

The press conference was hosted by Gowanda Assemblyman Joe Giglio and other Republicans.  They were also joined by families directly impacted by the new bail reform laws and law enforcement professionals who expressed serious concerns with the new requirements.  The members also discussed their recently issued report, “Criminal Justice Reform: Addressing the Issues with Bail and Discovery Reforms."  Goodell says "catch and release’ is great for fishing, but is a terrible criminal justice policy.  Lives are being lost and New Yorkers are losing confidence in their safety; we know what we have to do.  It’s far past time to repeal this ‘catch and release’ policy."

Local Congressman Tom Reed spent some time meeting and, getting to know new muncipal and county officials recently in Mayville.  

He says it was also a chance to get updates on local issues facing those officials.  Reed says the meeting included people like Interim County Executive P-J Wendel, and new State Senator George Borrello.  The Corning Republican says the health of Chautauqua Lake remains a big issuesone local issue... along with workforce development.

Reed says the third major issue is New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's recent proposal to cap state Medicaid aid at 3-percent growth.  Cuomo is making the proposal to try and reign in spending on the program.  However, local leaders say the state runs the program, and New York needs to find cost cuts.  Reed says it's wrong to shift any added costs onto local counties.. and, he'll oppose any such move.  

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says it will no longer let New York residents enroll in its "trusted traveler" programs because of a new state law that blocked federal immigration officials from accessing motor vehicle records.  

The so-called "Green Light" law went into effect in December and allowed people without legal permission to be in the United States to apply for driver's licenses.

  Acting Director of the Homeland Security Department, Chad Wolf, called New York's new law "disappointing" during a Fox News interview late Wednesday night.  A senior adviser to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, says the move by DHS was politically motivated.  Local Congressman Tom Reed recently sounded a warning on the potential move by DHS and, again called this morning for the "Green Light" law to be repealed.

The 2019 Hunting Seasons for New York State are the safest on-record in history.  That from Department of Environment Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos, who says nearly 55,000 hunters enjoy the sport in New York state each year.  Seggos says the declining number of incidents confirms that today's generation of hunters are the most safety-conscious yet.  The DEC documented seven tree stand incidents, 12 Hunting-Related Shooting incidents and one fatality last year, compared to 166 incidents -- 13 of which were fatal -- in 1966.