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Owens reaches out

Guns, min wage, retirement hot topics at town hall Wednesday, Feb. 26

— Congressman Bill Owens (D-NY) held a telephone town hall Wednesday, Feb. 26, with constituents of New York’s 21st Congressional District to discuss policy in Washington, his recent work in the district and issues reflecting both national and local concerns.

“I wanted to host this town hall because it’s been a while since we’ve done this,” Owens told participants before running down a list of recent Capitol Hill accomplishments, including the debt ceiling increase, the 2014-15 resolved budget and last month’s Farm Bill passage.

The outgoing rep said he was instrumental in getting legislation added to the latter to reflect local concerns, including loan facilitation, a $450,000 reduction in export tariffs of apples for juice manufacturing and a bump in funding for maple production and sales.

Owens highlighted the Farm Bill’s Dairy Security Act as important for local farmers and as a boost to the local economy and cited recent discussions with the owners of a robotic dairy farm in Washington County.

“This gives us some real opportunity to allow small farms to continue to exist and let families run those. It’s also a national security issue when it comes to food production.”

Still on the legislative schedule, he said, is the appropriations process, which he anticipates will run smoothly.

“Tax and immigration reform is unclear,” he said. “Unfortunately, there’s some discord there.”

Owens then opened up discussion to the 3,996 participating constituents.

MINIMUM WAGE

“Is there any possibility of the minimum wage bill passing the House?” asked Ernie from Potsdam.

“This is quite unfortunately unlikely as we move forward,” said Owens.

Owens said the state itself done a good job in that respect and some businesses are starting to facilitate changes on their own.

“Seventy percent of the U.S. economy is consumer spending,” he said. “Putting money in the hands of people spending their dollars to enhance the economy is an example of a ‘trickle up theory.’ If people are spending more money, that drives demand which drives manufacturing. We all have a reason to look at where things are made: buy local, buy American.”

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