WGXC Congressional Report 20210502 (Audio)

May 02, 2021
Produced by WGXC staff.

This is WGXC's Congressional Report, tracking the votes, words, and actions of Rep. Antonio Delgado, a Democrat from Rhinebeck representing the 19th Congressional District, and Paul Tonko, a Democrat from Amsterdam from the 20th Congressional District. The website reports that Delgado, Tonko, and Sean Maloney, all Hudson Valley Democrats, vote with President Joe Biden's positions 100 percent of the time so far, while Republican Elise Stefanik votes with Biden just 18.8 percent of the time. Click here to play or download an audio version of this report.

Emilie Munson is reporting for the Times Union New York will lose a seat in Congress and an Electoral College vote based on new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau April 26. U.S. Census officials said if New York counted 89 more people, and the population data for all other states remained the same, the state would not be losing a seat. "It’s like voting, every person counts," said Dan Lamb, lecturer at Cornell's Institute for Public Affairs. "Any time there is a near miss like that you start to wonder what could you have been." Seven states, including New York, California, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, will each lose one seat in Congress. Six states will gain seats. Texas will add two seats, while Colorado, Florida, Missouri, North Carolina, and Oregon will each gain a seat. Plus, states that are gaining Congressional seats will also gain Electoral College votes in presidential elections. It will now be up to the state's 10-member Independent Redistricting Commission to decide which congressional seat New York will lose and how to redraw the map. The Census Bureau promised to deliver the full data set used for redrawing the maps to the state by the end of September. That information will pinpoint where the population declines took place. It also means the final district maps that will be used for the 2022 elections may not be available until the end of the year. According to the data released, New York's population grew by 4.2 percent from 2010 to 2020 and more people moved out of the state than moved in, Census officials said. The state gained 823,147 residents from 2010 to 2020 for a total of 20,201,249 residents in 2020. In addition, 28,451 fewer federal employees living overseas claimed a New York residence from 2010 to 2020. Utah saw the greatest population increase of any state, followed by Texas and North Dakota. West Virginia, Illinois and Mississippi lost population. Read the full story in the Times Union.

Noah Zweifel reports in the Altamont Enterprise that while Rep. Paul Tonko, a Democrat representing Albany County and other upstate regions, touts his massive CLEAN Future Act as “bold and urgent federal climate action,” environmental activists are upset about the bill's allowances for waste incineration as a source of clean electricity. “Burning municipal waste doesn’t eliminate the need for landfills; for every three pounds of trash burned, one pound of toxic ash is produced. The fly ash is emitted into the atmosphere and readily contaminates the air, soil, and water. The bottom ash contains concentrated toxins and must be landfilled in someone’s community," said Alexis Goldsmith, the national organizing director of Beyond Plastics, a policy group headquartered at Bennington College in Vermont. In response, Tonko’s communications director, Matt Sonneborn issued a statement bragging about Tonko's environmental record, but not addressing the issue of burning garbage. Instead, environmentalists would like to see less trash produced. “Nearly 400 million tons of virgin plastic is produced annually,” Goldsmith said, “and that amount is expected to triple by 2050. [Forty-percent] of new plastic is for single use packaging. The flood of material in the waste stream is overwhelming and unmanageable. Even with good waste management practices, plastic readily contaminates the environment." Read more about this story in the Altamont Enterprise.

Roger Hannigan Gilson reports in the Times Union that the New York State Marine Highway Transportation Company, a private barge operator that transports rock from the Peckham Industries quarry in Catskill and the Colarusso & Sons quarry in the City of Hudson, wants to moor up to three 250-foot barges in the Hudson River near a Germantown park. The U.S. Coast Guard proposed a series of barge anchorages for oil ships in 2016, that was withdrawn after much public opposition. The federal government eventually passed a law prohibiting any anchorages south of Kingston. But Germantown is north of there, and this proposal is for a mooring, a semi-permanent anchor for ships across from the Ernest R. Lasher Jr. Memorial Park, rather than an anchorage. Local officials say they were only recently notified about the proposal for up to three barges parked near Germantown while waiting for dock space across the Hudson River at the Peckham Industries quarry and the LeHigh Cement plant, or after being loaded. “The other side of the river from us is industrial, you can see barges over there,” Germantown Town Supervisor Robert Beaury said. “So I don’t get it – why are you going to move [barges] from the industrial side of the river to the recreational side?” Columbia County Board of Supervisors Chair Matt Murell has issued a letter opposing the proposal and is asking Assemblyperson Didi Barrett, State Sen. Daphne Jordan, and Rep. Antonio Delgado, to also speak out against the proposed moorings. John Lipscomb, the boat captain for Riverkeeper, is a member of the Hudson River Safety, Navigation and Operations Committee newly created to regulate river activity, and says the moorings are nothing to worry about. “To put it in perspective, as I travel on the patrol boat on the length of the [Hudson River], there are hundreds of navigation aids — the red and green buoys — and what are they?” Lipscomb asked. “They’re a big anchor, a chain and a buoy…there’s never been any sort of evidence that [this] has a negative environmental impact.” The Hudson River Safety, Navigation and Operations Committee voted to back the project without hearing any comments from citizens. Read more about this story in the Times Union.

Michael Gwizdala reports in the Saratogian that, in addressing the Rensselaer County Chamber of Commerce online April 28, both Democrats Paul Tonko and Antonio Delgado lamented the shrinking New York Congressional delegation. "We lose one voice of 27 in the delegation, and so that weakens our clout through committee assignments and through votes on the floor," Tonko said. "I have to tell you, it's so painful to acknowledge that we were within 89 people being included in our count to have saved all 27 seats." Delgado got at the reason New York is losing a Congressional seat. "All 11 counties in New York 19 over the last 10 years or so have experienced population loss," Delgado said. "So for me, the big takeaway is how do we change that? What do we do to retain families, attract families and make sure that our community, our rural way of life in upstate New York is maintained?" Both representatives mentioned rural broadband, crumbling roads and water systems, as some of the infrastructure the current New York delegation is working in Congress to improve. "There are certain counties in New York 19 where nearly 90 percent of the roads are in disrepair. I mean that's just unacceptable, so I do think that's going to be a big component," said Delgado. Read more about this story in the Saratogian.