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Senator Gillibrand Speaks Out About Long Island Issues

Since her appointment by Governor Paterson to the U.S. Senate, taking the seat vacated by Hilary Rodham Clinton, followed by her winning the special election in March of 2009, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has had a lot on her plate- from issues as high profile as the economic stimulus package of 2009, to dealing with issues that are less controversial, such as the risk to infants posed by dangerous drop-side cribs. Gillibrand will be running to hold on to her seat in November.

In the interests of getting better acquainted with her constituency (and vice-versa), Senator Gillibrand met with members of the press at her Long Island office in Melville on Monday, May 24. While most of the discussion focused on national issues like immigration and regulatory reform, Gillibrand also took time to discuss issues that are particular to Long Island, like coastal erosion and funding adequate mass transportation. She identified the aging sewage systems on the Island as an issue in desperate need of attention, with a hypothetical half a trillion dollars in unmet infrastructure needs. While Gillibrand did not promise to produce half a trillion dollars in funds, she did clarify that she was planning on making the issue a high priority on her legislative agenda.

The senator also claimed that New York should be getting more anti-terrorism funding than other states, and that she would advocate basing the funding on the risk of terrorism in a given state ahead of other factors. “We are a target,” she said emphatically, citing Montana as an example of a state with a relatively low risk of terrorism that should not be in serious competition with New York for anti-terrorism funds.

Gillibrand voiced a strong opinion on the recent Arizona Immigration Law. “It’s a terrible, outrageous law,” she said. She went on to say that the United States is a country built on immigration, and that “we need to be honest with ourselves” in terms of the number of immigrants it takes to support critical parts of the economy- such as the agricultural segment of Long Island.

She was also highly critical of the recent Supreme Court decision to strike down a section of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. “We need publicly financed elections,” she said. Earlier in the meeting, Gillibrand disclosed that her 2006 run for Congress was one of the most expensive congressional campaigns in the nation, due to the need to convince the Republican electorate in the upstate 20th Congressional District that a Democrat would represent their interests.

One recent piece of legislation that the senator took part in was the Student Non-Discrimination Act, which states that students may not be bullied for being LGBT: lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. When asked whether or not additional legislation was necessary to protect all children from bullying, Gillibrand reiterated her stance on protecting LGBT children. “Having a standard on the federal level is important,” she said.

On the issue of gun control, Gillibrand stated that while she supports the Second Amendment, stemming the tide of gun violence ranks highly on her agenda. Gillibrand stated that she is only interested in making it harder to obtain illegal guns, stressing that licensed gun owners should have no reason to be concerned about any legislation she would introduce. She did want to clarify that, despite rumors to the contrary, she has never kept a gun under her bed.

For more information about Senator Gillibrand and her legislative agenda, visit the senator’s website at http://gillibrand.senate.gov/.