State Senator James L. Seward (R/C/I – Oneonta) today officially resumed his duties as New York State Senator, returning to the Capitol for the first time since undergoing successful surgery for bladder cancer.

“I have been eagerly awaiting this day,” said Senator Seward.  “My family and I want to offer our sincere thanks to the great many well-wishers for the cards, prayers, and positive messages we received during my recovery.  The encouraging sentiments meant a great deal and helped energize me as I prepared to return to work with a clean bill of health.  Now, it is back to business of the people – and there are a number of critical issues before the state senate during the closing days of the legislative session.”

In particular, Senator Seward is keying in on education initiatives, regulatory reforms to aid small businesses, recommendations from the Senate Task Force on Heroin, ethics reform, and several local issues.

“Bills I co-sponsor to reduce standardized testing and decouple teacher evaluations from test results would be real wins for our students.   I am also eagerly awaiting recommendations from the special Business Regulation Council and stand ready to enact proposals that help cuts costs and unnecessary government red tape that hurt our small businesses.  The senate has already advanced a number of recommendations to deal with the heroin epidemic and I will be urging the assembly and governor to come on board so we can continue to fight this public health crisis.  Certainly, ethics reform remains a priority as well, starting with legislation to block elected officials convicted of a felony from receiving a public pension and enacting term limits for leadership positions and committee chairmen,” added Seward.

Among the items on the agenda for Senator Seward on his first day back, a meeting of the Senate Insurance Committee which he chairs, that  included passage of legislation clearing insurance hurdles for ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft across New York.

“Ride-sharing services are popular and commonplace in so many parts of the nation and making them available throughout New York State would lead to economic, environmental, and safety benefits.  My legislation focuses on insurance issues related to transportation network companies (TNCs) and also allows municipalities to implement local rules and regulations that meet with community standards,” said Seward.

Senator Seward says a pair of bills that would protect long-term stability and local management for Hyde Hall in Otsego County and Rogers Environmental Education Center in Chenango County are also high priorities along with measures that would provide funding to counties to cover indigent legal services and mandated salary increases for full time district attorneys.