Ortt says new landscape in Albany with Democrats in control of State Senate
State senator takes the oath in front of about 100 people at Medina VFW
MEDINA – State Sen. Robert Ortt took the oath of office during a ceremony at the Medina VFW on Saturday. About 100 people attended the event to help Ortt kick off his third term as a state legislator. The crowd included many local veterans and Republican Party leaders and members from throughout the county.
Ortt, 39, enters the legislative session in the minority conference after Democrats had a big November that resulted in the party getting a sizable majority in the Senate. Democrats now have 39 of the 63 seats. Republicans have been clinging to a slight majority in recent years. The Democratic takeover of the Senate puts all three legislative powers – the governor, the Assembly and Senate – in Democratic Party control.
“The landscape in our state capitol has changed and it has changed fairly dramatically,” Ortt told the group at the VFW.
The Democratic Party control likely will result in a push for more gun control, and a likely shift to more state funding to subways, city school districts and other issues that are on the front burner for many Democrats.
The 23 Republicans who remain in the State Senate represent about 8 million people out of 19.5 million in the state. Ortt said that group will continue to speak up for upstate school districts and communities, especially for rural areas that need more broadband Internet, and state investment in roads and bridges.
Most of the Democrats in the State Senate represent New York City or other urban areas.
“You’re going to see that in the priorities,” he said about the Senate’s legislative agenda. “My responsibility is to make sure upstate issues are talked about.”
A recent Census report showed New York was one of nine states to lose population from July 2017 to July 2018. The country’s population went 0.6 percent or by about 2 million people to 327,167,434. However, New York dipped by 48,150 or 0.25 percent to 19,542,209.
Ortt said New York’s difficult business climate with high taxes and overly burdensome regulations drive out companies and residents.
“We need to address the reasons why people leave, and it’s easy: it’s taxes and it’s regulations,” Ortt said. “Those really strangle employers and when you strangle employers they then hire less people. When they hire less people, they seek jobs elsewhere.”
Ortt said the Senate’s new leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, has proven she is good person and honorable intentions. She is the first woman to lead the State Senate in its 241-year-history.
“She seems like a really nice person who I will probably disagree with 90 percent of the time on policies,” he said.
However, it is imperative that the Republicans in the Senate work “across the aisle” with Democrats if they want to have an impact on legislation.
Ortt is the ranking Republican for two State Senate committees – Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security & Military Affairs as well as the Senate Committee on Agriculture. He is one of only two veterans in the Senate. He served in the National Guard and was deployed to Afghanistan from March to December 2008.
He looks forward to be on the Agriculture Committee to touring farms and ag businesses around the state.
“Agriculture is still the largest economic driver in New York State,” he said.