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Barrett 1st woman to chair veterans committee

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C-GM File Assemblymember Didi Barrett, D-106, being sworn into her third term in 2017, at the Hudson Opera House on Warren Street. Going into her fourth term Barrett will serve as chair of the Assembly Committee on Veterans Affairs.
January 10, 2019 12:28 pm Updated: January 10, 2019 12:28 pm

ALBANY — Assemblywoman Didi Barrett, D-106, is the first woman to head the state Assembly Committee on Veterans Affairs and said it will be a continuation of work she has done in her six-year effort to help veterans.

“This is a tremendous honor,” Barrett said. “Veterans are heroes who we owe a debt of gratitude to and I am proud to stand up for them.”

About 7,000 veterans call the Twin Counties home according to most recent available estimate released by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in 2016.

“We’ve done a lot of good work in the state to help veterans, but more can be done,” Barrett said. “We can do more to help tackle issues such as mental health, behavioral health and substance abuse among veterans.”

Barrett added that she wants to provide more support for families of veterans and for female veterans.

“When service members are deployed and come home the whole family is impacted,” Barrett said. “We should approach veterans affairs in a holistic manner.”

Barrett was appointed Dec. 19 to lead the Veterans Affairs Committee. She was a member of Veterans Affairs for the first four years of her tenure.

The chairmanship carried with it compensation for the legislator in the past, but this year Barrett will not receive a stipend for the position, said Tom McCarthy, Barrett’s legislative aide.

State lawmakers received a 63 percent pay increase this year as recommended by the state Compensation Committee created by the legislature in 2018. The Compensation Committee also recommended that committee leaders not receive stipends.

Barrett touted her track record of supporting legislation to help veterans start farming and to obtain tax exemptions for recent veterans.

The November elections ushered in a power shift at the state capital with Democrats taking control of the Republican-held Senate, but Barrett said that does not make much of a difference for her work on Veterans Affairs.

“I’m certainly hopeful all our actions are thoughtful and deliberate,” Barrett said. “I’ve always worked across the aisle, but we all have veterans in our districts. So we will try to pass things that help all veterans across the state.”

Republican state legislators representing the Twin Counties all were appointed as ranking members of various committees in Albany.

State Sen. Daphne Jordan, R-43, was appointed ranking minority member on the Senate’s Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee and the Senate’s Native American Relations Subcommittee.

“Horse racing is absolutely vital to our economy, job creation, local farms and way of life, not just here in Saratoga County, but across our Capital Region and the entire state,” Jordan said. “Given Saratoga and the Saratoga Race Course’s historic role as a premier destination for world-class horse racing. I am grateful to also be appointed to serve as the ranking minority member on the Senate’s Native American Relations Subcommittee. I will work to ensure continued dialogue between all stakeholders and policymakers in this important area,” Jordan said.

Assemblyman Chris Tague, R-102, was appointed as ranking member of the Assembly Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development and a member of the Election Law, Environmental Conservation and Real Property committees.

“New York is such a beautiful place to live and upstate has so much to offer,” Tague said. “Promoting local attractions to stimulate tourism will encourage people to expand their businesses in our area. We need to use our natural beauty from the ski resorts on the mountaintops to the vast expanses of Catskill Park to promote economic development and continue our efforts to revitalize the region.”

Assemblyman Jake Ashby will be the ranking member of the Aging Committee and will also serve on the Veterans Affairs, Tourism, Higher Education and Health committees and the Committee on Housing, Construction and Community Development.

State Sen. George Amedore Jr., R-46, was appinted ranking member of both the Committee on Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities and Committee on Housing, Construction and Community Development.

“I have always believed a primary role of government is making sure the most vulnerable members of our community are well cared for,” Amedore said. “I am looking forward to continuing to work on solutions to help those who struggle with mental health issues or developmental disabilities to ensure that proper services, support and resources are available to the consumers. Access to quality, affordable housing is one of the biggest issues facing New Yorkers, and I’m looking forward to this opportunity to take on this role within this committee.”