ALBANY — Reflecting on 13 years in public office, Republican Sen. George Amedore encouraged state lawmakers to fight for upstate communities and for political balance in the Democratic-controlled Legislature in the next session as the retiring legislator looks ahead to a new chapter.
Amedore, of Rotterdam, served as state senator for the 46th Senate District since 2014 and left office Dec. 31. The 46th Senate District encompasses a portion of Albany County, all of Montgomery and Greene counties, and portions of Schenectady and Ulster counties.
Amedore is a second-generation owner and president of the family business, Amedore Homes, and previously served in the state Assembly from 2007 to 2012 representing Mongtomery and Schenectady counties.
“Time has gone by so quickly — it’s amazing,” he said. “I have a lot to be thankful for and appreciate the time and the trust that the constituents of the 46th Senate District have given me and the opportunity to serve throughout the years.”
Amedore, 51, did not seek re-election for a fourth term. Senator-elect Michelle Hinchey, a Democrat, of Saugerties, will officially succeed Amedore in the role Jan. 4 after her victory against Republican Richard Amedure in November — flipping the seat blue.
During his tenure, the senator has spoken in favor of term limits.
“It’s important for an individual to practice what they preach,” he said.
Amedore also left office to focus on developing his contracting business and spending more time with family. He and his wife of 30 years, Joelle, have three adult children, George, Anthony and Bria.
“As your family gets older and you get more demands placed on you, whether it’s health issues or other issues, I’ve decided between term limits and then family I wanted to put them first,” Amedore said. “I always gave my undivided attention as the senator as well as tried to give my undivided attention as a business owner. But you can’t keep that pace up forever.”
Amedore advised Hinchey, his incoming successor, to put upstate constituents first and not become consumed by partisan politics as state Democratic leaders hail from New York City.
“She’s there to serve the people and to represent the constituents and I hope she does that in an unbiased way,” Amedore said. “My advice to Senator-elect Hinchey is that she fights for our fair share of the quality and ideals of upstate New York because that’s where we live and she serves. I hope that she will not get caught up in the party politics and the dominance of the Democratic party coming out of New York City and the progressive ideology coming out of the city as well — because that’s not all New York and that’s not what she’s there to do.”
Amedore expressed concern for the Legislature’s one-party rule, as Democrats have control of both houses and the Executive Chamber under Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The Senate secured a new veto-proof Democratic supermajority after the November elections flipped several seats — including in the 46th District.
“We do not have a balance in government — it’s extremely dangerous,” he said. “All facets of levels of government in the majority and those who have the real decision-making capacity are from one political persuasion that is influenced from one geographic region, and that’s the city of New York. We need people who are going to stand up for upstate, for Long Island, for the North Country... for the Capital Region, to really bring about a balance in public policy.”
Democrats have posed significant tax hikes and other revenue raisers, such as legalizing recreational marijuana or mobile sports betting, to help New York’s $15 billion revenue gap caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amedore encouraged his colleagues to propose measures to curb economic development initiatives in the next state budget to reduce spending, as the deficit is expected to grow to more than $31 billion in two years.
“I have not heard one proposal of what they’re going to reduce or what they’re going to reallocate — all I keep hearing is ‘we’re going to raise taxes,’” Amedore said. “I really think there has to be other alternatives that need to be looked at.”
In the next session, Amedore encouraged lawmakers to focus on improving state infrastructure and high-speed broadband internet access — significant issues that have plagued upstate communities for years. He also noted the need to fight for fewer regulations and more benefits for small businesses.
During his tenure in the Senate, Amedore served as chairman of the Senate Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Committee and as co-chair of the bipartisan Joint Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction.
He co-sponsored and helped to pass bill S.933B, which would add three derivatives of fentanyl to the controlled-substance list and increases penalties for the sale of an opiate containing fentanyl, creating an A-II felony for the sale of more than one-quarter ounce of fentanyl and an A-I felony for the sale of 1 ounce or more. The legislation died in the Assembly, but remains in the Senate Rules Committee.
“We have a horrific problem of substance-use disorders and so many that struggle with that battle of addiction,” Amedore said.
As a builder, Amedore said his time in office highlighted the gaps in upstate transitional housing opportunities for New Yorkers afflicted with addiction, as substance abuse and related overdoses have skyrocketed during the pandemic.
State lawmakers are barred from lobbying for two years after leaving office, but Amedore plans to continue to advocate for addiction and recovery services, keeping in contact with nonprofit Friends of Recovery of New York and other educational opportunities.
Amedore sponsored Kenneth’s Law, named for 5-year-old Kenneth White, who was murdered in the hilltowns of Westerlo in December 2014. The law clarifies and expedites access to child abuse and maltreatment records when law enforcement agencies are involved in a missing child case.
Amedore campaigned in favor of the state’s property tax cap to foster property taxpayer protection since his initial 2007 election, and touts its adoption as an achievement. The bipartisan measure was signed into law June 24, 2011.
“That was a pretty proud moment for me because the pundits were telling me, ‘You’re a political neophyte, you’re never going to see this happen in New York,’ and we got to see it happen,” Amedore recalled. “...We were seeing property tax increases in the double digits each year for the longest time. Being in business, you think, how do you slow down the problem and try to catch your breath? Property taxpayers could never catch their breath in upstate New York.”
Amedore is open to holding political office in the future.
“I will leave the opportunity always open — I never thought a day in my life I would run the first time,” Amedore said. “I learned that early on in life. Any time that I’ve said ‘Never, I will never do it,’ I ended up doing it. I’m not going to tell you the word is ‘never,’ but you never know what opportunities are going to come and present itself.”
In 2017, Amedore helped Senate Republicans spearhead workers’ compensation reform, significantly decreasing premiums for small business owners.
Amedore has also championed improvements in Greene County, fighting for a comprehensive plan and infrastructure improvements for the Catskill Park to encourage more visitors.
Amedore fought for Greene County to share in a special film tax credit program with a 10% benefit as part of the Empire State Film Production Credit program. A longtime advocate of infrastructure and highway department funding, he also secured several infrastructure and other improvement grants for smaller communities throughout his tenure, including New Baltimore, Athens, Cairo and Catskill.
He has also secured multiple grants and funding for several local libraries throughout the district.
Several grants Amedore secured for 46th District municipalities and organizations continue to be delayed because of the state’s financial crisis. Hinchey will carry the initiatives forward into the next session to ensure the grants are funded.
“They don’t go away because I’m leaving office,” Amedore said.
The former lawmaker expressed deep gratitude to constituents in the 46th District.
“I hope they understand my most deepest and humble gratitude,” Amedore said. “They have given me a great opportunity. I hope that I had served them well and made them proud, and I don’t think that they heard the last of me. I really pray a blessing upon all of them that this area, the 46th Senate District, would prosper and be safe and healthy.”