Assemblyman Joseph M. Giglio, R-Gowanda, was to co-host a legislative hearing at 11 a.m. today in the Amherst Town Hall to discuss implementation and execution of the NY SAFE Act.

“Five months after its passage, the public is still finding out that the NY SAFE Act has many faults,” Assemblyman Giglio, who voted against the gun-control measure, says. “Due to its hasty passage, there have been numerous mishaps, false arrests and a lapse of information from the state level to the local level. The law does exactly what we feared: It infringes on the rights of law-abiding firearm owners, threatens our public safety and does nothing to protect the most vulnerable in our society.

“After hearing from the public, our local elected officials, sheriffs, and mental health professionals, we will be able to get a better grasp on how to repeal this law in order to provide a good, comprehensive law that has a result everyone can live with,” he says.

Assemblyman Giglio was to co-host the event with the ranking minority member of the Legislative Oversight, Analysis and Investigation Committee, Assemblyman Michael Montesano, R-Glen Head.

Also planning to be in attendance were Western New York Assembly members Jane Corwin, R-Clarence; Raymond Walter, R-Amherst; Steve Hawley, R-Batavia; and David DiPietro, R-East Aurora.

Area county sheriffs, county clerks and mental health professionals were also to attend the hearing as well.

The Olean Times Herald will cover today’s hearing.

U.S. Rep. Tom Reed and the House Ways and Means Committee held hearings this week with organizations targeted by the Internal Revenue Service based on their personal beliefs. The witness list included both tea party and non-tea party groups, 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations and 501(c)(3) charitable organizations.

“Hearing ... from a variety of groups targeted, it’s frightening how far the government went to discriminate and even more frightening to think how far it might have gone, had this prejudice not been brought to light,” Rep. Reed said. “A government so powerful that it actively works to silence certain personal, political or religious beliefs walks a dangerous line. Too many in Washington have forgotten who they work for. Washington works for the taxpayer, not the other way around.

“These groups were established to do things like help our veterans and educate students about our Constitution,” he continues. “They were exercising their freedom of expression and I applaud those who testified today for offering up their voice but know there are many who are afraid to speak up for fear of being targeted and abused by the federal government.

Rep. Reed said, after a second hearing, he still doesn’t believe there has been any accountability from the IRS. He says he’s seen IRS Acting Commissioner Steven Miller “retire and walk away with his pension.”

“We’ve seen Lois Lerner, head of the IRS tax-exempt organizations division, plead the Fifth and refuse to answer questions,” he says. “What we haven’t seen is responsibility and accountability. When I asked the witnesses what our role as members of Congress should be, witnesses stated we follow every lead and conduct a thorough investigation.

“We will continue the work to do just that. If we don’t hold this city, this community accountable, the problem is only going to get worse.”

The governor’s office warns New Yorkers to beware of tax collection letters that appear to be government notices, but are actually misleading solicitations from private entities. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has directed the New York State Department of Financial Services to investigate complaints by taxpayers on suspected scams.

“New Yorkers should be wary of misleading collection notices posing as official government letters used by private entities to prey on taxpayers,” Gov. Cuomo said. “I urge anyone who thinks they have received one of these deceptive notices to call the State Tax Department or Department of Financial Services so we can investigate and put an end to these schemes.”

The deceptive notices are typically sent to taxpayers with outstanding tax debt and include threatening phrases such as “state tax warrant notice” and “bank accounts and asset seizure pending.”

To view samples of two notices, go to: 2.pdf.

Only when recipients call the toll-free number on the letter do they realize it is not from the State Tax Department, but rather a business claiming to be able to remove the debt for a fraction of the amount owed.

Official state tax notices always include the letterhead of the “New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.” In addition, when calling the Tax Department, representatives will be able to identify themselves and provide an identification number.

Anyone who believes that they have been the victim of this type of scam should contact the New York State Department of Financial Services’ Consumer Help Line at (800) 342-3736.

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