James L. Seward (New York)

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James Seward
Member of the New York Senate
from the 51st district
Assumed office
Preceded by Thomas W. Libous
Member of the New York Senate
from the 50th district
In office
Preceded by Lloyd Stephen Riford Jr.
Succeeded by John A. DeFrancisco
Personal details
Born August 11, 1951 (1951-08-11) (age 67)[1]
Oneonta, New York
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Cynthia Seward
Children Ryan and Lauren
Residence Milford, New York
Alma mater Hartwick College (B.A.)
Religion United Methodist
Website State Senate Site

James L. Seward is a Republican New York State Senator since 1987. Seward was first elected to represent the 50th District in 1986, and due to redistricting, is currently representing the 51st District. The 51st is a rural district, comprising Greene, Schoharie, Otsego, Herkimer, Cortland counties, as well as portions of Tompkins, Chenango and Ulster counties (51st District Map).

Early life and career

Seward is was born in Oneonta, New York[1] and attended Oneonta public schools. He went onto Hartwick College in Oneonta and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in political science.[2] In addition, he studied at the Nelson Rockefeller Institute of SUNY Albany.[2] Hartwick College honored Seward with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1999.[3]

Senate career

Senator Seward was elected to the state senate in 1986 and was appointed chairman of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee.[2] He won enactment of the "Power for Jobs" program.[2] Seward worked to ensure that the state's telecommunications industry remained competitive, and introduced legislation to restrict minors' access to electronic obscenity.[2] In 1990, he negotiated key reforms in the 1986 Low Level Radioactive Waste Siting Law.[2]

In 1999, Seward became chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Insurance.[2] He won passage of legislation in 2002 that extends group health insurance offered by chambers of commerce to sole proprietors of businesses.[2] Some of the health insurance-related legislation that Senator Seward is currently sponsoring in the 2011-2012 legislative session include amendments to: Article 17 of the New York State Constitution to allow New Yorkers to opt out of the new federal requirement to purchase health insurance;[4] the New York Insurance Law to allow health maintenance organizations ("HMOs") and insurers to purchase high-deductible health plans that are coupled with health savings accounts;[5] and the New York Tax Law to provide businesses with 50 employees or less or individuals purchasing their own insurance to obtain a state tax credit equal to 10% of the cost of health insurance premiums, to be phased in over two years.[6]

Other insurance-related legislation that Senator Seward is sponsoring in the 2011-2012 legislative session include amendments to the New York Insurance Law to: require disability income insurers to make available to employers who purchase group or blanket disability insurance the option of a contract with a pre-existing condition exclusion provision;[7] establish the interstate insurance product regulation compact to regulate certain life insurance products;[8] and to authorize the sale, issuance, and delivery of contingent deferred annuity contracts or certificates in New York State.[9]

He also is an active participant in the National Conference of Insurance Legislators ("NCOIL"), the purpose of which is to help legislators make informed decisions on insurance issues that affect their constituents and to declare opposition to federal encroachment of state authority to oversee the business of insurance, as authorized under the federal McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945.;[2][10]

In 2007, Senator Seward was asked by former Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno to assume a post in the senate leadership team as majority whip. In 2011, Senator Republican Leader Dean G. Skelos asked him to assume the position of assistant majority leader on conference operations.[2]

As chairman of the Senate Majority Task Force on Volunteer Emergency Services, Seward established a low interest loan program for the capital needs and equipment purchases of voluntary fire departments and emergency squads in 1994.[2] He has won funding increases for the program and for the state fire academy in order to improve training for firefighters.[2] He also has served as chairman of the Senate Task Force on State and Local Emergency Preparedness following the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York City and Washington.[2] In the 2011-2012 legislative session, he is currently sponsoring legislation that would: exempt both commercial and voluntary ambulance services from paying tolls on the New York State Thruway;[11] amend the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law to permit young people who hold junior drivers licenses to drive at night to participate in volunteer fire and ambulance activities;[12] and amend the New York Social Services Law to establish a Medicaid reimbursement methodology for ambulance transportation with rates that allow providers to recoup their costs.[13]

Senator Seward has been an advocate for education, securing state aid for local districts to offset rising taxes and to support technology and special education initiatives within his schools.[2] He strongly supported enactment of the STAR school tax relief program and has championed property tax relief.[2]

Senator Seward has been recognized for his advocacy and responsiveness by the Farm Bureau, the United Mine Workers, local chambers of commerce and many community organizations.[2]

Senator Seward voted against a same-sex marriage bill on December 2, 2009; the bill was defeated.[14] However, in 2011, the Legislature ultimately enacted, and Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law, a same-sex marriage bill, which Senator Seward opposed.[15]

In January 2012, Senator Seward announced that he had been appointed to the newly created Senate Select Committee on Libraries.[16] The committee is a bipartisan, 19-member committee that is authorized to conduct meetings, conferences, and public hearings to gather information on and make recommendations regarding library-related legislative proposals.[16]

Senator Seward is a former Milford town justice and former chairman of the Otsego County Republican Committee.[2] He was a delegate to the 1976, 1980, and 1988 Republican National Conventions and an alternate delegate in 1996.[2]

Senator Seward is a director of Wilber National Bank, a trustee of Glimmerglass Opera, serves on the boards of directors of Pathfinder Village and the Catskill Symphony, and is a member of the Milford United Methodist Church.[2]

Seward was re-elected most recently on November 4, 2008.[17]

Personal life

Senator Seward lives in Milford, New York with his wife Cynthia (née Milavec).[2] They have two grown children: Ryan and Lauren.[3]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Sen. James Seward (R-New York) biography". ny.ala.capwiz.com. New York Library Association. Retrieved 2009-06-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 http://www.nysenate.gov/senator/james-l-seward/bio
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Biography". www.senatorjimseward.com. Retrieved 2009-06-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S2362-2011
  5. http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S2375-2011
  6. http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S2383-2011
  7. http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S2557-2011
  8. http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S3057A-2011
  9. http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S3365-2011
  10. http://www.ncoil.org/ncoilinfo/about.html
  11. http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S2372-2011
  12. http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S2384-2011
  13. http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S2715A-2011
  14. Majority Support Evaded State Senate's Gay Marriage Bill - NY1.com
  15. http://www.wktv.com/news/local/Local-gay-rights-advocates-say-Gay-Marriage-Bill--in-New-York-is-just-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-124537104.html?m=y
  16. 16.0 16.1 http://thedailystar.com/localnews/x370172286/Sen-Seward-named-to-new-library-committee
  17. Kenneth C. Crowe II, "McDonald tops Russo in 43rd Senate race: Incumbents Farley, Seward, Breslin also lead in their Senate races," Times Union, found at TimesUnion website. Retrieved November 6, 2008.

External links

New York State Senate
Preceded by
Lloyd Stephen Riford Jr.
New York State Senate
50th District

Succeeded by
John A. DeFrancisco
Preceded by
Thomas W. Libous
New York State Senate
51st District

Preceded by
Neil Breslin
New York State Senate
Chairman of the Committee on Insurance