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Drug Epidemic, Economy Among Hot Topics at Akshar's 'Pop-Up' Event

By Kerry Longobucco.
State Senator Fred Akshar (R) took time to hear the concerns of his constituents as he continued his 'pop-up office' events Monday.

The senator spoke to seniors at the United Methodist Homes Hilltop Campus in Johnson City.

Attendees were able to ask him anything -- many wanted to know how a a Akshar, a former law enforcement officer, plans to tackle the area's drug crisis.

Akshar says over the years, he's realized this epidemic is one police can't arrest their way out of.

"There was a point in my career where I thought enforcement was the answer, but clearly it's not," Akshar said. "It's time for the community to come together, to work together as one, and move forward. Access to treatment is the most important thing."

Akshar was recently appointed to the Assembly Minority Task Force on Heroin Addiction & Community Respons. He says he'll work to hold insurance companies responsible for contributing to the cost of treatment, so that people seeking help aren't turned away.

Another hot topic was the Southern Tier's struggling economic state -- especially in terms of small businesses.

He also recently proposed three pieces of legislation that he hopes will give business owners a badly needed break.

"Everybody agrees that New York, by and large, is not open for business. It seems to me, and i think everybody in this room agreed, that we're closed," Akshar said. "We need to do a better job at our tax structure, our energy costs, our property taxes."

Some attendees expressed concern over governor andrew cuomo's decision to raise minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2021. Akshar has been vocal about his disapproval of that legislation -- which he says will only continue to set back small businesses.