Former congressman Hinchey dies

Former New York Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D) died Wednesday at the age of 79, according to a statement from Hinchey's family.

Hinchey represented New York's 26th district from 1993 to 2003, and the 22nd district from 2003 to 2013, when he retired after 20 years as a lawmaker.

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“Congressman Maurice Hinchey passed away peacefully at his home in Saugerties this afternoon,” his family said in a statement. “He was a beloved statesman, and cherished for his work in the community and nationwide."

"The family will announce plans in the coming days and thanks everyone for privacy in this emotional time," it continued.

The Poughkeepsie Journal reported that Hinchey had been battling a terminal neurological disorder after a bout with colon cancer.

Rep. John FasoJohn James FasoTensions on immigration erupt in the House GOP GOP lawmakers back discharge petition to force immigration votes Vulnerable GOP lawmakers have toned down tax rhetoric since January: Reuters MORE (R-N.Y.), who currently represents parts of Hinchey's old district, called the former legislator a "fierce defender of the environment" who "left an important mark on New York State from his years as chairman of the Committee on Environmental Conservation."

"I served with Maurice in the state Assembly and knew him to be an articulate and dedicated proponent of the causes he believed in and the people he served," Faso told the Times Union.

New York Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D) also issued a statement Wednesday, saying she was sad to hear of Hinchey's passing.

"Sad to hear of passing of former Rep. Maurice Hinchey, a steadfast public servant," Velasquez wrote on Twitter. "Thinking of his family, friends & all who loved him."

New York Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, who served on Hinchey's initial staff when Hinchey was a member of the state legislature, thanked the former lawmaker for his mentoring in a statement Wednesday night.
 
"I remain grateful for the chance he gave me over four decades ago and for his mentoring, support and, most of all, friendship every day since," Cahill said.
 
"This is a sad time, especially for the people of the Hudson Valley and the Catskill Mountains and even more so for Ilene, Michelle, his sons, Maurice, Joseph, and all of the Hinchey family.  While we will miss him, the spirit of our great leader, Maurice D. Hinchey will be eternal."