By Assemblyman Will Barclay
Mandate relief, economic development, community safety top my ‘To Do List’ during last days of session
Much has been accomplished this session—a stark contrast to the recent past in Albany. We passed the budget on time and did not raise taxes. We expanded the DNA databank—something I’ve supported for years. We also committed to our communities by fixing bridges and roads within the “NY Works” program, and many projects are already underway. We invested in our State Parks again. We even tackled Medicaid reform to give localities relief from this state mandate.
A few things still on my to-do list include mandate relief, economic development, creating a friendlier business climate and criminalizing synthetic marijuana possession and strengthening laws against child pornography to name a few.
Both the Senate and the Assembly passed different bills that would make possession of synthetic marijuana a criminal offense. I was pleased the Assembly passed legislation to criminalize the sale and distribution of these dangerous products. Synthetic marijuana, while sold and marketed as potpourri and incense, is dangerous and addictive. This legislation, which would place synthetic cannabinoids on the controlled substance list, is imperative for protecting the health of the public. Both houses need to work together to finalize a bill to criminalize these substances.
We need to strengthen our current laws and make viewing child pornography a punishable crime. Last month, the New York State Court of Appeals ruled that viewing child pornography is not a crime. The court’s decision stated that downloading and saving images of child pornography is a crime, but merely viewing does not constitute criminal possession. Given the latest ruling from the New York State Court of Appeals, it’s clear we need to strengthen our laws. In order to ensure justice and keep young children from being exploited, the Legislature must move to pass legislation that would include the viewing of child pornography as a crime.
We need to ensure that those fleeing from the law do not receive public assistance. Last year a man, Edward Moses, was wanted for attempted murder, kidnapping and possession of a weapon. He was fleeing from the law in South Carolina and receiving New York State benefits. Legislation I introduced would reinstitute a check coordinated between the Department of Criminal Justice Services and the Office of Temporary Disability Assistance to ensure that fleeing felons are remanded to the justice system if they apply for benefits.
The Tax Foundation, a non-profit organization that studies how tax laws affect our lives, ranks New York as one of the least friendly states to do business with in the nation. The state and local tax burden percentage was ranked at 49. We need to change the way we treat our businesses—from overregulation to our tax laws. I propose lowering the corporate franchise tax for businesses and eliminating it for manufacturers.
We need to rescind the State’s Wage Theft Prevention Act. This was a more recent state mandate, intended to protect workers from wage theft, but if employers were already following the law, workers were already protected. Instead, the state added another layer of regulation and cost for businesses and, unfortunately, penalized the players that play fair.
Let’s reduce the tax rate for manufacturers and provide a personal income tax credit for small businesses that earn less than $250,000. We should also create a tax credit for businesses that hire veterans. Eliminate the State’s Temporary Basic Utility Assessment imposed on utility companies that drives up costs for ratepayers. We should also help expand “second stage businesses” that employ 5 to 99 people. We could do so by cutting regulations that act as barriers to economic development and job creation.
Regulations are good for certain situations but many of ours have become too far-reaching. We currently do not know the costs of regulations on businesses and individuals in this state. California’s regulatory costs are estimated to be $492 billion. While our state is not as large as California, this gives some idea as to how much regulations can cost business owners. While I understand it is not likely that all of these priorities can be accomplished this session, I hope that more is done to make New York friendlier to business before session ends.
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My office can be reached by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185. You may also friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.