Small Business Day Reminds Albany Leaders to Remove Costly Mandates

By Assemblyman Will Barclay
Small business owners throughout New York State recently made their way to Albany. Chief among their concerns again this year pertained to overreaching regulations and paperwork mandates, which add to the overall cost of doing business.

More than 100 people from several business organizations traveled to the Capitol to remind lawmakers about New York’s notorious business climate and to push for reforms, to make doing business in this state more affordable and friendlier.

I support many of their initiatives and I want to talk about them in this space this week.

Tax Rate Reduced

One positive change for small business that passed in the budget was a tax rate reduction. By 2018, the corporate tax rate for manufacturers will drop by 25%. This brings the corporate tax slightly more in line with the national average and, therefore, makes us more competitive with neighboring states. The Manufacturers Association of Central New York (MACNY) expects this will save manufacturers roughly $300 million. This reduction builds on the previous rate reduction that passed in 2006. Many manufactures at that time were able to use the savings to reinvest in their businesses, expand products, and retain jobs. I’m hopeful this additional rate reduction will produce the same results. This is a clear example of what works to grow the private sector.

Repeal Wage Reporting Mandates for Business

There are many regulations we need to change or do away with. One law we need to repeal is the Wage Theft Prevention Act. Businesses are still dealing with this poorly conceived law. This mandate, intended to protect workers from wage theft, became effective in 2011. The idea sounds good but if employers were already following state and federal law, workers were already protected!  Instead of enforcing the laws we had, the state added another layer of regulation and cost for businesses by creating a lot more paperwork and oversight for human resource departments and small business owners throughout the state. Not only must businesses provide these forms to workers, but the law requires they obtain signatures from employees stating the forms were received. All of this must be filed with the state. If you visit the New York State Department of Labor’s website, you can see how duplicative this is for businesses to comply with and, as I said, if they were already following the law, employees would be equipped with this information already.

Scaffold Law changes

New York has one of the strictest scaffold laws in the U.S. Many say this law is a primary reason why liability insurance is so high in New York state, because the scaffold law is one of the most frequent sources of litigation. If someone gets hurt on the job at a high altitude, all of the blame is on the employer, even if a worker is at fault. One recent example was made by a businessman who traveled to Albany and told his story. A worker jumped off his roof. The worker chose not to use a ladder and was hurt on the job. He will be compensated for his injury. This is not the first time I’ve heard stories like these, yet our law remains unchanged. I’m urging my colleagues, as I have in the past, to change this outdated law.

Key Agriculture Producers into IDAs

I recently signed onto legislation that authorizes the local Industrial Development Agencies to provide technical or financial assistance to agricultural producers for products grown, harvested or produced within the state. Believe it or not, this is not already part of what IDAs do. Currently, IDAs can issue loans and provide support to manufacturers, processors or warehouses of agricultural products but not to businesses that directly grow, harvest, or collect produce. We need to change the law to better support agriculture. The Senate passed this law in March. It’s time for the Assembly to take up this measure that would go to help more small businesses. I’m urging my colleagues to place this measure on the Assembly calendar before session ends this spring.

Small Business Employs Half of all Private Sector Workers

I’m glad to see the corporate tax rate reduced. I hope to see more private sector growth over time, thanks to measures like these. Small businesses employ more than half of all private sector workers. We need to make sure our state is taking care of its job creators as well as being more competitive with neighboring states and with Canada.

These are just a few ways that we can assist small businesses. We passed up some opportunities with this latest budget when the majority decided to keep a tax on utilities known as 18-A.

I voted against this tax extension in the budget, as it drives up costs for all ratepayers.

We could also do more by cutting regulations that act as barriers to economic development and job creation.

To access state resources for small business, visit the Empire State Development Corporation at http://www.esd.ny.gov/smallbusiness.html

If you have any questions or comments or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.