More than 80 percent of New York State is made up of rural communities with around 3.3 million residents in 44 rural counties, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. To address the needs, interests and concerns of these communities, the New York State Legislature established the Legislative Commission on the Development of Rural Resources in 1982.
The bipartisan Commission is charged with examining the impact of rural resources on the State’s economy, reviewing existing laws and regulations as they relate to rural resources, and assessing the effectiveness of programs designed to promote rural viability. The 10-member Commission includes five State Senators and five members of Assembly, who shape the agenda of the Commission to sponsor legislation, recommend policy and promote efforts to enhance and protect New York’s rural resources to benefit our rural communities.
New York's indispensable rural resources are decentralized, diverse and unique. The enhancement and protection of these resources require the special attention given by the Rural Resources Commission, which serves to educate lawmakers in regard to the needs of rural New York and its impact on the State. Rural New York’s economy revolves in large part around agriculture, manufacturing and tourism. The importance of these cornerstone industries to the State’s overall economy demonstrates that the needs of rural New York are critical to the well being of urban communities as well.
Since its inception, the Commission has served as a clearinghouse for policies aimed at preserving and boosting New York’s agricultural sector, protecting the health and well being of rural residents, developing affordable housing, and safeguarding rural New York’s infrastructure. It continues to work toward addressing rural issues that include agriculture, energy needs and opportunities, healthcare, economic development, the environment, education, and mandate and tax relief.
On February 25, 2009, State Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine took over as chair of the Rural Resources Commission. Under his leadership, the Commission endorsed a legislative agenda of more than a dozen bills, including two new initiatives—Green Jobs/Green NY and the Wood Products Development Council—which were signed into law. In 2010, the Commission’s agenda will continue to focus on promoting economic development, reducing costs and expanding opportunities for residents, businesses—including farmers—and municipalities in rural New York, making cost effective investments in infrastructure, and improving healthcare delivery in rural New York.