The New York State Senate passed several measures - including four headed to the Governor’s desk – that will help create a more business-friendly environment in the state. The legislation boosts investment in technology to help small entrepreneurs, reduce burdensome regulations, and create significant tax savings to spur job growth, among other measures.
Final passage was given to the following bills, which will be sent to the Governor in coming weeks:
- · Helping Small Businesses Innovate and Grow: Bill S817A, sponsored by Senator Rich Funke (R-C-I, Fairport), supports small businesses seeking to harness expertise in research and development by creating the New York State "Innovation Vouchers" program. Small businesses would apply to receive dollar-for-dollar matching funds – up to $50,000 - to acquire expertise from colleges and universities, government laboratories, and public research institutes to implement a proposal. A public-private partnership would be formed, connecting small businesses with research and development facilities to create jobs and innovation in New York.
- · Creating a State Innovative Energy and Environmental Technology Program: Bill S1120, sponsored by Senator Funke provides capital grants of up to $100,000 to small businesses to encourage and support innovative energy and environmental technology development and commercialization. This legislation would help businesses receive crucial early-stage financing to stimulate the creation of a substantial number of new businesses and jobs in the energy and environmental sector. The development of new products to assist mature industries that are undergoing dramatic changes or facing increasing international competition from lower energy costs and increased regulation would help retain, and even increase, state employment. Currently, commercialization of these products is often constrained by the lack of early stage financing.
Senator Funke said, “For generations, New York was the innovation capital of the nation and Rochester the innovation capital of New York. Today employers in promising sectors like high-tech, advanced manufacturing, and healthcare and education are again growing jobs across our state, but more can be done to unleash their potential. This innovation package - including our new I-Center, innovation voucher program, and environment and energy technology fund - would promote entrepreneurship and bring more jobs and investment back to the Empire State.”
- · Requiring State Agencies to Consider the Impact of New Regulations on Small Businesses and Local Governments: Bill S5719, sponsored by Senator Chris Jacobs (60th District), requires agencies proposing new rules impacting small businesses and local governments to give due consideration to the practical, legal, and economic or fiscal constraints that may affect their compliance. It also requires agencies to identify the means by which they intend to communicate policy changes. Giving consideration is important because small businesses cannot immediately access funding, retool their physical plants or train employees, and local governments must often observe specific legal and fiscal procedures before acting.
Senator Jacobs, Chair of the Administrative Regulations Review Commission, said, “The goals and objectives of a new rule or regulation can only be achieved when the affected entities come into compliance. This legislation will ensure that small business and local governments will have adequate time to address compliance issues, thereby creating a more effective and reasonable rule making process.”
- · Creating the Strategic Investment in Workforce Development Program: Bill S6536, sponsored by Senator Ortt, would create the Strategic Investment in Workforce Development Program to increase collaboration with the Department of Labor, Department of Economic Development, State University of New York (SUNY), City University of New York (CUNY), and state Education Department. The program would identify the training needs of employers, employees, and prospective employees; identify areas of the state or specific industries where a shortage of a skilled workforce is impacting the ability of those areas of the state or industries to remain competitive and innovative; identify methods and models to train and employ youth workers; and identify ways to serve prospective employees that are currently unemployed or underemployed. The program would help fund classroom training, on the job training, curriculum development, and training materials associated with on the job training, skills upgrading, skills retraining, and basic skills training that leads to obtaining appropriate certifications or degrees from accredited institutions, among other uses. Eligible recipients could include not-for-profits, educational entities, or programs that provide training and skill development.
Senator Ortt, Co-Chair of the Senate’s Task Force on Workforce Development, said, “Developing a skilled workforce in today’s changing economy is a challenge many employers across all communities in New York State face. This program fosters collaboration with leaders in education, business and workforce training. Ultimately, those unique relationships will help to fill the void for in-demand jobs while creating a friendlier, stronger business climate.”
Additional bills passed by the Senate this week to help support New York’s businesses include:
Saving Hundreds of Millions in Taxes for Small Businesses and Farms: Bill S2120, sponsored by Senator Tom O’Mara (R-C-I, Big Flats), provides significant new tax savings for small businesses and small farms by expanding the existing Personal Income Tax exemption and reducing the Corporate Franchise Tax business income tax rate from 6.5 percent to 2.5 percent over a two-year period. The bill would save a total of $466 million when fully implemented.
Senator O’Mara said, “Studies continue to recognize New York as the state with the highest tax burden in America. It remains an unfair and unreasonable burden on individual taxpayers, families, employers, and workers. Even with the tax cuts we have successfully achieved over the past several years, we have to keep taking tax relief actions like this one for our farmers, small business owners, and every other taxpayer.”
Repealing New York’s Estate Tax: Bill S2884, sponsored by Senator Jim Tedisco (R-C-I, Glenville), removes a tax that penalizes family-owned and closely-held businesses throughout the state, causing an exodus of many businesses minds and the capital they possess to other states. This bill would eliminate the estate tax to encourage residents to remain in New York and continue living and doing business here in the Empire State. The estimated savings from a repeal is more than $1 billion.
Reducing Regulatory Fines on Small Businesses: Bill S4120A, sponsored by Senator Fred Akshar (R-C-I-Ref, Colesville), would give first-time offenders of state small business regulations a reprieve from paying fines to help foster a productive relationship between the state and business owners. The measure would prevent the state from fining a small business for a first violation of regulations, unless the agency determines that the violation directly affects public health or safety. The agency then would provide literature or an in-person meeting to inform such small business of its regulations to improve compliance.
Reducing Regulatory Paperwork for Small Businesses: Bill S6362A, sponsored by Senator John DeFrancisco (R-C-I, Syracuse), reduces the regulatory burdens on state contractors by changing the frequency for filing a report on workforce demographics and pay levels from monthly to annually.
Authorizing Small Business Savings Accounts to Help in Emergencies: Bill S3557, sponsored by Senator Phil Boyle (R-C-I, Suffolk County), helps create or retain jobs during times of hardship by allowing small businesses to contribute to a tax-deferred savings account. Contributions to the account could be withdrawn tax-free during times of specified economic hardship, for the purpose of job retention or creation, or times where the Governor deems it a natural disaster to warrant assistance from the federal government.
The Senate is also expected to take up two bills later tonight:
Establishing a Small Business Liaison Position in State Agencies: Bill S6706, sponsored by Senator Akshar, fosters communication and cooperation be designating an existing state agency employee as a “Small Business Liaison”, responsible for providing businesses with a reliable contact. The liaison will give important regulatory information, hear the businesses concerns and advocate on behalf of the business within the agency. It expands on the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board’s successful implementation of an “Advocate for Business” that connects New York State business owners to help understanding the complex workers' compensation system.
Preventing the Abuse of “Emergency” Rulemaking by State Agencies: Bill S5912B, sponsored by Senator Jacobs, protects small businesses and the public from the growing overuse of emergency rulemaking by state agencies. The bill clearly defines what circumstances constitute an emergency and requires an agency to engage in the regular rulemaking process at the end of the emergency rulemaking period because otherwise the rule will expire.
The Senate recently amended and again passed the following bill:
Creating an Innovation Center for the State to Test Emerging Technology: Bill S1121A, sponsored by Senator Funke, would authorize a new “iCenter” within the state Office of Information Technology Services to pilot and test new and emerging technology products that would potentially benefit state operations and reduce government costs. The iCenter would be a one-stop-shop for state agencies to examine new technologies across their operations, saving the state money by allowing government agencies to study and evaluate new technologies before using them. State agencies would have the ability to work in partnership with the private sector through the iCenter to understand best practices and incorporate new perspectives in the calibration of state government’s information technology needs. After receiving feedback from the iCenter, participating vendors would still be required to follow a competitive bidding process as required by existing state technology procurement guidelines.
The bills have been sent to the Assembly, except for S817A, S1120, S5719, and S6536, which will be sent to the Governor for review.