BY CHERYL SLAVIN
The bi-partisan state Senate Majority Coalition, seeking to identify and eliminate the most costly government regulations that inhibit business and job growth and drive up local taxes, hosted one of 10 public forums on regulatory reform at the Nanuet Public Library last Monday. The panel consisted of David Carlucci (D, Rockland/Westchester), Kathleen Marchione (R-C, Halfmoon), Patrick Gallivan (R-C-I, Elma) and David Valesky (D Oneida). Senator Bill Larkin (R-C-I, Rockland/Orange) participated as well, given his connection to the district.
Carlucci opened the forum by explaining that there are over 140,000 pages containing over 75,000 regulations, and that New York was ranked 50th out of 50 states for business environment. The senate intends to eliminate at least 1000 of the most costly and least useful regulations as a way of creating a more appealing business milieu.
Each of the 10 forums is industry-specific, covering such diverse areas as Medical Technology, Agriculture, and Insurance and Banking. The Rockland hearing addressed the concerns of the Small Business industry. Several representatives within that field testified regarding which state rules, regulations and mandates proved most costly, useless or arcane.
One of the largest problem areas appeared to be the non-conformity of local rules and regulations throughout the state. Zoning, building and other regulatory requirements vary from county to county, as well as municipality to municipality, resulting in the uneven application of state requirements. For instance, Clarkstown Supervisor Alex Gromack spoke about the difficulty in establishing Adopt-A-Spot locations on state roads within the county and the town because of conflicts with state requirements, and noted that in other counties, these same conflicts might not exist.
Several speakers addressed the problem of duplicative and often complicated record-keeping compliance requirements. Both Lena Bodin, Co-Chair of the RBA Small Business Council, and Joseph Fitzpatrick of the New York State Motor Truck Association spoke about the unnecessary burden placed upon businesses by the Wage Theft Prevention Act. This law, passed in 2011, requires employers to annually distribute a notice to employees that contains payroll information which already appears on each and every paycheck. Further, employers must document receipt of this notice by every employee’s signature. The result is time and labor consuming and appears to serve no significant purpose. Additionally, David Golub, Senior VP of Price Chopper Supermarkets, suggested that the senate streamline duplicative state licensing procedures by implementing a single “common licensing application,” similar to the common application used by colleges.
Another concern was the unintended and often burdensome effect of regulations on businesses. Jim Calvin of the New York Association of Convenience Stores spoke about how small convenience storeowners, already engulfed by the numerous regulations applicable to their businesses, were now becoming “compliance officers” by virtue of additional regulations regarding age-specific products like tobacco and alcohol. He called for legislation that would unify the age and ID requirements for all products and customers. Scott Wexler, of the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association also voiced concern that the state’s Security Guard Act, which at present applies even to bouncers, was turning food service establishments into security guard companies.
The senators listened carefully and responded very positively to the public feedback. “This is exactly the kind of information that we were looking for,” Senator Marchione said. There will be three more forums held in the next two weeks. The Senate hopes to have its final report available to the public on its website by the end of November.