View From The Assembly: Legislative Session review

By state Assemblyman Will Barclay

The Legislative Session has come to a close for the year. 

There were many good measures that passed and many more, however, that did not come to floor for a vote.

Here are a few noteworthy items that passed that I was pleased about. This list is not comprehensive and I will be sharing more about other measures which passed throughout the coming weeks but I wanted to share with you some highlights.

  • We repealed the annual notice requirement required by the Wage Theft Prevention Act. My colleagues and I have been pushing for this repeal for the past four years to make doing business more affordable in New York. At the same time, we added protections for employees to get them their wages due.
  • Lifted restrictions for brewers, farm brewers, micro-distillers, wineries and farm wineries.
  • Enacted $3 billion in tax cuts over three years, including a real property and corporate franchise tax cut for manufacturers. We also accelerated the phase-out of 18-A (energy assessment surcharges).
  • Addressed the state’s growing heroin epidemic by providing measures that encourage proper drug disposal sites. This issue came to the forefront in Albany and around the nation this spring. Many localities will be equipped with the antidote to help save lives due to overdoses, and police were given more tools recently to enforce our laws on the books.
  • Required background checks on volunteer fire and Emergency Medical Service applicants to determine if they have been convicted of a sex crime.
  • Provided public retirement service credit for military service rendered during times of peace and hostilities. We also improved educational opportunities for children of military personnel and of veterans.
  • Delayed Common Core test results from counting against teachers and students.
  • Removed the fee for veterans to have a distinguishing mark on driver’s license.
  • Increased penalties for texting and cell phone violations while driving.
  • Established the Beginning Farmers New York Fund for new farmers to improve operations.
  • Provided additional state aid to public schools, increased funding for the tuition assistance program (TAP) for higher education and increased library aid.

While this is a good list of accomplishments, there is still more to do.

  • The Assembly passed a measure that added some synthetic cannabinoids to the controlled substance list. This, however, did not pass the Senate.  Besides this bill, we also need more reforms, such as empowering the Commissioner of Health to add synthetic drugs to controlled substance list as they emerge, rather than waiting for the Legislature to act.
  • While we passed measures that assist farms, we need to help all small businesses to prosper and reduce the cost of doing business in New York.
  • Cut spending and pass meaningful mandate relief.
  • We failed to adopt penalties for how public assistance recipients use electronic benefits cards (EBTs). We passed a measure in the budget that places penalties on the establishment for selling alcohol, tobacco and lottery tickets to EBT card recipients, but we did not put any penalties in place for those who attempt to pay for such items with the EBT cards.
  • We did not pass Brittany’s Law, which would have created a registry of violent offenders. This would help protect families and children.
  • We also did not pass meaningful ethics reform, such as stripping public officials of their pensions if they are convicted of a crime.

If you have any questions or comments or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, contact my office by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by email at barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or by calling 598-5185.

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