Sen. James Seward's weekly column: Cut red tape, create jobs

The following article was written by New York State Senator James Seward, who represents the 51st senate district. As always, alternative or dissenting viewpoints are welcome. Email your submissions to editor@cortlandvoice.com.

A number of issues will be under discussion during the closing days of the 2017 legislative session.  The one area I feel must be a prime focus is economic development.  The overwhelming majority of people who contact me have a question or concern regarding this subject which influences so many other facets of our lives.

While a number of steps have been taken in recent years to improve our state’s economy and provide job growth potential, there are still roadblocks that businesses need cleared to truly make some headway.  We need to do away with unnecessary government regulations that cost time and money.  By cutting government red tape and making it more affordable to run a business in New York, we will see an increase in new jobs.

In the senate, we just passed four bills to help businesses succeed by reducing burdensome rules and regulations and reforming the rulemaking process to grow the state’s economy.  The measures increase transparency, disclosure, and public input to help fully evaluate the impact of costly or arbitrary state regulations.  The bills would:

  • Extend Rulemaking Public Comment Periods: Senate bill 5795 extends the period of time for which the notice of proposed rulemaking must appear in the state register from 45 to 60 days.  This will provide more time for local governments, small businesses, and individual citizens to perform the substantive and thorough analyses needed to provide meaningful public comment.  Federal agencies have similarly extended public comment periods to 60 days in order to allow interested parties the time necessary to submit detailed responses to proposed rules and regulations;
  • Better Evaluate Job Impacts of Proposed Rules: Senate bill 3751 would make various improvements to the process for evaluating the potential impact of proposed rules on jobs and employment opportunities.  The current process, while useful, does not provide sufficient information on the quality of jobs that could be gained or lost by pursuing various policy choices, and does not guarantee that the most appropriate data and methodologies are used.  The bill has passed both houses, but was vetoed by the governor last year on the basis it would create more work for agencies. I believe fully evaluating job impacts and ensuring the economy can continue to grow is worth any additional efforts required by state agencies.
  • Allow ARRC to Delay a Proposed Regulation: Senate bill 6095 would allow the ARRC to delay the adoption of proposed administrative rules by 90 days.  If a proposal raises concerns for possible inconsistencies with statutory authority or legislative intent, or for potentially burdening the economy, state and local government operations, or other regulated/affected parties, the ARRC could seek a delay to allow increased public awareness and participation in the rulemaking process and to seek answers from the agency about the concerns raised;
  • Enhance Compliance Information Available to Businesses: Senate bill1643 would increase the ability of businesses to comply with complex state regulations.  The measure improves the currently available Small Business Regulation Guide and will help employers better comply with the law and avoid common violations.

All of these bills have been sent to the state assembly.

This legislation comes on the heels of significant reforms to the state’s workers’ compensation system that were included in the state budget.  The reforms were among my top priorities and include sensible measures that help businesses, local governments, and not-for-profits achieve meaningful savings, while also enhancing the protections in place for injured workers.

The workers’ compensation reforms will make it more affordable to do business in New York, with employers expected to see savings this year in the form of rebates and hundreds of millions of dollars more in ongoing annual savings on premium costs after the implementation of the new reforms.