Members of the New York State Senate heard comments today from representatives of the upstate tourism and hospitality industry in Saratoga Springs. The dialogues are meant to identify and eventually eliminate what some say is restrictive government regulation.
The regulatory reform forum held at the Quad Graphics plant in Saratoga Springs was just one in a series organized by the New York State Senate Majority Coalition, which consists of Senate Republicans and members of the Independent Democratic Conference.
Capital District Republican Senator Kathy Marchione, who chairs the Senate’s Administrative Regulations Review Commission, said that the state’s 107 regulatory agencies issue a total of around 300 new regulations each year. End to end, Marchione said that’s a lot of red tape.
"All of those rules and regulations amount to an incredible 22 miles of state government red tape and truly pose a massive financial burden on our economy, our localities, and our taxpayers," said Marchione.
Senator Patrick Gallivan of Erie County is the Deputy Republican Conference Leader for Economic Development. He said that after gathering information and feedback from the forums, the Senate Majority Coalition hopes to identify and eliminate 1,000 state regulations through legislation.
Gallivan said there is about "three-quarters of a million regulations that people have to contend with, and we want to do something about it."
Wednesday’s forum focused on hospitality and tourism. Todd Shimkus, President of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, said that in his region, the main indicators show a strengthening and growing industry.
But Shimkus did highlight a few concerns that were echoed throughout the forum, including the challenges businesses face in obtaining online forms. Other attendees called for the New York State Department of Transportation and Amtrak to follow through on plans to accommodate bicycle riders on trains.
"We have ten million people in New York City and Montreal that would love to get on a bike, on a train with their bike, and come up to the Upstate," said Shimkus. "We've got to make that happen. We shouldn't have to wait for the ideal."
Shimkus said he'd like to see the service begin next Spring.
Todd Garofano, President of the Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau, suggested improvements for non-profits, museums, and other small organizations to access state economic development funding.
The Cuomo administration has created the NYS Consolidated Funding Application to allow organizations to apply for multiple state funding sources.
Garofano praised the CFA, but said organizations also need help obtaining and presenting cash up-front for projects.He suggested the creation of a revolving loan fund for organizations to access project money to be reimbursed.
"It's very difficult for small organizations to fully understand that and participate," said Garofano.
Other ideas introduced at the forum included reviews of health and environmental regulations, such as making new environmental assessment forms easier for developers to comply with, and updating codes to allow for less costly rehabilitation and modernization of historic buildings in communities with aging infrastructure.
Past forums have focused on medical technology and health, agriculture, manufacturing, and construction. More industry-specific forums will be held this month