Steve Craig, President & CEO speaks with Legislators in Albany.

The huge snowstorm in March forced the postponement of Small Business Lobby day to May 17th. This year the major lobbying push by Chambers, the Business Council, and the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) was workers compensation reform. In 2016, workers comp was a $10 billion program. Reforms adopted along with the state budget that took effect on April 1, would reduce those costs (and premiums) by 4% or $400 million. Other changes to the program have yet to take effect, but are estimated to save up to another $400 million.

Since this had been accomplished, what was left to talk about? Here are two:

  •  The NY State Secure Choice Savings Program Act – This would require employers of 25 or more that have been in business at least two years to automatically enroll employees in a retirement savings program. The goal is to help people retire with greater financial security. However, some of the bill’s details require tweaking to prevent undue burden on employers. I spoke with one of the co-sponsors, Assembly Member Donna Lupardo, who sees the proposed changes as feasible.
  • Redefining “Public Works” to include every construction project even partially paid for with public funds, and therefore requiring the payment of the Prevailing Wage for each building trade. For a carpenter in Chenango County, that rate is approximately $38/hour. If this bill were enacted, economic development projects undertaken by Development Chenango Corporation and the Chenango County IDA would be priced out of reach. While Senator Fred Akshar says he supports the general concept of paying prevailing wages, I was able to illustrate the negative impact this would have in Chenango County.

I know what you’re thinking: Why go to Albany, to meet with legislators you could see here at home, any time? Well, for one thing, the fact that you’ve taken the time to travel to their professional arena, shows a certain level of commitment. Secondly, it is extremely educational to accompany a professional lobbyist on the rounds of the capitol. I was with John Evers, Director of Government Affairs for the Business Council. While I can articulate which policies would hurt or help our employers and/or community, John’s deep knowledge of the legislature empowers him to create an actual roadmap to getting things done, or stopping them as the case may be: where to find the votes; the nature and scope of the opposition; how to build consensus. All things that I’ll keep in mind in the future when dealing with the policy-makers who have such a large impact on upstate New York.

Organized in 1959, Commerce Chenango is a not-for-profit, community based organization dedicated to enhancing the economic growth of Chenango County and the surrounding area. Visit for more information on Commerce Chenango services and programs. 

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