Senate regulatory reforms would spur economic growth

A number of issues will be under discussion during the closing days of the 2016 legislative session. One area already receiving attention by the state senate is economic development. Let’s face it, this issue influences every facet of our lives and needs to be front and center.

While I have helped enact several initiatives in recent years to improve our state’s economy and boost job growth potential, there are still roadblocks that businesses need cleared to truly make some headway. Unnecessary and outdated government regulations that cost time and money need to be squelched to help existing businesses grow and encourage new development.

The senate just passed a comprehensive package of legislation to make it less expensive and more efficient to do business in New York. The package included a bill I sponsored which would reverse a costly regulatory change that is driving up health care expenses for some employers and employees.

Senate bill 7104 helps businesses facing significantly higher health care costs as a result of state regulations that took effect earlier this year by redefining what constitutes a “small group employer.”

A small business has historically been defined in New York as an employer with 50 or fewer employees, but the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) defined “small group” employers as those having 100 or fewer employees. Since New York took the required action to conform its definition of small business with the ACA’s larger number, businesses with 51-100 employees have experienced substantial increases in health care premiums or subscriber costs; higher deductibles and co-pays; fewer available policy choices from insurance carriers or health plans; and narrower in- and out-of-network provider panels.

This measure would prevent these problems from affecting these businesses by reverting the definition of “small group” in New York’s insurance law to 1-50 employees. While federal legislation has been enacted allowing states to make such a change in implementing the ACA, each state individually must do so. Only New York, California, Colorado, and Vermont have not yet adopted the change.

The federal Affordable Care Act created various unintended consequences that both businesses and consumers continue to run up against. My legislation would help clear up one of those costly regulatory hurdles for mid-sized employers and help them continue to offer affordable health insurance benefits to their workers.

Several other senate bills were also approved including:

S.401A which would establish a Task Force for the Review of the State Administrative Procedure Act (SAPA) to help reduce the state’s regulatory burden on businesses. The task force would conduct a comprehensive review of SAPA by examining, evaluating, and making recommendations improving the efficiency of the rulemaking process, as well as ensuring the establishment of consistent, uniform rules;

S.406A which would reduce duplicative rules and keep business regulations up-to-date. It would broaden considerations required during the state’s review of existing administrative rules and during the creation of new rules. This measure would also amend SAPA to require a five-year review of all existing agency rules – not just the rules promulgated since 1997, as in currently required. As part of the five-year review, this legislation requires an agency to provide additional information regarding the need for a rule;

S.4033 which would provide a way for outside parties like businesses to seek a delay in the effective date of proposed agency rules if a flaw is discovered that could negatively impact them;

S.4328A which would establish the Small Business Negotiated Rule Making Act of 2016 to create negotiated rulemaking in order to provide additional opportunities for small businesses and the public to directly participate in the development of proposed agency regulations.

Rules and regulations are needed, however, it is important to ensure they remain relevant and serve a real purpose. These senate bills will make certain a proper balance is maintained and that New York’s economic growth isn’t hampered because of excessive and pointless red tape.

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