Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb and state Sen. Pam Helming speak at Canandaigua Chamber of Commerce event
CANANDAIGUA — Legislative bans on items such as plastic bags and single-use plastic containers — the former of which was signed into state law — are examples of legislation that have consequences beyond their intent, according to state Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb and state Sen. Pam Helming.
Speaking on the topic after a question posed by a representative from local plastics manufacturer Pactiv, Kolb said such bans are examples of what happens when people get caught up in political and environmental agendas and don’t consider the downside — the impact on consumers and, in this case, businesses. Helming agrees, and the problem of the impact of this and other laws.
“We’re driving out people, we’re driving out businesses and it’s got to stop,” said Helming, who toured the Canandaigua business when she was town supervisor and was impressed at the research being done toward making its products reusable. She also has advocated for the company in Albany when the capital city was looking at implementing a ban on polystyrene products.
“We’ve got to start working together to improve things,” Helming said.
The Canandaigua state legislators spoke at the Canandaigua Chamber of Commerce’s legislative breakfast Thursday at New York Kitchen.
Topics ranged from the legalization of marijuana to the constitutionality of legislation dealing with religion and vaccinations to internet access in rural areas to the 2020 Census, and more.
But most, if not all topics, had a common theme — dysfunction, caused partly by last-minute votes that don’t receive proper public and legislative airing, and legislation agreed on and proposed that look good in headlines but lack in substance.
To boil it down to numbers, Kolb said the Legislature from January to May took up maybe 400 bills; that number almost tripled in the frenzied last days of the most recent legislative session.
“Talk about dysfunction,” Kolb said of Albany. “And it doesn’t have to be that way. I don’t think it’s a productive way to conduct business in this state.”
For instance, wording in an automatic voter registration bill would have allowed an illegal immigrant to vote, which passed the Senate before it was noticed in the Assembly, Kolb said. The problem, he said, was it’s against federal law.
“This is what happens when you try to ram things through without thoughtful debate,” Kolb said.
As another example, Helming and Kolb spoke of legislation for cameras on school buses to help curb the problem of drivers passing stopped school buses. Mayor Ellen Polimeni said it looks like funding for the safety measure comes down to school districts and local governments, which Helming said was correct.
“There’s no funding to back up this legislation,” said Helming, who called legislation such as this “smoke and mirrors” and said that's why she urges everyone to read actual bill language before making up their minds on the merits or lack thereof.
Such unfunded state mandates, as well as downstate’s undue influence in state government, are examples of what’s driving people away from New York, Kolb said.
Kolb said he has spoken with an Ontario County business owner who is aggressively looking at leaving New York.
“I’m concerned,” Kolb said. “I’m sad and concerned.”