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From The Desk Of Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel

Boosting Main Street Business

Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel recently met with several members of the Greater Nassau County Chamber of Commerce and representatives from Empire State Development to discuss various financial issues facing small businesses.  One issue discussed at the meeting was creating a new category of small businesses under state law called Main Street Business.  Currently under state law, a small business is defined as a business with one hundred employees or less.  However, many businesses located near downtowns, contain twenty employees or less.  These businesses, located in a two-mile radius of a community’s downtown, are not able to access the amount of capital needed to flourish.  This capital could be used for new equipment, renovations, and repairs.


By creating a new category of small businesses, these Main Street businesses would no longer have to compete with larger businesses for certain types of capital and state grants in times of struggle, Schimel said. 


LIPA Reform Legislation 

Assemblywoman Schimel has also announced that after six weeks of continuous negotiation with the Governor’s Deputy Secretary for Energy, the New York State Assembly passed a bipartisan measure (A.8073) to restructure Long Island’s electric utility operations. This legislation seeks to address the Long Island Power Authority’s (LIPA) poor performance in the days and weeks following Super Storm Sandy as well as long-term structural and service issues.


The legislation, which was also passed by the State Senate and has the support of the governor, would engage the service provider, PSEG, for all day-to-day operations, stabilize electric rates, improve customer service, refinance LIPA’s higher interest debt, and strengthen oversight of the entity. 


The bill, according to Schimel:


• Establishes a new Long Island Office of the Department of Public Service to review and make recommendations on operations, service and performance of LIPA and its service provider, Public Service Electric and Gas (PSEG). 


• Stabilizes rates for three years, and following this period, any rate change increased by 2.5 percent or more must be reviewed by the Department of Public Service. 


• Eliminates the franchise tax paid by LIPA, a savings worth approximately $26 million annually. LIPA will also refinance eligible debt to produce additional savings. Both measures will help save ratepayers money.


• Allows the Public Authorities Control Board to review any plan to securitize LIPA debt.