By Gina Martinez
Elected officials stood at the Manhattan headquarters of the Korean American Association of Greater New York urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign two bills that will provide financial support for small businesses and improve labeling practices in the seafood industry.
State Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing), state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), and state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Jackson Heights) announced the passage of the two bills in the state Legislature.
The first bill would provide financial assistance to help small businesses in the dry cleaning and nail salon industries comply with the latest regulations. For dry cleaners, it will help them conform to the state ban against perchloroethylene machines, which requires the purchase of expensive new machines and upgrades. For nail salons, it would help them fulfill the new state ventilation requirements, which require most salons to do expensive structural changes or purchase expensive machines.
The second bill would require fish wholesalers to accurately label the identity, origin, weight and amount of each product, as well the name and address of its distributor. According to Kim, this bill addresses the problem of wholesalers mislabeling fish products in New York’s seafood industry, an issue that has a negative impact on consumers and retailers, whose commercial sales depend on the integrity of the products they sell.
Kim said both bills will now be sent to the governor to be signed into law or vetoed. Kim said if Cuomo fails to act, it will have the same effect as a veto when the Legislature is out of session.
The Queens lawmakers were joined by small business owners and talked about the urgent need to help struggling mom-and-pop stores in New York. Avella, Kim and Perlata pointed to strict state regulations and mandates passed in recent years, particularly against the dry cleaning and nail salon industry. They emphasized the importance of helping working-class entrepreneurs at a time when many neighborhood shops are shutting down or moving to other states. Kim has been a strong advocate for small business owners and his district has a large population of locally owned businesses.
“I have spoken repeatedly about the importance of helping New York’s small business owners, many of whom have sacrificed so much just to survive in an increasingly unwelcome climate,” he said. “These mom-and-pop stores represent the heart of our state’s economy and yet many of them, including those in the dry cleaning, seafood, or nail salon industry, have been ignored or even targeted. For the sake of all small business owners, I urge Gov. Cuomo to sign them into law.”
According to Kim, the passage of the two bills occurred near the close of session, after the state budget had already passed. As the legislative calendar neared its end, Kim, Avella, and Peralta advocated extensively for these bills in the Assembly and the Senate to ensure their passage.
Avella said these bills will enable small businesses to meet their responsibility in providing a healthy environment, while allowing them to remain in business.
“The need for these industries to comply with clean air standards and to protect their employees and customers is obvious,” he said. “What isn’t obvious, however, is how these small businesses will be able to do so without being forced to cease operations and add to the growing loss of small businesses that are the lifeblood of a strong economy.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart