Smullen: Together, We Can Work Toward New York State’s Rural Resurgence

Assemblyman Robert Smullen (R,C-Mohawk Valley and the Adirondacks) held a press conference led by Assembly Minority Conference members and concerned members from the community to promote rural equity and renew proposals designed to improve rural equity for schools, businesses and communities in upstate regions of New York state. Speakers from the Assembly Minority Conference included Assemblyman Matt Simpson (R,C-Horicon), Assemblyman Joe Angelino (R,C-Norwich), Assemblyman Brian Maher (R,C-Walden), Assemblyman Chris Tague (R,C-Schoharie) and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C-Corning), and speakers from the community included Chris Koetzle from the New York State Association of Towns (NYSAT) and Margaret Kennedy from the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC).

“Rural communities are the backbone of our state, and they need our help,” said Smullen. “Local tourism, school districts, neighborhoods, small businesses and farms are all connected economically and culturally. They deserve support from the state, and these initiatives will ensure they receive it.”

Smullen has sponsored several proposals related to rural equity, including:

  • A.8136, which will create the “Rural Equity Assistance Program” to connect rural communities with available economic and community development grants;
  • A.9353, which will increase Medicaid reimbursement rates for rural ambulance services;
  • A.4686, which will allow localities to work together and design regionally based plans to ensure internet access to rural citizens;
  • A.9348, which will provide an incentive program to encourage those who work remotely to live in rural areas of the state;
  • A.8134, which will create the “Rural Mobile Communications Fund” to provide grant opportunities to increase cellular coverage in rural areas;
  • A.8133, which will establish the “EmpowerED” Act to provide more opportunities for students;
  • A.9183, which will authorize school districts to opt out of the zero-emission school bus requirements;
  • A.8135, which will allow local boards of education to expand parent contracts to provide pupil transportation and reduce reliance on zero-emission school buses;
  • A.9422, which will create the “Rural Adopt-a-Cemetery Program” to assist with maintaining and upgrading cemeteries in rural areas; and
  • A.9743, which will exempt the burning of wood for recreation, building heating, and cooking from greenhouse gas emission reduction requirements.

Smullen has also cosponsored several proposals, including:

  • A.2044, sponsored by Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C-Batavia), which will create a wage tax credit for employers who employ New York National guard men and women, reservists, volunteer firefighters and emergency medical services personnel;
  • A.2267, sponsored by Assemblyman Mike Norris (R,C-Lockport), which will allow volunteer firefighters to attend required training without being penalized by their employer and create tax incentives for employing volunteer firefighters;
  • A.2654, sponsored by Assemblyman Joseph Angelino (R,C-Norwich), which will give a state income tax credit of up to $2,500 to volunteer firefighters and members of a volunteer ambulance corps who have been in good standing for a minimum of five years and maintain continued eligibility; and
  • A.4761, also sponsored by Assemblyman Mike Norris, which will establish the New York state local emergency services account, providing reimbursement for equipment including radio and communication items, apparatus, vehicles including snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles and boats, goods or services related to the renovation of any buildings, and personal protective equipment.

“We had a strong show of support at the press conference in Albany today. The call to improve rural equity for our residents, businesses and communities has been heard statewide. There is still a lot of work to do before Legislative Session ends, and pushing these proposals forward is at the top of my list. I will continue to work alongside my Assembly Minority Conference colleagues to make the necessary changes to revitalize our upstate communities and improve the lives of residents throughout rural New York.

“Together, we can work toward our great state’s rural resurgence,” concluded Smullen.