The State Continues to Punish Business Owners

A Column by Assemblyman Doug Smith (5th Assembly District)

I’m sure many of you were as perplexed as I was that the governor has unilaterally decided to once again push us around with his executive power and delay more businesses from reopening with Phase 4 on the horizon. If you missed the news, per an announcement from the governor Tuesday afternoon, malls and the stores inside them, movie theaters, gyms, and other mom-and-pop businesses will not be opening as part of Phase 4.

Now, while I can certainly empathize with the governor’s position, especially with other states showing the wrong way to reopen and how devastating it can be, I have to say I’m disappointed once again that he is keeping his cards so close to the vest and not reaching out to communities to seek their input. For three months, business owners and citizens have dutifully followed the guidance of the state government with the understanding that once things began to significantly change for the better, life would return to a sense of normalcy.

It’s been clear for some time that the governor’s administration was not as open to a true community-based reopening system and thereby a more cohesive level of cooperation from the start, but what’s even more upsetting is that there is clear preference being shown to some industries over others, despite the fact that the tools are in place for everyone to reopen safely and securely. To allow Hollywood heavyweights to restart production, but deny that right to small, mom-and-pop businesses like movie theaters, gyms and fitness centers, or businesses operating on already slim margins like local shopping malls, defies logic and proves the state’s priorities are completely backwards.

This seems to be just another in a long list of examples where the governor is using his executive privilege with extreme regularity. While the Minority conference has pushed back against this blatant extension of power, the majority continues to allow the executive will to rule over the legislative branch. I am imploring Gov. Cuomo to reconsider his decision to delay businesses reopening in Phase 4 and to hold more open conversations with business owners about what strategies would be best for the businesses to reopen while at the same time ensuring appropriate precautions are being taken.