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State lawmakers call for ‘reset’ of restaurant, hospitality industry

This week lawmakers from the Senate Republican Conference unveiled a package of legislation that would help reset the state’s restaurant and hospitality industries.

Both have been battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

“New York State’s restaurant and hospitality industry, including across the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions, has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This industry is an absolute cornerstone of our regional economies, a foundation of the tourism sector, and a lifeline for thousands upon thousands of area business owners, workers, and families,” Sen. Tom O’Mara said. “Governor Cuomo’s ongoing executive orders have brought this industry to its knees and it is time for the Legislature to act as a voice of common sense and fairness in reopening of local economies and restoring local jobs.”

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

Sen. Pam Helming agreed, calling for the action to be adopted so that Upstate businesses could begin recovering. “We need to help small businesses not only reopen but stay open. Restaurants and hospitality businesses deserve meaningful relief and assistance to restart, rehire and reinvest. This is about rebuilding our local economies and preserving local jobs,” she said.

Here’s what would happen under the proposal:

– Prohibit internet-based food delivery services from charging higher fees than they charged on or before March 1, 2020;

– Provide small businesses additional time to pay monthly sales and payroll taxes, as well as, business and property taxes;

– Offer interest-free loans or lines of credit to small businesses;

– Provide a one-year extension for renewal of liquor licenses; and

– Provide businesses a 90 day grace period to pay any fees or penalties due to state and local agencies.

– Direct SLA-inflicted fines into a business relief fund to help small businesses get back on their feet (Senator Mike Martucci);

– Provide for a credit on liquor license renewals for the amount of time bars and restaurants were forced to be shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic (Senator Joseph Griffo);

– Create a limited state sales tax exemption for the sale of food and drink at restaurants and taverns from state sales and compensating use taxes and granting municipalities the option to grant such limited exemption (Senator Daphne Jordan);

– Provide a tax check-off box that will direct funds into a business relief fund (Senator Mario Mattera); and

– Create an employee retention tax credit, modeled after the Federal Employee Retention Credit, to help employers keep workers on payroll (Senator Peter Oberacker).