A Column from the Desk of Assemblyman Robert Smullen (R,C,I,SAM-Meco)

Many of those who have followed my legislative activity know that I am not a fan of how the State Assembly conducts itself under one-party rule.

From bad spending habits to burdensome taxation policies, the state Legislature time and again squanders the resources of hard-working New Yorkers. We simply cannot afford to spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need. This is especially true considering the amount of Federal aid New York received due to deficit spending financed by the national debt under the guise of fighting a pandemic. The monster of inflation is on the horizon for ordinary Americans, unless we curb this habit sooner rather than later.

Higher spending and taxation were also at the forefront of the Legislature’s actions this year, mostly because any kind of common sense for economics left Albany years ago. Despite our arguments, the Democrat Majority authorized 212 billion dollars in spending, our most expensive budget in history. This budget is so costly that despite having a smaller population than either Florida or Texas, our budget is nearly double theirs. The only state who spent more was California, which has nearly twice the population of New York.

One small benefit to these egregious spending habits, at least in the short term, is some infrastructure investment in broadband for all. Following a state-wide survey that will identify those who have no broadband or limited broadband, we will propose bi-partisan legislation to reach our pockets of isolation in Upstate New York. This will be a big win for Upstate New York, as the pandemic has highlighted our needs and concerns for broadband in our rural communities. From commerce, education, telehealth, and telecommuting, broadband is becoming a necessity for which we must ensure we are not on the wrong side of the digital divide.

Another benefit of the spending, surprisingly enough, is the continued partnership with New York farms. After being ignored for so long, the pandemic shockingly highlighted the importance of New York’s largest industry, allowing the state to purchase the excess products which are then delivered to regional food banks for those in need. The state will continue this partnership under the Nourish New York program, to support both our farmers and their efforts to feed all New Yorkers.

Another great concern during this recently completed legislative session was the further infringement of our Second Amendment rights. As early as February, we fought to allow 12 and 13-year-old youth to be able to hunt deer under the supervision of a responsible adult. Thankfully, we were able to include this in the budget and allow local governments to opt in to this sensible policy.

Unfortunately, attacks on the Second Amendment won’t stop. Legislation was passed by the progressive Majority to criminalize serialization for gun parts, as well as further restrict gun manufacturers by making them liable for criminals’ actions. This is part of a ‘death by a one thousand cuts’ strategy to curtail Second Amendment freedoms. Despite these challenges in the Legislature, we remain committed to continuing to push back on these laws.

Very recently, all COVID-19 restrictions implemented by the state were lifted. It’s a great feeling, and a great sign for businesses to return to normal operations just in time for summer. We have a lot of work to do to make up for lost time, and I hope you will all join me in supporting local businesses this year. I’m available for any comments, concerns or questions regarding legislative work, and I hope to see you outside this summer.

Assemblyman Robert Smullen represents the 118th Assembly District, which includes Hamilton and Fulton counties as well as parts of Herkimer, Oneida, and St. Lawrence counties.