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A Citizen’s Eye View of Public Preparedness

Tax-Free Preparedness Supplies Legislation, Suggested By This Blog, Is Reintroduced In New York State House To Mark 9/11, Katrina Anniversaries

January 19th, 2009 · 9 Comments

I am excited to report that a bill which would create a ‘tax holiday’ for preparedness supplies and “Go-Bags” was just re-introduced in the New York State Assembly by Assemblyman Jonathan L. Bing as Bill A00783.  

Under the legislation, New Yorkers would be able to buy emergency supplies without paying state sales tax between September 1st-11th and purchase pre-made “Go-Bags” tax free throughout the month. The bill would also declare September as “Emergency Preparedness Month” in New York. 

Last year, I met with Assemblyman Bing’s Chief of Staff, Benjamin Kallos, to discuss emergency preparedness in his Manhattan district (where I live) as well as the State as a whole. I recommended that a tax free holiday on emergency supplies had been tried by several states to increase public interest and action on preparedness. 

Kallos researched the issue and then met with local CERT team members, including my ESNA-CERT team chief, Jay Schofield, and deputy chief, Dave Gillespie, for their input. As Assemblyman Bing has long been involved in the issues of emergency preparedness and response, he thought a tax free period could have a significant impact on citizen preparedness, and decided to introduce legislation. 

According to the proposed legislation, the tax-free period for supplies would run from September 1-September 11 commemorating the time between the anniversaries between Hurricane Katrina and 9/11. “Go-Bags” would be exempt all month but only if they met certain minimum requirements and were sold for $75 or less. Some of the individual emergency items would have similar price restrictions.

An important part of personal preparedness is having requisite supplies as well as a “Go Bag” — a collection of items packed in an easy-to-carry, accessible knapsack – that can be ready in a matter of seconds. Storing supplies are just one step in becoming prepared, but getting people to take that initial step is crucial. In addition, a special tax holiday makes it more likely a) private businesses will add their marketing expertise and capacity to the preparedness effort and b) the media will provide coverage of the issue. Officials in Virginia and Florida, both of which recently implemented this idea, say early results were positive.

The bill has been re-introduced in the Assembly with twenty other sponsors and has been referred to committee for consideration. New Yorkers should contact your local legislators to encourage them to support the bill. Those in other states should ask their elected officials to consider the idea.

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Tags: Preparedness Ideas · Preparedness Incentives

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