I am excitedÂ to report that a bill whichÂ wouldÂ create a â€˜tax holidayâ€™ for preparedness suppliesÂ and â€œGo-Bagsâ€ was just re-introduced in the New York State Assembly byÂ Assemblyman Jonathan L. BingÂ as Bill A00783.Â Â
Under the legislation,Â New Yorkers would be able toÂ buy emergency supplies without paying state salesÂ tax betweenÂ September 1st-11th and purchase pre-made â€œGo-Bagsâ€Â tax free throughout the month. The billÂ would also declareÂ September as “Emergency Preparedness Monthâ€ in New York.Â
Last year, I met with Assemblyman Bingâ€™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 aÂ tax free holiday on emergency supplies had been tried by several states to increase public interest and action on preparedness.Â
Kallos researched the issue andÂ then met withÂ local CERT team members, including my ESNA-CERT team chief, Jay Schofield, and deputy chief, Dave Gillespie, for their input.Â As Assemblyman Bing has long been involved in the issues of emergency preparedness and response, heÂ thought aÂ tax free period could have a significant impact on citizen preparedness, andÂ decided to introduceÂ legislation.Â
According to the proposed legislation, the tax-freeÂ period for supplies would run from September 1-September 11 commemorating theÂ time between the anniversaries between Hurricane Katrina and 9/11. â€œGo-Bagsâ€ would be exempt all month but onlyÂ 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 importantÂ part of personal preparedness is having requisite supplies as well as a â€œGo Bagâ€ â€” a collection of items packed in an easy-to-carry, accessibleÂ knapsackÂ â€“ that can be ready in a matter of seconds.Â StoringÂ supplies are just one step in becoming prepared, but getting people to take thatÂ initial step isÂ crucial. In addition, a special tax holidayÂ makes it more likely a) private businesses will add their marketing expertise and capacity to the preparedness effort andÂ b) the media will provide coverage of the issue.Â Officials in Virginia and Florida, both of which recently implemented this idea, say early results were positive.
The billÂ has been re-introduced in the Assembly with twenty other sponsors and has been referred to committee for consideration. New Yorkers shouldÂ contact your local legislators to encourage them to supportÂ the bill. Those in other states should ask their elected officials to consider the idea.