As we mark the anniversaries of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, I wanted to again mentionÂ a bill whichÂ wouldÂ create a â€˜tax holidayâ€™ for preparedness suppliesÂ and â€œGo-Bags,â€ introduced in the New York State Assembly byÂ Assemblyman Jonathan L. Bing.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 â€œEmergency Preparedness Monthâ€ in New York.
In 2007, I met with Assemblyman Bing staff to discuss emergency preparedness in his Manhattan district (where I live) as well as the State as a whole. He thought the idea of aÂ tax free period could have a significant catalytic impact on citizen readiness andÂ decided to introduceÂ legislation.Â The tax-freeÂ period for supplies would run from September 1-September 11 commemorating theÂ time between the anniversaries between 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 the results have been positive.
TheÂ billÂ has been 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.
Also, here in New York City, a long-time elected official Mark Green now running for Public Advocate has included the idea in his platform, “100 Ideas for a Better City,” asÂ #35 — Encourage emergency preparedness by creating a tax holiday on emergency supplies during the month of September:
“The New York City Office of Emergency Management recommends that residents prepare for emergencies by buying and storing certain basic emergency supplies as well as creating “Go Bags.” Unfortunately, few have the requisite emergency supplies. Fewer still have heard of a “Go Bag,” which is a collection of items you may need in the event of an emergency packed in an easy to carry container that is accessible in case you need to leave your home in a hurry. By providing an initial New York City sales tax holiday from September 1 through September 11 for individual emergency supplies, with a sales tax holiday for pre-made “Go Bags” for the month of September, we can encourage New Yorkers to begin to be prepared for whatever emergency they may face. New York State Assembly Member Jonathan Bing has introduced legislation on this issue and Florida enacted a similar tax free period aimed at hurricane preparedness in 2006.
I hope the increased profile of the idea will soon result in some action here and across the nation.
FULL-PAGE LOWE’S NEWSPAPER ADVERTISEMENT PROMOTING VIRGINIA’S TAX-FREE HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS WEEK (ABOVE).