New York, NY – City Council’s Small Business Committee is holding a hearing today at 1 p.m. on two bills providing civil penalty relief for small businesses, who for too long have been subjected to onerous fines from New York City. After conducting a year-long review of the extensive network of rules and regulations that apply to the City’s small businesses, the Council drafted legislation to permanently update more than 180 laws and to provide immediate relief to businesses by refunding unnecessary fines.
“Small businesses have waited years for meaningful relief from fines. I’m proud that the Council took the lead in doing a truly comprehensive look at our laws to see how we can help. This has been a problem for decades, but there’s a renewed urgency now because of the pandemic. These businesses are suffering, and it’s on us to do everything we can,” said Speaker Corey Johnson.
Int. No. 2233, sponsored by Council Members Vanessa Gibson, Speaker Corey Johnson, Mark Gjonaj, and Bob Holden, permanently expands cure options available to small business owners, lowers existing penalties, waives certain penalties for the certain violations relating to sanitation, health, transportation, consumer affairs, noise control and buildings laws. By providing permanent relief, bill addresses the draconian inspections and penalties for regulatory violations that plagued small business owners well before the pandemic.
“Our small businesses are hurting as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and are in desperate need of relief. Instead of imposing punitive fines on them, we must educate them about the process and provide them with the necessary support to continue to operate their business,” said Council Member Vanessa Gibson.
“At a time when small businesses are struggling, elected officials must come up with legislation that gives them real relief. Intros 2233 and 2234 are the type of good government bills that our small business owners should expect from City Hall. I thank the Speaker and Council Members Gibson and Gjonaj for their leadership,” said Council Member Robert Holden.
While the proposed, long-term reforms are significant in terms of scope and opportunities for relief, the Council also seeks to provide additional flexibility to small businesses who may need additional time within which to cure a violation due to hardships presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Int. No. 2234, sponsored by Council Member Mark Gjonaj and Speaker Corey Johnson, builds upon the long-term reforms by refunding certain penalties already paid during the pandemic. Additionally, the bill would allow for additional cure periods or no penalties for second or third violations, as well as additional civil penalty relief.
“During this unprecedented public health crisis, small businesses across the City are struggling just to stay afloat. This legislation will fundamentally reshape the way New York City interacts with them. It will give them a fighting chance to survive, save jobs and rebuild for the future,” said Council Member Mark Gjonaj.