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Brooklyn Chamber pushes borough agenda in Albany

Energy, healthcare and Health insurance topped the list of legislative issues that the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce members brought to Albany in the annual lobbying trip.

In total, 39 members from the chamber’s over 1,200 boroughwide members made the March 17−18 trip.

The members were broken up in groups and visited with all the borough’s state senators and assembly members.

They also met with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and a representative from Senate Majority leader Malcom Smith office.

BCC President and CEO Carl Hum noted that this year’s trip was more challenging, particularly knowing that lawmakers were facing a $15 billion deficit (since cleared up with the passing of the budget).

“The environment was a little more difficult because of the economic downturn so it definitely made the trip a little more challenging,” said Hum.

Hum said the Brooklyn lawmakers heard the borough’s business community’s concerns, which is the core mission of the trip.

In regards to energy, chamber members told lawmakers that it supported legislation that gives proper incentives to businesses that use or produce renewable and ⁄or alternative forms of energy.

Regarding healthcare, the chamber noted that the industry is the borough’s top employer accounting for more than 88,700 jobs.

That said, the chamber advocated that Brooklyn get its fair share of federal stimulus dollars to be applied directly to the Medicaid healthcare budget.

Other projects the BCC advocated to get federal stimulus money included the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Coney Island Boardwalk and the proposed Coney Island Center Amphitheater.

The chamber also advocated an expansion of health insurance coverage for family members up to the age of 29, and to simplify and provide businesses with a greater choice in health care options.

The BCC additionally came armed with its latest survey of chamber members that found 55 percent said the increased cost of providing health insurance for their employees was their biggest obstacle to growth.

Members also ranked their favorite Brooklyn projects, in which 71 percent responded they support working ports in Brooklyn, 70 percent supported the construction of the Cross Harbor Freight Tunnel and 69 percent supports a JFK rail link that runs through Downtown Brooklyn.

The trip’s highlight once again was the chamber’s annual Brooklyn Night in the state capital’s Egg Building that drew lawmakers from around the state, who were feted on such Brooklyn fare as Nathan’s hot dogs and a wide range of Brooklyn Brewery beers.

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