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Bill would allow IDA aid to Sandy-damaged retailers

State senators Monday unanimously approved a bill altering a prohibition against industrial development agencies aiding retailers.

The legislation, which still must be taken up by the Assembly, would create an exception for businesses damaged by disasters such as superstorm Sandy.

After the Oct. 29 storm, some IDAs on Long Island gave sales-tax exemptions for businesses to purchase construction materials and equipment needed to reopen. Nearly 170 local companies, many of them retailers, have received more than $3.4 million in sales-tax breaks from the Nassau and Suffolk County IDAs and Brookhaven Town IDA.

However, the 2013-14 state budget outlawed the help in late March under a blanket prohibition against tax breaks for retailers, which was pushed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

The new legislation is sponsored by state Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola) and Assemb. Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach). It is retroactive back to the spring when the state budget was approved, so Sandy victims won’t be left in limbo, the lawmakers said.

“Our local businesses across Long Island were severely affected by the massive flooding, prolonged power outages and widespread destruction,” Martins said. “This bill will allow local industrial development agencies to finance projects in the local downtown areas that were impacted by Sandy in order to provide relief and help get small businesses back up and running.”

Weisenberg said the bill "is one of our priorities" for passage before the regular legislative session ends on Thursday. "Businesses have been devastated and they need this resource."


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