Below are some of the issues Joe believes are most important to our community.
As Upstate New York looks to transform its economy, Joe Morelle has emerged as a leading advocate in the State Assembly for policies that spur job creation and retention.
In June 2012, Joe was appointed by Speaker Sheldon Silver to the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, one of 10 such agencies created as part of Governor Cuomo’s economic development plan. The appointment is the culmination of Joe’s long-standing commitment to restoring prosperity and job opportunities in Upstate and for all New Yorkers.
In 2010, Joe helped spearhead a local effort to convince a British company, CodyGate Ventures, to bring 250 good paying, high-tech jobs to the Old Eastman Kodak Park in Rochester. This is exactly the type of momentum the Rochester-area needs, and Morelle is eager to build upon this victory in our area.
Joe has also become a leading voice in the development of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, recognizing they possess the potential to transform New York’s economy and provide good paying, permanent jobs for the Upstate region.
In 2005, Joe published a report entitled Creating a State of Innovation: Unleashing the Power of New York’s Entrepreneurial Economythat detailed the decline of New York as an economic power and offered numerous policy prescriptions for reversing that decades-long trend. Creating A State of Innovation has been widely praised by business and academic leaders, other elected officials and editorial boards across the state.
Joe’s passion for job creation stems in part from his own past experience as founder and president of MMI Technologies Inc., a software development firm. Joe knows first-hand the difficulties small businesses face when attempting to make a profit while meeting the demands of the state’s high tax burden.
At Joe's request, the Speaker created the Subcommittee on Manufacturing, with Joe as chairman, as a means of providing New York’s manufacturing community a greater voice in state government. He also served on the Speaker's Task Force on Budget Reform and the Workers' Compensation Reform Task Force, and co-chaired the Assembly's Welfare Reform Task Force.
Prior to becoming Majority Leader, Joe served as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Insurance from 2007-2012. Few sectors regulated by government have a degree of impact on individuals and the economy as great as insurance. Families need and deserve adequate health care; parents and spouses naturally wish to protect their loved ones and property in the event of personal tragedy or natural disaster; businesses need to insure against the liabilities inherent in their operations while maintaining a strong bottom line.
That is why the work of the Committee on Insurance is of critical importance to the fiscal and economic well-being of our families and businesses. From HMO reforms to the status of the insurers operating in the troubled bond markets of 2008, as the former Chair of this committee Joe took on tough issues of long-term importance to New York families.
In 2011, Joe successfully sponsored a new law ensuring that children diagnosed on the autism spectrum will have the same rights under their insurance policies as those with other major childhood developmental disorders. Governor Cuomo signed the law in November 2011, and it took effect at the end of 2012.
In 2012, Joe successfully sponsored a law permitting colleges and universities to self-insure student health care plans, a change which will help reduce the cost of higher education.
While Insurance Chair, Joe helped implement landmark reforms to New York’s insurance law. In 2009, his sweeping managed care reform legislation broadly enhanced consumer protection requirements. In 2010, he helped reinstate prior approval of health insurance premiums.
Morelle also emerged as a national figure after the epic march crash of 2008. In early 2009, he testified before Congress regarding regulatory reform of financial markets, particularly so-called “credit default swaps”.
Joe’s legislative priorities also include a broad range of anti-crime measures. Committed to keeping dangerous predators off our streets, he introduced legislation in the Assembly to require DNA collection upon all felony arrests. Katie’s Law takes its name from Katie Sepich, murdered in 2003 by a man who was not charged in that case for three years because his DNA was not on file. In 2012, Joe co-sponsored a new law expanding the state’s criminal database to include all felony and misdemeanor offenses.
Joe has also fought for mandatory background checks for nursing home and home-health care workers, civil confinement for dangerous sexual predators even after release from prison, and the elimination of the statute of limitations in felony and sexual abuse cases.
Reforming State Government
Morelle has strongly supported fundamental reforms aimed at cutting taxes and the cost of living and doing business in New York. In 2011, the legislature approved a property tax cap to provide relief to hard-working families and in 2012 Morelle voted for a state pension overhaul expected to save taxpayers $80 billion.
Other reforms backed by Morelle include new ethics standards for state officials, a public teacher evaluation process and restructuring of the state income tax code that will ease the burden on more than four million middle-class New Yorkers.
He has also been a longtime supporter of campaign finance reform. In 2006, Morelle introduced a debt reform package geared towards relieving New York of its appetite for borrowing and putting future generations at risks.