Lawmaker In Minority Can Make Impact In Legislature

A common refrain from those who have opposed Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, in races for Goodell’s Assembly seat or in the races for the state Senate is that Goodell is unable to get much done because he is mired in the Assembly’s minority.

That is partially true. Goodell only sponsored three bills that were approved by both the Assembly and Senate in the last legislative session, and only two have been signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to rename area roads in honor of veterans who have been killed in service overseas.

But there is another way to look at Goodell’s effectiveness in the Assembly. While Goodell’s arguments on the Assembly floor rarely sway the Assembly’s Democratic majority, Goodell is busy on the Assembly floor through his position as the minority whip. It is Goodell who often leads questioning of the sponsors of legislation being debated — while he may not be able to slow the march of some legislation that many area residents disagree with, he is one of the most vocal members of the Assembly. Unlike some other Assembly members who are rarely heard from, Chautauqua County’s voice is heard loud and clear on the Assembly floor.

More importantly, Goodell is taking an early role in discussions of the New York Health Act, the longstanding effort by Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, D-New York City, to create a single-payer health care system for New York residents. While some Assembly members have been home for the summer, Goodell has been traveling the state for public hearings on the New York Health Act, including last week’s forum in Rochester. During those hearings, Goodell is asking common sense questions of speakers both in favor of the legislation and against it.

The New York Health Act would provide universal coverage for New Yorkers at a cost of $139 billion in 2022, requiring a 156% increase in state taxes according to a 2018 study by the Rand Corporation. Proponents say the legislation would decrease overall health care spending in New York state, while opponents note the legislation would be difficult for the high-wage businesses that would pay the bulk of the payroll taxes that would pay for the expanded coverage. There are also concerns that it would take longer for patients to see their doctors, leading to further use of urgent care facilities or emergency rooms.

It is likely the New York Health Act is the most contentious item on the state’s legislative agenda in 2020 — and Chautauqua County residents have a voice at the table early in the process. Having Goodell at the table may not show up on a legislative scorecard, but it does show that an Assembly member in the minority can have an impact on state policy.


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