News from the
NYS Assembly
Committee on
Tourism, Arts and
Sports Development

Sheldon Silver, Speaker • Joseph D. Morelle, Chair • November 2003

Message From the Chair

Dear Friends:

The 2003 Legislative Session was marked by difficult budget negotiations and an historic bipartisan budget agreement. Despite the difficult circumstances surrounding our State Budget, the Assembly ensured that the needs of New York’s working families and our children’s education were met.

As Chairman of the Tourism, Arts and Sports Development Committee, I am proud to say that the Committee had many notable accomplishments this session and I am pleased to provide for you this brief update, which highlights much of our important work.

Please enjoy this newsletter, and continue to stay involved. I encourage you to contact my office with your ideas, concerns and suggestions, and I look forward to continuing to work for you and the benefit of all New Yorkers.

Warmest personal regards,

Joseph D. Morelle, Chairman
Assembly Committee on
Tourism, Arts and Sports Development

Tourism Economic Development Fund

For the past three years, the Tourism Economic Development Fund has been a priority for the Committee. The fund seeks to dramatically increase the amount of money available for tourism promotion. While the bill has historically met with resistance from the governor, the Tourism Committee understands the revenue producing power of increased tourism. It is conservatively estimated that every one dollar spent on tourism promotion results in three dollars of economic impact to the State and its localities.

The Tourism Economic Development Fund concept has undergone several improvements. The current bill dedicates a portion of the revenue received pursuant to the tribal-state casino gaming compacts. This legislation would result in major increases in the amounts of money appropriated annually for the Local Tourism Matching Grants, which is allocated to the 62 counties for tourism promotion. The State’s "I NY" tourism marketing program would also enjoy large increases. Additionally, the bill creates a Supplemental Tourism Matching Grants program whereby localities would enjoy additional funds for tourism promotion, beyond the annual appropriation, based on fund availability and appropriated using a formula driven by population.

The Tourism Committee understands that, contrary to the governor’s attempts to slash tourism promotion funding in the budget, it is necessary for New York to make significant increases for tourism marketing in order to further increase travel to our State. Assembly bill 3556B serves to provide that mechanism, and will help ensure that New York State’s economy can grow under these trying times.

  • A.3556B, Morelle – This bill would create the Tourism Economic Development Fund. Reported to the Committee on Ways and Means

Assemblyman Morelle Attends Roundtable on Runaway Films

As Chair of the Committee, Assemblyman Morelle attended a roundtable discussion in Manhattan concerning the phenomenon of runaway film production.

New York City, and State, continue to suffer from the decisions of major motion picture producers to film in other countries. Feature productions choosing to film in Canada, for instance, can enjoy tax credits of up to 30% of labor costs. Additional financial incentives, when coupled with favorable exchange rates, have resulted in a virtual exodus of feature films from the United States. New York’s economy has been severely impacted by this disturbing trend.

The roundtable featured an unprecedented gathering of film executives, studio owners, labor groups, commercial and television producers, and the State and City film offices. Assemblyman Morelle chaired the roundtable, which examined not only the runaway film phenomenon, but also the strengths of New York’s television and media industry.

Members of the Assembly Committee on Tourism, Arts and Sports Development meet with actor Joe Pantoliano to announce the Motion Picture Investment Fund in 2000.

The meeting resulted in an exchange of information and ideas not typically enjoyed within the industry, as well as a plan for action. Specifically, the intent to commission a film study was agreed upon by all partners at the table. The study, while still under development, will attempt to show the economic impact of the film and television industry in New York State, as well as provide key policy recommendations in order to strengthen this vital industry and lure more production to New York.

Assemblyman Morelle said that the roundtable is a step in the right direction for the film industry. He added that "the creation of a climate for film in New York State will be vital to our economy, and is certainly a priority for me in the upcoming session."

Assemblyman Morelle Attends Several Roundtables on the Culture Zones Initiative

In conjunction with the Arts Alliance of New York State, Committee Chair Joseph Morelle attended several open forums on a newly proposed Culture Zones initiative (A.7018 – Morelle). The meetings, held in Albany, Rochester, Poughkeepsie, New York City and Buffalo, allowed local arts groups and community organizations to comment on the proposal.

The effort is the first of its kind for an arts specific proposal that will be implemented statewide. The meetings were designed to afford any concerned organization an opportunity to shape legislation that is expected in the 2004 legislative session.

The bill, one of several drafts being studied, will seek to provide local governments with the ability to identify specific geographic areas within a locality that would benefit from enhancements to the local arts community. Essentially, tax incentives would be supplied to those qualifying arts businesses within the Culture Zone, which would allow localities to assist in the development of an arts community in areas of need with the locality. These newly created Culture Zones would be useful in catalyzing economic development in areas in need. Further, the legislation will provide tax incentives to encourage the development of artist housing, galleries and other facilities necessary to support and maintain a vibrant arts and cultural community. Input from local arts groups and community organizations will be critical in helping to shape the final version of the bill.

"The meetings I attended were informative, and will prove influential on the finished product," said Assemblyman Morelle. "I am excited to see the Tourism Committee and our statewide arts constituency working in partnership to create a unique and much needed program."


This year, the Tourism Committee examined a variety of legislation aimed at reforming the sport of boxing. The Committee is committed to protecting the health and safety of boxers, as well as their financial rights. Additionally, we continue to report bills that make positive reforms to the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) in the hopes of helping New York reestablish our reputation as a mecca for boxing.

  • A.686, Morelle – This bill requires the prohibition of certain unsportsmanlike conduct in boxing matches. Signed as Chapter 74 of the Laws of 2003
  • A.537, Morelle – This bill would add two members to the NYSAC who shall have a longstanding commitment to boxing, bringing the membership to five. Passed the Assembly
  • A.1384, Wright – This bill would require that the Chairman of the three member NYSAC be present to constitute a quorum for business. Passed the Assembly
  • A.5829, Tocci – This bill would require the NYSAC to conduct, or commission, a study concerning the creation of a pension and benefits program for professional boxers. Passed the Assembly
  • A.915A, Morelle – This bill would strengthen the licensing requirements for people who promote, regulate or conduct boxing matches. Reported to the Committee on Codes
  • A.7939, Rules (Morelle) – This bill would make a number of changes expanding the jurisdiction and authority of the NYSAC to protect safety and finance of boxers. Reported to the Committee on Rules

Ticket Consumer Protection Act

The Tourism Committee reported, and the governor signed into law, a two-year extension of the existing Ticket Consumer Protection Act. The Act, originating in the Tourism Committee, protects consumers against fraudulent activities, known as ICE, whereby box office employees are bribed to reserve large blocks of tickets for resellers. Often these tickets are then resold at exorbitant markups to spectators.

This important legislation also creates a maximum price cap of $5 or 20% over the ticket face value for which tickets can be legally resold. Additionally, the Act protects consumers and venues from ticket scalpers by establishing a 1,500 foot buffer around venues in which scalpers cannot operate.

  • A.8370, Rules (Morelle) – This bill extends for two years the Ticket Consumer Protection Act. Signed as Chapter 68 of the Laws of 2003

Western Erie Canal Heritage Corridor Planning Commission

Over the last 3.5 years, the Western Erie Canal Heritage Corridor Planning Commission (WECHCPC) has engaged the five counties and 130+ communities in over 300 events along the 160 miles of the Western Erie Canal Heritage Corridor in an extensive planning process. Out of these admirable grassroots efforts, a management plan emerged representing the consensus of the five counties on a vision for a revitalized Western Erie Canal. This vital legislation allows the WECHCPC to continue planning work for the creation of a new economic development entity. Their aims are to ensure that localities around the Erie Canal have a better working relationship with state agencies concerned with the Canal. They will also work in concert with the federal government overseeing the federal Erie Canal Heritage Corridor. Additionally, the WECHCPC is developing major business initiatives, which will help stimulate Western New York’s economy.

  • A.9075, Rules (Morelle) – This bill extends for one year the Western Erie Canal Heritage Corridor Planning Commission. Signed as Chapter 120 of the Laws of 2003

Uniform Athletes Agents Act

The Assembly has taken a giant leap forward in protecting the rights of student athletes and academic institutions against fraudulent and unscrupulous athlete agents. The bill regulates how athlete agents represent themselves to student athletes, and helps ensure, by creating contract language, that student athletes will make informed decisions when agreeing to work with an athlete agent. (Current NCAA regulations prohibit student athletes from working with agents, and doing so is at the expense of a student’s eligibility).

The Act also ensures that colleges and universities have a private right of action against an athlete agent in violation of this act in order to protect the school’s NCAA status.

  • A.4399, Ortiz – This bill creates the Uniform Athletes Agents Act. Passed both houses

Upcoming 2004 Legislative Initiatives

The 2004 Legislative Session promises to be challenging and productive for the Tourism Committee. Along with the legislation before the Committee, we will review and make recommendations on the governor’s proposed budget.

Among the Committee’s priorities are these major initiatives:

Motion Picture Investment – As it has for the past two years, the Committee will again make a budget recommendation for the establishment of a Motion Picture Investment Fund. This proposal seeks to obtain a total of $10 million over three years to help create a "climate for film" in New York State. While not directly focused on major motion picture development, the plan will ensure that independent film production remains in New York. By providing grants of up to $250,000 for independent films, and $250,000 annually for increased marketing, the bill will provide filmmakers incentive to remain in New York.

The Committee also plans to continue the progress made towards commissioning a film study for New York State, and to push several other tax-related measures for the film industry. The Assembly plans to work diligently in order to lure more film production to New York, and preserve and enhance our industry strengths.

Tourism Economic Development Fund – Facing difficult financial times, it is crucial for New York to find creative ways to increase revenue. This legislative plan calls for using casino revenues, which often are byproducts of increased tourism, to help increase New York’s ability to market itself and compete for travelers.

Culture Zones – A key economic development initiative, the Committee plans to continue working on the development of this groundbreaking proposal. Working in conjunction with the arts community, the Tourism Committee hopes to develop comprehensive legislation to the benefit of local artists, communities and the State.

Committee Chair Joseph Morelle and Dan Murphy, President of the New York State Tourism and Hospitality Association.

Assemblyman Morelle speaks at the 2003 Tourism Showcase, sponsored by the Tourism Industry Coalition of New York.

Public Service Announcements

Annually, the Assembly passes a legislative initiative sponsored by Majority Leader Tokasz, which would prevent any statewide elected official from appearing in any form of electronic public service announcement. This bill provides the public with the assurance that elected officials are not abusing public funds, and appearing in public service announcements for the benefit of their own political campaigns. Unfortunately, this important bill continues to be ignored in the Senate.

  • A.3223, Tokasz – This bill would prohibit statewide elected officials from appearing in public service announcements. Passed the Assembly

Assemblyman Joseph D. Morelle
Chairman, Assembly Committee on Tourism,
Arts & Sports Development
Room 716 LOB • Albany, New York 12248 • 518.455.5373