1999 LEGISLATIVE PROGRAM
February 24, 1999
Following is The Business Council's 1999 Legislative Program. It identifies legislative, regulatory, and administrative issues to be worked on by the Committees and Councils during the coming year.
- Contract Procurement
- Economic Development
- Education and Job Training
- Energy and Telecommunications
- Environmental Conservation
- Financial Services
- General Counsels
- Labor & Human Resources
- Occupational Safety & Health
- Small Business
- Unemployment Compensation
- Workers' Compensation
Board Approved Tax Reduction Priorities
- Lowering the income tax rates for banks and insurance companies to the level of 9-A corporations.
- Eliminating unintended tax increases that will occur because of deregulation of the previously vertically integrated electric utility industry.
- Gas Importation Privilege tax, Subsidiary Capital, Excess Dividends Tax, and Sale for Resale of Electricity.
- Further reducing the gross receipts tax and the petroleum business tax.
- Reducing of the Highway Use Tax (ton mileage tax) by another 25% of its pre-1998 level and conversion of the remaining tax into a 50% increase in registration fees for trucks subject to the Highway Use Tax.
- Accelerating phase-in schedule for the various business tax reductions enacted in 1998.
Corporate Article 9 Tax.
- Accelerating existing statutory reductions in the rate of Section 186-a gross receipts tax on energy services, with electric power utility taxpayers eventually electing whether to transfer from Article 9 to Article 9-A net income taxation.
- Immediately removing all energy services from taxation under gross earnings (Section 186).
- Repealing Section 189 (Gas Importation Privilege Tax).
- Reducing petroleum/fuel use taxes.
- Creating a third class of stock, namely No Par Stated Value.
Corporate Article 9a Tax Support:
- Adopting a “single sales factor” method for apportionment for both the regular tax and the minimum tax calculations.
- Reducing the Minimum Income Tax to 2% or eliminate it entirely for a fixed dollar minimum.
- Eliminating addback for indirect non-interest expense attribution related to subsidiary capital.
- Ascribing receipts of the securities industry to the address of the customer.
- If current apportionment method remains then providing an exclusion of Research and Development and Manufacturing wages from the payroll factor component.
- Allowing utilization of excess credits against other taxes; e.g., reduce up to 50% of sales & use tax liabilities.
- Basing MCTD Surcharge on the actual tax rates of Articles 9 & 9-A.
- Preserving the ITC for transactions involving a stock acquisition of a company.
- Providing an export sales tax credit.
- Increasing R&D Credit from 9% to 25%.
- Extending technology tax credits to S corporations.
Telecommunications Tax Reductions Support:
- Reducing Section 186-e gross receipts tax on telecommunications services, with the corporate taxpayers eventually electing whether to transfer from Article 9 to Article 9-a net income taxation, or remaining within Article 9.
- Reducing or eliminate the Capital Stock Dividend Tax (Section 183).
- Immediately removing all telecommunications services from taxation under gross earnings (Section 184).
- Broadening the Sales and Use Tax exemption on telecommunications equipment.
Administrative and Miscellaneous Tax Support:
- Equalizing the interest rate charged on assessments and refunds and the timing of interest in accordance with the Unicorp decision.
- Eliminating the automatic penalty provisions.
- Uncoupling State NOL from Federal NOL cap limit.
- Eliminating MTA Surcharge.
- Binding Administrative Law Judges by decisions in prior cases brought by the same petitioner which are based on the same issues.
- Encouraging the Administration and Legislature to seek a frame-work that would help alleviate the tax evasion problem with Native American tribes who sell gasoline, cigarettes, other goods, and services, tax-free to non-Native Americans.
- Reducing and conforming withholding rate on supplemental wages to highest effective Article 22 rate instead of the highest rate provided in withholding tables.
- Expanding definition of Investment Capital.
- Eliminating the use of special assessments on energy and telecommunications companies for funding state agencies and provide for funding through the general fund.
- Providing for Electronic Funds Tranferer and/or credit card payment of Article 9/9-A taxes.
- Consolidating administrative proceedings re a business entity with those re the officers and employees of the entity.
- Eliminating the mortgage recording tax.
- Consolidating Tax Law administrative procedures.
- Reducing the excise tax twelve cents per liter on liquors with less than 24% alcohol and thirty cents per liter on liquors with greater than 24% alcohol.
- Reducing the beer excise tax by twenty-five cents per gallon.
- Adding mining activity to the Petroleum Business Tax exemption.
Real Property Tax Support:
- Establishing escrow payments of Article 7 disputed tax liability.
- Establishing a STAR program initiative for manufacturing or research & development facilities.
- Allowing for the calling of the assessor for testimony in an Article 7 certiorari proceeding.
- Giving large taxpayers the right to challenge New York State's Office of Real Property Services on their issuance of Equalization Rates.
- Adopting a Tax Appeals Division as the trial court for Article 7 certiorari proceedings.
- Accelerating the STAR program phase-in of property tax relief to individuals.
- Establishing a CPI-indexed school district spending cap in conjunction with STAR program.
- Increasing Appeal period from 30 to 60 or 90 days.
- Limiting the discrimination between “homestead” and non-“homestead” rates to 25% and a five-year “grandfather” phase-out for jurisdictions currently exceeding 25%.
- Ameliorating the unfair real property tax burden borne by energy and telecommunications corporations and their customers.
- Clarifying that service laterals are not included in S102 real property.
Sales and Use Tax Support:
- Setting basis of compensatory use tax on self-manufactured, self-used products on “the material value of the incorporated materials” and extend current State and New York City exemption on Repair, Installation, and Maintenance (RIM) services performed on exempt production machinery to the local level.
- Exempting industrial and commercial use of utilities.
- Exempting any portion of integrated hazardous waste removal, treatment, disposition, transportation, or similar services.
- Exempting computers used for purposes beyond manufacturing & design.
- Exempting utilities needed to maintain controlled manufacturing and research & development environments.
- Exempting equipment or machinery used to reduce or control pollution from manufacturing and industrial facilities.
- Exempting “installation, maintenance, or repair services on research and development equipment.
- Netting the overpayment and underpayment of sales and use tax components.
- Extending the exemption of taxes on clothing to $500.
- Exempting broadcast equipment.
- Exempting the purchases of materials and services to produce government required reports.
- Deleting the mailing and vender purchase requirements in the application of the promotional exemption.
- Exempting computer services sales.
- Exempting reconditioning tools.
- Exempting exhibits stored in business trade shows.
- Taxing pre-paid calling cards at the point of sale, in lieu of the point of use.
- Amend the state “superfund” remedy selection process to incorporate risk-based/site use-based factors, and that amends the “superfund” liability provisions to authorize post-cleanup releases, adopt CERCLA-type exemptions for lenders, and adopt CERCLA-type defenses for third -parties.
- Maintain reasonable Title V air emission permit fees and to stabilize Title V fee levels, while assuring an efficient and effective permitting program.
- Authorize use-based cleanup levels, liability releases and post-remediation redevelopment incentives for “brownfield” sites.
- Reduce the fee on generators of "hazardous wastewater," in instances where no hazardous wastewaters are discharged from a facility.
- Authorize the waiving of civil penalties in instances where minor violations are quickly identified, reported and remediated.
- Exempt environmental services from state and local sales tax.
- Prohibit the Department from suspending the review of permit applications because of ongoing enforcement actions at a facility unless the Department has provided an opportunity for an administrative hearing.
- Broaden the Department of Environmental Conservation's authority to issue general permits.
"Environmental Advocates" Key Issues - As you consider potential legislative initiatives for The Business Council, I thought you would be interested in what a key Albany-based environmental group is asking for. The following identifies the top legislative priorities identified by "Environmental Advocates" during the last legislative session. In their scoring system, good bills are given three-tree, two-tree or one-tree status - I am showing you the top priority bills only. On the other side, the bills they oppose are scored with three, two or one smokestack, respectively. Note that their legislative agenda is heavily stacked with pesticide-use related bills. "Three Tree" Bills
- Authorize citizen suit legislation within most of the state's environmental quality regulatory programs.
- Expand the state environmental quality review act to address "disparate and disproportional" impacts on minority and low income communities.
- Expand the state "superfund" program to address so-called "hazardous substance sites."
- Require 48 hour advance notice of commercial lawn pesticide applications.
" Two Tree" Bills
- Establish in statute a mandatory citizen participation process for inactive hazardous waste site cleanups.
- Expand information requirements for the state pesticide product registration program.
- Authorize municipalities to adopt local regulations for commercial lawn pesticide applications.
- Phase-out, and eventually ban, of the use of chemical pesticides on utility right-of-ways.
- Prohibit the manufacture or sale of the pesticide 2,4-D.
- Adopt new requirements for the prevention of and response to oil spills from pipelines, vessels and major oil storage terminals and transfer facilities.
- Ban the sale or use of pesticide products containing more than 30 percent DEET, or more than 33 percent DEET in products intended for human application.
- Continue to support (through legislation or policy) clear high standards for what students should know and be able to do when they graduate from high school. Note: The Board of Regents have called for all students to earn a Regents diploma and have re-defined graduation requirements. They are being phased in and will be in full effect for those entering ninth grade in the year 2001.
- Support the provision of additional state dollars for extra help, including summer school, other alternative instruction programs and services, and programs for students who are not yet proficient in English. Support measuring the efficacy of such programs in helping students who are having difficulty to reach the new standards.
- Support removal of the current limitation of 90 hours per student for the calculation of summer school attendance that is eligible for state aid.
- Support statewide testing of reading and math every grade from at least grades 3 through 8. (Teachers and principals need grade level student achievement information in order to improve instruction and provide appropriate supplementation in summer school.)
- Continue to support widespread dissemination of school report cards. Note: New York State ( as of January 1997) produces school report cards on every public school building in the state. These report cards are available from local school district offices, and also through the state education department web site: http://www.nysed.gov
- Support research to validate teaching practices and support the establishment of an independent mechanism to assure that such validation is based on sound scientific research methods.
- Support the creation of a statewide school-to-work system that gives all students the knowledge and skills to be successful in employment or post-secondary education.
- Support the flexibility schools need to give all students the opportunity to participate in the career exploration and work-based learning experiences that are linked to the learning standards.
- Support changes in transportation aid to allow school districts to be reimbursed for a portion of the cost of transporting students to work sites for school related work experiences.
- Support changes in special education reimbursement methodology to remove any monetary incentive there may be with regard to the placement or labeling of students.
- Support the introduction of market disciplines into the education system through choice as provided by charter schools. Remove all legal, administrative and regulatory barriers to choice.
- Support the use of technology to improve instruction, to offer a wider range of courses through distance learning, and to streamline administrative and management functions.
Support the elimination of mandates:
- that experience shows adversely affect the order, safety, and optimal functioning of schools; that add to the costs of school construction such as the Wicks law;
- that unnecessarily add to the cost of administering programs such as the Triborough provision.
- Support incentives for sharing services and for the consolidation of school districts.
Support increased management flexibility to ensure that schools have high quality teachers, principals and administrators through:
- merit pay
- the reform of tenure, and repeal of the Triborough provision and any other such impediments to school improvement.
- Support the creation of a system of substantive rewards for teachers and schools when substantial increases in student achievement levels have been gained and/or are sustained.
- Support the development of a gainsharing program whereby school districts that save money can keep at least half of what they have saved to continue to improve their instructional programs.
- Support the provision of resources and incentives to those schools who opt for a longer school year or day in order to institute programs leading to greater student achievement.
- Support the provision of early childhood education programs to all children from low income families.
- Support substituting block grants for the current expense reimbursement system to allow for more flexibility and to eliminate incentives for unnecessary spending while increasing incentives for prudent spending. Schools would be accountable for results rather than for spending money in narrowly prescribed ways.
- Support measures that improve equity in the school aid formula. New York State currently spends more than $27 billion on education -- the third highest amount in the country, yet the wealth of school districts varies widely and there are many schools without even the most basic of educational tools.
- Support the maintenance of a high quality SUNY and CUNY system, including community colleges, through policies that include an equitable share of support from taxpayers, local sponsors, students and their parents.
- Support provisions that would base a portion of funding provided to the State and City University on results -- the number of degrees granted -- in a manner similar to the Bundy Aid program. Note: Most, though of course not all, students attend college to get a degree. Basing a portion of state aid to public colleges and universities on degrees granted would create an incentive for colleges to make sure they are providing the quality of programs that enable students to obtain a degree in the normal time frame.
- Support a mechanism which would allow colleges and businesses to charge the cost of basic skills remediation of recent high school graduates back to the student or employee's school districts. Far too many students who enter college or employment are under-prepared in basic skills (reading, writing, and mathematics).
- Support restoration of Bundy Aid. Bundy Aid is aid to independent colleges and universities (which educate 56% of New York's higher education students) based on degrees granted.
- Support full and part-time tuition assistance to college students and graduate students including increasing the maximum TAP award to $5000. Note: When this program was started the maximum award equaled 60% of average private sector college tuition. Now it equals only 26%.
- Support the provision of scholarships based on merit in conjunction with need. No student with high academic achievements should be denied a higher education due to lack of income.
- Support linkages and networking among higher education institutions, business, and the community as a means of providing responsive programs and services, to student, businesses and communities.
- Support Centers for Advanced Technology and other initiatives that help colleges and universities apply for state matching funds to leverage federal dollars for research programs leading to the creation of new processes and products in areas that enhance the state's economy.
- Support $50 million in funding for incumbent worker training through employer consortium training programs. Note: New York ranks 48th among states for investments in employer-specific job training programs. One of the most important site location factors for technology-based industries is the availability of a skilled or trainable workforce. Other states such as North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia have increased funding in this area, and it is paying off with new investments and new jobs.
- Support $10 million for community colleges to provide employer-specific training to individual employers on a contract course basis.
- Support GI Bill type training vouchers, based on income and circumstances, for individuals choosing short term non-degree training programs.
- Support allowing the EPE (Employment Preparation Program) aid to be utilized for adults that lack the basic skills needed to be successful in high performance workplaces even though they may have a high school diploma (including diplomas from other countries) through the year 2003, and/or until a New York State high school diploma means recipients have advanced reading, math and science skills.
- Support programs that provide teachers, guidance counselors and other educators with more information about businesses skill requirements and expectations.
- Support the consolidation of the myriad of non-employer specific job training programs and streamline administrative procedures. Rather than create new programs, adjust existing ones to remedy any problems that might exist.
- Support requiring the state to approve qualified unilateral apprentice programs even where the employer is a participant in a Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee.
Civil Justice Reform The focus of our lobbying efforts will be the passage of legislation introduced last year by Senator Dale Volker and Assemblyman Joe Morelle. This comprehensive measure would provide reasonable and fair reform in a number of areas, including the following:
- Repeal of joint and several liability (Currently, businesses found to be 1 percent responsible for an injury can be held responsible for 100 percent of the damages. This provision would prohibit businesses from being held responsible for more than their proportionate share of damages).
- Establishment of a statute of repose. (Currently in New York, a manufacturer can be held liable for the safety and performance of products they manufacturer as long as the product is in use. This provision would establish a time period after which the manufacturer could not be sued for injuries resulting from the use of its products)
- Capping all non economic damage awards at $250,000
- Repeal of strict liability for employers and property owners at construction work sites (If an injury to an employee occurs at a New York construction site the employer and property owner are automatically deemed to be liable even if the injury occurred as a result of the negligence of the employee. This provision would establish a negligence standard and allow damages to be apportioned based on degree of responsibility)
- Support legislation that would provide liability exemptions and financial incentives to developers of brownfield sites.
- Support legislation that would create a well funded, employer driven, locally delivered job training program.
- Support an accelerated repeal of the Gross Receipts Tax on electric utilities.
- Support reexamination of the $2.6 billion in hospital subsidies created by the Health Care Reform Act through zero-based budgeting.
Support legislative and regulatory initiatives to make health insurance more affordable, including:
- Allowing employers the flexibility to purchase foundation health insurance which would be free of certain Insurance law mandates; Encouraging measures to increase the use of Medical Savings Accounts;
- Exploring ways to create a health insurance tax credit similar to the Earned Income Tax Credit.
- Oppose expanded health insurance mandates as being counter-productive to making coverage affordable to the private sector. Support legislation to provide cost-benefit analysis of proposed health insurance mandates.
- Support initiatives to make greater use of comparative data relating to quality and cost of the health care system, including the work of the Task Force on Health Care Quality Improvement created by the Health Care Reform Act. Support state and private efforts to identify and intervene in public health priorities and health outcomes research and information.
- Support medical liability tort reform, including a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages, while opposing attempts to shift an unfair portion of medical liability costs to the business community. Oppose expansion of liability to health plans and self-insured funds.
- Support repeal of the requirement that companies, who provide health insurance to their employees, contract with a set number of health maintenance organizations.
- Support amendments to the workers' compensation law which would limit the payment of benefits in non-scheduled partial impairment cases to a period no greater than 450 weeks.
- Support the implementation of reasonable, objective medical guidelines.
- Support limiting schedule awards to one-half the claimant's total disability rate for periods that do not represent actual lost time.
- Support partial reduction in claimant's benefit when the claimant begins to receive, or becomes eligible for, full Social Security benefits.
- Support amendments to Sections 21 & 47 of the workers' compensation law that require a preponderance of the evidence to support an award under this law.
- Support amendments to Sections 240 & 241 of the labor law to create a comparative negligence standard on third party suits.
- Support regulation or legislation which defines "independent contractors" in a fashion agreeable to the committee.
- Support prohibiting payment of workers' compensation benefits, similar to limits found in the disability law, if the employee's injury was sustained during the perpetration of an illegal act.
Mission Statement Actively promote changes to the state's regulatory and tax structures to reflect increased competition in New York's energy and telecommunications industries.
- Support legislation which would accelerate existing statutory reductions in the rate of Article 9 gross receipts taxes (§186-a and §186-e of the New York State Tax Law) on energy and telecommunications services, with the corporate taxpayer eventually electing whether to transfer from Article 9 to Article 9-A net income taxation with appropriate transition rules, or remaining within Article 9.
- Support legislation that would forestall unintended taxes on internal transfers of funds and assets between a subsidiary energy utility and its parent holding company resulting from the state's deregulation of the electric utility industry.
- Support legislation that would exclude the stock of energy corporations' subsidiaries from the definition of subsidiary capital under Art. 9-A of §186 of the Tax Law and forestall unintended tax increases resulting from the state's deregulation of the electric utility industry.
- Support legislation that would exempt energy companies from an unintended natural gas importation tax (GIPT) increase resulting from the state's deregulation of the electric utility industry.
- Support legislation that would forestall an unintended state tax increase on electricity that is sold for resale resulting from the state's deregulation of the electric industry.
- Support legislation which eliminates the franchise tax on electric, steam, lighting, water works, gas & power companies for goods and services rendered for resale.
- Support legislation that would eliminate the GIPT.
- Support legislation that would cut the GIPT commensurate with existing statutory reductions in the Gross Receipts Tax.
- Support legislation that would study and evaluate the state and local tax implications of the state's deregulation of the electric and gas industries.
- Support legislation which immediately removes all energy and telecommunications services from taxation under gross earnings (§184 and §186 of the New York State Tax Law).
- Support legislation that would clarify existing law explicitly eliminating natural gas service laterals from §102 of the Real Property Tax Law.
- Support legislation which eliminates the State's Petroleum Business Tax (PBT).
- Support the elimination of the PBT on petroleum products used for non-residential purposes -- manufacturing, electricity generation, and heating.
- Support the elimination of the PBT on motor fuels (gasoline and diesel).
- Support the elimination of the PBT on kerojet fuel.
- Support the elimination of the annual indexing of the PBT.
- Support legislation which unifies all petroleum related taxes on motor fuels into one single excise tax, collectable on a per gallon basis.
- Support legislation which eliminates the use of special assessments on energy and telecommunications companies for funding state agencies and provides for funding these agencies through general fund appropriations.
- Oppose legislation which imposes or increases local gross receipts taxes on utilities and their customers.
- Support legislation that would enforce the collection of taxes on motor fuel sales by Native American nations to non-native Americans.
Policy Issues Electricity and Natural Gas
- Support legislation which doubles the amount of electrical power available under the state's Power for Jobs program.
- Support the Power Authority's efforts to utilize low-cost energy for job creation; job retention; and job and capital expansion purposes. These allocations should be utilized for the maximum economic benefit allowable under current laws.
- Support legislation to create a voluntary mechanism which reduces electric rates through credit-enhanced financing of certain assets of electric corporations. Resulting rate reductions should be spread throughout all classes of customers without unduly burdening any particular class.
- Property taxes paid by New York's energy and telecommunications corporations are excessive when compared to parallel corporations in other states and other corporations within New York. Given the adverse impact of this disparity on New York's competitive position, we support appropriate legislation to ameliorate this unfair burden borne by energy and telecommunications corporations and their customers to achieve equity and parity with other state's in the county.
- Support legislation that would reimburse utilities fully for the cost of relocating facilities in conjunction with federal, state and/or local government infrastructure project such as state Department of Transportation projects.
- Oppose legislation that would allow the state to restrict the trading of sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission allowances by utilities.
- Oppose legislation which imposes geographical limitations on the location of retail gasoline service stations.
- Oppose legislation that would require the divorcement / divestiture of retail gasoline stations operated by producers, refiners or distributors of petroleum products.
- Oppose legislation which regulates franchise agreements and mandates open supply for gasoline service stations.
- Oppose legislation and/or regulations which set state or local gasoline standards which vary from federal standards.
- Oppose legislation which would prohibit volume minimums in motor fuel franchise agreements.
- Oppose legislation that would permit lessee dealers of gasoline service stations to alter the service station property.
- Support legislation which effectively broadens the current sales and use tax exemption (§1115 (12) of the Tax Law) for telecommunications central office equipment to include all tangible personal property for use or consumption directly and predominantly in the provision of telecommunications and/or internet access services to reflect current technology.
- Support legislation that would amend §102 (12) (d) and (17) of the Real Property Tax Law to phase out taxation on telecommunications network assets, such as poles, wires, cables, and conduits.
- Oppose legislation which would require local telephone companies to perform a quasi-law enforcement function through the suspension of telephone service to their customers.
- Support legislation requiring government agencies to fully assess impacts on the public switched network before considering using private, state owned and/or operated networks.
- Support the taxation of pre-paid calling cards at the point of sale, in lieu of the point of use.
- Support legislation that would set a uniform statewide process for municipal review of the siting and construction of wireless services facilities.
- Support legislation to reduce or eliminate the Capital Stock Dividend Tax (Section 183).
- Oppose legislation which would require the New York State Public Service Commission to review the compensation and benefits paid to certain officers, directors, and high level employees of the companies it regulates.
- Oppose legislation which further erodes the statutory protection afforded to the business records of corporations which are affiliates of public utility corporations.
- Support a statewide policy that is fuel neutral.
- Support the continuation of authority of IDAs to finance civic facility projects, including non-profit facilities for the aging, hospitals, and college dormitories. (This authority is due to sunset on June 30, 1999.)
- Establish a comprehensive, employer-driven, well funded state job training program.
- Eliminate the Gross Receipts tax for electric utilities, and eliminate the sales tax on the purchase of electricity by all categories of business.
- Make all ESDC finance programs revolving loan funds so they are not subject to the annual State budget process.
- Increase appropriations to State economic development finance programs such as the Empire State Development Fund and The Jobs Now programs.
- Expand incentives (and flexibility of incentives) of ED Zones.
- Work with the State Rural Resource Commission to develop a permanent recapitalization plan for regional revolving loan funds.
- Support the expansion of the ITC for telecommunications equipment.
- Support an increase in funding for DOT's Industrial Access Program. (Last year's funding was $5 million.)
- Support an increase in funding for state-level business marketing so that such appropriations are at least equal to that invested in tourism promotion in New York. (Last year's budget included an appropriation of $600,000 for business marketing.)
- Oppose any attempts by local governments to shift the Real Property Tax burden from residential property owners to commercial or industrial businesses.
- Support efforts to reform New York's civil justice system.
- Expand the Linked Deposit Program to enable companies to access the program more than once, up to a $500,000 maximum.
- Support increasing the $10 million IDB capital expenditure limit to $20 million.
Statutory Employee Benefits
- Oppose government mandated employee benefits, including but not limited to, expansion of mandatory health insurance coverage of specific services.
- Support legislation which allows development of managed care health programs which enhance quality of care at affordable costs through competitive markets.
- Support legislation which make it easier for business to offer options regarding dependent care programs.
- Support the doctrine of "employment at will" and oppose any attempt to undermine an employer's right to employ and terminate employment.
- Support an employer's ability to hire qualified individuals and oppose attempts to restrict an employer's use of validated pre-employment tests.
- Support legislation which protects an employer's ability to create a drug free workplace and create a minimum standard for drug testing, and support legislation that excludes current drug and alcohol abuse from protection under the Human Rights Law.
- Support legislation which would provide limited liability to employers who provide, in good faith, employment reference information.
- Support legislation which facilitates employer actions to eliminate sexual harassment and discourage additional mandates and remedies under the Human Rights Law. Specifically:
- Oppose strict liability in hostile work environment cases;Oppose punitive damages;
- Oppose suppression of plaintiff's prior history in certain instances (consistent with federal guidelines).
- Support amendments to Human Rights Law relating to accommodating persons with disabilities.
- Oppose the use of a "union only" workforce in public projects and continue support of New York's competitive bidding laws.
- Oppose any attempts to limit an employer's right to operate during a labor dispute.
- Support the establishment of a civil mediation process to serve as a first resolution effort prior to litigation. Oppose any limitations to employer or agency Alternative Dispute Resolution procedures.
- Support amendments to the Industrial Homework Law to clarify what types of jobs may be exempt from the law, and to give employers flexibility to allow workers the ability to work at their residence.
- Oppose legislation that mandates studies, policy development and training in workplace violence prevention.
- Support regulations which define "independent contractor".
- Support regulations which establish standards for the operation and licensing of professional employer organizations.
- Support administrative reforms to the workers compensation program.
- Support regulations/guidelines which would allow employers options to establish dependent care programs.
- Support regulation, lacking legislative action, relating to accommodating persons with disabilities.
- Support legislation to expand insurers ability to access capital markets.
- Support voluntary market solutions to any perceived insurance market availability problems, including but not limited to coastal insurance issues.
- Support initiatives that encourage and allow for the use of electronic commerce by insurers, including but not limited to authorization for the utilization of electronic signatures in insurance transactions.
- Support proposals that establish privilege to protect the disclosure of the voluntary self-evaluative compliance audits of insurers.
- Support proposals that make clear the standards for establishing the benefit status (i.e., unemployment, workers' compensation) of independent insurance agents.
- Support Iniatives which enable companies to focus their resources on year 2000 readiness, restrict litigation and limit liability for year 200 losses and protect year 200 disclosure from use in litigation.
- Support Tort Reform proposals and other reforms to the civil justice system which would result in a fairer, more balanced system.
- Oppose proposals to assess interest penalties, court costs, attorney's fees, or punitive damages in connection with claim settlements.
- Oppose proposals that would require prejudgment interest in personal injury actions or that would provide for non-economic damages in wrongful death cases.
- Oppose any further prohibition, restrictions or penalty for the use of statistically valid risk indicators.
- Oppose broadening the application of the Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act, the Unfair Trade Practices Act, and Article 22-A of the General Business Law.
- Encourage managed care for all applicable lines while opposing legislation which impedes the growth of managed care including "any willing provider" and "unitary pricing" proposals.
- Support reasonable standards to promote insurance company solvency and oppose unreasonable restrictions and burdensome reporting requirements on investment powers of the insurance industry.
- Oppose unreasonable legislative or regulatory restrictions on the ability of insurers to re-insure some or all of any risk written.
- Oppose the use of fines and penalties for specific revenue purposes.
- Oppose any mandate that integrates health and medical insurance with auto medical and workers compensation insurance.
Health & Life
- Oppose efforts to broaden the standard of liability and increases in damages on health plans and providers.
- Oppose further expansion of mandatory and make-available health insurance coverage of specific benefits and services.
- Oppose experimental treatment proposals that do not have appropriate standards.
- Oppose universal health insurance measures which require employers to either provide health insurance or pay financial assessments.
- Oppose further expansion of the requirement to employ community rating/open enrollment beyond current law and support limited recognition of age in community rating.
Property & Casualty
- Support legislation to exempt large commercial risks from rigid rate and form regulation.
- Oppose further regulatory or legislative expansion of flex-rating for those lines that are presently open rated.
- Oppose legislative and regulatory expansion of dual authority between the Insurance Department and the Department of Motor Vehicles.
- Oppose mandated residual market mechanisms to lead liability problems in order to encourage legislation promoting a lead safe environment.
- Support voluntary market solutions for coastal homeowners insurance availability concerns.
- Support the lowering of the income tax rates for banking and insurance companies to the level of New York State's other Article 9-A corporations
- Support prompt passage of legislation that would revise and update Uniform Commercial Code Articles 3 & 4 in accordance with recommendations made by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) and the American Law Institute (ALI) in 1990. Such changes would properly reflect technological changes and modernizations of the financial services and banking industries. New York now remains one of only two state's that have not enacted such revisions to Articles 3 & 4.
- Support prompt legislative approval of other modernizations to the Uniform Commercial Code as recommended by the NCCUSL and the ALI.
- Oppose legislation unreasonably inhibiting the commercial transmission of information relative to credit histories and related data. Such access enables the financial services sector to provide the public with products at a much lower cost than would be possible if this information were unduly restricted by law.
- Support the adoption of reasonable standards to the AT M Safety Act (Art. 2-A of the Banking Law) allowing institutions adequate time to correct lighting deficiencies without being subject to undue fines despite acting in good faith.
- Support the preservation of Investment Tax Credits for transactions involving a stock acquisition of a company.
- Support legislation requiring that notification be provided to any person or lienholder having a perfected security interest in a vehicle having been towed and stored on a garage owners' lot. Such notification would allow the lienholder to take action and avoid exorbitant storage fees associated with reclaiming the vehicle.
- Support the elimination of lender liability for clean-up costs associated with environmentally hazardous conditions beyond their control.
- Oppose legislation further restricting the telemarketing of financial services and products by regulated financial entities.
- Oppose legislation that expands appraisal requirements.
- Support the elimination of the mortgage transfer tax on foreclosure.
- Support legislation which would allow for Electronic Funds Transfers and/or credit card payments of Article 9/9-A taxes.
- Oppose legislation or regulations forcing financial services institutions to return credit unemployment insurance dividends.
- Oppose further regulation of financial planning activities by businesses that are currently regulated by New York State Banking and Insurance State Departments or Attorney General.
- Oppose proposals that disallow a deduction for interest income from qualified obligations of Federal, New York State and local governments.
- Support legislation authorizing a pre-payment fee option to traditional mortgage products.
- Support regulatory initiatives which clearly defines the term "Independent Contractor".
- Support comprehensive legislation reforming New York State's costly civil justice system.
- Amend the Workers' Compensation Law to limit the payment of benefits in permanent partial disability cases to a period not to exceed seven years, and implement reasonable objective medical guidelines for the determination of disability awards.
- Support regulatory action which would clearly define the term "Security Guard".
- Support legislation to require all fines and fees collected by state agencies be deposited into the General Fund.
- Support legislation which gives employers greater choice, portability and flexibility in offering health insurance to employees and oppose any employer mandated coverage.
- Support continued relief relative to energy in New York State for Small Businesses.
- Support measures to clarify and improve Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs) in New York State.
- Replace the Article 9, gross receipts tax with the corporate net income tax, under Article 9-A.
- Support an impartial and independent administrative hearing process for adversarial hearings before state agencies.
- Support electric commerce, but oppose any mandates on all businesses.
- Support legislation which extends the initial lien duration from 12 month to 18 months.
- Support legislation developed by the Governor's Office of Technology that would, among other things, create an Office of Electronic Administrator that would be responsible for developing and implementing a digital signature program to verify and authenticate transactions between private parties and government agencies, two government agencies, or between two private parties.
- Support elimination of New York State's truck mileage tax provided that the amount of dedicated highway funding be maintained at or above current levels to allow for continued transportation infrastructure projects.
- Support the acquisition of Conrail by CSX Corporation and Norfolk Southern Corporation according to the terms and conditions expressed in The Business Council's October 16, 1997 letter to the federal Surface Transportation Board.
- Support legislation to continue existing levels of Dedicated Highway Trust Fund. In this regard, dedicated highway user fees must be used only for the purpose of improving the state's road and bridges and should be held accountable to the public. As New York's current transportation infrastructure funding plan is set to expire in the year 2000, the state must adopt a forward-looking five year plan that will sufficiently address needed repairs to its roads and bridges.
- Support a capital funding program for railway infrastructure projects and port development.
- Monitor revenue levels and qualification requirements relative to funding available under approved federal legislation, TEA-21, for projects that will benefit New York businesses and infrastructure.
- Support legislation that would eliminate the Petroleum Business Tax (PBT).
- Support legislation that would eliminate the PBT on kero-jet fuel.
- Support a revision of the methodology calculating real property tax assessments on New York State railway companies to unitary valuation.
- Support regulations which would adopt reasonable and attainable Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.
- Support the position that federal requirements sufficiently provide for the safe transportation of hazardous materials.
- Support environmental protection standards for large, regional salt storage facilities which do not require storage in rigid structures for these facilities.
- Support assurances that rules and regulations adopted by state agencies are consistent with statutory intent.
- Support the streamlining of permit processes to avoid unnecessary or repetitious applications by agencies.
- Support initiatives which would create consistency among states of regulations and permits.
- Support the use of a standardized state mileage map to be used by all agencies when computing and enforcing mileage tax.
- Support legislation that would repeal the tax on passenger car rentals prescribed in Art. 28-A (§1160) of the tax law.
- Support legislation which would extend the sales tax refund and credit on bus equipment, parts, lubricants, motor fuel and service and repair to cover charter or tour service.
- Support the reform of vehicle registration statutes to allow for the registration of personal-use light-duty pickup trucks as passenger cars.
Mission Statement The Contract Procurement Committee will support policy, legislation and regulation which will ensure economic growth and stability within New York State through open, and equal competition to all interested parties. Contracting Out (Privatization)/Competitive Bidding/Preferential Bidding
- Support legislation which would decrease the incidence of government agencies, authorities, and prison industries competing with the private sector. In specific we would oppose the growing trend of those entities to obtain goods, services, or construction with public dollars.
- Support legislation which would establish an objective review process which determines whether a good, service or public work project should be contracted out or provided by the public entity, including mandated and preferred source goods and services.
- Support legislation, regulation and administrative action which would strengthen the current competitive bidding laws at the state and local levels; in specific, objective determinations on "best value" service and technology contracts.
- Support legislation which would create consistent enforcement of municipal contracts, similar to the manner in which state contracts are enforced.
- Support legislation, regulation or administrative action which would institute an electronic transfer of both contract documents, and of funds for payment, wherever feasible.
- Oppose legislation which creates a preference of one class of bidder over another.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
- Support legislation which would establish an independent contract dispute resolution mechanism which would render decisions in an objective and expedient manner.
(Legislation should also require that a written explanation of award to both winner and loser be submitted after award. Allow unsuccessful bidders to be debriefed, confidentially, as to why their bid was unsuccessful. This allows a continual learning process for both contracting agency and bidder.
Speedy Award Process (Service and Commodity Contracts)
- Support legislation which would create a timely process for the award of a contract using specified deadlines.
- Emergency construction contracts.
- Oppose legislation which would create a "vendor responsibility" file and/or establish a pre-qualified bidder's list for commodity and service contracts.
- Support Qualification Based selection for design professional services for all state and local public works projects.
- Support "Hold Harmless" legislation which would allow contracts to be paid during budget delays.
- Maintain a Task Force to work with the New York State Department of Labor to make the mandatory safety program as fair and sensible as possible.
- Strongly oppose any effort by the state to develop and implement its own state OSHA plan.
- Continue to monitor and provide input into any legislative proposals regulating Indoor Air Quality in New York State.
- Oppose legislation that would impose state-level regulations in areas pre-empted by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act. For example, oppose legislation that would mandate that employers provide medical monitoring services for all employees within broad occupational categories. Support legislation that would make explicit the Federal pre-emption of the state's "right-to-know" law with regard to private sector employers.
- Propose and support amendments to the state's asbestos abatement law to make it more risk-based by exempting from regulation those activities and materials which do not pose a threat of human exposure.
- Maintain a VDT Task Force to help educate employers and employees on ergonomically proper workplace design and equipment use. Oppose legislation that would place restrictions on the use of, or set state-level equipment standards for, VDT's in the workplace.
- Continue to monitor activities of the New York state Occupational Health Clinics Network and to promote business participation on local OHCN advisory committees.
- Support comprehensive civil justice reform.
- Support restructuring the unified court system.
- Support efforts to streamline cororate filings with the Department of State.
- Oppose awarding pre-judgment interest in personal injury actions.
- Oppose awarding damages for emotional loss and mental anguish in wrongful death actions.
Mission Statement "When New York Builds, New York Grows" The New York State Construction Industry Council (NYSCIC) supports initiatives which increase private and public sector construction and construction related markets. They must increase economic viability . . . jobs . . . and enhance the overall business environment by reforming the state's civil justice system, lowering taxes and fees, and streamlining the regulatory process, while encouraging a more efficient decision making process regarding capital construction projects. The construction industry plays a vital role in the economic stability of New York State. In specific:
- Construction industry directly employs roughly 300,000 people (nearly 5% of the private sector work force).
- One million dollars worth of construction creates 23 jobs.
- Each dollar spent on construction creates $2.35 in economic activity.
The Council has recognized the following items as their 1999 priorities: Safety and Liability Create a fair and equitable civil justice system by:
- Supporting amendments to Sections 240 and 241 of the Labor Law to clarify the responsibilities and liabilities of owners, contractors and others in the construction process.
- Creation of a statute of repose for engineers, architects and contractors.
- Support legislation which would promulgate comprehensive written rules and regulations implementing the Voluntary Safety Program (established through the 1996 Workers' Comp Reform Act) which would increase workplace safety by allowing employers with premiums greater than $5,000/year and safety mods below 1.3 who voluntarily establish certified safety and loss prevention programs to be eligible to receive a 5 percent premium credit for up to two years.
- Support legislation which would allow all industries (including construction) to be eligible for the Safety Premium Credit program. This program allows companies to take 5 percent of their investment in new technologies and apply it as a credit against workers' comp premiums up to 15 percent of their total premium for three years.
- Support legislation which would allow safety groups insured through the State Insurance Fund to be eligible for safety incentive credits.
Workforce Development and Apprenticeship Training Programs Encourage public and public/private endeavors to meet the employment demands of the industry by preparing our future workforce through workforce development programs. This would include:
- Establishing fair and equitable state support of pre-apprentice and trainee programs.
- Requiring the state approve qualified unilateral apprentice programs even where the employer is not a participant in a Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee.
- Encourage grant programs administered by private sector grantees.
- Refine and enhance employment and training programs administered by state agencies.
Regulatory and Administrative
- Support the promulgation of comprehensive rules and regulations implementing the premium payroll cap that was established by legislation in 1998. Also, produce a compliance manual for affected employers.
- Require the Department of Labor to promulgate reasonable and equitable comprehensive written rules, regulations, and definitions for Section 220 of the Labor Law.
- Encourage better definition of sales tax exemptions and when are they applicable. Also, production of a "how to comply" manual for employers.
- Support the promulgation of comprehensive written rules, regulations, definitions for what an "Independent Contractor" is.
Additional Priorities Infrastructure Investment
- Encourage the use of prudent bonding for "hard dollar" construction. Such bonding should be financed with specific revenue sources not impacting the State's general fund obligations.
- Ensure that sufficient capital dollars are invested to maintain a safe, environmentally sound infrastructure, conducive to economic development. Special emphasis should be placed on deteriorating public school systems. Financing mechanisms must be found to meet this growing need.
- Support legislation which would cap the length of time an injured worker can collect permanent partial disability benefits.
- Support prohibiting of workers' compensation benefits if an employee is intoxicated from alcohol and/or an illegal substance, or is in the act of committing a crime at the time of injury.
Payment and Award
- Support legislation which would require public owners to pay contractors for delay damages upon documentation that public owners' action led to damages.
- Ensure that payments due contractors by public owners be expedited regardless of untimely budgets and insist that budgetary appropriations be regarded as promissory. If need be, pursue a legislative fix to the problem to ensure that contractors are paid for their work.
- Establish an expedited payment (and contract) process on "emergency" contracts and oppose increasing thresholds.
- Enhance the process by which payments are made upon the completion of public works projects. Encouragement of "quick payment" to contractors through technological advances, i.e. electronic transfer of funds.
- Insist that the contract processes be expedited upon award.
Competitive Bidding/Government Competition/Preferential Bidding
- Maintain, if not strengthen, the competitive bidding laws by ensuring that procurement policy not be adversely affected.
- Oppose legislation which would increase the incidence of unfair competition.
- Oppose legislation which would create preference through: domicile requirements, preferred bid lists, licensure requirements, percentage of lowest bid, or any other mechanism which allows preferential treatment of one class of bidder over another on public works contracts.
- Oppose public entities attempting to circumvent the competitive bidding process through the use of contracting in" and "force account" within the construction industry.
- Ensure that the continued and expanded use of emergency contracts does not circumvent the competitive bidding process.
- Oppose the expanded use of state and municipal agencies' staff in the construction management profession, and in their associated construction trades
- Support limiting the use of inmates or other taxpayer funded entities on public works projects, other than for minor maintenance work.
- Support the selection of private sector architects and engineers on all public works projects based on Section 136-a of the State Finance law.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
- Support legislation which would result in an alternative dispute resolution process between contractors and public owners that is fair, independent and timely.
Support legislation which would create economic opportunity for minority, women, (M/WBEs) and small business enterprises (SBEs). Specifically we:
- Support capital project appropriations which would establish mentoring, training, and/or revolving loan programs to allow equal access to the construction, and related trades, of minority, women, and small business entrepreneurs.
- Support businesslike efforts which encourage increased opportunities for participation of available and competitive minority, women, and small owned business enterprises in the construction industry.
- Encourage uniform statewide implementation of Article 15-A, which promotes use of minority and women-owned business enterprises on public contracts.
- Support legislation which would permit mechanic's liens to be filed against the real property when private improvements are situated on publicly owned property.
- Oppose legislation which would require "wrap-up" insurance on public works projects.
- Oppose onerous mandates or unnecessary licensing requirements for those involved in lead abatement.
- Support creation of separate General Accounts for taxable employers, reimbursable government employers, and reimbursable private employers.
- Changing the requalification standards from 5 times a claimants benefit rate to 10 times their benefit rate.
- Updating and increasing the average weekly wage necessary for qualifying eligibility to reflect inflation and wage increases since the last adjustment.
- Variable duration of benefits to reflect attachment to the workforce.
- Strengthening and enforcing the seeking work requirement of benefit check eligibility.
- Use of the principles of experience rating, necessity, least cost to the economy, and contemporary timing in the design of any revised funding of the UC Trust Fund.
- Facilitation of communication of work interruptions to chargeable employers.
- Support the position that all necessary labeling and packaging requirements for food, drug and products be done at the federal level.
- Support the position that all necessary warranty requirements be imposed at the federal level to ensure nationwide consistency.
- To ensure nationwide consistency, oppose legislation which amends New York State's Fair Credit Reporting Act beyond the standards established by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act.
- Oppose legislation which restricts the release or sale of names on consumer lists.
- Oppose legislation that allows free speech and petition in certain areas of private shopping malls.
- Oppose legislation that would impose additional government mandated restrictions on the terms of franchise agreements.
- Support New York State reducing its level of debt, reducing use of back-door borrowing and adopting a "pay as you go" system for most state financing programs.