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Government Affairs Albany Update

April 1, 1999

Comparable Worth Legislation Emerges

A labor & human resources issue that is emerging during this session is comparable worth. This is a pay issue affecting all public and private sector employers across the state. It goes beyond "equal pay for equal work" which has been in both federal and state law for years, and introduces the concept of "equal pay for unequal work." So far, the courts have rejected this concept.

This is an AFL-CIO top priority on both the federal and state levels. They are calling it "pay equity." Members of The Business Council's Labor & Human Resources Committee discussed their opposition to the comparable worth concept during visits with Senate Labor Chair Spano and Assembly Labor Chair Nolan on March 9, 1999.

Currently, there are twelve comparable worth bills and one congressional legislative resolution in the legislature with nine in the assembly and four in the senate. Two bills have reached the assembly calendar.

Department of T&F Suspends Tax on Electricity and Gas Until June

The Department of Tax & Finance (T&F) has issued a Taxpayer Service Bureau Memorandum (TSBM) forestalling the implementation date of a sales tax on the transportation of electricity and natural gas from April 1, 1999 until June 1, 1999.

This most recent ruling from T&F follows an original advisory opinion effective January 1, 1999, that reimposed a state and local sales tax on the transportation of electricity and natural gas sold by energy service companies (ESCO) in a competitive market. That ruling was later suspended until April 1, 1999. Prior to January of this year, the transportation of natural gas and electricity sold by an ESCO (or alternative provider) was exempt from the state and local sales tax. The current state sales tax rate is 4% while local sales tax rates vary by municipality. Residential customers and manufacturing customers receive an exemption from the state sales tax as do certain non-profit organizations.

The Governor, as part of his Executive Budget proposal, has included a one-year credit to Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) participating in retail access programs for the sales tax on transportation. This credit would be equal to the amount of state sales tax ESCOs' customers pay on the transmission and distribution of electricity -- and to the local sales tax portion paid by residential retail access customers. If approved by the Legislature as part of the final budget agreement, ESCOs are expected to pass the savings they receive from the one-year credit along to their retail access customers. For a copy of the most recent TSBM from the Department.

Green Building Tax Credit Legislation

In last week's GAC memo, we erroneously reported that Governor Pataki's "green building" program bills had been issued and was available on our web site. According to the Governor's staff, it will in fact be issued today (4/1). Our apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused you.