Government Affairs Albany UpdateJune 6, 2000
Spurred by the Working Families Party, a new party anchored by the Communication Workers of America and the United Auto Workers, bills in both the Senate and Assembly to raise the New York State minimum wage to $6.75 per hour from the recently enacted $5.15 per hour, PLUS link future automatic increases to the NYS average weekly wage, have surfaced this past week and are moving quickly.
At a Working Families Party press conference yesterday, Assembly Speaker Silver promised to pass it in the Assembly on Monday. In today's Albany Times Union, Senate Labor Committee Chair Nick Spano from Westchester is quoted, "We are going to put on a full-court press to pass it in the Senate."
The Business Council expects these bills to be passed next week unless your legislators hear from you on how this will affect your business.
The Business Council's opposition memos are included with this mailing. Your state Senators and Assembly Members need to hear from you on this issue as soon as possible.
Business Council members should be aware that two bills have been introduced in the Legislature, that, if enacted, would eradicate much of the savings just achieved through the reduction of the Gross Receipts Tax in this year's State Budget. A.8506-B (Englebright) and S.7323 (Marcellino), while not same as bills, will dramatically impact the electricity rates in New York by imposing a "Clean Energy Fund" which would be funded through a "contribution" on all electricity bills. The fund would be used for a myriad of purposes including renewable energy, research and technology. The intent of the bill is to levy a 0.1 cent per kilowatt charge starting July 1, 2001. The rate will be increased on every succeeding July 1st by 1/40 of a cent thus establishing a rate of 0.2 cents per kilowatt hour by July 1, 2004. The rate would then remain at 0.2 cents per kilowatt hour until June 30, 2011, when it would be subject to review. Overall, this bill would add over $155 million to energy bills in New York in its first year. It should be noted that enacting this legislation would effectively cut in half the GRT savings (as adopted in the 2000-2001 state budget) in its first year alone. Also, the "Clean Energy Fund", as proposed in these two bills, would levy a total of almost $3.25 billion over its ten year life.
At the May 30th meeting of The Business Council's Energy Committee many members indicated grave concerns with these bills in addition to the above mentioned "Clean Energy Fund Contribution". These issues included mandating the amount of energy supplied to customers from clean energy technologies by load servicing entities leading to 10% of total output, capping interconnection charges, and limiting exit fees and special metering charges by electric corporations.