Government Affaire Albany Update - February 13, 2004

Governor's 30-Day Amendments Propose Change in Application of Petroleum Business Tax

Governor Pataki's 30-day amendments to his 2005FY Executive Budget include a proposal that would eliminate application of the Petroleum Business Tax (PBT) on jet fuel burned during cruising and landing of intra-State flights. At present, while State law taxes fuel burned during take-off on all flights originating in New York there is no PBT on fuel burned by inter-State flights during cruising and landing. This dichotomy places a higher tax burden on intra-State air transportation - particularly impacting upstate regional airports. The Governor's proposal amounts to a $1.5 million reduction in the PBT. The PBT was created in 1990 as part of a multi-billion dollar tax increase package known as "The Big Ugly" - many segments of which have been dismantled by the Governor, Assembly, and Senate starting in 1994.

Minimum Wage Bills Introduced and Amended

This week Assemblywoman John introduced A.9710 and Senator Velella amended S.3291. A.9710 would increase the state's minimum wage to $6.00 on 10/1/04, $6.75 on 7/1/05 and $7.10 per hour on 1/1/06, including the tip wage. S.3291-A would increase the state's minimum wage to $6.05 on 9/1/05 and $6.90 on 9/1/06 and create a task force to study future indexing of the minimum wage.

In response, a group consisting of the NYS Association of Convenience Stores, the NFIB and The Business Council conducted a series of nine Legislator visits, reminding them of the costs and job losses associated with higher minimum wages.

Construction Council 240/241 Lobby Day

The issue of 240/241 is the key problem underscoring the crisis being experienced by the construction and construction-related industries in New York. Sections 240/241 of the Labor Law create an unfair and indefensible situation under which contractors are absolutely liable for certain construction related injuries - even if they bear none of the blame. The rising cost of general liability insurance directly related to coverage for 240/241 has driven the construction industry into one of its worst crisis in decades.

We have heard from many members who are struggling to find carriers to underwrite them and many times the coverage they can obtain is at rates 300% to 500% higher than past premiums. Over the last several Legislative sessions NYSCIC and other construction associations have lobbied the Legislature for repeal of this unjust law. In December 2003 NYSCIC submitted testimony to the State Superintendent of Insurance seeking repeal of 240/241 and a representative of the Insurance Department spoke before NYSCIC on January 20th on the issue. NYSCIC remains committed to changing this situation and is supporting A.7213 (Morelle) / S.1710 (Volker) in an effort to curb this crisis.