Government Affairs Albany UpdateMarch 19, 2004
- New Mercury Labeling Legislation
- Outsourcing Update
- Assembly Introduces, with 28 sponsors, Health-Insurance Tax Credit Bill
Staff Contact: Ken Pokalsky
Assemblyman Tom DiNapoli, chair of the Assembly EnCon Committee, has introduced new legislation (A.10051) requiring the labeling of mercury containing products. The bill is on the EnCon committee agenda for next week. The bill has no Senate co-sponsor at this time. Specifics include:
- defines "mercury-added consumer products" as any device or material into which elemental mercury or mercury compounds are intentionally added during its formulation or manufacture, where the continued presence of mercury is required to provide a specific characteristic, appearance, quality or function of the product. Note that this definition is not actually limited to what are typically considered consumer products, but would also apply to industrial controls, medical and scientific instruments, electric relays, etc. The bill appears to exempt button batteries.
- as of one year after the bill's effective date, it will be illegal to dispose of mercury-added products in the municipal waste stream. All such products must be disposed of with a properly permitted disposal facility.
- as of one year after the bill's effective date, all mercury-added products must be labeled to indicate that they contain mercury and that they cannot be disposed of in the municipal waste stream. As written, the requirement is for on-product labels; there are no provisions for on-packaging or point of sale notification.
- the bill also directs the Department of Environmental Conservation to adopt implementation rules, including any necessary regulations governing the storage, recycling and/or disposal of mercury-containing products.
The Business Council has several serious concerns with this legislation. First, its scope is far broader than that of any other state-level product labeling statute (i.e., Maine, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, Washington and Minnesota.)
As written, it would apply to a wide range of industrial, medical and commercial devices that would hardly qualify as "consumer products." It would also apply to products that contained a mercury-added products, such as a lamp or battery. Second, the municipal disposal ban would result in another, significant unfunded mandated, and an unnecessary one given the small and shrinking level of environmental emissions of mercury attributed to the municipal waste stream.
We look forward to hearing your specific comments and concerns regarding this legislation.
As you know, the issue of "outsourcing" or "offshoring" of jobs has become a national issue. The Business Council has formed an Offshoring Work Group to track and respond to legislative proposals in New York. Here is a summary of recent activities.
- Our Offshoring Work Group met for the first time on March 10, with about twenty-five member companies represented. The agenda included a review of legislation introduced in New York; legislative activity in other key states; and a discussion of legislative and communications strategies. Key conclusions were: focus the debate on improving New York State's economic competitiveness, rather than imposing punitive measures on businesses that shift some positions out of New York State; emphasize the importance of international trade, especially in the service industries, to the health of the New York State economy; and continue to refuse to negotiate on legislation that would restrict the ability of New York businesses to effectively manage their employees and/or operations. In addition, the Business Council is urging additional member companies to become involved in this work group effort, and to meet with your local legislators to discuss the negative impact of these proposals.
- The Business Council has issued memos in opposition
to two "offshoring" proposals:
- S.6338 (Velella), which directs the Department of Labor to conduct a study of the impact of the "outsourcing" of "information technology jobs." Note that this legislation was approved by the Senate Labor committee this week, and is now on the Senate Calendar.
- S.6040 (Spano) / A.9567 (Brodsky), which would prohibit access to state assistance programs, and require repayment of past state assistance, to any business which moves any jobs, employment or positions out of New York State. This legislation, which may be the most onerous proposal introduced in any state, has yet to receive committee action in either house.
For more information on our legislative efforts in the area, or to be added to the work group contact list
As a follow up to Wednesday's newsletter article, a bill that would give some small businesses a 50 percent health-insurance tax credit has now been introduced in the Assembly with 28 sponsors. The sponsors, in addition to those listed in Wednesday's article, include Assemblymen Towns and Wright. The prime sponsors are Assemblymen Joseph Morelle (D-Rochester) and Robin Schimminger (D-Erie County).
The bill (S.6332 / A.10251), which Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno and Senator Seward proposed in late February, would create a health-insurance tax credit that would help many businesses with 50 or fewer employees provide health insurance for their employees.
The new 43 percent tax credit, combined with an existing health insurance tax deduction, would produce an effective 50 percent tax credit for health insurance costs for businesses with 50 or fewer employees and net earned income of $290,000 or less.
The credit would be phased in over ten years and, when fully implemented, would result in an investment of almost $1.6 billion to provide health insurance coverage for hundreds of thousands of uninsured New Yorkers.
Six states - Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Oklahoma and Oregon - currently provide a similar tax credit.