June 9, 2007 Government Affairs Update
The Business Council continues to push its end of session priorities with Governor Spitzer and legislative leaders. Here is an update:
- Power for Jobs
- The legislature has agreed
to a one year extender
Power for Jobs program and a continuation of benefits
participating in other state power programs, such
as Economic Development
Power. The Business Council had been pushing for
a permanent replacement
program, based on recommendations made by last
Commission.” The Senate has already passed
a one-year extender (S.5826-
A/Wright). The legislature is still working on
the technical details of a two-
- Power Plant Siting
- The Business Council continues
to support legislation that
creates a streamlined siting process for electric
power generation facilities.
with broad project eligibility and reasonable procedural
believe a new siting law is essential to meet the
state's growing demand for
electric power, to promote reduced power costs and
assured system reliability.
We have opposed efforts to use the siting process
to superimpose additional,
stringent air emission and other environmental standards
facilities. This issue is being addressed by a two-house
however the Senate and Assembly have yet to reach
agreement on any
component of a compromise bill. Both houses have
passed separate siting
bills (S.5908/Wright and A.8697/Tonko); the Assembly
has also introduced
Governor Spitzer's siting proposal (A.9001/Tonko).
- Upstate Economy
- The Business Council applauded
the Senate Majority's“Upstate Now” package (S.5953/Bruno), which
passed the Senate on May 29.
As part of end of session discussions, The Business
Council has urged the
Governor and legislature to consider several components
of the Upstate Now
package, including business tax reforms, reductions
in health coverage
mandates for small business, and new venture capital
development funding programs.
- Wicks Law – We continue to urge for a significant increase in the thresholds for application of the Wicks law, which now requires multiple construction contracts on public construction projects of over $50,000. This is an antiquated mandate that drives up both the cost of local projects, and local property taxes. The Senate has proposed legislation (S.5716) that would increase thresholds to $250,000 for upstate New York entities and to $1 Million Dollars for New York City, and would allow “project labor agreements” and extend apprenticeship requirements to additional projects. Governor Spitzer has proposed higher project thresholds – $500,000 for “upstate,” $1.5 million for downstate suburban counties, and $3 million for New York City. The Business Council is supporting a higher “upstate” threshold.
On the “defensive” agenda, the Business Council continues to oppose a paid family leave mandate (see separate story below), Internet infrastructure regulation, marketing restrictions for pharmaceuticals, an expanded bottle deposit law and various insurance mandates, among others.
The legislature is scheduled to recess on Thursday, June 21.
The Business Council testified before this week's Senate hearing on paid family leave legislation, urging the legislature to not impose this new burden on the state's private sector. Tom Minnick, Business Council Vice President for Human Resources, and Laurie DeLong, Manager of Human Resources from Ball Corporation and chair of The Business Council's Human Resources Committee, told the Senate panel that legislation requiring employers to offer paid family leave would increase New York's already high job-creation costs, and impact the state''s competitive position. We also emphasized that our members have objected to paid family leave legislation since it promotes employee absence, with resulting business disruption and costs -- such as overtime rates -- necessary to fill in for vacant positions. The Senate is currently considering three paid leave bills , S.4738, S.5820, and Governor Spitzer 's program bill, S.5821. All three bills are sponsored by Senator Thomas P. Morahan.
The Business Council is opposing new legislation that would create the so-called“healthcare community reinvestment fund. This proposal (S.6056/Hannon and A.8704/Bradley) would establish a fund to provide financial support to hospitals and physicians, and fund health information technology (HIT) and other healthcare initiatives including quality, workforce, access and infrastructure. These programs would be funded by increased assessments on health care insurance, specifically by increasing the medical loss ratios for the individual and small group markets, and establishing a loss ratio for large groups. This bill amounts to a redistribution of health plan premiums to healthcare providers by imposing another tax on health insurance, and will increase the cost of coverage for New York's employers and drive healthcare spending higher.
In addition to more than $2 billion in Health Care Reform Act taxes on private health coverage that already fund a host of community healthcare priorities, billions of dollars in state and federal funds are already committed to healthcare technology and to restructuring New York's healthcare system. This bill seeks to create yet another pool of healthcare dollars and generate funds that are simply not needed. Compounded by a $75 million increase in the covered lives assessment enacted in this year's budget, the bill creates another tax and a new burden on employers that would drive premiums and healthcare spending even higher.