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This Week in Government Affairs
March 5, 2012

TOP STORY

Wage Theft Prevention Act. Our legislation to repeal the annual notice requirement in the Wage Theft Prevention Act (S.6063-A sponsored by Senator John DeFracisco) passed the State Senate last week, on a vote of 34 to 24. Our statement is available here. The Assembly counterpart, A.8856 (Gabryszak), now has more than 50 co-sponsors, and is pending before the Assembly Labor Committee. Our grass roots advocacy effort remains underway through “Fix NY,” and we encourage members to continue to weigh in with the Assembly representatives.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

Key Legislation. The Business Council will be working on the following bills this week, which are on the legislative committee agenda. We urge members to weigh in with their Senate and Assembly representatives if these bills affect your business:

  • “Shareholder Accountability Act.” The Business Council is opposing S.101 (Squadron)/A.696-A (Lancman), which is on the Senate Corporations Committee Agenda on Monday. This bill precludes any corporation doing business in New York, or its subsidiaries, from making any political contribution or independent expenditure without first obtaining approval by a majority of shareholder votes cast for a maximum aggregate amount of such expenditures, and at least annual disclose to shareholders and file with the state an accounting of contributions and independent expenditures, including the recipient or purpose, and the amount, of such expenditures, and the business rationale for each.
  • Incentive Reporting/Oversight. We oppose S.446-A (Krueger), which would impose numerous new application, reporting, performance and “clawback” provisions on employer receiving tax credits or other assistance under the Empire Zones program or through Industrial Development Agencies. This legislation would diminish the value of these incentives by imposing significant new risks on their recipients. It also imposes unclear compliance obligations, and includes drafting errors and inconsistent provisions regarding existing economic assistance application and compliance requirements.
  • Repeal of IDA Tax. The Council supports A.1358 (Hawley), which is on the Assembly Corporations Committee on Tuesday. Its companion, S.2682 (Ranzenhofer) passed the Senate 60 to 1 in 2011. This bill repeals 2009 legislation that in effect imposed a tax on economic development projects supported by Industrial Development Agencies. We believe the 2009 legislation was ill-advised and counterproductive toward the state’s economic development efforts, and support its repeal.
  • “Priority Chemical” ban The Council opposes this legislation, A.3141 (Sweeney)/S.1526 (Perkins), on the Assembly EnCon Committee agenda this Tuesday. It would ban the use of chemicals in products intended for use by children if the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Department of Health (DOH) determine that a particular chemical is a “priority chemical of high concern.” This bill give these agencies broad authority to undertake a chemical review process they are ill-equipped to handle, and ban the use of substances on vague criteria (e.g., it is unclear how the state would determine that a product is intended for use by children 12 years old and younger.) Moreover, The Council is concerned with any state-level legislation that calls for state specific bans and restrictions on chemicals used in interstate and international commerce. Instead, New York should allow Congress to continue its review and reform of the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and EPA’s completion of its designated chemical action plans.

REGULATORY UPDATE

The State Board of Elections has proposed new regulations requiring that entities intending to make independent expenditures that expressly advocate for the election or defeat of a state or local candidate register as a committee with the board prior to the receipt of contributions for, or incurring any liability for, such expenditures. These regulations are issued pursuant to last year’s ethics reform law, which directed the board to:

“issue regulations setting forth and implementing the requirements under existing law for individuals, organizations, corporations, political committees, or any other entities to disclose independent expenditures made for advertisements or any other type of advocacy that expressly identifies a political candidate or ballot proposal. Such regulations shall require such disclosure to the fullest extent of the law.”

We are looking to develop comments, and are seeking input from members. Comments are due by April 6, 2012.

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) recently issued a notice reminding registered lobbyists that, as part of last year’s “ethics” reform legislation, that statements of statements of registration (and client’s semi-annual reports) identify any reportable business relationships that the lobbyist or client has either directly with a statewide elected official, state officer, state employee, member of the legislature or legislative employee, and any business relationships with an entity in which the lobbyist “knows or has reason to know” that a statewide elected official, state officer, state employee, member of the legislature or legislative employee is a proprietor, partner, director, officer or manager, or owns or controls ten percent or more of the stock of such entity (or one percent in a publicly traded company.) Some concerns have been raised about the ability to comply with this new requirement; specifically, how the “reason to know” test will be applied to contracts with entities that have public official involvement. The Business Council has raised this and other compliance issues rising out of last year’s reform bill, with new JCOPE Executive Director Ellen Biben. Staff contact: ken.pokalsky@bcnys.org.

POLITICAL UPDATE

Camera Fundraiser. The Business Council hosted a fundraiser for Assemblyman Karim Camara last Tuesday, February 27 in our downtown Albany Offices. The Assemblyman, who is the new Chair of the Black, Hispanic, Puerto Rican and Asian State Legislative Caucus, was welcomed by a crowd of about 30 Council members. This event is part of our effort to develop new relationships in the State Legislature, and to broaden the political support for our pro-jobs agenda. The Business Council will be hosting additional events this session; our agenda will be circulated shortly. Please bookmark this page for other Business Council Events and other political events.

BRIEFLY NOTED

“Location Matters.” The Tax Foundation has issued “Location Matters,” its study comparing state-by-state effective tax rates on seven categories of “model” businesses: corporate headquarters, R&D facility, retail store, call center, distribution center, capital-intensive manufacturing and labor-intensive manufacturing. It considered corporate, property, sales, unemployment insurance, capital stock, inventory and gross receipts taxes, and calculated effective tax rates for both “new” firms eligible for tax incentives and “mature” firms. Overall, New York was ranked 37th best tax climate for new firms, 42nd for mature firms. We did have some bright spots, ranking 3rd best for mature capital-intensive manufacturing, 10th best for new capital-intensive manufacturing, and 14th best for mature labor-intensive manufacturing. These high rankings were attributed to tax code provisions such as single sales factor apportionment for corporate franchise tax purposes [NOTE – a major TBC victory in 2005] and a 6.5% tax rate differential for manufacturers. However, New York ranked in the bottom five states in five other categories, and in the bottom half of all states for all other categories.