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This Week in Government Affairs
April 18, 2013

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Post Budget Priorities

The state legislature returns to Albany for the second half of the 2013 legislative session. Two issues that seem likely to dominate the remainder of this session are campaign finance reform and the Governor's "equity agenda." Both raise issues of concern for the state business community, we will be providing you with updates, and asking for input as specific proposals are developed.

Based on input to date, The Business Council'spost-budget advocacy priorities will include: wage theft prevention act reform, brownfield program reform/reauthorization, improvements in the state's workforce development efforts, authorization for use of paycheck debit cards, adoption of a comparative negligence standard under the scaffold law, LNG transportation and storage legislation, and others. In addition to campaign finance reform and "pay equity” legislation, issues of concern include Martin Act expansion, health insurance coverage and payment mandates, post-Sandy “reform” proposals, a broad “environmentalist agenda,” and new energy mandates.

On the regulatory front, we will be supporting additional reforms related to calculation of workers’ compensation assessments, comp-related scheduled loss of use determinations and definition of maximum medical improvement, SEQRA procedural reforms, and JCOPE rules governing lobby act reporting and compliance.

As always, we appreciate your input on legislative and regulatory issues of concern to your business.

Staff contact: Ken Pokalsky, ken.pokalsky@bcnys.org

Legislative Update

Senate Labor Committee Action on Several Bills

On Monday, the Senate Labor Committee acted on several bills of interest to Business Council members.

S.1491, the New York State Fair Pay Act, was referred to the Senate Finance Committee. This bill would advance the concept of “comparable worth” pay equity in both the public and private sectors by changing “equal pay for equal work” to “equal pay for work that is comparable” with the state’s Department of Labor determining what are comparable job factors. The Business Council’s opposition memo is here.

Another bill reported from the committee to 1st reading was S.2509, a bill by Senator Joe Robach that would require employers to extend up to a 90 day unpaid leave of absence to victims of domestic violence. There is no Assembly companion bill at this time. The Business Council has opposed this bill in previous years and an opposition memo is forthcoming.
Staff Contact: Frank Kerbein

The Business Council issued the following memos on legislation this past week:

Environmental

S.675 (Avella), Oppose, Standing for SEQRA Violations – this bill would confer standing on private citizens to bring suits in response to alleged violations of the environmental quality review provisions of the Environmental Conservation Law.

S.3596 (Lanza) / A.269 (Kavanagh), Oppose, An Act to Amend the Environmental Conservation Law, in Relation to Notification of the Release of Hazardous Substances  - this bill would criminalize the failure to provide notice within two hours of a release of an identified substance. The scope of this legislation is very broad.

A.1048 (Sweeney), Oppose, Mercury-Containing Thermostat Recycling – although we support the intent of this bill - to promote the proper disposal of mercury-containing thermostats - we disagree with key components the bill.

A.1690 (Colton), Oppose, “Record of Compliance," - this bill would require detailed “record of compliance” data to be submitted with every environmental permit application filed with the Department of Environmental Conservation.

A.4753 (Englebright) / S.3810 (Marcellino), Support, Licensing Professional Geologists  - this legislation would provide for the licensing of professional geologists, and recommends its approval by both Houses of the State Legislature.

S.2051 (Latimer) / A.6601 (Abinanti), Oppose, Authorizing local governments to require property owners to replace trees which are removed – this legislation oversimplifies humans’ relationship with their natural surroundings. The legislation would allow any local government to adopt a local law or ordinance requiring a property owner to plant up to three trees in replacement of each tree removed from the property owner's property.

S.2769 (Parker) / A.2047 (Kavanaugh), Oppose, Citizen Suits – this legislation would allow private "citizen suits" to be brought in response to alleged violations of the Environmental Conservation Law, and to enforce administrative or judicial orders under the state's inactive hazardous waste site remedial program.

A.6327 (Sweeney), Oppose, Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Limits – this legislation would provide the Department Of Environmental Conservation (DEC) with the authority to require greenhouse gas emissions reporting from virtually any emission source in the state, and by 2014 impose an enforceable limit (no higher than 1990 total emissions) on the aggregate greenhouse gas emissions from all in-state sources.

A.6328 (Sweeney), Oppose, Toxic Chemicals in Children’s Products - this legislation 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.”

Staff Contact: Darren Suarez, darren.suarez@bcnys.org

Energy and Telecommunications

S.1184 (Maziarz) / A.2129 (Sweeney MS), Oppose, Bioheating Fuel Requirement - this legislation would require that after October 1, 2013 all heating oil sold for use in any building within the counties of Nassau, Rockland, Suffolk, Westchester and the counties of the city of New York will be bioheating fuel that contains at least two percent biodiesel.

S.2522 (Maziarz), Oppose, Solar Incentive Program  - this legislation would result in increased energy assessments and increased energy costs, with proceeds from increased assessments going to purposes of questionable value and/or that are already receiving considerable state support.

S.4045 (Krueger) / A.846 (Lifton), Oppose, Natural Gas Extraction Liability Act  - this legislation would institute a standard of “joint and several liability" for any damages resulting from operations, exploration, extraction or transportation activity relating to natural gas exploration.

Staff Contact: Darren Suarez, darren.suarez@bcnys.org

Labor

S.1743 (Espaillat) / A.1792-A (Nolan), Oppose, Expansion of Labor Law Provisions for Farm Employees - this bill would amend the labor law and require collective bargaining, overtime and disability for farm employees. The Business Council supports the New York Farm Bureau in its opposition to these proposals.

Staff Contact: Frank Kerbein

Federal Issues

Immigration Reform

Much-anticipated immigration reform legislation was unveiled this week. An outline of the proposal is available on Senator Marco Rubio’s website. The Wall Street Journal published a joint op-ed (subscription based) on the issue from Senator John McCain and Senator Charles Schumer a few days ago. The Business Council supports immigration reform to meet the needs of citizens and businesses and improve economic competiveness.

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