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This Week in Government Affairs
May 24, 2013

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Governor Cuomo announced a conceptual agreement with the legislature on “Tax Free Communities” legislation, that would provide ten-year exemptions from state and local taxes for businesses locating on SUNY campuses outside of New York City and designated private universities “north of Westchester county,” and at other designated state-owned sites. Under this proposal, businesses would be exempt from sales, property and income taxes for a ten-year period, and employees at such businesses would be exempt from personal income taxes. The announcement (no legislative language is available yet) states that eligible businesses include those that have “a relationship to the academic mission of the university and companies creating new jobs, including new businesses, out of state businesses that relocate to New York, and existing business that expand their New York operations while maintaining their jobs.” While not stated in the announcement, it is our understanding that retailers and certain service-related businesses would not be eligible. Our statement in response expressed support for the focus on upstate economic growth, and that this proposal indicates that New York can and should do more to make the state’s overall economy climate more competitive. Key issues to be addressed in legislation include specific eligibility criteria, the delineation of locations eligible for tax incentives, and provisions addressing concerns about adverse competitive impacts on existing New York businesses.
Staff contact: ken.pokalsky@bcnys.org.

Legislative Update

The Business Council issued a memo on the following bill that is on the Assembly Ways and Means Committee this week.

S.675 Avella / A.7155 O’Donnell SEQRA Standing, Oppose - Allows private citizens to bring suits in response to alleged violations of the environmental quality review provisions of the Environmental Conservation Law.
Staff contact: darren.suarez@bcnys.org.

S.2124 LaValle / No Same As, Zone Pricing of Gas, Oppose - Amends the general business law to zone pricing of gasoline by geographic location.
Staff contact: darren.suarez@bcnys.org.

S.5149 Maziarz / No Same As, Net Meter Study, Support - Directs the public service commission to conduct a study to analyze the economic and environmental benefits from and the economic cost burden, if any, of the net energy metering program in this state.
Staff contact: darren.suarez@bcnys.org.

S.1671-A Grisanti / A.5365 Schimminger, Asbestos Removal Credit, Support - Provides an asbestos remediation tax credit; allows for a twenty percent credit of all eligible costs which are incurred as a result of asbestos remediation, not to exceed $1,000,000. Staff contact: ken.pokalsky@bcnys.org.

S.2089 Griffo / A.3510 Robinson, Credit Unions, Oppose – Amends the banking law to expand the qualifications for membership into credit unions and to create parity with federal credit unions in the areas of investing, taxation and branching.

S.3868-B Klein / A.7056 Dinowitz, Prohibits Employer Use of Consumer Credit Reports in Employment Decisions, Oppose – Prohibits employers or potential employers from using any job applicant or employee's consumer credit report in his or her decision to hire, terminate, promote, demote, discipline, compensate, or in setting the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment. Staff contact: Frank Kerbein.

S.4589 Savino / A.5237 Wright, Transportation Industry Fair Play Act, Oppose – Amends the labor law, enacting the "New York State Commercial Goods Transportation Industry Fair Play Act"; calls for independent contractor tests beyond those currently used or needed.
Staff contact: Frank Kerbein.

S.4890 Golden / A.7264 Lupardo, Qualified Emerging Technology Company Tax Credit, Support - Reinstate the Qualified Emerging Technology Company tax credit, which expired in 2011. Staff contact: ken.pokalsky@bcnys.org.

S.4900 Avella / A.1690 Colton, “Record of Compliance,” Oppose - This bill that would require detailed “record of compliance” data to be submitted with every environmental permit application filed with the Department of Environmental Conservation.
Staff contact: darren.suarez@bcnys.org.

S.5031 Espaillat/ A.5028 Englebright, Farm Workers, Oppose - Establishes standards for farm worker protection at any agricultural site where pesticides have been or will be applied; requires mandatory testing and protective equipment.
Staff contact: Frank Kerbein.

S.5251 Klein / A. 7395 Weinstein, Foreclosures, Oppose - Enacts "the foreclosure fraud prevention act of 2013"; creates the crimes of residential mortgage foreclosure fraud in the first and second degrees.

S.5706 Valesky / A. 1398 Gunther, Public library telecomm purchasing, Oppose - Authorizes boards of cooperative educational services (BOCES) to enter into contracts with public libraries for high-speed telecommunications services.

Political Update

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Regulatory Update

Proposed Wage Deduction Regulation

The Department of Labor has proposed its regulations implementing the 2012 wage deduction statute (Chapter 451, S.7790/A.10785). Their rulemaking was published in the May 22, 2013 State Register, and is available here; the regulatory impact statement is available here. In part, the proposed rules are intended to clarify what is an allowable and non-allowable deduction; the statute also requires regulations before payroll deductions could be made for the recovery of pay overages or the repayment of pay advances. Our main concerns with the 2012 legislation was its exclusion of previously common-place categories of deductions, and the questionable need for a new regulatory regime for certain categories of withholdings. We will be preparing and submitting comments on this proposal, and welcome input from Business Council members. Comments are due July 6, 2013. Please contact Frank Kerbein to provide input or to obtain a copy of our draft comments.

Items of Interest

Workers’ Comp “loss/cost”

Several workers’ compensation and insurance media outlets are reporting that the New York Compensation Insurance Rating Board has recommended a 16.9 percent increase in loss-costs that insurers would use as the foundation of their rate setting for workers’ compensation premiums for 2014. These calculations are intended to reflect the true benefit costs of the system. These calculations have been presented to the Department of Financial Services for their review; DFS can accept or modify CIRB’s proposal, and is required to hold public hearings for any recommended increase greater than 7 percent.  The Business Council will participate in any scheduled hearings, and will provide members with information once CIRB’s recommendations are formally released. In our view, the real issue facing New York employers is not actuarially based loss-cost figures, but that cost drivers in the comp system, most notably indexed maximum benefits, have significantly outstripped the impact of cost-savings reforms adopted in the 2007 reform legislation. We continue to urge the state to adopt additional measures to help achieve intended cost-savings, including updating the state’s guidelines for scheduled loss of use awards, and achievement of timely classification of permanent partial disability claims. We expect to see Workers’ Compensation Board proposals on these, and additional regulatory measures, within the next several months.
Staff contact: lev.ginsburg@bcnys.org.

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