This Week in Government Affairs
June 19, 2013
Contact: Ken Pokalsky
Here is a quick update of developments on issues of general interest to Business Council members. Please feel free to contact us if you would like any additional information, or if you would like to discuss these or any other issues of concern.
- Wage Theft Prevention Act
Senator Savino has introduced legislation (S.5885) repealing the annual notice requirement, increasing civil penalties for other wage payment violations, and clarifying requirements applicable to related business entities, all as recommended by The Business Council. The Administration is also committed to an increase in the Department of Labor’s wage enforcement staff. There is no Assembly “same as,” but we expect that the Assembly will accept these amendments. The Business Council strongly supports this legislation.
- Tax-Free New York
The program has been renamed, “Start-up New York,” and has several significant modifications, including: a 10,000 limit on the number of employees that could receive PIT exemptions in any given year; an increase in eligible property downstate; new language limiting participation in Westchester, NYC and Long Island to “formative” businesses and those in specified technology sectors; and a new limit of 200,000 sq. ft. of eligible property at each strategic state-owned site. It also precludes business applications after 12/31/2020; and subjects any projects on CUNY property to prevailing wages for building service workers. S.5884 (Libous), which is Governor’s Program Bill #32, also includes amendments to the Excelsior Jobs program as recommended by The Business Council and the NYS Economic Development Council, including: a 50% reduction in the job creation threshold for program eligibility; a new 25 jobs threshold (10 for manufacturers) for eligibility in the program’s investment track; an increase in the program’s investment tax credit from 2 to 5%; allowance for a proportional reduction in tax credits if a business does not achieve 100 percent of its jobs target; and the ability for ESDC to roll over 50% of any unallocated credits to future program years. The Assembly has introduced this package as two separate bills, A.8096 (Silver) and A.8101 (Silver).
- Pay Equity/ Discrimination
In addition to the Governor’s full 10-point bill being introduced earlier in the week (A.8070/Titus), and Senator Klein introducing the Governor’s language plus numerous other provisions (S.5806), the Governor’s proposal has been introduced in the Senate as 10 stand-alone bills. Of particular interest to Business Council members are: S.5872 (Savino), modifies sex-based wage discrimination provisions, prohibits restrictions on wage disclosure, and increases penalties for wage discrimination; S.5873 (Valesky), extends existing sexual harassment prohibitions to employers of fewer than four; S.5874 (Little), authorizes awarding attorney fees to either prevailing party in sex discrimination cases; S.5875 (Little), prohibits family status-based discrimination by employers; and S.5880 (Hannon), clarifies existing reasonable accommodation provisions related to pregnancy-related medical conditions. These are all Governor’s Program Bills, and have not been individually introduced in the Assembly. These proposals largely reflect amendments recommended by The Business Council.
The Governor’s casino designation bill has been introduced as S.5883 (Bonacic)/A.8101 (Pretlow). It provides for four upstate casinos initially, and three additional casinos in unspecified locations after seven years. The bill allows the legislature to expedite the date for siting of additional casinos.
- Transportation Fair Play
Amendments negotiated by the trucking industry were introduced as S.5867 (Savino)/A.5237-B (Wright). This bill creates a presumption that truckers engaged in transportation of commercial goods are employees, rather than independent contractors, unless new independent contractor tests are met, or the contractor meets tests to be a “separate business entity.” Amendments to the latter definition are the major changes to this bill. The Business Council remains concerned with the overall thrust of the bill, its enforcement provisions, and other specific provisions.
- Farm Workers
A new version of a “farmworkers rights” bill has been introduced as S.5882 (Savino). While addressing some of the sector’s issues, the bill still presents significant concerns, especially its overtime provisions, and is strongly opposed by the Farm Bureau and The Business Council.
Senator Maziarz and Assemblyman Brennan introduced S. 5861/ A.8095. The legislation would authorize the Power Authority of the State of New York and the Long Island Power Authority to enter into public-private partnerships for the improvement of the state's electric transmission grid. We have not yet taken a position on this bill.