This Week in Government Affairs
February 17, 2014
On February 11, Business Council staff Ken Pokalsky, Marcus Ferguson and Tom Minnick joined about 200 business, construction and insurance industry representatives to urge legislators to change the century–old Scaffold Law (Labor Law sections 240 and 241). The groups met with nearly 100 elected officials, garnering substantial media attention.
- Paid family leave proposal - The Senate Independent Democratic Conference has unveiled a paid family leave insurance initiative that they want to have included in the FY 2014-15 budget. The proposal would add “family leave” to the definition of disability under the state’s statutory short term disability program for employers, requiring time off and disability pay to care for newborn or adopted children and to care for ill family members. This paid leave would extend for 6 weeks. When combined with absences for employee disability, the paid leave could extend to 12 weeks.
The proposal would also increase weekly maximum disability payments for everyone from the current $170 per week to $449 per week in 2015, to $705 by 2018, and then indexed to 50 percent of the state’s average weekly wage. While the proposal has the state and employees paying the additional costs of the family leave portion of the benefit increase, there is no discussion or projection of the disability side of the costs associated with the overall increase in benefits that employers would absorb.
The Business Council has opposed enactment of prior paid leave legislative proposals. Staff contact: Frank Kerbein
- UI bill - New legislation – S.6572 (Savino) - would modify the Unemployment Insurance (UI) system for determining eligibility for partial unemployment insurance benefits, from a system based on the number of days a claimant has worked during a week, to one based on a claimant's weekly earnings. Given last year’s balanced reforms of New York State’s UI system, The Business Council will follow the progression of this bill to ensure that Trust Fund solvency remains the state’s goal and that all long-term fiscal implications on employers across New York State are considered. Staff contact: Lev Ginsburg
- 18-a assessment – Members of The Business Council who are industrial energy consumer representatives made numerous legislative visits last week to express support for the enhanced phase-out of the Public Service Law Section 18-a energy assessment. The Executive Budget (Part S of the TED Article VII bill) would reduce 18-a by a total of $200 million per year. The proposal would eliminate the assessment on industrial and other large utility customers effective 1/1/14 and accelerate the phase-out for all other customers. Staff contact: Darren Suarez
Bill memos - The legislative memo section on The Business Council’s website includes updated information on bills of interest and/or concern to members.
Visit The Business Council’s Political Action Committee (PAC) page for information on upcoming PAC events.
Please note the following additional items of interest:
- Common Core update - The Business Council released a statement on February 10 reiterating support for the Common Core standards. On February 11, the New York State Board of Regents approved measures to adjust Common Core implementation in New York. The class of 2022 will now be the first required to pass Common Core-based Regents at the college and career ready level, a five-year extension on the new, more rigorous graduation requirements. However, a recommendation that would allow teachers terminated based on an "ineffective" rating to use the defense that the board of education did not properly implement the Common Core was not approved by the full Regents Board. This recommendation was removed from the amendments and will be made available for public comment. The board will revisit the issue at its April meeting.