This Week in Government Affairs
June 3, 2014
Last week, legislation was approved by both the Assembly Labor and Ways and Means Committees to increase the state’s minimum wage to $9 per hour by this year’s end, rather than the end of 2015. (see A.8343). This bill would now also cover state and municipal government entities and include automatic annual increase based on the Consumer Price Index. In addition, yesterday, the Senate Labor Committee held an invitation-only hearing on proposals to grant municipal entities the authority to set local minimum wages, and/or make other changes to state wage laws. These include:
- 4919 (Espaillat) allows any municipality to establish or enforce “payment of minimum wage of benefits standards [sic] that are higher or more protective than those established pursuant to” the Labor Law.
- S.5914 (Avella) allows the NYC council to set a higher min wage for applicable to New York City only.
- S.6455 (Squadron) allows the Department of Labor allows to set an annual “living wage” (no definition or parameters) applicable statewide to “formula retail stores”, large employers (businesses with revenues >$50 million per year, excluding manufacturers and NFPs), transportation business, and any related franchisee or subcontractor.
- S.6516 (Stewart-Cousin), allows any municipality to set standards “relating to wages, hours, or other working conditions, or the enforcement thereof.”
- S.6537 (Sanders) allows municipalities to establish their own miminum wages (similar to S.4919.)
- A.8767 (Kavanugh) allows any county, city, town, village or public benefit corporation to set a minimum wage up to 25% above the state minimum wage.
The Business Council does not support further increases in the minimum wage or municipal jurisdiction on wage and other labor standards. Staff contact: Frank Kerbein
Legislation on this week’s Senate Labor Committee agenda 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 (S.6572/A.7278-A). Given last year’s balanced reforms of New York State’s UI system, The Business Council is determining the potential consequences of the 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. We continue to look for input from members. Staff contact: Lev Ginsburg
The New York State Senate Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction held 18 forums throughout New York over the past several weeks. The task force has recommended 25 bills meant to increase prevention, treatment and enforcement of heroin and opioid abuse. Two of the bills have the potential to not only curb opioid addictions, but also curb costs to health insurance premium payers. The third has several mandates that could increase costs and seems to move away from current mental health parity rules. The bills are as follows:
- Legislation that passed the Senate last year and has advanced to third reading in this session would allow medical professionals to dispense schedule II or III controlled substances to patients for time periods of between three and ten days, expressly excluding chronic pain, cancer pain, or palliative care patients (S.2949A). It would also prohibit additional co-payments for prescriptions that would subsequently complete a 30-day supply.
- Legislation currently on the Senate Health Committee agenda would create a biennial continuing medical education program on topics including I-STOP requirements, pain management, appropriate prescribing, acute pain management, palliative medicine, addiction screening and treatment, and end-of-life care for practitioners with prescribing privileges (S.7660/A.9878).
- Legislation currently on the Senate Insurance Committee agenda would mandate that health insurers cover substance abuse treatment, and mandate plans to use a health care provider who specializes in substance abuse treatment when conducting medical management or utilization review (S.7662). Additionally, the bill mandates the use of clinical review criteria contained in the American Society of Addiction Medicine's Patient Placement Criteria, or similar criteria deemed appropriate and approved by OASAS in consultation with DFS and DOH. Finally, the bill requires insurers to continue to provide coverage throughout the entire appeals process.
“Record of compliance” mandate
We are opposing legislation on the Assembly Codes Committee agenda that would require detailed “record of compliance” data to be submitted with every environmental permit application filed with the Department of Environmental Conservation (S.4900/A.1690). The Department of Environmental Conservation has had an effective, workable “record of compliance” policy in place for more than a decade, and we have seen nothing to suggest that this current approach is inadequate. Further, if enacted, not only would this legislation replace the DEC's current approach, it would also add significantly to the paperwork involved in permit applications while producing no appreciable environmental benefits.
The business council is opposing legislation on this week’s Assembly Codes Committee agenda that would mandate the labeling of food derived from genetically engineered crops (S.3835-E/A.3525-E). Distinguishing food containing genetically engineered crops when they are compositionally the same as other produced foods is misleading, and scares customers by falsely implying they are a different food product. A recent study conducted by Professor Bill Lesser from the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University evaluated the added costs that will be passed on to consumers if mandatory labeling becomes law in New York. The study revealed that New York’s proposed mandatory GMO labeling bill would cost families an average of $500 per year at the checkout aisle. The study comes on the heels of similar studies in Washington and California that showed mandatory GMO labels would result in similar increases in the cost of food.
Child Safe Products Act
The Business Council is opposing legislation on this week’s Senate Environmental Conservation Committee agenda that would give the DEC and the DOH broad authority to undertake a chemical review process they are ill-equipped to handle (S.4616/A.6328). New York would have to undertake an expensive, highly scientific review to make concrete determinations about the toxicity of chemicals and their potential harm to the public. The Business Council is strongly opposed to the legislation. 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.
Last week The Business Council submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Education in opposition to the proposed “gainful employment” rule. Click here to view the comments.
Please visit the The Business Council’s Regulatory Agenda page for more information
Visit The Business Council’s Political Action Committee(PAC) page for information on upcoming PAC events.
Please note the following additional items of interest:
- HR briefing - Registration is now open for upcoming HR legislative briefings on Long Island on July 1; in Saratoga/Capital Region on July 10; and in the Southern Tier on July 15. All Business Council members are invited to these free updates. Visit The Business Council’s events page to register. Staff contact: Frank Kerbein
- Join us in supporting high education standards – The Business Council recently joined High Achievement New York, a new statewide education organization whose members support the implementation of clear, consistent educational standards. Members of the coalition—which include businesses, educators and parents—seek to educate and mobilize New Yorkers across the state who support the standards and drive the public discussion of higher educational standards by generating local press coverage and social media activities tailored to key decision-makers.
- CTE - NYSUT has released a new report, “Career and Technical Education 2014: Unlocking New Futures for New York’s High School Graduates,” which makes recommendations for improving CTE for New York students. Included in the recommendations are: expanding CTE opportunities for 9th and 10th grade students; reauthorizing the federal Perkins Act; adopting the Common Career Technical Core Standards; and directing the state education department to develop a longitudinal data system to track students who participate in CTE programs. Additionally, included in the appendix of the report is a recommendation that New York consider a pathway to a diploma that would allow students to substitute a CTE assessment for a Regents exam of their choosing.