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This Week in Government Affairs
June 3, 2014

Legislative Update

Minimum wage

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:

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

Unemployment Insurance

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

Health

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:

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.

Food-labeling mandate

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.

Regulatory Update

“Gainful Employment”

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

Political Update

Visit The Business Council’s Political Action Committee(PAC) page for information on upcoming PAC events.

Briefly Noted

Please note the following additional items of interest:

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