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This Week in Government Affairs
June 18, 2014

Legislative Update

Wage Theft

Legislation repealing the annual wage theft notice provision - S.5885-B (Savino)/A.8106-C (Heastie) - is likely to pass both houses this week, with Business Council support. However, the bill is not supported by the Administration. Further negotiations this week seem unlikely, so the best possible outcome is two house passage, then a negotiated chapter amendment to be voted on in a later special session. Staff contact: Ken Pokalsky

Minimum Wage

While additional minimum wage legislation will not be passed this session, new legislation has been introduced - S.7743-A (Savino)/A.8767 (Kavanagh) – that reflects Governor Cuomo’s recent public comments on what he would support. This bill does not change the current state minimum wage levels, including the remaining two step increases approved last year, but it allows all cities and counties to adopt their own minimum wage, up to 30% above the state wage. The Business Council opposes this legislation. Staff contact: Ken Pokalsky

Brownfields

The Business Council was joined by numerous other business interests in expressing support for the extension of the Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP). A letter was sent to the governor and legislative leaders urging them to address this issue before the end of session. Unless the legislature and governor act now, the BCP tax incentives will expire on December 31, 2015. This will result in very few new sites being remediated since it is unlikely that new sites will be completed by the time the tax incentives end. We are supporting legislation introduced this week – S.7878 (Grisanti)/A.10135 (Sweeney) that would extend the program until March 31 2017.
Staff contact: Darren Suarez

Pregnancy Reasonable Accommodation

One employment related component of the 10 point Governor’s Women’s Equality Act (S.5880), which clarifies existing reasonable accommodation provisions related to pregnancy-related medical conditions, passed in the Senate on June 12. An Assembly bill (A.1264-A) was amended in April to mirror S.5880, but has not seen any further action in the Assembly. After discussions last year with the Governor’s office and advocates about the wording of the bill, The Business Council dropped its objections.
Staff contact: Frank Kerbein

Teacher Evaluations

One-house legislation introduced on Saturday stipulates that teacher and principal evaluations for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years would not be based on Common Core-aligned ELA and math assessments (A.10112). Student achievement comprises 40 percent of teacher and principal evaluations; 20 percent is based on state assessments or comparable measures, and 20 percent on locally-selected measures. However, if the “locally-selected measure” also uses state tests, then the entire 40 percent of the student achievement component could be prohibited from inclusion in the evaluation through the 2014-15 school year. Our concern lies in detaching teacher evaluations from student performance on exams aligned to the new, more rigorous education standards. Inclusion of a student achievement component on the APPR is part of the Race to the Top agreement between New York and the federal government. The legislation was reported out of the Assembly Education Committee and referred to Rules. The Business Council is carefully monitoring this bill.

Bill memos - The legislative memo section on The Business Council’s website includes updated information on bills of interest and/or concern to members.

Federal Update

Regulatory Update

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:

Education Events

The Public Policy Institute (the research arm of The Business Council) and the Committee for Economic Development are sponsoring a series of events, hosted by local chambers, regarding the importance of business engagement in education. Participants will be provided with information on the state’s new education standards, and the crucial role that the private sector plays in ensuring that students graduate from high school ready for college and career. Please click on the links below to learn more about each event, and for information on how to register. The Corning Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting a luncheon from 1 - 3 p.m. on June 24; and the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber is hosting a breakfast from 7:45 – 9 a.m. on June 27.

Lunch & Learn

Constellation and The Business Council are hosting a “Lunch and Learn” session from 12-1:30 p.m. on June 25 in Albany. Topics will include the polar vortex, electricity and natural gas price trends, and New York’s energy infrastructure.

Statement on Teacher Evaluations

The Business Council is a member of High Achievement New York, a coalition of businesses, educators and parents dedicated to preserving rigorous education standards in New York. Yesterday, the coalition released a statement on the importance of teacher evaluations in gauging student performance. Click here to view the statement.

Workforce Development

The Public Policy Institute continues to collect responses from employers on their training and workforce needs in New York State.

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