Fix New York 2014 Legislative and Regulatory Agenda
Contact: Ken Pokalsky
The following presents The Business Council’s 2014 Legislative and Regulatory Agenda. It reflects both the diversity of our statewide membership, as well as the broad public policy agenda confronting the business community. It includes proactive initiatives to improve the state’s business climate, promote new private sector investment and job creation, and identifies proposals damaging to business that we will work against.
2014 will be another challenging year for the state’s business community, with renewed calls for increased state spending, new taxes and new employer mandates. Fall elections will add an enhanced political element to the 2014 legislative session.
We believe it is important that New York maintain its recent focus on state spending restraint and broad-based reforms. Toward these objectives, The Business Council’s legislative priorities for 2014 include:
- Adopting business tax reform — including broad-based rate reductions, elimination of special fees and assessments on business, and streamlining tax administration and compliance burdens.
- Adopting Scaffold Law reform — New York’s unique, antiquated Scaffold Law imposes increased liability costs and risks on business and government alike. A comparative negligence standard will reduce insurance costs and promote additional public and private capital investments.
- Promoting Labor Law reforms — including elimination of the Wage Theft Prevention Act’s annual notice/signature requirement, adopting reasonable standards regarding pay equity and workplace accommodations, and opposing new and increased pay and benefit mandates on private sector employers.
- Continuing to promote education reform — ensuring that high school graduates are fully prepared for college and careers, and making sure that workforce-training programs address real-world needs of New York employers.
We look forward to working with our members to advocate for change while engaging with the broader business community and legislators statewide on our 2014 advocacy efforts.
Heather C. Briccetti, Esq.
President and CEO
The Business Council of New York State, Inc.
The call for campaign finance reform has been renewed in the wake of scandals involving several elected officials in 2013. Many proposals to “fix corruption,” have a flawed approach; they focus on a taxpayer financed campaign system, similar to the New York City system, and do not address changes necessary for true reform and parity amongst all parties impacted by elections. Instead, The Business Council supports legislation that would:
- Ensure fair and equal treatment of all participants in political advocacy with regard to the ability to generate and use resources.
- Oppose public financing of campaigns.
- Oppose proposals to use enforcement-related revenues to support public campaign financing.
It is critical that the state promote public confidence in corporate governance while avoiding mandates that make New York uncompetitive with other states. The Business Council:
- Opposes mandates for remote shareholder participation and proxy voting at shareholder meetings.
- Opposes mandates that impose new compliance burdens on New York state businesses, such as, requiring companies to obtain majority shareholder approval for political donations or communications on public policy issues.
As New York works to improve its overall business climate, The Business Council backs measures that support new investment in strategic industries. New York state needs to:
- Finalize regulations and performance criteria for use of horizontal hydraulic fracturing in natural gas development.
- Adopt a new, as of right, refundable research and development tax credit for both capital and other qualified research expenses.
- Support in-state pharma clinical trials through tax and financial incentives.
The Business Council supports innovative educational models to better prepare students for entrance into college and/or career, and supports the following education and workforce development initiatives:
- Oppose legislative efforts to delay Common Core implementation.
- Encourage public-private partnerships, using alternative education models such as the Pathways to Technology Early College High School (PTECH).
- Increase public awareness that “middle skills” positions — those that require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree — that are good-paying, in-demand jobs.
- Support federal immigration reform, including expansion of the H-1B visa program.
- Reduce burdensome state mandates on school districts, to allow them to better function under the 2-percent real property tax cap.
- Enable charter schools to form consortia or to pool resources to better serve children with special needs under the Charter School Students with Special Needs Act.
- Better align existing state and federal workforce training resources with regional economic development needs.
- Design metrics that measure the effectiveness of existing state workforce training investments in meeting regional workforce needs.
Reducing energy costs and promoting adequate and diverse energy supplies will help support economic growth. The Business Council supports:
- Reducing energy assessments, including expedited phase-out of the Section 18-a assessment.
- Finalize and implement LNG storage rules; repeal statutory requirements for state approval of transportation routes.
- Promote relicensing of Indian Point.
- Promote energy system hardening investments.
- Adopt new methodology for real property tax assessments for transmission upgrades.
- Require a comprehensive review of the imposition and use of energy assessments, including past use of funds and current program fund balances, before any extension of increase is considered.
New York has a stringent environmental regulatory program that imposes costs and operational restrictions on businesses and impedes capital investment and job growth. The state needs to:
- Extend the brownfield remediation and redevelopment tax credits; reform the brownfield program to include Superfund and RCRA sites, and to expedite review and approval of remediation projects.
- Improve SEQRA and permitting programs to give business a more certain, workable timetable for the environmental review of investment projects.
- Oppose new state-level chemical/product use restrictions.
- Adopt incentives for asbestos abatement in redevelopment projects.
- Reform air emission regulations including Part 212 regulation of air toxics and update reportable qualities for release reporting.
To promote continued growth and economic activity in the financial services industry, the state’s largest business sector, The Business Council:
- Opposes any expansion of the Martin Act, including but not limited to, provisions allowing pension fund initiation of enforcement actions.
- Supports no-fault insurance reform.
- Supports the adoption of workable standards for use of pay cards by employers.
- Opposes post-Sandy disaster insurance reforms.
- Opposes the whistleblower protection act.
- Supports expedited foreclosure legislation, focused on abandoned property.
The process of selling goods and services to state government is increasingly cumbersome, with more businesses, including Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises (MWBEs), bypassing this significant business opportunity. To make the procurement process more efficient, The Business Council:
- Supports expansion of state programs that allow affordable performance bonds for small business contractors.
- Supports the allowance of flexibility in types of performance guarantees required for procurement contracts.
- Promotes leasing of technology equipment by state and municipal government entities.
- Promotes workable and flexible standard provisions in state procurement contracts.
The cost of health care remains the number one concern among all Business Council members. Our health policy agenda includes the following priorities:
- Oppose out-of-network reimbursement mandates.
- Require assessment of impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on bad debt/charity care and support adoption of reductions in related New York Health Care Reform Act taxes.
- Oppose any new health insurance tax.
- Oppose any cost shifting for benefit of sustaining New York’s health exchange/marketplace.
- Support free plan design and market-driven chose inside and outside the exchange/marketplace framework.
- Oppose any additional health insurance coverage mandates.
Significant investment in public infrastructure is necessary to ensure the efficient flow of goods, services and people. Rebuilding New York’s aging infrastructure requires alternatives to the standard approach of financing, constructing and operating our transportation system. The Business Council:
- Supports Scaffold Law reform.
- Opposes expansion of prevailing wage mandates to private sector activities.
- Supports reform of the determinations of public work prevailing wage rates.
Employers needs a stable employment regulatory environment and the ability to design pay and benefit programs that fit their industry, size, location, profitability and competitive environment. To achieve these objectives, New York should:
- Repeal the requirement for annual pay notices and return signatures for all private sector employees in the state under the Wage Theft Prevention Act.
- Adopt reasonable provisions regarding wage equity, reasonable accommodations and other components of gender equity legislation; ensure that state standards conform to federal provisions.
- Reject new pay mandates, including an increased minimum wage, and any extension of public works prevailing wage to private sector activities.
- Ensure that “prevailing wage” determinations accurately reflect regional private sector wage levels.
The Business Council supports broad-based tax reform, as well as enhanced credits focused on key business sectors. Our major tax reform proposals include the following:
- Adopt Article 9-A/32 reform/integration legislation.
- Expedite phase out of the Section 18-a assessment on business energy consumers.
- Reduce business income tax rates, including the effective PIT rate on small business/pass-thru entities.
- Update the definition of “manufacturer” to include taxpayers with significant instate manufacturing employment and capital.
- Improve and streamline RPT administration, including promotion of county level assessments; adoption of fixed reassessment cycles; mandate for uniform, full market value assessments for all property classes; and reforming the assessment challenge process.
- Ensure that assessed values of real property improvements associated with PILOT agreements are included in calculation of the RPT cap “tax base growth factor.”
To promote continued reinvestment in New York’s technology and telecommunications sectors, The Business Council:
- Opposes call centers mandates.
- Opposes online consumer data restrictions.
- Promotes computer science in high school curriculum.
- Opposes ban on employer access of employee personal accounts in specific work-related circumstances.
- Supports legislation that would prohibit the state from imposing new regulations on phone services that use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology.
New York has a broad tourism industry, including culture, history, restaurants, entertainment, destinations, parks and more. To help this statewide industry, New York should:
- Increase discretionary program spending thresholds in the “I Love NY” program.
The state’s workers’ comp system is arguably more expensive now than before the 2007 reforms, due to a near doubling of maximum benefits and slow implementation of cost-saving reforms. Additional reform measures, to ensure that intended cost savings are achieved, should include:
- Update the Workers’ Compensation Board scheduled loss of use awards medical guidelines.
- Participate in the WCB process “re-engineering” effort, to achieve reduced administrative costs on employers.
- Ensure equitable implementation of restructured WCB assessments.
- Oppose any rollback of 2007 WC cost-savings measures, such as restrictions or delays in PPD classifications, restrictions on the use of pharmaceutical networks, or others.
- Ensure timely and effective implementation of cost-savings measures adopted in 2013 unemployment insurance reform package.
- Support either de-indexing or adoption of regional indexing for workers’ comp program maximum weekly benefits, or eliminate high and low-wage outlier sectors from index calculation.
- Create a rebuttable presumption of achievement of maximum medical improvement at two years from the date of injury, or alternative trigger for PPD classifications.
- Repeal the Aggregate Trust Fund Deposit mandate on commercial workers’ comp carriers.
- Mandate the use of panel providers for the first ninety days of workers’ comp treatment.
- Allow apportionment of death benefits in cases where a non-compensable disability/injury is the basis of apportionment.