This Week in Government Affairs
June 2, 2015
Counting today, New York has nine days left on its legislative schedule. Both houses have expanded committee agendas this week. Please check our advocacy page for a review of legislation we are weighing in on this week, and please don’t hesitate to contact our government affairs staff with questions or comments on legislative activities. Staff contact: Ken Pokalsky
Among key issues before the state Legislature:
- Real property tax cap
The Business Council is supporting permanent extension, a position echoed by the Senate Majority (which has passed legislation making the cap permanent) and Governor Cuomo. Under existing law, the cap’s effectiveness past June 15, 2016, is dependent upon extension of New York City rent control.
- NYC rent control & tax abatements
While New York City rent control and housing issues have not been a major issue for Business Council members, its link to the tax cap is important. We have also opposed proposals, such as that relative to the Section 421-a property tax abatement also up for extension, to apply public works construction prevailing wage mandates to private sector projects.
- State TSCA
We continue to push back on the so-called “toxic toys” bill that would significantly expand New York’s authority to evaluate and restrict the use of commonly used chemicals in “children’s products,” a function that is best done at the national level.
- 18-A repeal
We continue to push for expedited repeal of the remaining $300 million in Section 18-A energy assessments, tying the phase-out to recent additional settlement funds.
- Pay card legislation
While negotiations were ongoing on legislation to set standards for the use of pay cards, the Department of Labor issued proposed regulations (see below) that raise compliance issues for pay cards and pay checks alike.
Other legislative issues of interest this week include:
- SLA authority
Legislation supported by The Business Council clarifying the State Liquor Authority’s enforcement authority (S.4446-A Boyle/A.5920-A Steck) is on third reading on the Senate calendar.
- Vendor debriefing
A bill that would require state agencies to provide certain information to unsuccessful bidders (S.3450-B Funke/A.2029-C Hevesi) is on third reading on the Senate calendar. The Business Council supports this legislation.
- Teacher scholarships
The Business Council issued a memo in support of legislation (S.5512 LaValle/A.7727 Fahy) on this week’s Senate Higher Education Committee agenda that would provide access to Masters-in-Education Teacher Incentive Scholarship Program awards to students at all non-profit, degree-granting colleges in New York. Current law allows for such awards only to students at public state universities.
We are seeking Business Council member input on the following regulatory issues:
- DOL paycard rules
The New York State Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed new regulations governing the use of pay cards that also includes new requirements for certain paychecks and direct deposits. This proposal would only apply to payments to non-executive, administrative or professional employees earning $900/week or less. It would require that, if an employer uses the pay card option, they can only be used with the consent of employees, they must be provided with no charges or fees for transactions necessary to access wages, the employer must assure employee access to an ATM network providing no charge withdrawals and the employer must provide electronic or paper statements, transactions history and balance information. Fees are also prohibited for point of sales transactions, overdrafts or other common services. In addition, the proposal would also create a new requirement that employers provide employees with “at least one means of no-cost local access” to the full value of paychecks, and prohibit any fees for the replacement of a lost paycheck. It also contains a new requirement that employers maintain written record of employees’ consent to direct deposits for six years, and that direct deposits have to be at a bank of the employee’s choosing. The DOL has no public hearings scheduled, and is accepting comments through July 10. This proposal raises numerous concerns for employers and financial institutes alike, and we will be submitting extensive comments on this proposal. Click here to view the proposed regulations (pg. 16). Feel free to contact either email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org with comments or questions.
- JCOPE seeks comments
The Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) is seeking comments on proposed guidance that would expand and/or clarify the definition of “lobbying” to include: any direct interaction with a public official “in connection with” an activity included in the legislative definition of “lobbying” (i.e., state and local legislation, regulations, executive orders and acts of procurement); and the control of the content and delivery of a message or communication that solicits the public at large, or a segment or portion of the public at large, to engage in lobbying. In summary, JCOPE is suggesting these activities constitute an “attempt to influence” government decision-making, even if they activities do not directly do so. For already registered clients and lobbyists, this proposal would have little impact. JCOPE’s request for comments is available here. Comments are due by June 26. The Business Council will be submitting comments based on member feedback. We welcome any comments or questions. Staff contact: email@example.com
- New SED commissioner
The New York State Board of Regents last week appointed a new commissioner of the New York State Education Department (SED)—MaryEllen Elia— to fill the spot vacated by former-commissioner John King. According to a release by SED: “Ms. Elia served as superintendent in Hillsborough County, Florida since 2005, where she is credited with successfully raising standards, partnering with teachers to develop a comprehensive evaluation system, and raising student achievement.” Click here to view the full SED release.
- Common Core event
The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce (MCC) is hosting a panel on the Common Core standards and assessments on July 15 from 8 – 10 a.m. at the Microsoft offices in New York City. The event, which is sponsored by the Public Policy Institute and the Committee for Economic Development, will provide the employer community and other stakeholders with crucial information on the state’s new education standards, and include a discussion of the essential role that assessments play in measuring student growth. Panelists include Cass Conrad, executive director of School Support and Development at CUNY, and Tenicka Boyd, a parent and director of organizing for StudentsFirstNY.